By Julie Nickerson
As Thanksgiving break approaches in less than two weeks, Simmons students remind the community what it means to give back to others. Simmons students and members of the community gave back to someone who is thankful and thoughtful all year ‘round; someone we all know and love: Stella.
Stella has worked at Simmons College for about ten years and is far more than a kitchen staff member at Bartol dining hall on the residence campus. “For many of us, she’s been a shoulder to cry on, a counselor, the person to go to when you need a laugh, the person to go to when you’ve been studying for 12 hours and you just need a pint of Ben & Jerry’s from Late Night, and so much more,” According to a GoFundMe page created by first-year student Amanda Farrington.
“I connected with Stella as soon as I started school here at Simmons,” said Farrington. “I don’t have any parental figures back home, and the compassion she had towards me and every other student really stuck out to me.”
On Sunday, Nov. 13, the GoFundMe page was created just after 7 p.m. and by 10 p.m. it was shared on Facebook and Twitter over 436 times. Within just three hours, Simmons students reached the goal of raising $3,000. There was an anonymous donation of $900 that really kick started the fundraising efforts, where more than 200 people donated.
All can agree, Simmons wouldn’t be the same without Stella. Unfortunately Stella was faced with a difficult decision that she might not be able to continue working at Simmons due to financial circumstances. Though Stella is never one to ask for help, with some prodding, a few students found out that she needed to find an affordable apartment in Boston by the end of the year.
The problem wasn’t in finding a place however, but rather in affording a large down payment that was required with the lease. Stella lives with her 15-year-old daughter and will soon be sending her to college.
Several Simmons alumnae participated in the giving, including Maddie Gretzky, who wrote on the GoFundMe page, “Stella thank you so much for all you do for Simmons! You’ve touched a lot of hearts and we love you.”
Simmons students gathered at Bartol Late Night on Sunday night at 10:15 p.m. to tell Stella the news that the Simmons Community came together to ensure Stella could remain at Simmons where she belongs.
“Stella, Simmons wouldn’t be the same without you and we just wanted to tell you how much we appreciate all you do for us,” said Farrington, class of 2020.
Stella was overwhelmed and in tears within minutes, and as always, she had a big smile on her face. However, Stella was not the only one in tears, as close to one-hundred students gathered in the dining hall to surprise Stella.
“Thank you to everyone and I love you all so much,” said Stella as she struggled to hold back tears.
As the large group of students moved the celebration into alumnae hall for a group photo, students shared hugs and kind words with Stella. Another staff member at Bartol, Sheena, said that she’s never seen a community come together for a staff member at Simmons like this before. As students posed for a picture, Sheena spoke about the incredible qualities Stella possesses that uplifts all residents on campus.
Farrington said that in many ways, she expected the community to come together in this way. “Simmons is such a loving place, and I couldn’t imagine anyone not caring about Stella in the way that I do. She is our school mom. She makes the bad days good. She turns our tears into laughter,” said Farrington.