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Thursday, March 21, 2024

Former Catholic Charities Clients Are Now Friendly Faces Working Labouré’s Front Desk

Mary Adel

For lifelong South Boston resident Mary Adel Flaherty, the Labouré Center has always been like a second home, buzzing with a sense of community and full of opportunities for personal development.

“At 26, I’ve been involved in the Labouré Center for more years of my life than not,” she laughed.

Having grown up just a few blocks away from the Labouré Center, Mary Adel discovered Catholic Charities through a friend involved in TEAM, a former youth mentoring program at Labouré. Mary Adel joined the program’s wait list and while waiting to be matched with a mentor began spending more time at the Labouré Center after school.

“Even before I was an official member of the program, I always felt welcomed here,” she said. “Kids and teenagers need a safe space to go, and a sense of community, and that’s what I found at Labouré.”

Although Mary Adel grew up in a loving, supportive home, being one of six children meant that her parents were often preoccupied with supporting the family. The one-to-one mentoring TEAM model provided Mary Adel with the additional support system she craved.

“It was great to spend time with trusting adults who I knew I could go to if I was stressed,” she said. “It was so intimate and interpersonal. They knew exactly what was going on in my life and I made some really solid connections.”

When Mary Adel turned 14, she joined the Junior Planning Committee, where she helped plan outings and events for program participants, an experience she says was integral in building her confidence.

Later, Mary Adel became a mentor for the Youth Tutoring Youth program at Labouré, tutoring school-age children, before eventually taking on her current role as a receptionist at Labouré in 2020.

Outside of work, Mary Adel is enrolled at UMass Boston in a dual-degree program for a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in business. She said she is grateful for the unwavering support Labouré has offered her over the years and for the opportunity to now help other clients in need.

“Being a friendly face is one the best things I can give––I want to be someone that clients can trust when they come here.” she said. “As a kid, I always worried that I was being a burden when I asked for help, and I never want anyone to feel like that. I want everyone to know they are welcome here.”


“I used to be nervous about answering the phone. Now I do it every day for my job.”

Claudia Gil, a front-desk receptionist at Labouré, knew almost no English when she moved to the U.S. from Uruguay in 2000. After moving to South Boston with her two children in 2004, she signed up for the Labouré Center’s ESOL program, which offers English language classes for adults whose native language is not English.

“I started the class and didn’t understand one single word,” she said. “After just a week or two, I noticed I started applying what I was learning.”

For Claudia, the Labouré Center quickly became far more than a school but a place where she found a makeshift family and the hope for a brighter future. In addition to improving her English, Claudia joined Labouré’s Community Connections program, which offers case management, basic needs support, and resources for mothers, fathers, and elders in need.

Eager to give back to the community she’d found a home in, Claudia became a volunteer for Community Connections and began working closely with Program Director Peggy Doherty to support and help translate for clients in need, particularly single mothers and immigrants like herself who were striving to support their families.

“A lot of the moms are single and are caring for their children alone,” said Claudia. “I know what it’s like to be struggling to pay for your family, and many women are in this same situation.”

Most recently, Claudia began working part-time at the front desk of Labouré. Every day, she says she bears witness to situations she once was in – single mothers worrying about how they’ll feed their children, immigrants uncertain where they’ll sleep at night, ESOL students eager to begin working and secure an income. These experiences, she says, make her appreciate how far she has come and allow her to connect more deeply with every person who walks through Labouré’s doors.

I am so grateful for the classes I took at Labouré and the help I’ve received,” she said. “Now I’m trying to give back.”

To learn more about how you can support the Labouré Center, and Catholic Charities Boston’s other life-changing programs, click here.

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