Expressions from the Heart
April 30, 2009

Behind every gift there lies a personal story.

Whether given in gratitude, memory or hope, gifts represent expressions from the heart of their donors. Here are three intensely personal stories from people whose scholarships are shaping the lives of our students.

Elizabeth (Fox) Hayden '76

Blessed and Embraced
In explaining the origins of her family's scholarship at Stonehill, Nancy Cavanagh (pictured left) says she and her late husband Richard loved working at the College.

He spent 20 years as Director of Buildings and Grounds, managing Stonehill's physical plant during a period of exciting growth.

She directed the Chapel Choir for a couple of years, oversaw Baccalaureate Mass, sang at weddings in the Chapel of Mary, did her student teaching through the College, and took courses here as did one of their sons.

When Richard retired in 2000, the outpouring of affection from their friends and colleagues on campus touched Nancy and Richard deeply. As a couple, they felt blessed and embraced by the community they served and wanted to give something back that would link the Cavanagh and Stonehill families permanently.

With gifts they received from their peers and with contributions of their own, they created the Cavanagh Family Scholarship which helps students with financial need. Richard died in 2001 and, in honor of him and his affection for the College, the Cavanagh family added to the scholarship, something they continue to do frequently.

"There is something special about the people at Stonehill, a sense of inclusiveness which we enjoyed. The scholarship is just us returning the favor," says Nancy. So far, six students have received the Cavanagh Family Scholarship.

Elizabeth (Fox) Hayden '76

We Went to Stonehill Together
Within months of graduating in May 1999, Matt McDonough suffered a brain aneurysm, underwent three brain surgeries, and ultimately died of a stroke.

The death of the 21-year-old Chieftain football-player, orientation leader, Mr. Stonehill contestant, and one of the most popular students on campus, devastated his family.

Looking back on that ordeal, Matt's brother Patrick recently described how Matt's class mates and friends supported his family during their time of need. While in the neuro-intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, Matt could only receive visits from his immediate family, yet the corridors were packed with Stonehill friends there to bear witness and extend support.

"They would come in and sit for a while, and come up to my parents and say, 'I know you don't know me, but I am a good friend of Matt's. We went to Stonehill together.' This happened all day long," recalls Patrick, above in photo with McDonough family and friends.

When Matt died, the McDonough Family felt that the best way to keep his memory alive was to establish the Matthew McDonough Memorial Scholarship at his alma mater.

"This way, we could continue to help others as Matt did throughout his life, especially here at the College. We knew that this is what he would have wanted…It helps me to know that he will forever be part of Stonehill," adds Patrick in recent remarks on behalf of his family. So far, three students have received the McDonough Scholarship.

Elizabeth (Fox) Hayden '76

Diagnosed with Cancer
As her husband Peter battled cancer Susan Marathas (pictured left) stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him. A member of the Advancement Division, Susan fought on all fronts to help the life-long runner beat the disease.

Despite all best efforts, Peter died in 2000. As Susan recalls this difficult time in her life, she points to the kindness of so many Stonehill colleagues to her and her family.

"The cards, the words of encouragement, the prayers, the consideration that I received, they all added up to give me comfort and hope during an otherwise dark time. I could never forget that," says Susan.

In 2001, Susan created the Peter J. Marathas, Sr. Memorial Scholarship as her way of remembering Peter and of saying thank you to the friends who helped her through such a major loss. Significantly, in tribute to her husband's love of running, the scholarship is designed to help members of the Stonehill men's and women's cross country team. So far, five students have received the Marathas Scholarship.

Recently, 28 creators of scholarships at Stonehill met with 60 student recipients of those awards in Alumni Hall. Now an annual tradition, this dinner allows benefactors, along with their families, and students to get to know each other. It also helps both sides to understand what drives people to become philanthropists and how their efforts shape young lives for the better.

And that's why, at this annual benefactor-student dinner, there is never a lull in the conversation as stories from the heart are traded across tables and across generations.

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