Sun, Mar 18, 2018 03:01 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2004-01-09 communities
Piarist more than just a school
By Kristi McGarey

MARTIN From a small school in a small town, big improvements are being made every day.

Out of the Piarist School in Martin, Kentucky, people are receiving clothing, food, school supplies, and other necessary goods thanks to charitable donations from parishes around the country.

Outreach Program director Audrey Collins spends most of her time on the road, visiting those who have been recommended to her to see what they might need. Throughout the day, she will receive calls from social workers, clinics, and other well-meaning people who know of someone who can benefit from the Outreach Program's assistance.

"Whatever their need, I do my best to make sure they get," Collins said.

Nine years ago, Father Thomas Carroll, principal of the Piarist School, founded the mission after seeing what good this type of charitable program could do. The Piarist Fathers, including Father David Powers, travel during the year to different parishes to appeal for help.

"I often tell people, 'I didn't come 600 miles to ask for your help, I'm begging for it,'"Carroll said.

Carroll spends considerable time traveling to these appeals. Last summer, he spent 21 consecutive weekends on appeal everywhere from Nebraska to Maine. Because of all this hard work, Carroll is proud that this program has expanded from the food donations to the Little Mud area in Floyd County to reach a greater number of people in Floyd, Magoffin and Knott counties.

The program is also a family affair. Collins' daughter, Natasha, helps deliver the goods, and helps to organize and sort the donations.

"Basically when Mom cracks the whip, I jump,"she said.

The Piarist School is a tuition-free institution, offering a college-prep program for academically gifted children in the area. The school and the Outreach Program are always connected. The students often volunteer to help and are able to directly see the good the program does in the community.

Recently, the receptionist at a local doctor's office stopped by to ask Collins for formula for infants in need. She had heard of the children through her church and had heard of the program through Father Powers. As the lady told Collins the situation of these children, a broad smile broke across Collins' face.

"I get tired, I get frustrated, but this makes it all worthwhile," Collins said.

Note: Kristi McGarey is a member of the first graduating class of the Piarist School and is the daughter of Lil' Neeley and the stepdaughter of Homer Neeley of the Left Fork of Abbott.

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