I remember the first time I ever saw the Academy of our Lady of Mercy, Lauralton Hall. My mother and I went to the open house together and I fell in love. The school’s decadent hardwood hallways, the marble staircases with wrought iron hand rails and the famous historical mansion just blew me away. Of course, the emphasis on college preparation and amazing academics were just as amazing to me at the time, and I knew it would be a dream-come-true to go there.
I also appreciated that the school was tied to the Catholic faith, because my mother had raised me as a Catholic and I had a lot of involvement in my church choir throughout middle school. Then there were those little magical parts of the school – the curiously creepy catacombs, the mahogany staircase, the chapel with the stunning stained-glass windows, knowing that I'd have to take the train to school each day and walk to get to school - I could totally envision myself living and learning in these hallways... until I learned the tuition costs. Then, I immediately closed my mind off to the idea and accepted that it was not a possibility.
Thankfully, my mom was (and still is) a remarkable woman who, regardless of our financial status, never saw things as a barrier or believed that anything was impossible for us. In fact, she never seemed to anticipate defeat or failure when it came to me. She believed in me so much that just about any financial or logical obstacle was literally nonexistent to her. Side note: I hope to be that kind of parent one day - THANKS MOM! Anyway, it's because of her that I had the opportunity to dream about what my future could be as a Lauralton student.
I went back to the school a few months later to take the entrance exam. I was so surprised to receive my acceptance letter, but absolutely floored when I found that I was going to be granted a scholarship that would help us to afford my education there. I made my mind up instantaneously, and I can honestly say that I attribute my successes in life to my time there.
All the years that I attended Lauralton Hall, I was so excited to go the Christmas in the Mansion during holiday time with my mother. The halls were decked to the high heavens, the local boutiques always brought their best and the smell of wassail filled the air through every corridor. When I found out that Christmas in the Mansion was no longer, I was so upset. I had finally moved back home and I was looking forward to enjoying that tradition with my friends and family. Seriously, you have to see the decorations alone to understand where I'm coming from.
When I attended my ten-year reunion celebration in September of 2017, I learned that the new school President, Elizabeth Miller, was hoping to bring back a taste of the Christmas in the Mansion that coming December. I was so overjoyed that I immediately signed up to be on the marketing committee to help plan for and promote the event. In addition, I knew nothing would make me prouder than to be able to showcase my candles at the event, so I decided to become a vendor. Even though my company is small – think micro-sized – I understand how important it is to help raise funds for charitable causes and I do this on a pretty regular basis. It just made sense to make Lauralton's financial aid my next charitable effort.
In came the idea for the Merry Mansion candle. It was so much more to me than a candle with a special, new fragrance - although I was pretty excited about recreating the smell of wassail in the candle! The fact that I was planning to donate half the selling price right back to the school to go toward financial aid for current and future students made me feel so accomplished and proud to be part of the Lauralton Hall community. With the help of so many alumni, staff and faculty members, and friends of the school and fans of Ascent Soy Candles, we ended up donating $650 at the beginning of this year and look forward to writing another check after this year’s Christmas in the Mansion, when we will feature it again.
Learning at Lauralton Hall truly transformed my life and I would certainly not be where I am today if I didn’t get the scholarship to go there. I can never be grateful enough for the amazing opportunities the school has helped create for me. Thank you to all of you who helped make the mansion merrier this past holiday season! We appreciate you greatly.
P.S. Remember that magical chapel I talked about earlier? That’s where my fiancée and I will be getting married this September! Aren’t those stained-glass windows just beautiful? We’re so happy to support the school yet again by having our wedding ceremony here.