Story by Dave Paone:
The gunman who opened fire at a movie theater in Colorado last July was 24 years old. He killed 12 people.
The gunman who opened fire at the elementary school in Connecticut last December was 20 years old. He killed 26 people.
The brothers who detonated bombs in Boston in April were 26 and 19 years old. They killed three and injured 264 people.
Three 16-year-old boys were arrested in California this April in connection to the suicide of a girl in their class.
It's enough to make one think that the young people of the country have no regard for human life.
On the contrary, there are two teenage girls in West Hempstead whose high regard for human life has inspired them to volunteer their services for both the newly born and unborn.
Kayla Dolan, 17, is a junior at Sacred Heart Academy, and Caitlin Bowe, 18, is a senior at Kellenberg Memorial High School. Both attended St. Thomas the Apostle School in West Hempstead and both are recipients of the Maureen Nolan Memorial Scholarship Fund, a pro-life scholarship given to eighth graders to help pay tuition costs for Catholic high school.
Each recipient receives $500 per year for four years but must sustain an 85 average and participate in pro-life activities throughout high school to maintain eligibility.
Dolan and Bowe work as a team in their activities. This past October they held a baby shower at Dolan’s house where friends and family donated baby items that the girls passed on to Mommas House for unwed mothers throughout Long Island. They’ve held a baby shower each year since Dolan was a freshman.
This past December the girls attended the Mommas House Christmas party held for the people who have gone and are going through the program. This gave the mothers an opportunity to relax and socialize while the volunteers watched their children.
Dolan received her scholarship in 2010 and Bowe received hers in 2009. Both girls had the choice of attending either West Hempstead High School or a Catholic high school, and both chose a Catholic one.
"I like Catholic school and I’ve been to Catholic school my entire life. I like the way it’s structured and feel like it’s a comfort to be around people the same faith as you," Bowe said.
Celeste Broyles, PhD, is a volunteer and treasurer for the Long Island Coalition for Life, the non-profit that publishes Life News, a pro-life newsletter for Long Island.
The LICL held a "Face the Truth" event on Good Friday this past March in front of the Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, which is known for performing abortions. Both Dolan and Bowe attended, as well as two other scholarship recipients and more than 90 additional pro-lifers.
"Just because the students are pro-life, however, it doesn't mean it is easy for them to join pro-life events, especially the outdoor, public-witness events like those that the LICL holds," Broyles said.
The girls have attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. each January for the past two years. They also protest outside of Planned Parenthood in Hempstead fairly regularly in an effort to raise awareness of alternatives to abortion.
Bowe experienced a victory there once.
"When I was outside Planned Parenthood I was holding pamphlets and a cabdriver came up to me with a girl who [was] the same age as me inside the car and she was pregnant and she asked the cabdriver to take the pamphlet from me," Bowe said.
"She started crying in the car and she asked him to drive her home, so she didn’t get the abortion," she added.
"Teens like to do fun things; they like to hang out with other teens," Broyles said. "It's not politically correct to be pro-life and standing in the public 'showing off' your pro-life position without a bunch of friends with you takes a certain level of commitment and determination. I give these students who attend our events a lot of credit for stepping out of their comfort zone and doing pro-life volunteer work."
The scholarship committee receives about 10 applications each year with four awarded each spring. The scholarships have been awarded each year since 2007.
In addition to the $500, upperclassmen are eligible for a stipend of up to $1,000 for those who have demonstrated truly exceptional work on behalf of the unborn. Dolan has received the stipend twice.
Robert Dougherty, an attorney from Garden City who is a trustee of and the sole fundraiser for the scholarship fund, describes Bowe as the "gold standard," earning the maximum stipend from her sophomore through senior years of high school.
As Dr. Broyles sums it up: "Good work from good people. More of what Long Island needs. More of what Malverne, West Hempstead [and] Lynbrook needs."