Circling Back to the City of Champions to Celebrate 20 Years!

SOWMA’s  20th anniversary occurred on 4.20.24. To celebrate, we circled back to our beginnings to a reception hosted by Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan, who issued a proclamation on behalf of two decades of providing educational service to students impacted by homelessness.  The day also included the unveiling of a new website announced by SOWMA Vice Chair Spencer Collier, CEO of Getfused – and commemorations from local and state officials.

“For two decades, School on Wheels has been a beacon of hope, providing academic, social, and emotional growth to society’s most vulnerable students,” said Sullivan.  

Sullivan described the organization’s Brockton roots, which began at the kitchen table of Founder Cheryl Opper, who gathered family and neighbors to collect backpacks and offer tutoring to children living in two Brockton family shelters. 

“Cheryl’s vision saw the inception of tailored educational interventions, including grade-level school supplies, personalized tutoring, and later, high school and college-age mentoring,” Sullivan said.

“Today our hearts are united in one mission,” said Opper. “To continue to pave the way for a future where every child has the opportunity to flourish, regardless of circumstance,” she said. Opper shared stories of adversity and the ultimate success behind many of the young students she met 20 years ago.  

Guests also included Senators Walter Timilty, Michael Brady and State Representative Carol Doherty, all of whom issued proclamations to honor the mission and success of School on Wheels.

Board Chair Athena Giannaros, a Brockton native and graduate of Brockton High School, has championed the mission since the beginning. Giannaros applauded the hundreds of Brockton volunteers, donors and advocates who over the years helped take the learning model statewide. 

“We take immense pride in the countless success stories of our student graduates, who have navigated their way to higher education, vocational training, and professional success with the guidance of the caring volunteers,” said Giannaros. 

“I am so proud of our City of Champions,” Giannaros continued.  “Our humble roots have flourished from Brockton to extend today from the South Shore and the Southcoast of Massachusetts to Boston and Lowell. 

Another highlight was an announcement by Board Vice Chair Spencer Collier, CEO of Getfused, a leading Boston-based marketing agency celebrated for their groundbreaking digital solutions.  Collier announced today’s unveiling of a new website. 

“Our collaboration has birthed a digital journey that not only honors the past two decades of love and labor but propels us into a future teeming with opportunities to engage more students and volunteers and further expand the village,” said Collier.

“Every click invites visitors to delve into the soul of our organization – our programs, students, supporters, and the myriad tales of student triumph that define us,” Collier added.  

SOWMA CEO Steve Telesmanick thanked all for attending, with a nod to the future of expanding on successful partnerships and continuing to build upon the secret sauce of bridging volunteers with students at risk.

Explore the website for many ways to be part of a solution to end the cycle of homelessness through services such as tutoring, mentoring and quality, grade-level backpacks and “Tools for School.”