January 2021 Alumnae Service Continues in the Face of COVID-19

During a time of isolation and stress, alumnae leaders across the country have still found ways to connect, inspire, and serve their communities. Check out what a handful of ND clubs and NDWC group members are doing to be a "Force for Good."

Alumnae Services Continues in Face of Pandemic

by Erin Schneeman '80, NDWC Midwest Regional Director

As a member of Notre Dame Women Connect’s National Board, I am particularly proud of our Mission Statement: to connect, to nurture and to give back to Notre Dame and our communities in significant and inspiring ways. 

In this global pandemic, finding ways to give back while keeping each other safe might have been daunting, but alumni around the country became creative, innovative, and excited about opportunities to help those in need. The ND Club of SE Virginia partnered with Catholic Charities to provide Thanksgiving dinner baskets to families struggling with food insecurity, a grave injustice that only increased during the pandemic. Theresa Bannon ‘87, club president, says, “Our goal was to provide 12 baskets for Catholic charities families and within a week we had 45! Catholic Charities wrote that they were not sure they would be able to meet the Thanksgiving food needs of all the families on their list, and the ND Club of SE Virginia made the difference.” 

Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia CEO, Christopher Tan, with recipients of Thanksgiving baskets
(Photo courtesy ND Club of Southeastern VA)

In Fairfield County, Connecticut, the alumni club sponsored a Christmas Toy Drive, gathering 316 donated toys in four days. In Omaha, Nebraska, the alumni club provided gifts and food for 25 local elderly residents. South Dakota alumni sponsored “Feeding South Dakota,” helping those challenged to meet basic needs in this turbulent year. The ND Club of Minnesota continued their annual Christmas Party event, socially-distant style, thanks to many  volunteers delivering donated food, toys and crafts to over 150 families. And throughout the fall, many of our Alumni clubs across the country participated in Meals With Muffet, providing much needed food and donations for neighbors in need. 

Maralee Williams ‘94, Vice President of the ND Club of Pittsburgh, says that “even when we can’t be together, we are finding ways to serve our constituents and our local communities.” Their club managed this by, among other things, hosting a donation drive to help a local senior care facility, and collecting over 100 gifts to distribute to local families in need.

These stories highlight the charity and compassion demonstrated during, or in direct response to, the pandemic, that were often led by NDAA clubs with women in executive positions. Notre Dame has an incredible network of graduates and friends across the country who passionately honor the commitment to give back. Whether with the NDAA club in your area or as an affinity group member, the collective impact we can have is amazing. When in-person social events were curtailed, the clubs were able to pivot their efforts to focus on service at a distance, “being a Force for Good” in our communities. There are still opportunities available for alumni to continue to assist those who are struggling.

I spoke with Annie Envall ‘05, ND Alumni Association Service and Grotto Prayer Program Director, who shared that a good recipe for success for clubs or affinity groups planning events is to check multiple boxes, for example, host a project that combines service and camaraderie. You are welcome to contact Annie at aenvall@nd.edu if you have questions, ideas, or would like to sponsor similar events in your area. We look ahead with great anticipation for when we can gather in service, in fun, and in person, once again.

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