Feb 27, 2019
Dmitriy Ivanov

The BASE Founder Robert Lewis, Jr., to Deliver Assumption’s Commencement Address

Robert Lewis, Jr., chief executive officer of The BASE, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides athletic, education and career-building resources to enable student-athletes to pursue a college degree, will deliver the Commencement address during Assumption’s 102nd Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 12, at the DCU Center in downtown Worcester. Lewis and Sr. Annie Credidio, of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, B.V.M., who renovated a neglected health care facility in Ecuador so that patients would have access to dignified and quality care, will receive honorary degrees during the ceremony. 

“The virtuous paths chosen by Robert Lewis, Jr., and Sr. Annie Credidio and their stories of perseverance will certainly inspire the Class of 2019 as they venture into the world, prepared with an Assumption education, where they will have countless opportunities to make a meaningful impact,” said Assumption President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D. “In honoring Mr. Lewis and Sr. Credidio, Assumption recognizes the many unique ways in which we must use our God-given gifts and talents to better the world in which we live.” 

Recognizing the shared commitment of enhancing opportunities for inner-city youth to pursue a college education, Assumption was one of the first three institutions of higher learning to partner with The BASE in 2013. Since then, 11 students who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to attend college have come to Assumption—the first two The BASE scholars graduated in 2018, and there are currently nine other students on campus, including four members of the Class of 2019. 

Robert Lewis, Jr., was recognized by Boston Magazine as one of the city’s 50 Most Powerful Leaders referring to him as “a tireless advocate for inner-city kids.”  The BASE, headquartered in Roxbury, utilizes baseball and softball to provide urban youth the opportunity, knowledge, skills, and confidence to be college ready and attain success in college.  

Prior to pursuing his lifelong dream of establishing The Base in 2013, Lewis served as executive director of the Boston Centers for Youth and Families; president and executive director of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ); senior vice president of City Year’s national operations and executive director of City Year Boston; and vice president for program at the Boston Foundation where he led the creation of two important initiatives: StreetSafe Boston – the country’s only privately-funded gang program with a mission to dramatically reduce gun violence in the city; and CHAMPS Boston – which promotes positive youth development through sports by training over 5,000 youth sports coaches in Greater Boston.

The local success of the Boston program has now expanded to other urban centers in the nation, such as Chicago and Pittsburgh, where Lewis partners with local colleges and universities to provide full-tuition scholarships for The BASE students.  

Assumption honorary degree recipient Sr. Ann Credidio

Sr. Annie Credidio

Sr. Credidio has dedicated her life to “bringing care and dignity” to patients suffering from leporsy through her work with Damien House in Ecuador.  In the 1980s, Sr. Credidio traveled to Ecuador to teach preschool children and began volunteering in the Hansen’s (leprosy) wing of one of Guayaquil’s hospitals. Dismayed by the treatment of the patients and unsanitary conditions, Sr. Credidio and a group of other volunteers raised funds to purchase that wing of the hospital and established Fundacion Padre Damien, Damien House, as a clean and dignified sanctuary for those undergoing treatment. 

In addition to running Damien House, Sr. Credidio oversees the U.S.-based Damien House charitable organization, which she founded in 1994. Operating on a meager budget of less than half a million dollars, Damien House has helped thousands of patients, and provides around-the-clock medical care for 30 individuals, as well as treatment for 700 outpatients.