We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Kathleen Graham as our new executive director.

Kathleen will take over for our Founder and Executive Director Cheryl Opper, who started the organization from her home in Easton, MA in 2004 after reading a magazine article about a woman who started a School on Wheels in Los Angeles to help homeless children.   Throughout the past 14 years, Opper has grown the organization from a handful of volunteers who assembled backpacks in her basement and offered tutoring at two family shelters in Brockton, to a leading charity that addresses the educational needs of some of the 21,000+ children and youth throughout the state who are experiencing homelessness.    

ZACHARY

SOWMA student and BSU Scholar Zachary celebrates his graduation with Bridgewater State University President Frederick W. Clark. Zachary faced many hardships growing up, including homelessness, but always stayed focused on his education. He will continue his studies at the University of Houston, where he plans to pursue a master's degree in applied financial mathematics. This year Zachary was inducted into the National Mathematics Honorary Society (Pi Mu Epsilon).

Zachary

APRYL

SOWMA's High School Plus Coordinator Cassandra Dockray always knew she would one day stand alongside SOWMA student Apryl at her graduation. Here they celebrate Apryl's accomplishments and associate's degree from Massasoit Community College. Apryl is heading to Bridgewater State University this fall - with the support of Cassandra and SOWMA's High School Plus program.

Apryl

ANA

SOWMA mentor Beth Young met Ana when she was facing homelessness and motherhood as a high school student in Brockton. The two met regularly throughout Ana's high school and college years. Last month Ana's daughter Briana proudly watched as her mother received her BSU diploma in social work. Briana has been a SOWMA student since kindergarten and is looking forward to holding her own college diploma one day!

Ana

JESSICA

Jessica is beaming with pride at her Massasoit Community College graduation. This fall she will attend Salem State University to study early childhood education. Jessica has been a SOWMA student since 7th grade. We know that she'll make the best teacher and role model as she pursues her bachelor's degree.

Jessica

SEFORA

Sefora, a BSU Scholar has been a SOWMA student since her senior year at Brockton High School. She is all smiles with Cheryl Opper on her graduation day. Sefora plans to attend graduate school after obtaining experience in a managerial role at a health care agency.

Sefora

SHANTARIA

Shantaria is camera-shy but her accomplishments are loud and clear after successfully completing her associate's degree at Massasoit Community College. She's off to BSU this fall to study social work.

Shantaria
 

Kids helping Kids is growing part of SOWMA’s work.  Student volunteers of all ages bring their passion and talents to SOWMA to help those less fortunate.  Kids Helping Kids fosters leadership skills and builds community service and connection. That’s exactly what Isabel (“Izzie”) Berkenblit decided to do as part of her Bat Mitzvah project.

Izzie decided to support School on Wheels’ students through what she named the “Izzie Project.”  She combined her love for sewing with her passion for helping children and made custom-designed pillowcases for our students.  She turned to her Girl Scout troop for help – and received donated material from friend Robin Salvas, pictured above.  Izzie and her newly created team donated more than 200 pillowcases for children experiencing homelessness.

Catherine Duncan was honored at the New Year's Eve Patriots game as being the “volunteer of the year” by the New England Patriots and was presented a check for $5,000 to School on Wheels of Massachusetts by Robert Kraft.  She was honored for her work tutoring with School on Wheels of Massachusetts.

Letter from Lindsay Opper to her mom, Cheryl Opper, founder and executive director,
School on Wheels of Massachusetts
November 16, 2017

In 9th grade, my mom brought in a new family member to live with us: School on Wheels of MA (SOWMA). After school, I would get off the bus and come home to backpack supplies dropped off on our front porch, a basement that looked like a CVS and various people gathered around our kitchen table. Many of nights I would walk downstairs to turn off the living room tv (located directly below my bedroom).

The living room was where my mom continued to work on grants & other important SOWMA materials late into the night. It become a nightly ritual for me to come downstairs and turn off Tom Bergeren’s booming voice as he announced the next Dancing With The Stars contestant eliminated. I then would clear the Lean Cuisine from the coffee table, remove my mom’s glasses from her sleeping face & set her laptop aside. Never once did my mom wake up the next day and complain about her massive workload or how tired she felt. Instead she would wake up re-energized. Ready to go out and be a voice for the kids.

 
Dear SOWMA friends and supporters, 
 
As many of you have heard by now, I will be retiring next June as Executive Director of School on Wheels of Massachusetts. This was a very difficult decision for me to make, since School on Wheels has been a huge part of my "heart and soul" for the past 14 years.  
 
It has been an honor and privilege to partner with you to serve our students and families. Our growth and students' success would not be possible without you. Thank you!!!
 
I notified our board over a year ago that I would be retiring in June 2018 so we could ensure a smooth and healthy transition for our organization. Our Board Chair, Chris Murphy, is leading the charge with the full support of our board members and key community stakeholders.  After retiring, I plan on helping unaccompanied homeless youth have a safe place to live while pursuing their education. 
 
Unaccompanied youth are young adults on their own without parent or guardian support. While School on Wheels serves these students in supporting their education, I  want to focus my time on finding housing solutions for them on the South Shore. Right now we have students living in cars, on the streets, and in adult shelters because we have no other housing options available for them in our area.  This is unacceptable and must change!!  
 
School on Wheels will continue to expand to provide high quality tutoring and mentoring services for more students in grades K- college under a new leader, and with the help and support of our amazing staff and dedicated volunteers. We will also continue to prepare and deliver thousands of new customized backpacks to children in our state who need assistance.  School on Wheels is not changing any of their services; in fact they are strengthening the quality of their trainings for volunteers, their academic services and resources, and infrastructure to launch a future expansion.
 
Please be assured, I will always wholeheartedly support the mission of School on Wheels as well as the children and families we serve.  I hope I can count on your continued support for School on Wheels as we grow our programs to serve more students in our state.  Together we can make a true impact in the lives of others!  What's more important than helping a child feel important, safe and valued? 
 
With heartfelt gratitude and appreciation,
 
 
Cheryl
 
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School on Wheels - MA
100 Laurel Street
Suite 121
East Bridgewater, Massachusetts 02333

508.587.9091

Federal Tax ID 20-1020880
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