Matt St. Jean ’16
“At the end of the day, we want to bring people together, have fun, and help change someone’s life.”
Matt St. Jean ’16 is studying at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, an institution that has been the next step for many Eagle Hill graduates. There, in between taking classes and studying, St. Jean puts this idea of changing lives into practice.
“Rally 2 Give is a charity organization that I run with my father (Rick St. Jean) with the help of many volunteers. Our overall goal is to help and support organizations and people that need it, allowing us to make an impact in the lives of others.”
Rally 2 Give is in its third year of operation with the organization centering itself on the passion of cars . . . lots and lots of cars.
Through planned events, St. Jean and his father charge entry fees and collect donations from generous individuals who are looking to donate to a specific cause that Rally 2 Give promotes. From there, participants join the Rally 2 Give folks in a ride from one destination to another, with planned stops along the way.
For example, St. Jean and his organization most recently completed a three-day charity rally route that stretched from Boston to Montreal to support Make-a-Wish Vermont. Check out the recap video here.
“A maximum of thirty registered attendees and their chosen automobiles met at the start of the event at the Encore Boston Harbor Resort in Everett, Massachusetts, on Friday, October 4, at 10 a.m. and began in Boston, traveling through the mountains of New Hampshire, crossing the border into Canada, and [ending] in Montreal. Soon after crossing the finish line, participants celebrated with dinner at celebrity chef Marcus Samuelson’s new restaurant, MARCUS, in the Four Seasons Hotel Montreal” (per Rally 2 Give’s website).
“This rally is the biggest one we’ve ever done, and I’m excited to continue to grow it year after year with even more rides and more opportunity to give back,” said St. Jean.
St. Jean’s strong desire to expand the organization and help others can be partly contributed to his time at Eagle Hill, where his experience was full of impactful teachers that made a difference in his life.
“A lot of the things I do for the charity, as well as in school at Sacred Heart, come from some of the teachers I met at Eagle Hill. Faculty like Mr. Mike Richard, who taught me how to create graphics, and Mr. Justin Kanozcek and Mr. Tyler Blais, all had a big impact on me. I knew I could accomplish anything in my life and Eagle Hill helped me realize that.”
To date, Rally 2 Give has raised over $175,000 for organizations all over the United States, and continues to grow. Per their website, “The Rally 2 Give Foundation impacts not only the special needs community, but also other select charities based in New England. Some of the causes that have benefitted from past events include: The Hometown Foundation, Friends of the Valley, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation, Barre City Police K9 Fund, Deerfield Valley Rescue, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Triangle Inc., and most notably, Special Olympics Vermont.”
“When we are able to go to an organization like Special Olympics Vermont and present them with a check for $25,000, and to see the looks on their faces when you present them with the money, it’s the best feeling in the world. Knowing that you had a part in making a difference in someone’s life, it’s the best.”
While finishing up his college education at Sacred Heart, St. Jean hopes to continue to grow Rally 2 Give, and eventually make the organization his full-time job.
“I like the idea of running a nonprofit and using marketing and digital media to promote an organization like ours. It’s definitely something I want to pursue when I graduate so we can help even more people and gain more volunteers involved with our events.”
When thinking back on his time at Eagle Hill, some of his core values reflect the experience he had at EHS.
“Everyone at Eagle Hill wants to help you, anytime you need it. The teachers, the staff, classmates, you always had someone to go to. The community was one of the things I liked most about it. The feeling I got when I came to campus. I knew people supported me and it has made me want to help people from all backgrounds in my own life. Eagle Hill will always hold a special place for me; I can’t wait to go back soon.”
To learn more about Rally 2 Give or to donate, please visit www.rally2give.org.
Q&A with Matt St. Jean ’16
What brought you to Eagle Hill School?
I came to EHS in eighth grade. Prior to EHS, I was at public school in my hometown of Concord, Massachusetts. I had been struggling to get any sort of motivation to learn. I had severe ADHD and could not focus at all in middle school. EHS offered a night-and-day difference in the learning environment. It was small classes with teachers who wanted to help you succeed, as opposed to being stuck in the back of a room of thirty students and forgotten about or put on the back burner as a problem student that no one wanted to deal with.
Describe your Eagle Hill experience.
My EHS experience had its ups and downs. I went from living at home, having freedom to go places and explore with my friends on our own, to being at school in a dorm with a strict schedule 24/7. As you can imagine, this was a fairly drastic change of environment and lifestyle. It took time to get used to it. At first, I tried to fight the system but soon realized that this is where I am and my time would be more enjoyable if I went with the flow. I made friends that turned into family with students and faculty. As I got older I kept myself busy with sports and taking on a role of leadership by being captain of the squash and lacrosse teams. By the time graduation came around I was excited to move on and get into the swing of early adulthood but at the same time I was sad to leave the second family that had been created at EHS.
When you think of three words associated with EHS, what are they?
Family, because you build a connection with others that will last a lifetime; strengthening, because you learn to better yourself and build your own techniques and life skills; and lastly fun—although you are at school 24/7 you have fun with it, whether in the classroom or out.
What have you been up to since your time at Eagle Hill?
Since EHS I am currently studying at Sacred Heart University. School has never been my favorite thing to do (as with many EHS students) and it is something we all struggle with, but need to get through. I have always had motivation to find a way to make this easier for me by heavily involving myself with other interests to keep my head up with school. My freshman year at SHU I did this by starting a foundation called Rally 2 Give with my father. Since I was a toddler I have always had a passion for cars, so when deciding how we would create a way to give back it was only fitting to do it around the car community. I wanted to create a unique experience to raise money for great causes. We get around thirty to thirty-five exotic cars and we drive from point A to point B and ultimately complete our mission to connect great people for greater causes. We just recently concluded our third annual Rally 2 Give, raising nearly $100,000. We help support various causes such as Make-a-Wish, Special Olympics, local rescue teams, and anything in between.
What are your long-term goals?
Ultimately, I would love to continue in the car industry. It is exciting, different, and a passion of mine, which makes working within it far more enjoyable. I love the types of people I meet throughout this industry because everyone is so different. You never know what someone in this world does, so it definitely helps build a sense of culture. One thing I have always been good at is connecting with almost anyone. I would love to use this gift to help build a business for myself and one day open a country club for cars. Basically, I would love to have a central location where people can connect and enjoy their cars and host lots of events to blend it with the foundation.
What would your advice be to current Eagle Hill students?
The advice I would give is to just push through to the best of your ability. I know it is tough to get through school when it is the last thing you want to do, especially with a learning disability. I always had my mind on other interests throughout high school but you can’t let them get the best of you. You may think you are giving your all but you can do so much more than you think. When you feel like you are giving 100% you need to give more. Don’t settle for good enough, be better. Set a goal to impress yourself and no one else. Once you reach that goal, set another and soon you will be impressing everyone.