Creative fundraisers flourishing during COVID

Creative fundraisers flourishing during COVID

The COVID pandemic has forced schools to make significant changes to the way they operate. Teachers are educating students online, lecturing from behind plexiglass, and adapting lessons to enable social distancing. The pandemic has also forced the Duchesne Advancement office to modify or overhaul crucial fundraising events to accommodate the need for social distancing and other precautions.

Duchesne Academy’s Advancement Department decided in June to change Congé 2021 from the traditional gala to a collection of smaller events that will conclude with an exciting five-day bidding period January 25-30, 2021.

“We wanted to ensure our event would be as safe and responsible as possible which is why we made the difficult choice to cancel our traditional gala and work with our event chairs to create a new way to celebrate and support Duchesne,” said Vice President of Advancement Katie Risch Bakhit.

Congé is Duchesne’s largest fundraising event. In 2020, it drew 500 people to the Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District and raised $550,000 for tuition assistance and the school’s operating budget.

An event of that size requires significant underwriting to produce. Director of Special Events, Meghan Rowen, typically spends the fall working with Congé chairs to host a series of events to raise money to offset underwriting costs. When COVID precautions forced the cancelation of those events, they reimagined how to secure underwriting.

“Our goal is to host fundraising events that are fun, social, and successful. We can never fully recreate the experience of a real party but we’re excited about what we’ve created and we know our community is ready to step up and help Duchesne,” said Rowen.

The first of those reimagined events is this weekend. DASH for Congé is a self-guided walkathon participants can complete wherever and however they like. More than 100 people have signed up.

“We’ve all been couped up this year and getting our community outdoors, active, and connected seemed like a perfect way to celebrate Duchesne,” Rowen said.

The event was originally set for Sunday, but Rowen says people are welcome to complete their walkathon on Saturday because the weather in Omaha is forecasted to be nicer.

“We have participants across the country and I can’t wait to see everyone’s pictures and videos,” Rowen said.

Participants are encouraged to wear Duchesne Academy apparel and tag @duchesneacademy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share their photos with classmates.

There’s still time to sign up to participate:

Who: Duchesne students, families, alumnae, and friends
What: Self-guided walkathon
Where: Wherever participants want
When: Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18
Why: Support underwriting for Congé 2021
How: Sign up here

Duchesne unveils new robotics lab

Duchesne unveils new robotics lab

Duchesne Academy has unveiled its new robotics lab which will enable students to easily collaborate on projects. The new room features areas to design, build and test their robots before competitions. Alumnae and RSCJ would hardly recognize the space on the third floor – because it used to be a bathroom before it was closed years ago.

Duchesne’s maintenance team had to remove old toilets, tubs, and pipes while they renovated the room. Not only did they remove old fixtures, they removed the old cement and tile floor so they could install new flooring on the original wood subfloor.

“This was a fun project to take on this summer. Our students are bright and great competitors and we were happy to build this new lab where they can work,” said Maintenance Director Chris Hession. 

The work began during the summer as was completed just in time for students to return to class in August.

“Our students are committed to being the best designers and programmers and seeing the school create a place for them to learn and work together to build robots has inspired them,” said Sarah Stratman, Robotics and Computer Science teacher.  

The team previously worked in a small area behind The Fitz.

Duchesne graduate receives prestigious Stamps Scholarship

Duchesne graduate receives prestigious Stamps Scholarship

Duchesne Academy Class of 2020 graduate Raleigh Kreis has earned an exclusive Stamps Scholarship. Kreis’ application was among those selected from a field of more than 263,000. The scholarship covers the cost of the recipient’s tuition and also provides additional funds they may use to advance their studies while an undergraduate. Fewer than one percent of applicants receive a Stamps Scholarship.

“I was flabbergasted when I got the phone call. It honestly felt like the end of Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. I was the girl who suddenly got everything she wanted: the chance to attend my dream school at no financial cost,” Kreis said.

Kreis, who achieved a perfect ACT score, will attend Tulane University and plans to study political economy and business. She says her interest in other cultures and countries grew while she was a student at Duchesne.

“I’m especially excited to investigate global trade relationships and how economic policy can affect people around the globe,” Kreis said.

She says Sacred Heart Network service trips taught her ways to help people and how to think about changing systems to help people.

“In the application and interview process to ultimately receive the Stamps Scholarship I drew on these invaluable experiences.”

Kreis received Duchesne’s Stuart Creativity Award during commencement July 30. She is the daughter of Kim and Andrew Kreis. Kim is a science teacher at Duchesne.

Penny and Roe Stamps created the scholarship program in 2006. It now includes 36 universities in the United States.

Living the Sacred Heart Goals during COVID-19

Living the Sacred Heart Goals during COVID-19

Eveline Gnabasik Bethune, A05, has overhauled her company’s production line to make hand sanitizer for professionals fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Eveline Gnabasik Bethune, A05, and her husband, Kenneth, own and operate Coastal Bend Distilling in Beeville, Texas. They have stopped making spirits and are now making alcohol for hand sanitizer they’re donating to first responders. She took time out of her day to talk with Duchesne:

What inspired you to make sanitizer?
Our distillery is founded on three values: craft, community and culture. We make it a point to live our values in every decision we make, and at this time we were really drawn to help our community in need. When we saw the opportunity to make use of our unique access to resources & how we could pivot our operations in a way that provided meaningful support during this time of need, we saw it as a way to support our community.

How long did it take you to switch from making spirits to sanitizer?
It took us about 2-3 weeks to shift over to making sanitizer. Several supply chains were interrupted and still are today, so our orders on bottles are often backlogged. We also had to be creative when sourcing hydrogen peroxide and looked to local or regional grocery and pharmacy businesses to help supply that.

How are you delivering the sanitizer to first responders?
Over the years our employees have formed a tight network in the community, and so we were already in close communication with local law enforcement, healthcare and other first responders before we even had product to market. Since then word has spread like wildfire and they’re contacting us faster than we can reach out to them. This has truly been an eye-opening experience to see the high level of demand that is out there for sanitizer and related products!

What is it like operating a business right now?
It’s uncertain times for small business owners. You have to be preemptive, innovative, and adaptive to change. That goes for all kinds of small businesses, not just our distillery. If you aren’t adapting with the times, you’ll lose essential income and lose relevance to your customer base.

Any message for current Duchesne students?
Try to learn from the unexpected changes thrust upon you right now. Your “normal” life may be temporarily upset, but try to look at it with a silver lining and keep faith that God has a plan. What skills do I have that can answer a need in the community or among my peers? How can I grow from this? How can I be a leader and a role-model helping to drive our community forward to a solution? If we all become more self-reflective during tough times like this, I think we’ll succeed in making the world a better place.

You can find out more about Coastal Bend Distilling here and by following them on social media: @coastalbenddistilling.