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Honored for service!

Sister Carol Nolan receives her Volunteer of the Year award from the Democratic Women of the Desert.

Sister Carol Nolan receives her Volunteer of the Year award from the Democratic Women of the Desert.

Throughout her life, Sister Carol Nolan has ministered in the field of education. Whether at the elementary, high school or college level, Sister Carol and teaching have gone hand-in-hand.

In 1994, some Sisters of Providence took part in a tour of Guatemala, something she called a “life-changing experience.”

And in 1996, she and others looked into setting up a ministry in Mexico, something she said, “really interested me.”

“I felt we had exploited Mexico so systematically and over such a long period of time that we owed them something,” Sister Carol said. “But as I had previously arranged to spend three years in Taiwan, the ministry in Mexico did not materialize.”

After the stop in Taiwan, Sister Carol traveled to California to work in the diocese of San Bernardino. After researching what needs were a high priority, she learned the most underserved area in the diocese was Coachella.

After that, Providence in the Desert was born.

The mission of the ministry is to teach English to immigrant farmworkers at no cost.

“We teach English as a second language to immigrants from Mexico who live in the eastern Coachella Valley, and who work mostly in the fields, picking produce,” Sister Carol said recently. “Sister Loretta Picucci and I oversee the program. We are assisted by a number of volunteers and some paid teachers. A volunteer and I also teach music in two area elementary schools.”

That volunteerism was recently noticed as the organization Democratic Women of the Desert named Sister Carol its 2014 Volunteer of the Year.”

Sister Carol was one of six women who were honored May 17. Joining her were Anita Rufus (Voice of Women’s Rights), Megan Beaman (Civil Rights), Elle Kurpiewski (Lifetime Achievement), Sonja Martin (Democratic Ideals) and Eileen Stern (Humanitarian).

According to its website, Democratic Women of the Desert is “dedicated to promoting social, economic and political policies that reflect the priorities of women,” through educating members on women’s issues, increasing members’ political awareness, increasing political participation of women in the community, active recruitment of women of all ages, and raising campaign contributions for candidates who support the program.

“I very much appreciate the efforts of the Democratic Women of the Desert to further issues of justice and equal opportunity,” Sister Carol said. “When non-English speakers come to this country, one of the most pressing needs is that they learn English. Most native speakers have no idea how difficult English is, especially for adults who are not northern Europeans.

“When our foundress, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, came here in 1840, she observed that ‘woman is only a fourth of the family in this country,’” Sister Carol continued. “She said she hoped through education to make woman at least half: ‘The better half!’ She also said, ‘Love the children first, then teach them.’ Truly love and education can change the world. Education empowers people. But love has to come first.”

Learn more about Providence in the Desert by visiting www.spsmw.org/guerin-outreach-ministries/providence-in-the-desert/.

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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