When Erin Regan heard a talk given by Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, a 2007 CNN Heroes Award recipient, about the nun’s school for girls in Uganda, the Magnificat High School freshman knew she had to help in some way.
“I wanted to do something to create an awareness. They don’t have all that much, and it’s so sad to realize there are others who have so little,” Regan said in a recent interview. The 14-year-old decided to put her artistic talents to work, raising $1,000 by selling her handcrafted bead jewelry and pens at a craft show held by St. Bernadette’s Church in Westlake. She donated all of her proceeds to a local charity founded by Dr. Monique Richardson called “Tree of Wisdom,” which directly benefits Sister Rosemary’s school offering a safe haven for girls to get jobs, feed their children and rebuild their lives.
“Not often do you think of other countries. I don’t think I ever thought of Uganda before Sister Rosemary’s talk,” Regan said, who in an earlier statement explained why she was moved by the presentation. “She talked about the school she has in Uganda, and Sister told us about the girls there. Unfortunately, she said that they were abducted by the insurgent rebels and turned into soldiers and/or sex slaves. They were put in horrendous conditions that seriously compromised their health. These young victims might also be orphaned. AIDS and worms are not uncommon. Girls as young as 12 became mothers. When they escaped, if they could, they went to St. Monica’s, Sister Rosemary’s school.”
Regan said that she knew St. Bernadette’s, where she attended 7th and 8th grades, was having an artisan fair, so she decided to sell her bead work at the event.
Regan’s interest in jewelry making began with a Christmas present last year. “I got a leather bracelet-making kit from my aunt for Christmas last year and was going to get more stuff for that. I saw the beads and liked that better,” she explained. “I like art that doesn’t involve drawing.”
Regan went to the November craft show with the attitude that even a little money would help and was surprised that she did so well.
Regan sold about 60 items at the show.
“I’ve never sold my beading before. I usually give them as gifts,” she stated. She presented Dr. Richardson with the money the following week.
“I love volunteering,” the Avon resident continued. She said she still goes with her youth group from Florida, where she lived for 10 years, on such mission trips as helping low income residents in Tennessee. She is also a member of student council at Magnificat, SAAD, and Animal Outreach, which raises funds to donate to local animal shelters.
Regan’s plans for the future involve helping others, as well as a return to sunny Florida. “I’d like to be a vet, or anything to help people,” she said, adding that college will probably be the University of Miami, following in the footsteps of her two older brothers.
Above all, Regan said that the most important aspect of her experience was raising awareness of those in need.
“My greatest wish is that I could affect the lives of the young people at St. Monica’s and that I inspire others to help this cause,” she said.