OMAHA – There are many barriers female athletes face when it comes to competing on an even playing field, but one that many people overlook is access to basic sporting apparel. That is why Duchesne Academy soccer players worked together to collect new sports bras for The Sports Bra Project.
The Sports Bra Project provides new sports bras to girls & women in areas where the lack of access to this basic piece of equipment can prevent participation in sports. The SBP works with a number of different local groups to distribute the bras to girls who need them. The varsity and junior varsity teams collected and donated 54 sports bras to Football for the World Foundation, a local nonprofit that donates soccer equipment to children locally and globally.
“I think a lot of people overlook the fact that undergarments, such as sports bras, really do play a vital role in our daily lives and we can take them for granted. It was really cool to see our teams come together to provide for others who share our same passion for sports,” said Cora Zeger, A’22.
Junior Varsity Head Coach Emily Michaels brought the idea to Duchesne and led the effort.
“I thought it was a unique opportunity for us as an all-girls school to lead a drive for the SBP. As females, we do face more barriers and challenges when it comes to equal opportunities. Having a group of powerful, strong female athletes rally behind this cause is great,” Michaels said.
Varsity Head Coach Lauren Mueller said a major part of Duchesne’s program is service and building community. She and Michaels said they are proud of their players for embracing this project.
“They absolutely see the value in community service and involvement. It is also humbling for us to realize and reflect on the fact that that we do not have the barriers to playing the sport that we love that many other girls and women do,” Mueller said.
The results of this drive have inspired the teams to find more ways to help fellow athletes.
“Although we will never know the exact people that our donations will reach, it is really encouraging to know that other female athletes will get to experience the joy that being a part of a team brings all of us and empowers me to do more,” said Madison Smith, A’21.
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 Academy is using technology traditionally reserved for teaching to make personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals.
Mr. Bruce Moore, I.T. Department Chair and STEAM Integration Specialist, has spent days in the school’s DREAM Lab using the 3D printer to make ear protectors which help prevent chafing when wearing a surgical mask for a long time; they also extend the life of the mask’s elastic straps. The first batch of equipment will be donated to Methodist Health Systems and then other hospitals in Omaha, based on need and availability.
Moore is also experimenting with a design for a reusable mask and plans to distribute them when the product finalized.
This effort comes after Duchesne donated its goggles from chemistry labs to local doctors and nurses.
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.
WINNEBAGO, Neb. (Duchesne Academy) – Students from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha say they’re already anticipating growing the school’s relationship with the community of Winnebago, Nebraska, following a service trip last week.
The group of eight students, chaperoned by Duchesne teachers Bridget Morton and Sarah Stratman, arrived in Winnebago on Wednesday, Feb. 12, and quickly went to work. St. Augustine School teaches children from the Winnebago and Omaha tribes. The girls spent each morning eating and exercising with students at St. Augustine school before splitting up to help teachers in their classrooms.
“We were moved by the generosity of the students and their openness to love. They immediately accepted us and welcomed us into their community,” one student said about her time serving in the classroom.
Friday, the students worked in Macy, NE, to clean Our Lady of Fatima Church with two of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament who work there. Our Lady of Fatima is one of four parishes that make up the St. Augustine Indian Mission. St. Katherine Drexel founded the St. Augustine Indian Mission in 1909; it claims the distinction of being the only Catholic institution in Nebraska directly founded by saint.
Seeing the poverty in Macy was an eye-opening experience, students told their chaperones following the trip.
“It’s hard to understand how people in our own state don’t have access to clean water,” one said.
Duchesne students and teachers discussed the challenges facing the community with Dwight Howe, the Cultural Director of the Ponca Tribe. Howe also taught the girls about traditional languages and customs.
“We are grateful for the resources we have; clean water and nearby grocery stores that are stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables,” another student said following the trip.
The students returned to Duchesne on Saturday following a Friday night discussion with St. Augustine Pastor Father Mark Beran. Fr. Beran talked with the girls about his work on the reservation and why he feels called to serve the St. Augustine Mission. The students invited Fr. Beran to celebrate Mass at Duchesne.
Students and chaperones are now finding new ways to strengthen the relationship between the Duchesne community and the St. Augustine Mission and the entire Winnebago area community.
“This was the spark to make a difference,” said one student.