Benedictine Sisters of Erie Home Home

Complete Story Archive

Building partnerships; Creating relationships

Without relationships Saint Benedict Education Center staff would not be able to offer the many services and program enhancements for the clients that we do.  We could not exhibit the dedication and care for which we are known.  Various types of relationships, within and outside the agency, are needed to be able to offer nurture and challenge.

Something old --- Something new

It has become somewhat of a tradition to provide something of warmth for our participants and their children as cold weather looms:  Coats & Boots.  The staff give careful attention to gathering information about the sizes and needs of the clients and of each child.

This project takes hours of planning and many staff working to make all the pieces come together.  Then there’s the sense of satisfaction a case manager experiences in the happiness of her client and child.

In addition, something new was offered in Erie:  The warmth of a bit a soup and adult companions with whom to enjoy it.  Introducing the Soup Express Café.

See what's going on in Treasures & Such

“St. Benedict Education Center Fall Open House!” included tours of Treasures & Such, the incentive store, and an opportunity to shop with earned “Benny Bucks”.

Most participants knew of the store.  The opportunity to tour it – and gain another “raffle leaf” for the gift basket – gave them a chance to hear about and see changes and additions that have enhanced it.

Celebrating a new season of opportunities

The announcement read: “St Benedict Education Center Fall Open House!  See what’s going on at SBEC and discover opportunities!”  The invitation was offered to all current clients – and many responded.

Tuesday, October 18th, was the day.  Not since before the restrictions required by Covid have the halls of SBEC and Treasures & Such, the incentive store, contained such energy and activity --- plus the presence of so many people interacting with each other.  

Remembering Joan Vereb

“Be happy for this moment.  This moment is our life.”  “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.”

This reality is evident in all our lives.   One recent expression of this is the death of Joan Vereb, volunteer at Saint Benedict Education Center, on July 9, 2022.  Joan’s illness was quite brief.  The news of her passing surprised and saddened those with whom she worked and the staff.

Succeeding -- One step at a time

Succeeding -- One step at a time

Andre Carson simply describes his movement from Saint Benedict Education Center to working at the Inner-City Neighborhood Art House as succeeding “one step at a time”.

When asked to reflect on his own life and experiences Andre immediately said, “I’m a work in progress.  It’s one step at a time.”

What does success look like?

At the beginning, when I first started with SBEC, I thought the finish line was so far away, but what seemed like a lifetime and a huge leap into the decision to further my education came and went quicker than I expected.  Miss Cheryl always made me feel like I could do anything I put my mind to as she encouraged me to push myself into going back to school.  I put the majority of my appreciation towards her always being there for me.


Haley Konetsky:  Nationally certified Medical Assistant; Employee at Millcreek Surgical Specialists.  Success!


Treasures & Such: Activity and Current Needs

A happy daughter with unicorn slippers & Minnie Mouse

There is a trace of activity in Treasures & Such once again.  Volunteers are returning.  Shoppers are making purchases.  Limited donations are being accepted.

Quilter Eileen Melia honors peacemakers & social justice advocates

Most often, donors offer Saint Benedict Education Center much more than the items they give.  They invite their SBEC contact into new and different experiences by sharing their interests and activities.  This is certainly true of the interactions between Eileen Melia, donor of beautiful fabric, and Cynthia Aulenbacher, seamstress and recipient of the donation for The Mending Place. 

Naming the Barriers


Everyone is confronted with barriers that hinder achieving desired goals as fully as one wishes, or as quickly.   This is certainly true for the clients at Saint Benedict Education Center.  What may seem to be simple, such as taking a job amid so many that are available, is not so simple.  

The Annual Government Monitoring


Saint Benedict Education Center operates the EARN program, a state-contracted program funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS). It is designed to provide training, skill development, and employment opportunities to participants.  Each year the government conducts an audit of the program.  That took place November 3 and 4, 2021.

This process is welcome since it provides an avenue for SBEC to receive suggestions to enhance programming while informing the DHS of the demands and challenges of those we serve.

SBEC Offers Positive Activities

Sr Cindy greets volunteers Loretto B & Pat M as all gather so express thanks

Saint Benedict Education Center is committed to planning positive activities during a discouraging time.

It is difficult to deny the fact that these are “discouraging times.”  Because all of us – staff, participants, volunteers, and our families -- have been touched by this pandemic we are committed to offering positive, life-giving opportunities that enrich our SBEC community.  Most recently, we have experienced a Volunteer “Thank you” Event and a Coats and Boots Program.

The PurpleOne Dot

The PurpleOne Dot

If you are observant, you will see something new on the front door of Saint Benedict Education Center:  A PurpleOne Dot.  This dot indicates that SBEC is an approved and recognized organization that can offer immediate assistance to a victim of domestic violence and a referral to our local domestic violence agency, Safe Journey. 

HUNGER in our midst. Really?

It could be said that every day is “Hunger Action Day” at Saint Benedict Education Center.  SBEC staff have in front of them participants who need assistance in dealing with the multifaceted reality of hunger in their lives and that of their children.

Hunger issues can be as stark as not having enough money to pay for the food necessary to feed one’s family.  It can involve learning about a budget to empower one to use well their resources.  It can involve questions about where to shop – and why. 

Treasures & Such Reopens for Business

Nearly a year and a half after being shut down by COVID-19, Treasures & Such is once again open for business.  The store, which provides new and used household items for participants in St. Benedict Education Center's job training and placement program, reopened on August 19, 2021. Because the store was closed for so long, circumstances are now differnt and many adjustments were and will continue to be made.

What's Going On In The Mending Place....

At this time of Covid, classes offered in The Mending Place have been suspended but creative ways to engage participants remotely continue to be explored.  Meanwhile, The Mending Place is still taking in everything that needs mending: tears, broken zippers, sagging hemlines and drooping sleeves.  If a zipper is to be replaced the customer must provide the zipper, but the work is done here.

Damanta Khadka and Cynthia Aulenbacher, the two seamstresses at The Mending Place, are holding down the fort.  They are keeping the responsive and excellent services of the Mending Place going and have taken on some awesome tasks during this time.  

SNAP Addresses Food Needs.....and More

People are malnourished in our country.  14 million children are hungry.

SBEC has two staff members who work with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).  Deb Maxwell and Sandy Osmanski help participants understand and access the benefits available to them to meet their food needs.   In addition, the program administered by SBEC is designed “to move clients toward family economic stability”, thus no longer dependent on SNAP.

Welcome to the Neighborhood


The Erie County Community College has moved another step closer to opening.  One of four sites will be housed in Saint Benedict Education Center (SBEC), on East 10th St., Erie.  A lease was signed July 13, 2021, by the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, owner of the building, and the interim president of the college, Dr. Judith Gay.  This temporary arrangement will enable the college to continue the immediate work required to offer classes in September.  

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

Summer Bash Provides an Opportunity


Summer Bash 2021 was intended to encourage SBEC parents to have fun with their children through the summer and provide some means to do that.  

The Bash also seems to have provided opportunities for fun and engagement not only for clients but for the staff as well.  That sounds like success!

Do Words Matter?

In the recent past a visitor to Saint Benedict Education Center (SBEC) might hear references made to helping participants “get a job” or developing relationships with area employers.  Today, one who listens to the conversation will hear: “Career path”, “credentials“, “certification”, or “workforce/career path specialist”.  “Job” is spoken, but differently.

The words used do matter.

The Answer Is "Yes"

“Do you still work with the refugees?”  

With changes in policy toward refugees in the US the past four years their presence and participation has been greatly diminished.  Important work, however, continues. 

It's Amazing!

Cheryl Witherspoon shares information, offers support

You might think not much is happening within Saint Benedict Education 
Center if you see the empty hallways, darkened offices, or the few cars in the  
parking lots.  Not true.  Needs of participants, commitment of staff, and 
availability of technology come together to produce amazing results.

Required: Planning, hard work, creativity

Staff using Webcams on Ring Central

    In early October 2020, laptop computers were provided to all Saint Benedict Education Center staff whose job allowed them to do some work at home.  These were connected to office computers at SBEC so work could proceed securely and seamlessly.  At that time Nancy Sabol, Executive Director, commented:  These laptops will “strategically position us for whatever is to come….”  “The agency will provide essential tools for telework…to the extent possible.”

Being creative for Christmas

Cynthia is enjoying the holiday preparation

    A sense of expectation was tangible.  Christmas music and animated conversation could be heard throughout first floor.  The staff at Saint Benedict Education Center was preparing to share holiday joy and gifts with their clients and families--differently.  

PHOTO ESSAY The travel thru toy pick-up

December 9, 2020       The Christmas gifts—carefully selected, wrapped, and organized for each family by SBEC staff—were ready for pick-up.  

Dolores Mosakowski, we are grateful

Dolores Mosakowski

Dolores Mosakowski shared her life with so many.  We, at Saint Benedict Education Center, are grateful she gave some of her care and compassion – some of her spirit and energy – to us.  We will miss her.

Ready for winter

    Some things don’t change, even in this time of the Covid-19 virus.  Winter is cold and snowy; oftentimes bitter cold and very snowy!  Winter wear – coats and boots – are expensive and children outgrow them quickly.  The clients at SBEC are in need of such items for themselves and their children.  

    Responding to this need, arrangements were made to have coats and boots provided by SBEC to our participants again this year.  

A Photo Essay: Celebrating "Leadership"

How do you express your thanks to someone who has offered steady, insightful, compassionate leadership -- particularly during these uncertain, stress-filled days of Covid-19?  

How do you celebrate National Bosses Day with “your boss” when, in past years, she has been clear about not wanting it observed?  

May life be good, Judi Jaworski

Judi Jaworski has retired from Saint Benedict Education Center after twenty-nine years of service.  Her name is recognized throughout the area and in Harrisburg.  She is respected by her colleagues at SBEC and valued by participants. 

Treasures & Such: What's happening?

What's happening

Many people are asking about Treasures & Such, Saint Benedict Education Center’s “incentive store”.  Is it open?  Will it open?  What is happening now in the store?  Are you taking donations?

Let's have a conversation


Teresa Miller, Secretary of the Department of Human Services, reflected on “the demonstrations held around Pennsylvania and the country in response to the murder of George Floyd” in the department’s June 11, 2020 newsletter, The Impact.  In the midst of offering observations on the disparities, inequities, structural discrimination…and the commitment of the department to “correct them” Secretary Miller speaks of  conversations. She speaks of engaging in “conversations”.  

There are so many possible conversations waiting to be had.  What might be some to pursue?  

The Mending Place continues to adapt

The Mending Place has continuously adjusted to the changes and needs of the agency and its customers, as is true of all that happens at Saint Benedict Education Center.  The latest venture is to offer curbside drop-off and pick-up service – for the time being -- as SBEC continues to limit access to the building.

From the inside

What are the most common words and phrases heard at Saint Benedict Education Center these days?  “Moment by moment”.  “Expect changes”. “Constant state of flux”.  “Protocols”.  “Remote”.

In the midst of such a “constant state of flux” can anything get done?  The short answer is “yes”.  A few comments on two areas of current focus may serve to illustrate.  

"At home" with volunteers

"At home" with volunteers

The volunteers at Treasures & Such offer energy, creativity, and enthusiasm to SBEC through their commitment to the store.  Their absence these past months has been obvious; their presence has been missed.

What has life been like for them during these weeks of “staying home”?

Parenting Class at SBEC

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the lives of everyone, Dr. Cynthia M. Legin-Bucell and the staff at SBEC believe they have provided the Parenting Class students with some tools and new skills from the Adult and Children Together Program (ACT) and the sharing of life experiences with their peers to assist them with the challenges of these days.

Remember the children

The Covid-19 Pandemic has dominated what we hear, what we say, what we do.
In the midst of all this:  What about the children?  How is the stress, fear, and uncertainty plus the sustained physical confinement impacting the children?  Is there help for the parents?

What's happening in the counties?

What are SBEC clients in Crawford, Venango, Warren, Clarion, and Forest counties experiencing?  Some participants are described as being “anxious, frustrated, lonely, short of patience…”, while others “have been holding up quite well.” 

Everyone is in this together

Additional staff in Clarion County

It has been three weeks since Saint Benedict Education Center changed its mode of operation in response to PA Governor Tom Wolf’s closure of schools and non- life sustaining businesses due to COVID-19. The offices continue to be closed to the public, but the work goes on.  SBEC staff serves clients from home.   

As expected during such an unsettling, frightening time, unique dynamics have emerged. Perhaps two are most obvious. 

One thing is clear:  At Saint Benedict Education Center, everyone is in this together.

Work continues....from home

SBEC offices closed---Operations continue

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that all schools would be closed, beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This directive was received late Friday afternoon, March 13th and required an immediate response at Saint Benedict Education Center to prepare for the new situation created for participants and the staff. The basic expectations and needs would remain the same, but in a unique and challenging situation. 

Everyone needs affirmation

This story was prepared prior to the COVID-19 crisis.  We wish everyone well:  Stay healthy; Be gentle with youself and others.  From our own SBEC family to yours, Peace.

Everyone needs affirmation.  At St. Benedict Education Center, besides verbal affirmations, several levels of tangible affirmation have been established.

Stephanie Krauza, MSW, Program Director, was responsible for organizing and refining SBEC’s use of incentives to enhance their effectiveness.  She explains that offering incentives is to encourage participants to learn the skills needed to successfully interview for, obtain and maintain a job.  The value of the incentive increases as the skill developed requires a greater degree of responsibility or accountability.

Treasures & Such: What"s Happening? Why?

Treasures & Such continues to be a center of activity at SBEC.  Store volunteers planned a couple of events to address particular needs of participants and their families.   A special occasion for the workers was also offered.  

SBEC: What's Happening? Why?

It’s January, time to recount past activities at St. Benedict Education Center.  What are the events and activities that have enhanced the routine these past months?  Are there insights to be gained in reviewing these that may indicate the values underlying what is done at SBEC?   

Transportation Program Removes Barriers

Diane Catrabone, who holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology,  is a firm believer that the transportation assistance program she oversees at St. Benedict Education Center can relieve a great deal of stress and provide encouragement in the lives of the program’s participants.

Change is Growth

Over the last nine years, Treasures & Such has evolved and changed as requirements from the government and the needs of participants at SBEC have evolved and changed.

You Are Invited to a "Slumber Party"

There are different ways to address the many needs of our folks.  A “Slumber Party” can be one of them!  Some “fuzzy sleep gear” was offered to participants for them and their families in anticipation of the coming cooler weather.  Both staff and participants enjoyed time spent in relaxed, respectful conversation with each other as they shared simple breakfast foods.  

Volunteer in Bloom

For the past 20 years, Sue and Geoff McCreary have been turning their outdoor living space at their North East home into a series of beautiful gardens. For the last seven of those years, Sue has taken time from her work at home to volunteer at Treasures & Such, a store for participants in St. Benedict Education Center’s job assistance program.

Accomplishments; Learning; Success

When you meet Marqueta, you are immediately aware of her smile and ease of conversation. Marqueta, a participant at St Benedict Education Center, is excited to share that she had completed an online program which certifies her as a Medical Office Assistant.  She is now eager to interview and obtain a job to begin a new career.

A Photo Essay: Bicycle repair came "Rolling 2" us

Bicycle repair came “Rolling 2” us.

SBEC Participates in National Night Out

St. Benedict Education Center instructors, Taha Najem and Mary Lou McCall, volunteered to work at one of the National Night Out events that took place at the Multicultural Resource Center (MCRC) in the 500 block of East 10th St., on Tuesday, August 6.

Community Service Prepares Participants for Work Force

Supervisor Kara Bauer

Community Service Prepares Participants for Work Force

Kara Bauer, program supervisor at SBEC, defines Community Service as on-site work experience. She explains upon meeting with an individual that they will discuss interests and skills before determining their two selections of Community Service.  On-site experiences include the Production Center, Mending Place, the Garden, and Community Helpers. These experiences aid the participant’s basic skills, the skills one needs to procure and hold a job.


Treasures & Such Benefits from Generosity of Local Church

Treasures & Such Benefits from Generosity of Local Church

Our Lady of Peace 7:00 am daily Mass participants presented a generous gift to Treasures & Such from donations they accrue regularly.  These funds were given to Treasures & Such to purchase items not able to be obtained through food stamps.

GED Classes Can Improve Lives

GED classes can improve lives, self-esteem
One single mother wants a good job so that she can provide for her family. Another single mom wants to set an example for her children. Both are trying to improve their lives by earning their High School Equivalency (HSE) certificate at St. Benedict Education Center

From Potter and McKean Counties: Donors Outside Erie

From Potter and McKean Counties:  Donors Outside Erie

Catholic Rural Ministry in the Erie Catholic Diocese covers 13 churches and seven pastors in Potter and McKean counties.  Sister Phyllis Schleicher,OSB, and Sister Mary Hoffman,OSB, are a compassionate presence in the entire area, working at serving people in need.

The sisters, along with parishioners, are attentive to how they might help people in their 
area and at Saint Benedict Education Center (SBEC) in Erie.

Bright and Beautiful

It’s been a whole new experience for shoppers at the Treasures & Such store since renovations were completed in autumn of 2017.
Volunteers recently put the finishing touches on the work by painting new shelving units and tables that were added to display more merchandise in the store.

Food Stamps Have Limitations for Shoppers

A Happy Shopper

Millions of low-income Americans each year get help with one of life’s basic necessities --- food. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the federal Food Stamp Program, provides this help for those who meet certain income requirements.

A Purse Raffle?

Treasures and Such volunteers

What better way to entice participants to shop than to have an unannounced  “purse raffle” every couple weeks. And not just any purse; beautiful ones filled with wonderful personal items.  In addition, the raffle tickets are free – given to each person who comes into the store, Treasures & Such.