Two local colleges have awarded full four-year scholarships to all 15 members of a half-way house program that will be featured on the ABC show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" this fall.
Loyola University Maryland and nearby College of Notre Dame of Maryland have offered the students scholarships that include room, board, fees, tuition and books. It is estimated that each scholarship at Loyola is worth $200,000, and $160,000 at Notre Dame. The mothers of the girls in the program will also receive academic and career counseling, and up to eight free college credits from Notre Dame.
"They are blown away," said Marcia Meehan, executive director of Boys Hope Girls Hope, an organization that provides at-risk youth with a group-home style setting. "They are just unbelievably thrilled. They are so excited. They want to go to college. To have someone believe in them, and be behind them is unbelievable."
The College of Notre Dame was the first to make the decision to offer the scholarships. The school has offered part-time jobs and internships to members of the program for the past eight years.
"This was a natural step," said Rick Staisloff, vice chair of the Boys Hope Girls Hope board and vice president of finance and administration for the College of Notre Dame."It was great to have Loyola step up and do the same thing for the boys. We're really excited to extend our opportunity to the girls and their mothers as well."
Loyola informed the organization of its donation Monday night.
"We feel like this whole project really plugs right into our mission as Jesuit educators," said Father Jack Dennis, S.J. director of campus ministry at Loyola. "It will give the boys an opportunity to reach a level where they might not have thought they would be able to reach."
Loyola employees and alumni have been volunteering to work on the home, according to Dennis.
The males of the program wrote to "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" asking producers for help to build a home for their seven female counterparts. The show responded and surprised the girls Friday with news that they would build them a three-level 11,120 square foot house, which is the largest in the history of the show.
The girls are currently in Los Angeles on vacation while the house is being built. The girls were surprised with the news of the home while filming an interview with a local television station. They were under the impression that they were being interviewed for the community service they perform as members of Boys Hope Girls Hope.
The lot was purchased last year by Boys Hope Girls Hope with plans for building a group home for girls. The organization had previously operated a boys home about a block from the lot.
Students in the program must maintain a 3.0 grade-point average, have no disciplinary problems in school, complete household chores and perform 100 hours of community service each year. The boys home has been operating in Baltimore since 2001. The girls program has been operating in a nonresidential capacity since the spring. The program, which was founded in 1975, exists in 16 cities across the country and four in Latin America.
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