... over 700 foreign students in 50 years
The photos are from Lora's scrapbook, and unfortunately we didn't get the identifications before she went to Maine for the summer. But the pictures give our readers an idea, a sampling, of the foreign students who, for a short time, called Melrose home.
Back in the early 1950s, a young minister in a college town realized that, during Christmas vacation, the students were out on their own when the dormitories closed for vacation. The following year he solicited the help of his parishioners and posted an offer for board and room on the college bulletin board. Over 100 applied!
Realizing this was likely a problem for many college students, he wrote his fellow seminarians suggesting that they offer vacation homes to the students in their area. One of them, Leonard Clough, had been our assistant minister at the church we attended before moving to Melrose, and he contacted us.
My husband, Harry, was chairman of the Outreach Committee and felt it was a worthy cause--so he wrote to several New England colleges offering homes for their displaced students. Forty-two replied! We were overwhelmed, but by enlisting the help of other Melrose churches and turning our basement and the assistant pastor's home into mini-dorms, we managed to accommodate all of them.
This process was too risky so Pete, the originator of the idea, made new plans where the students applied with their first three choices of the towns that were offering. Each town told headquarters how many student they could accommodate. When the list of student applicants arrived with their choice of studies and their interests, the families chose which student best fitted their lifestyle.
With representatives from all the churches in Melrose finding families who could host the students, and collecting donations from others who were interested in the project, homes and admission fees were provided for approximately 12 - 20 students per year for 50 years.
It was the lack of available drivers which forced the program to close. Melrose can be proud, however, that approximately 700 students from 100 different countries were treated to its hospitality.