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Nazareth Guild members inspired by former teachers

Carmella Garabedian and Don Herak are among the leaders of the Nazareth Guild initiative to boost funding for Catholic schools. (Colin Mulvany)
Carmella Garabedian and Don Herak are among the leaders of the Nazareth Guild initiative to boost funding for Catholic schools. (Colin Mulvany)

Two of the prime movers behind the Nazareth Guild, Don Herak and Carmella Garabedian, lead busy lives, yet both agreed to help launch a fund to keep Catholic schools vital. Here’s why:

Don Herak

88, chairman of the Nazareth Guild board

Back story: Herak attended public schools as a child in rural Charlo, Mont., but got to know Jesuits at a nearby mission school. He graduated from Gonzaga University in 1946 with a degree in civil engineering.

The retired businessman owned Acme Concrete Co. and served on Gonzaga University’s board for 24 years.

Why he’s involved: “I watched my great-grandkids at Cataldo and saw some of the turmoil (Cataldo) had in fundraising, and every Catholic school has the same problem. I went to Bishop (Blase) Cupich and said, ‘The Catholics need an umbrella group for fundraising. Seattle has Fulcrum. We need something like Seattle.’ He said, ‘I will do whatever necessary to get this going.’ ”

Herak’s hope: Many more low-income students in the Diocese of Spokane will be able to attend Catholic schools because of tuition support. “We don’t want Catholic schools to end up with just rich kids,” he said.

Lifelong teacher: James McGivern, dean of GU’s School of Engineering in Herak’s college years, told his students: “You owe this school more than lip service. If you’re successful, you owe something in return.’ ”

Carmella Garabedian

35, Nazareth Guild board member, co-chair of the fund’s inaugural event

Back story: Grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., graduating from St. Francis of Assisi grade school and Garces High School, named after a Catholic missionary. She and her husband, Spokane dentist Andrew Garabedian, moved back to his childhood city in 2002.

Garabedian has a master’s degree in English literature and is a community volunteer and mom to three children who attend Cataldo School.

Why she’s involved: “My dad has worked with a foundation for my elementary school for over 20 years. When I was a freshman in high school, a new principal was recruited to come and save our failing school. My dad served on the search committee. The committee hired Ed Hearn from Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

“Mr. Hearn approached the problem of a troubled school fearlessly. He fired teachers. He changed policies. He did not defer to prominent families. He required the football players make their grades. He turned the school around because he was not afraid to demand excellence.

“I accepted Bishop Cupich’s request to work on Nazareth Guild because I witnessed people like my father and Ed Hearn succeed at establishing foundations and fostering excellence in Catholic schools.”

Garabedian’s immediate hope: The tables are full at the gala.

Lifelong teacher: Mrs. Ottenstein, her sixth- and seventh-grade English teacher. “She was really strict. I was a good student, but one day I forgot my homework, and you got your name put on the board. She liked me as a student because I followed her instructions, but I got my name put up there, too, because the rules were the rules. She demanded everyone do his or her best.”

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