The Notre Dame clubs network continues to make a special impact in the defense of human life at all stages, preparing a number of projects that will assist everyone from mothers and their unborn children to victims of domestic violence to those living with disabilities.
The Notre Dame Alumni Association recognized a number of clubs through its most recent awarding of the Lennon Life Prize, part of the Chuck and Joan Lennon Gospel of Life Initiative — a set of programs aimed at activating the University’s robust clubs network to be forces for good in upholding the value of life at all stages.
While in previous years three award winners have collected $5,000 awards, generosity from memorials on behalf of the late Chuck Lennon ’61, ’62 M.A. made a fourth recipient possible in 2020. The clubs of Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and St. Louis earned this funding to execute their projects. The clubs of Atlanta, Boca Raton, Greater Williamsport, Greensburg/Uniontown, and Hilton Head will receive $500 honorable mention awards to assist with their projects.
The Lennon Gospel of Life Initiative was co-created with Chuck Lennon and his wife, Joan. Chuck, who served as executive director of the Alumni Association and associate vice president of University Relations for 31 years, retired in 2011 and passed away in 2019.
In concert with the Catholic Church's long standing defense of all human life, the Gospel of Life Initiative seeks to provide support to vulnerable populations around the world, and the Lennon Life Prize supports clubs as they generate a host of ideas to impact their local communities through innovative use of funding and involvement of club members.
“Even during challenging times such as these, we continued to be inspired by the initiative and creativity of so many of our clubs, especially in this sacred work of protecting the vulnerable in the world,” said Dolly Duffy ’84, executive director of the Alumni Association and associate vice president of University Relations. “While we all miss Chuck dearly, it is wonderful to witness his legacy living on through this initiative and to see it expand this year due to funds donated in his memory.”
The Notre Dame Club of Chicago, one of the top award winners, will be working with underserved mothers who are pregnant or have recently had a child. In conjunction with St. Bernard Hospital in inner city Chicago, the club will work to educate and assist mothers during the crucial times of their pregnancies and the early years of raising their children, reducing infant mortality and creating a network of support.
Another top award winner, the Notre Dame Club of Dallas, plans to focus on victims of domestic violence along with a local organization, The Family Place. The club plans to develop a number of projects such as care kits, site improvements, and food and linen drives. The overall goal is to further the outreach of caring for families affected by violence, especially as they transition from abusive situations to points of recovery.
The Notre Dame Club of Los Angeles seeks to aid women experiencing homelessness, as well as sometimes abusive situations. The club’s strategy is to provide networking, skills training, and job opportunities as these women rebuild their lives and help their children. Hosting a number of events throughout the year, the club hopes to develop best practices that can be shared across the clubs network.
The Notre Dame Club of St. Louis aims to serve disadvantaged youth in need of additional educational access. The club plans to work with Claver House, a local organization that normally works with Notre Dame students through the Center for Social Concerns Summer Service Learning Program. The club and the students will eventually offer transportation, mentorship, and educational opportunities to at-risk youth in the area.
The five clubs earning honorable mentions will perform a diverse array of projects that include outreach to those with disabilities, expectant mothers and babies, and those lacking food, educational, or medical access.