ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Sister Evelyn Breslin has never met a student who didn’t want to learn, which is fitting because Evelyn has always wanted to teach.
“I just love seeing the children happy in what they’re doing and what they’re learning,” she said.
Evelyn joined the School Sisters of Notre Dame more than 50 years ago and has been teaching in local schools ever since — 22 of them at Bishop Kearney High School. Early in her career, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She answered the challenge with a modified car and a motorized wheelchair and has never stopped since.
Evelyn now runs the Notre Dame Learning Center, located inside the Charles Settlement House in Rochester. It’s been up and running since 2004 in one of the city’s oldest and poorest neighborhoods. The need is great, so there’s now a second site in Irondequoit. Evelyn recruits volunteers to tutor children from both the city and suburbs. No one who comes for help is turned away.
8th grader Paul Milligan has been going there for 6 years. He and his mom Nancy are grateful, especially for Sister Evelyn.
“She’s amazing and helpful with my crazy schedule,” Paul said. “Sister Evelyn, thank you for everything!”
“We’re so lucky,’ Nancy said. “I can’t express what that place has meant to me and my family. I do think of her as a friend after all these years.”
The Notre Dame Learning Center closed during the pandemic but quickly switched to remote learning.
“We have 15 children on remote learning. A few we gave computers because they didn’t have them,” Evelyn said. “It’s going well, going well.”
At the center donations keep coming in from people who believe in the mission just as much as Evelyn does. In a career that’s spanned half a century, the pandemic is simply one more challenge.
“The children want to learn,” she says. “That’s the biggest part.”
When Evelyn began teaching there were 100 sisters in the City of Rochester.
Today, she’s one of 4 sisters left: living history, preserving a ministry, and loving the families in her care.
To learn more about the Notre Dame Learning Center, including how to donate or volunteer, click here.