Fitchburg High School student completes community service project to earn black belt

FITCHBURG — When Kayleigh LeFrancois, a 15-year-old sophomore at Fitchburg High School, learned she had to do a community service project to earn her black belt from the Len Family Martial Arts Center Armband to Leominster, she immediately knew who she wanted the recipient to be — Fitchburg Healthcare.

Fitchburg High School sophomore Kayleigh LeFrancois (L), 15, presents her donation of games, toiletries, crafts and more to Fitchburg Healthcare Executive Director Damian Dell’Anno . (Courtesy FITCHBURG HEALTHCARE)

“The fact that everyone tends to do a food bank is amazing and all, but I wanted to do something different from everyone else and our elders don’t get enough recognition and respect like that,” LeFrancois said. .

She was able to raise over $500 from generous donors to buy crafts, games and personal hygiene supplies for residents, with help from others in her martial arts group.

“As the donations came in from the GoFundMe, I followed and got more and more excited and happy,” the teenager said. “I would even go to my mother and say, ‘Mom, so-and-so made a donation.’ I started with a low enough target to see where I would get out of it and instead of $500 we ended up getting $530.

LeFrancois said she was “beyond grateful and grateful” for everyone who donated to the GoFundMe or dropped money into the box she set up at the studio, and even those who simply “showed their support in general”.

“It’s just amazing,” she said.

It turns out being at the nursing home on John Fitch Highway is nothing new for LeFrancois, who went there to cheat or cure five years ago with his Girl Scout troop. She delivered the treat loot which included bingo sets, crossword books, toiletries, candy, socks and more to Fitchburg Healthcare earlier this month and cried a little in the car on the way home – tears of joy, that is.

Fitchburg High School sophomore Kayleigh LeFrancois recently donated $500 worth of games, toiletries, crafts and more to Fitchburg Healthcare. (Courtesy FITCHBURG HEALTHCARE)

“She was truly one of the nicest people we’ve ever met,” admissions and marketing director Ashley Dumais said. “It still gives me goosebumps.”

Dumais said hygiene products will be “divided and dispersed as needed” to residents and candy, games and socks have been delegated for bingo prizes.

“I saw some of them playing the wooden games in their day rooms last week, so much fun,” she said, adding that the dolls were for their secure unit. “Women, and sometimes even men, love the feel of holding them and we’ve noticed that it helps reduce anxiety.”

Residents were delighted to receive the gifts, and general manager Damian Dell’Anno said they wanted to thank LeFrancois “for his most generous donation.”

“We are so fortunate to have caught the attention of such a prominent member of this community and are thrilled to share her gifts and her story with our residents,” he said. “There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life good for others, and we are grateful to the Family Martial Arts Center for promoting such acts of kindness.”

15-year-old Kayleigh LeFrancois recently earned her long-awaited black belt after completing a community service project. (Courtesy PAM WAITE)

LeFrancois earned her long-awaited black belt when she graduated Oct. 8, a goal she’s had for some time.

“There have been tough times in karate,” she said. “I mean, it happens and it gets tough and sometimes you have to step back and relax and maybe spend more time on a certain section than you’re supposed to, but that’s okay. It’s always good to step back and learn anew as long as you get somewhere and it helps, which happened in my case.

She said she was proud of how far she had come with karate and “speechless” to finally earn her black belt after working so hard for it.

“I really have no words because there were times when I didn’t think I would get here, and here I am now a black belt,” LeFrancois said.

She said she couldn’t have done it without her biggest cheerleader, mother Pam Waite, who LeFrancois says “also deserves recognition for how amazing she is even when it’s on.” is difficult”.

“She always pushed me to do my best and believed in me when I didn’t believe and couldn’t believe in myself,” LeFrancois said, pointing out how much money her mom spent just on gas the next day. driving in both directions. martial arts studio for five years.

“She’s really my key to all of this and my push, so I just want to recognize her for how proud I am of her as well and how amazing she is,” LeFrancois said. “Overall I’m really so happy, words can’t explain. It’s been a tough but amazing journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Jill E. Washington