Cohannet Academy Benefits from the Kindness of Julia Murphy

Julia Murphy proudly displays her donation bin in the HHS lobby.

Gabrielle Martin

Julia Murphy proudly displays her donation bin in the HHS lobby.

Gabrielle Martin, Contributing Writer

The halls of Hingham High School are covered in a collection of posters advertising various clubs, events, and organizations. Plastered along the walls are invitations to join baking a club in an after school session of cupcake decorating, brightly colored messages of support for the drama club, and photos with clever pop ­culture references advertising for track and field.

Among them stands a recent addition: a white piece of paper with bold, colored letters printed across the top “CLOTHING DRIVE”. Beneath this caption is further information in smaller font, with a graphic of colorful folded sweaters at the bottom.

Senior Julia Murphy is responsible for these flyers, as well as the trash bags of clothing in the wooden donation bin located in the lobby. Julia has begun a school­wide clothing drive, which is no small feat; she is asking her fellow students for donations of clothes and shoes for teenage girls to benefit the Cohannet Academy Residential Treatment Center, a rehabilitation program located at Taunton State Hospital in the Goss Building.

Bryan Lary, Program Director, kindly agreed to tell me more about Cohannet Academy. “So the best way I can frame something for you is that Cohannet Academy is a treatment program run by one of the largest non­profit agencies in Massachusetts called Justice Resource Institute. Cohannet Academy serves roughly twenty­five adolescent girls ages thirteen to nineteen per year who are typically victims of significant traumas in their lives.”

Julia added “This basically means that this is a place for teenage girls who struggle with depression or anxiety or other mental illnesses to receive treatment for their conditions and be under twenty­four hour care.”

Because Julia is completing this drive for her community service requirement ­ which all senior students who take a history course must complete ­ she is working on it individually. When I asked her about any mentors or community support, Julia mentions, “The director of the program, Bryan Lary, has been the one who has helped me set the drive up.”

“Often many of our young ladies have very little resources available to them and are often in need of support from our community for clothing and other resources that sometimes the state can only minimally provide. Julia will be providing some of these under-served girls with much ­needed spring and summer clothing that will be greatly appreciated by these young ladies” said Director Lary.

When asked why she specifically chose Cohannet Academy to be the recipient of her drive, Julia said “I heard about the organization through one of my mom’s colleagues who had a daughter in the program. She sent out an email to my mom’s office spreading the word about a clothing drive they were having, and I decided to bring it to Hingham High School.”

“I still needed to fulfill my community service requirement, but personally knowing someone in the program is what really motivated me to help out,” Julia added.

“My goal for the drive was to donate as much clothing to this program as possible. The girls in the program aren’t allowed to bring anything with them, so basically whatever is provided to the girls by the program is what they get,” Julia disclosed. “All of the donations from the drive will go to residents at the treatment center located in Taunton, Massachusetts.”

When I asked her about the amount of donations her drive has received, she excitedly responded, “I have received more donations than I expected. A lot of teachers and students took the time to go through their clothing or the clothing of their children, sisters, or family members to donate to the drive.”

Hingham High School’s own beloved science teacher Mrs. Flanagan donated to Julia’s clothing drive. “I saw the flyers in the hallway, and I was already doing some spring cleaning at home, so I thought it would be a great idea to donate a bunch of Meg’s clothes,” Mrs. Flanagan says.

Meg, her daughter, is a junior at Hingham High School. “I collected three garbage bags full. I was glad the clothes were going to a good cause, and I was happy to help Julia out with her senior community service. I have known Julia all her life; my parents were close friends with her grandparents, and I went to Holy Cross with her mother and father” Ms. Flanagan shared.

Despite the March 18 deadline stated on her posters, Julia encouraged any donations beyond this point. “I won’t be sending in the donation until the beginning of April so I encourage anyone who would still like to donate to contact me at”

As for the clothing that is needed the most, Julia is asking for donations of girls’ clothing and shoes that can be worn in warmer weather. “Because spring is coming, clothing that is wearable during the spring and summer seasons is most needed. But anything is accepted and would be put to good use.”

In closing, Bryan Lary stressed the importance of community contributions to aid Julia’s efforts:“The donations provide support and encouragement that our communities support their recovery path through their traumas and let them know others care about them. Often people donate and don’t not hear that their contributions make a difference, but I can assure you they are truly appreciated and make a difference in my girls lives!”