• Jamaica Plains Gazette

English High Alumni Lend Help to Student Hit by Car Last Summer

Updated: Mar 17

By Seth Daniel | Jamaica Plains Gazette | December 4, 2020

Once looped into the English High alumni family, help is on the way if needed.

That’s the message from the English High School Association (EHSA) – who have become very active publicly this year in advance of their 200th Anniversary in 2021 – as they heard about a graduate who injured with her family by a hit-and-run driver last summer while walking to the laundromat.

Daniela DePina is legally blind since she was very young, a condition caused by glaucoma. Though she faced that obstacle, she attended classes at English High in the Vision classroom program, and graduated with success in 1998. When EHSA members heard of the accident and the bills that were piling up for DePina and her daughter, Mariah, 6, they jumped to action with a $1,000 donation.

“Daniela is part of the English High family,” said Michael Thomas, chair of the EHSA. “We are happy to assist members of our alumni family any way we can. Daniela has developed a successful career, despite her disability. We are proud of her and all our graduates.”

DePina said the driver of the car has yet to come forward, and the Boston Police investigation is ongoing. She said her daughter needs to have a pin put in her knee surgically, which is going to cost a good deal of money. Meanwhile, the family has still been struggling to pay the costs of the $2,000 ambulance bill and the ongoing bills for transportation to medical appointments for DePina and her daughter.

Thomas said he owed a debt of gratitude to former teachers Janey Frank and Barbara Fragopoulos, who were acquainted with DePina when she attended middle school in Roslindale. They have kept in touch, and when they began raising funds on GoFundMe for DePina, they also reached out to EHSA.

After graduation in 1998, DePina attended Massasoit Community College and Roxbury Community College before moving on to Pine Manor College and graduating there. She had a goal of becoming a teacher and done so in a fashion as a Peer Advocate for those who are also blind and seeking to live independently.

Last year the Carroll Center for the Blind and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind recognized Daniela for her outstanding work as a Peer Advocate for the Independent Living. She works to ensure people with disabilities are able to receive equal rights, fair housing and opportunities.

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