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Citizen Katie 2013 sees record turnout

Enabling elderly homeowners to live independently, building affordable housing, packaging and prepping food or medical supplies for the hungry and healing — these are but a few examples of the impact made by volunteers as part of Citizen Katie 2013 on Oct. 12.

The event saw its largest turn out ever, with over 350 volunteers serving at 15 local Twin Cities nonprofits, and dozens more serving through alumnae chapters at nonprofits across the nation.

For many volunteers, the experience left as big an impact on them as their work did for the organizations at which they volunteered.

Little Brothers–Friends of the Elderly

Delores Burg has been living in her South Minneapolis home since 1951 and has no plans of moving out anytime soon. The retired elementary school teacher turns 102-years-old on Nov. 8 and hopes to celebrate more birthdays in the comfort of her own home. 

Delores BurgBecause of volunteers from organizations like Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly who help with yard and housework, and drivers from Healthy Seniors who take her to medical appointments, social activities and her weekly exercise class, Burg expects to continue living independently.

She was particularly excited to learn that the volunteers that came out on Saturday were from St. Catherine University.

“Our family has history there. My husband Ivan’s cousin Mabel Frey was a theater professor at St. Catherine, and our daughter Kelley graduated from Derham Hall high school when it was on campus,” she says.

Christine Brough MAOT’14 was one of the volunteers assigned to Burg’s house.

“Delores is such a vibrant and interesting person! She obviously appreciated us being there, which made the experience so much more meaningful to me. My favorite moment of the morning was when I got to sit down and talk with Delores for a few minutes. We discussed occupations and her hobbies and even played a couple songs on the piano,” says Brough.

In her last year in the Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy program, Brough has already started forming an “OT lens” — discovering activities that are meaningful to people and enabling them to participate with the maximum independence possible.

“In Delores' case, I enjoyed asking her about how she spends her time and what she enjoys. She has lost a lot of mobility over the years because of her balance, and loss of vision and hearing, but her drive in life has not diminished,” Brough adds.

What’s the secret to Delores’ longevity? A good sense of humor, for starters. 

“Well, it certainly can’t be diet, because I love meat, potatoes and butter,” she says, with a wink. “So I guess it’s exercise and staying active. I don’t like to miss a class.” 

Mano a Mano International Partners

One of the new local sites this year was Mano a Mano, an organization featured in last year's Opus Prize – hosted by St. Kate's – which gave $1 million to the organization of an "unsung hero" performing humanitarian work. Segundo Velasquez, the co-founder of Mano a Mano was one of the finalists awarded $100,000 for his organization. He worked side-by-side Saturday with Citizen Katie volunteers packing medical supplies. 

Segundo"We are touched by the dedication to public service by students, faculty and alumnae at St. Kate's. The University is cultivating wonderful, driven women with social justice on the forefront of all their minds," says Velasquez.

The experience was eye opening for Amy Bennett Schmidt ’93, one of the volunteers who met Segundo and his brother, Jose, who is director of Mano a Mano Bolivia.

“We learned that Bolivia is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and the work that Mano a Mano has done since the early 1990s. They have built 140 clinics, 47 schools, housing for teachers and doctors, over 800 miles of roads, 7 large reservoirs and 153 small ponds for water. It’s really incredible what they have accomplished,” she says.

The medical supplies packed by Citizen Katie volunteers will be shipped to Cochabamba, Bolivia and distributed to 140 Mano a Mano rural health centers, which collectively provide healthcare to over 1 million rural Bolivians.

“It’s amazing that we can take what is considered trash here in Minnesota, save it from a landfill, and ship to where they have such great need — and that the Mano a Mano clinics have a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S.,” Schmidt adds.

Some of the events accomplishments included:

• Packaging 6570 pounds of food, or 5132 meals, at Second Harvest Heartland.

• Hanging three doors, sanding and mudding walls, staining a deck, painting a ceiling, attaching a screen door closer and weeding the yard of one Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity home.

• Decorating 500 lunch bags for Meals on Wheels recipients.

• Packing 44 boxes of medical supplies worth roughly $25,000 and wrapping and packaging about 600 lbs. of orthopedic supplies such as crutches and walkers at Mano a Mano.

• Sorting through donated food and peeling countless pounds of potatoes as prep for 250+ meals served that day at Dorothy Day Center.

• Deep cleaning meeting rooms and getting the grounds of the courtyard “winterized” by raking, weeding, pruning and mulching at St. Joseph’s Home for Children.

View more photos from the event in St. Kate’s Citizen Katie 2013 flickr set.

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Oct. 15, 2013 by Sharon Rolenc

See also: Alumnae/i, Faculty, Social Justice, Students