The Gift Store Owner that Keeps on Giving
Chris Avery is Spreading Awareness of Catholic Charities Youth Programs, One Tote Bag at a Time
Chris Avery was flipping through The Boston Globe one morning when a story caught her eye. The article, published in 2011, illustrated the struggle of two Dorchester teen brothers after the tragic death of their father, with a mention of how Catholic Charities Boston had stepped in to support the young men with food and living assistance.
Several years later, during a Lenten discussion at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury, Beth Chambers, now VP of Basic Needs at Catholic Charities, gave a guest speech about the overwhelming need to support Boston’s youth living in poverty-stricken communities. In attendance was Avery, who listened while recalling the story of the brothers. A small voice inside her grew louder, granting her clarity: it was now her time to step in and help.
Today, Avery and her daughter, Ellie, are longtime volunteers with Catholic Charities’ Teen Center, donating food every week, and clothing and school supplies when needed. Located in Dorchester’s Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, the Teen Center is one of several programs within Catholic Charities’ Family & Youth Services. Nearly 300 adolescents ages 10 to 19 attend after-school and summer programs at the center, participating in academic enrichment and a recreation and sports/wellness program. Regardless of their family’s financial situation, all members are provided with a small dinner before being driven home, free of charge.
“The kids are shown so much love and support there,” said Avery. “Food insecurity is a very big concern of mine, and I love that the kids are fed a meal before they go home at night, just in case there isn’t anything when they get home.”
Avery has also utilized promotions in her small business, a gift shop in Chestnut Hill called Avery & Co, to support the Teen Center, most recently selling SCOUT tote bags as a fundraiser with the hopes of providing more meals and a summer field trip for the teens.
“Chris has been extremely helpful,” said Joao Dos Santos, Director of the Teen Center. “She’s one of our most loyal supporters.”
While the majority of the Averys’ work is behind the scenes–in fact, the kids may never know about their donations–Chris and her family continue to serve nonetheless, motivated by the incredible impact Catholic Charities has had on Dorchester’s youth.
Avery & Co is a gift shop specializing in cards, accessories, housewares, toys, jewelry, and decor and is located at 1008 West Roxbury Parkway, Chestnut Hill, MA. Visit Avery & Co’s Facebook Page to learn more.
Catholic Charities Teen Center serves as a safe haven for close to 300 adolescents living in Dorchester’s most at-risk areas during after school hours and throughout the summer months. Visit our website to learn more.