Compassion, benevolence and social conscience inform career for Notre Dame alum.
By the time students at Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy graduate from the upper school, they have a pretty good idea what the school's mission statement is all about. The idea of service to others is one of the key components of the NDPMA mission, and it is so well-integrated into the activities of students that by the time they graduate, it has become second nature.
That is why we frequently run into alumni of the school who not only carry the NDPMA mission through college, they end up in actual careers that focus on serving and helping others in need.
Kathryn Woodstock, who graduated from NDP in 2007, is another great example of this phenomenon. She currently is chief development officer for the Methodist Children’s Home Society, a not-for-profit agency that helps children who are in either the foster care or adoption systems and who have experienced traumatic child abuse or neglect.
She is absolutely convinced that Notre Dame Prep played a role in influencing her career path.
"I remember that during our school volunteer hours, I worked as a Sunday school teacher at St. Andrew’s in Rochester," she said. "I taught kindergarteners and first graders about God’s Word and felt so amazing and connected to the Word through those kids. I knew right there and then that I wanted my career to involve helping children."
Helping children was a major theme for Woodstock in college as well. She graduated from Grand Valley State University and majored in health professions and minored in business. During grad school at the University of Detroit Mercy in its health services administration program, she found her calling.
"It was in that program where it clicked that I wanted to build my career around advocating for the health and wellness of children," she said. "Previous to MCHS, I was with Children’s Hospital of Michigan at the Detroit Medical Center, which is where I began my career as an administrative intern during graduate school. After I got my master’s degree, I went back to Children’s Hospital to work as a continuing medical education program planner, and was then promoted to their marketing and business development team as a community affairs project manager."
Days and nights
In September of 2017, Woodstock was recruited to Methodist Children’s Home Society and received a two-part offer after signing on as director of major gifts. The offer included the opportunity to transition to chief development officer in November of 2017. She's been the organization's CDO ever since.
While Woodstock's days at MCHS are chock full of activity and sometimes her work days turn into nights and weekends, she's not complaining.
"My typical day is far from typical," she said. "At some points during the year, my team is busy planning and executing our signature charity events, which include our always fun-themed annual dinner, the In Bloom women’s luncheon, our annual Golf Classic, and the MCHS formal gala. Other days, I am busy meeting and cultivating relationships with corporate sponsors, and helping to find ways they can get more involved with our mission. For example, a corporate partner may give monetarily annually, but might also want to organize a day where their staff can come volunteer on our campus."
Other days, she said, she's researching and brainstorming with her department on foundations and local clubs to approach for grant opportunities that may potentially fund new initiatives on their campus, which is located in Redford. These initiatives could include launching a charter school, building a new workspace for MCHS's Independent Living Plus program, or expanding the after-care system for its foster care program.
"Still other days, I’m at local or state-wide networking events, advocating for our kids and building new connections," she said. "You’ll also find me doing speaking engagements at local Methodist churches, business groups or conferences."
Helping youth learn to take care of themselves
Typically, MCHS has 60 boys who live on its 80-acre campus as part of its residential program. Their ages range from 5-18 and up to 10 of those children are in the organization's Independent Living Plus program, which works with teens 15-19 years old who are at risk of aging out of the foster care system. Woodstock said the organization helps them get ready to be on their own, find jobs, manage finances, how to cook, clean, learn about different professions or college options, and more.
"We also are able to place an average of 70 children per year with foster or adoptive families," she added. "We receive two-thirds of our funding from the state, and for the rest, we must fundraise. My job is to oversee all of our agency’s fund development and signature charity events."
If that's not enough to do, Woodstock also oversees special projects a donor may be interested in doing on campus for the kids, such as sponsoring a birthday club month, throwing a Christmas party for all of its foster families and their children, or painting the cottages and boys’ bedrooms to make them warm and homey, and more.
Helping the kids, said Woodstock, is a huge focus for the MCHS since many come from dire circumstances.
"Children we serve have experienced an average of three traumatic experiences of either child abuse or neglect in their young lifetimes," Woodstock added. "They have lived in, on average, six different residential settings or foster homes before they come to us."
She said children are placed with her organization because staffers are able to handle the emotions and cognitive impairments the children are dealing with, and they treat them holistically.
"Through our school, a number of therapeutic programs (including pet therapy), clinical programs, mentor groups, and our overall caregiving, we give these kids the most loving and normal childhood they deserve."
Bev Williams inspired
Obviously focused on her work and serving others, Woodstock, who lives in Berkley, nonetheless manages to find some time for herself.
"Whenever I have any free time, I love to read and learn about anything and everything," she said. "I love sailing and am an active member at the Detroit Yacht Club. I also get really excited about the revitalization of Detroit — I can’t wait until we don’t have to use that term anymore — and love exploring and checking out new restaurants in the city."
As far as her high school alma mater, Woodstock has many, many great memories. She also continues to see many classmates and remains close with a number of them.
"My best friend from high school was Renee Crittenden (maiden name, Cavaliere), and I love telling the story of how we met. We were in Mr. Palmer’s biology class during freshman year, and Renee approached me and asked me if she could try on my shoes. We’ve been best friends ever since!"
Woodstock also recalls how passionate she was about playing on the school tennis team with Coach Riley and has many amazing memories with that group as well. "I also enjoyed choir with Mr. Fazzini and participating in all the great musicals!"
But Woodstock reserves a special place in her heart for one particular Notre Dame teacher, though.
"Mrs. Beverly Williams was such an inspirational teacher," she said. "Her death rocked so many of our worlds, and her wake was a testament to the positive impact she made on all of us! She injected so much energy into her class and students — and was so hilarious. To this day, I share one of her jokes with my friends and colleagues. She used to write 'S.H.I.T.' on the board which stood for, “Sure happy it’s Thursday.
I also miss our uniforms! Choosing outfits was just so much simpler back then!"
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.