We Are ND https://weare.nd.edu en Tue, 05 Jan 2021 08:45:00 -0400 Welcoming Children with Open Arms Alum offers family to children orphaned by AIDS in South Africa Tue, 05 Jan 2021 08:45:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/welcoming-children-with-open-arms/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/welcoming-children-with-open-arms/ <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">The Open Arms Home for Children is a bit unlike the stereotypical image of an orphanage. Nestled on a 70-acre hilltop in Komga, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Open Arms more closely resembles a small hamlet than an institution. Identical cottages abut the main house, overlooking the hills where horses graze. A soccer field provides plenty of room to run, while a concrete court offers a place to gather, jump rope, play tennis, or even create chalk drawings. Farther down the hill sits a replica of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.</span></span></p> <p><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Bob Solis ’84 </span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">never dreamed of this. A devout Catholic who studied theology and political science at Notre Dame, Solis spent his first year out of college with the Holy Cross Associates, a post-graduate volunteer program. After the year was up, however, he went on to pursue more traditional career paths, first as an aide to two U.S. Congressmen before entering the fields of non-profit fundraising and financial services, the latter of which he has served in for 26 years.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">The thought of opening a children’s home across the world from his home in Phoenix, Arizona, never occurred to him — until it did. And looking back, it’s easy to connect the dots.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“In politics, I learned the power of people coming together for a common cause and getting something done, and then in fundraising, I learned how to leverage your cause through resources,” Solis said. “And then in financial services, of course, you're around people that have money and (you learn) how to manage that money. It’s like, maybe God was writing straight with crooked lines, as we say, because all of those things are extremely helpful.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">But it wasn’t Solis’ intent to plant roots in South Africa when he first brought his family on a mission trip to the country in 2005. He and his wife, Sallie, had always wanted to teach their five children — three biological and two adopted — how people lived in other parts of the world. He had finished reading a book about the South African AIDS crisis, so the Solis family boarded a plane to Johannesburg to spend a week working in an orphanage.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">In that week, the Solis family did nothing else — no sightseeing, no shopping — and that was when the immensity of the epidemic, an abstract concept in a book, came into sharper focus. At the time, South Africa was among the hardest hit by the prevalence of the virus and, indeed, it remains the nation with the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world. Approximately 20 percent of its nearly 58 million people live with the virus. Estimates of the number of children orphaned by the crisis number in the millions.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Having seen the devastation firsthand, Solis and his family began to feel the pull upon their return home. After careful reflection and prayer, they decided to take the money they had set aside to pay off their mortgage and bought the property upon which Open Arms now sits.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“It was a leap of faith,” said Solis. “Needless to say, we hadn’t run a children’s home before, let alone one that’s 10,000 miles away from Phoenix, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t do it.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">A few months after that fateful trip, Solis returned to South Africa and spent a week visiting more children’s homes in the country. He wanted to gain a better perspective of the scope of the problem from people on the ground, as well as get a sense of a model that would work for Open Arms.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Ultimately, it was Bob and Sallie’s own experiences growing up in big families that informed the shape the home would end up taking. They wanted the children to grow up in the same type of atmosphere. They couldn’t completely replicate a traditional nuclear family, but they aimed to come as close as possible.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“We're big believers in the power of family to transform lives, and so we wanted to follow a model that was as close as could be replicated to a family situation,” Solis said. “(We have) children living in smaller cottages with permanent-type house parents and the units aren’t too large so that kids (don’t) get lost in the shuffle, and everybody feeling like they belong to a large and loving family.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Open Arms opened its doors on March 16, 2006, when they welcomed a two-year-old boy named Sifundo. The joy Solis felt upon receiving the call at his office in Phoenix informing him of Sifundo’s arrival was a feeling he will never forget. The farm is now home to 58 children, ranging from six months in age to 22 years. The staff includes 43 full-time locals who are the primary earners in their families.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">While Open Arms becomes a home for its children while they grow up, it is also a place where they can return once they have reached adulthood. The family model does not end once a child ages out, but the connection remains for life.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“We look at it as a family, so we think the kids will never leave,” Solis said. “Hopefully they'll leave and get jobs and take care of their family, but the fact of the matter is they're part of our family until either we die or they die. And so we consider things like who's gonna pay for a wedding, and who’s going to help when a young man or woman moves into their first apartment and needs to buy used furniture and beds like families do in the United States. … Part of our model is really beefing up that transition so that these children feel not only supported, but loved as young adults.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Supporting the transition from Open Arms to adult life is one Solis and his staff are just beginning to navigate as their first “graduates” matriculate into the world, but the overall model has proven successful. The relatively small number of children in their care allows them to provide individualized attention to all, and Solis himself takes care to foster his own relationships with each child when he visits throughout the year. The sustainability of the Open Arms model earned Solis a finalist slot for the 2018 Invest in Others Global Impact Award.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">As a nonprofit organization, Open Arms relies entirely on donations, with a goal of $850,000 each year to support its operation. Solis jokes that his donor pool started with the family’s Christmas card list and, naturally, many of his Notre Dame classmates and contacts have become benefactors.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Solis has also leveraged his Notre Dame ties in other ways. As Open Arms has grown, so too has the need for volunteers. To fill that need, Solis has found a willing partner in the Center for Social Concerns. The relationship with the CSC formed in Open Arms’ early days, and each year two Notre Dame students travel to Komga to take part in the International Summer Service Learning Program. Additionally, Solis visits campus each year to recruit graduating seniors from Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s for a full year of volunteer work at Open Arms, primarily as tutors and academic support. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“We have been so happy with our Notre Dame volunteers over the years that, honestly, we don’t recruit anywhere else because I don’t know how we could improve upon the quality of human beings who are coming to give our kids so much,” Solis says. “I tell our incoming volunteers, ‘You’re coming to live in a community, and you’ll be as changed from the relationship with the kids as the children will be from you.’”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">So strong is the Notre Dame connection that Solis installed Open Arms’ own small-scale replica of the Grotto, itself a one-seventh recreation of the venerated site in Lourdes, France. The stones used to build it were donated by a local farmer, and the bronze sculpture of Mary and Jesus was commissioned by Canadian artist Timothy P. Schmalz, whose “Angels Unaware” was recently dedicated in St. Peter’s Square and depicts 140 refugees fleeing persecution.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“It’s the only place at Open Arms where you’re not allowed to run and play,” Solis says. “It’s a place of prayer and quiet, and a lot of kids go down there to light a candle and think about their life or say a prayer. It’s a really special place; we think of our beloved mother on campus, and it’s a good reminder of the connection we have.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic">To learn more about Open Arms Home for Children, visit </em></span><a href="http://openarmshome.com"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">openarmshome.com</span></span></em></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic">.</em></span></p> Advancing Equity at the Intersection of Technology and Policy Alumna devotes research to improving socio-technical systems — making anything from public transit to nuclear power more equitable. Tue, 22 Dec 2020 09:15:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/advancing-equity-at-the-intersection-of-technology-and-policy/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/advancing-equity-at-the-intersection-of-technology-and-policy/ <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">A babysitting job changed the course of </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Katlyn Turner</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">’s career. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Turner, a chemical engineering major in Notre Dame’s Class of 2012, remembers that she couldn’t see herself working for one of the big oil and gas companies, like Exxon or Shell, like many of her peers in the major. But she had no way of knowing that the babysitting she did to earn money in her spare time would one day lead to a career in research focused on inclusive innovations in science and technology.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Turner, then a student worker in the Provost’s Office, got many of her babysitting gigs through faculty members she met in the course of that job. One summer evening between her sophomore and junior year, Turner’s babysitting job was at the home of </span></span><a href="https://chemistry.nd.edu/people/peter-c-burns/"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">Peter Burns</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. Turner was playing the piano when Burns and his wife got home, and they got to talking about her interests.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I remember him saying, ‘You’re an engineering student, and you’re playing the piano at my house. And you’re babysitting instead of having a research job. What is your story?’” Turner recalls. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">They talked about her interest in climate change and health care, and Burns suggested she think about graduate school. “In the Provost’s Office, I got to learn a lot about how universities work, and started considering that it would be cool to work at a university someday, as a professor,” Turner says. “But I had no idea how to do that.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Through the conversation with Burns, on what Turner now calls “that fateful day,” she got a job working in his lab on campus, studying nuclear waste management. Today, nearly a decade later, Turner has a Ph.D. from Stanford and is a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab, an interdisciplinary research lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that encourages the pairing of seemingly disparate research areas. Unique among research labs, the MIT Media Lab’s approach is a perfect fit for Turner, who is dedicated to incorporating anti-racism in technology design.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I work on how socio-technical systems, which are any systems that include humans, technological parts, and legal frameworks, can be more equitable,” she says. “And a socio-technical system is anything from public transit, where you have people interacting with a bus or a train system, to something really complicated, like a nuclear power plant where you have people and laws and land interacting with a power plant that's producing energy. I work on how these systems can be more inclusive, more feminist, more anti-racist, and can be more just reflective of an equitable world — because right now, they aren’t.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">She started on this path in Burns’ lab at Notre Dame, where they studied how the chemical compounds produced by nuclear energy behave in water and air, to better understand the risks in the event of accidents at nuclear energy sources.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“That [lab work] was the most important experience during that time for me, because it helped me realize the importance of [being interdisciplinary],” Turner says. “Professor Burns is a geologist by training, but working on chemistry. There were people in his lab from all different majors, and it was a very diverse lab and there were lots of women. There were different voices and backgrounds in the room, thinking about these issues. Not a single one of us in that room had the same degree or the same training or the same experience, yet we could all come together to work on this problem and we all had something to contribute. That was really motivating for me.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Turner, who is African American, is also motivated by her own family experience, noting that her grandparents and some of her aunts weren’t encouraged to get a college education. She’s determined to enhance equity for all in her work now.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“There's plenty of people all around the country who, regardless of their race, grow up in areas where they don't have access to the type of education or socioeconomic resources that I had access to growing up, and that I also certainly had access to starting from when I went to Notre Dame,” Turner says. “That doesn't mean that they wouldn't be good researchers or good scientists, it just means that the systems that we have aren't equipped to support people who come from backgrounds that are not highly exclusive, privileged backgrounds — whether it's about race, gender, socioeconomic status, or some combination of those factors.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">This awareness, coupled with the knowledge from her research that nuclear waste contamination disproportionately impacts communities of color and Indigenous groups, drove Turner towards projects that would impact public policy. Like her mentor Professor Burns, Turner studied geology, earning a master of science in earth and environmental sciences from the University of Michigan and her Stanford Ph.D. in geological sciences. Now, she uses her science knowledge in service of disadvantaged groups.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“Watching policy unfold in recent years, it felt less important to be working on the specific chemistry of a specific material, but more important to be working on the science policy. For example, why is it that we have nuclear and environmental waste policies that make it really hard for the poor, for minorities, to have a fair shake as stakeholders?” she says. “First, I decided to focus on learning how nuclear policy works, and comparing that to other types of policy, like cybersecurity, for example, and other sorts of energy policies. And then I became convinced that if I wanted to make a difference in the world today, the most pressing issue is making sure that the rapidly modernizing waves of technology have equitable impacts.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">She’s currently working on a project to discover more about how technology is driven by assimilationist standards, which, problematically, hold that racial equity is best achieved by rectifying behavior and culture to match that of the majority racial group. Turner’s goal is to combat assimilationist ideas and make digital algorithms more anti-racist.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“When products are developed, algorithms are written, and data is collected, they are often designed with an assimilationist standard of a person or end-user in mind,” Turner says. “The way we encode systems today, if it is not done right, the potential for harm is enormous. And harm is a result of a system that didn’t consider inclusive perspectives. All these people in the U.S., and around the world, don’t have a seat at the table or equitable representation to advocate for a fair outcome when these technologies are developed.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">But going forward, thanks to Turner’s work at the Media Lab, there will be more seats at the table and less potential for harm for future generations. Learn more about her research at </span></span><a href="https://www.katlynmturner.com/"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">https://www.katlynmturner.com/</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">. </span></span></p> Representing the Least Among Us Alum spends his second act representing the poor and underserved as head of Legal Aid Chicago. Mon, 30 Nov 2020 14:20:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/representing-the-least-among-us/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/representing-the-least-among-us/ <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">It all started with a man on death row in Michigan City, Indiana, in the early 2000s. </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">John Gallo ’83</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> helped overturn that defendant’s death sentence as part of a project with students at Notre Dame Law School, where he was teaching Federal Criminal Practice. Gallo, then a partner at the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley Austin, felt his priorities begin to shift.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“There was an increase in the use of the death penalty (at that time) in areas around the country, but particularly in the South, and a lot of people on death row were unrepresented or represented by people who were unqualified,” Gallo says. “There were some horrible cases involving judges in Alabama appointing lawyers to represent people on death row as a ‘punishment’ if, for example, they were late to a hearing. So these stories motivated me. That was the point where I really became sensitized to how critically important access to legal representation is. Access to justice oftentimes equated to having a competent lawyer.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Since that realization, Gallo has dedicated himself to ensuring that all people have access to equal justice under the law. First, it was through pro bono work at Sidley, representing defendants on death row in Alabama, and today, it is as the CEO and Executive Director of Legal Aid Chicago, which provides essential legal services free of charge to people who otherwise could not afford them and also advocates for people living in poverty.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">At Sidley, Gallo created the Capital Litigation Project alongside fellow Domer </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Kelly Huggins ’96, ’01 J.D.</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">, now the firm’s head of pro bono work. Gallo and Huggins wanted to ensure that inmates incarcerated on Alabama’s death row had effective legal representation, and for many of these defendants, working with the Capital Litigation Project was the first time they had a lawyer since their arrest. The project received an award from the American Bar Association in 2007.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“The project is still ongoing, and we have represented 23 people, and not a single one of them has been put to death,” Gallo says. “A few have since been released, for various reasons, whether a finding that their rights had been constitutionally violated or because the state agreed to their release on the basis of information (we) gathered.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Now, at Legal Aid, Gallo heads up an organization that helps people with low economic means in Chicago obtain legal representation when they are facing eviction, foreclosure, or issues obtaining unemployment benefits, to name a few. Through the support of Legal Aid attorneys, 90 percent of their clients facing eviction in 2019 were able to stay in their homes. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Gallo supervises the day-to-day management of the organization. He is the main liaison with financial supporters, both individual benefactors and foundations that provide them grants, and the community organizations that connect them to clients in need. It’s different from the criminal cases Gallo worked on while in private practice and during seven years as a federal prosecutor focused on eradicating police and government corruption, but he finds it equally rewarding.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I always thought there’d be another chapter (in my career) after my stint in private practice,” says Gallo, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1986 and then clerked for two years for </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Judge Ann Claire Williams ’75 J.D.</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">, who was the first Black woman appointed as a U.S. district judge in Illinois and is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Gallo reflected for several months before making the shift from private practice to Legal Aid, guided by both his spiritual director at his home parish in Oak Park, Illinois, and his annual silent retreat at a Jesuit retreat house. He also fell back on the spiritual foundation gained at Notre Dame, as a student in the Program of Liberal Studies.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“My undergraduate experience was a pivotal moment in my own spiritual development. I came to Notre Dame from a fairly conservative, racially homogenous place, and I ended up in this major, the Program of Liberal Studies, which turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Gallo says. “I remember pretty vividly — I was initially characterized as the conservative jock from the western suburbs of Chicago in these classes.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">But through the small discussion seminars, Gallo says he was exposed to new ideas and perspectives and embraced a social justice mentality. “My academic experience at Notre Dame became the foundation of my spiritual and philosophical beliefs,” he says.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Gallo is married to his high school sweetheart, Jeanne, and they have four children and two grandchildren — one of whom sat happily on his grandpa’s lap for much of this interview. Gallo’s faith and family are the foundation for his life and work, and he paraphrases a quote from Pope Francis (originally about priests) in describing his commitment to that work.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“The lawyer who seldom goes out of himself misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his lawyerly heart. This is precisely the reason why some lawyers grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become, in a sense, collectors of plaques and partnership shares — instead of being shepherds living with ‘the smell of the sheep.’ This is what I am asking of lawyers — be shepherds with the smell of sheep."</span></span></p> Embracing Identity Through Art Alum Kellen Lewis '09 uses art to communicate his identity and create representation. Tue, 17 Nov 2020 08:15:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/embracing-identity-through-art/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/embracing-identity-through-art/ <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Authenticity promotes connection to others, and </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Kellen Lewis ’09</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> creates </span></span><a href="https://www.trenaloriginal.com/"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">(he)artwork</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> — traditional Native American artwork that melds his heritage with modern culture — to uniquely communicate his identity and to encourage others to do the same.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Lewis grew up feeling as though he was living a dichotomy. His mother’s side of the family is part of the Nez Perce tribe, and his biological father was African American.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Growing up, moving back and forth between Seattle, Spokane, and the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho, Lewis appreciated how his Nez Perce family maintained their heritage through the arts. One of his great-grandmothers was well-versed in bag weaving, in which she would sun dry corn husks and embroider them into woven bags. Another one of his great-grandmothers would create beadwork from seed beads, which is the focus of Lewis’ work today.</span></span></p> <figure class="image-right"><img alt="Img 7104" height="739" src="/assets/411284/img_7104.png" width="600"></figure> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">His family did a wonderful job of holding onto their heritage — they even have a family tree that documents when Lewis and Clarke traveled through traditional Nez Perce homelands, before the creation of Reservation boundaries. Upon graduating from Notre Dame in 2009, Lewis made a commitment to learn beadwork because he realized that having such a strong connection to one side of the family could result in a distinct artistic impression.  </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“Leaving Notre Dame, I wanted to be a beacon of expression,” Lewis said. “I committed to developing the skill. There were many things I wanted to say, but I did not have the vocabulary to get there. I had to find mentors and take on projects. In that came personal development and understanding the beauty of my identity. I grew up feeling on the outskirts of my community because of my mixed heritage. It has only been in the last few years that embracing that makes me more powerful and helps me to express my artwork in a completely different way.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">After graduating, Lewis trained in dance in Seattle, worked as a professional dancer in Los Angeles, toured across Asia on A-Mei’s Utopia World Tour, and lived in New York. Throughout these experiences, Lewis made the commitment to learn beadwork to carry on his heritage. Having knowledge about his family’s history is empowering to Lewis, but he does not stop at maintaining history. He adds his own artistic twists — and even pop culture elements — to his works.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“Because so much of our culture was ripped away, a lot of artwork is geared towards maintaining the spirit. Yet, for me, I think about what I have to say as a Nez Perce artist in this millenium. So, in another 200 years, someone can see that in 2020, Nez Perce people came of mixed identities. They did not just focus on older aspects but also reflected on today. When I combine something that inspires me and shows how I walk in the world and mix it with something I have a profound connection with, it communicates something different.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">When connecting with customers, whether through artistic interpretation or via social media, Lewis remains authentic. His artwork is therapeutic for him, as it allows him to channel his insecurities and thoughts.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">When a mentor pointed out the decidedly non-Nez Perce elements of his work, he took it in stride.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“Just because what I create does not fit a certain mold does not mean that it is irrelevant. You do not have to fit into a box. Make your statement for who </span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic">you</em></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> are at this time, and document the diversity of identity within our people.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Though he creates a wide variety of works in addition to the beaded pieces, such as clothing, traditional regalia, and home decor, his purpose extends beyond the works themselves.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“The biggest thing is creating visibility for underserved communities and showing that representation matters.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">His genuine nature runs deep, and he uses it to give back to those who have helped him. In 2020, he created beaded medallions for Notre Dame graduates who identify as Native American, though because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he hopes they will receive them at their rescheduled Commencement ceremony in 2021. And in honor of his late uncle, Dr. Arthur Maxwell Taylor Jr., former assistant director for Notre Dame’s Multicultural Student Programs and Services, Lewis created unique pins for Taylor’s friends at the University. Taylor was the core of Lewis’ support system and encouraged him to apply to Notre Dame, always offering a listening ear. He believes the pins bind this circle of support together.</span></span></p> <figure class="image-left"><img alt="1555753544" height="585" src="/assets/411282/1555753544.10b2f5f3741ddec65780481382e317ba.jpg" width="600"></figure> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Lewis believes that not only does each of us have our own identity, but each of us has the ability to convey it in a personal way. In opening up about this process, he has been able to connect with others.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I did a keynote speech for the University of Idaho for Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” he said. “In my introduction, I discussed how I do not have an Indian name. That is a major thing because, when we introduce ourselves in our language, we say our traditional name then our English name. I had a person then reach out to me, saying that (it) was so powerful how I always felt like I had been lacking in my identity because I don’t have an Indian name. We judge ourselves and say that we need certain things to be authentic. Showing the diversity of identity and the diversity in communicating that identity has brought people to me. It’s creating representation.” </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Encouraging others to embrace authenticity is the goal.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“Growing up, I felt lost because I did not have many Black and Native people to look up to. Now, I see a lot of mixed heritage youth on our Reservation. I hope to be one of the many beacons that they can look up to see themselves. To know that everything they feel is completely valid, and they are still Nez Perce. You can hold onto your heritages, and there does not need to be a separation.</span></span></p> Keeping His Captain's Memory Alive More than 20 years after Demetrius DuBose '93 was shot and killed by police, former teammate John Kouris '96 seeks to keep is memory alive in new documentary film. Mon, 26 Oct 2020 11:45:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/keeping-his-captains-memory-alive/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/keeping-his-captains-memory-alive/ <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">When</span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> John Kouris ’96</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> was a walk-on freshman on the Notre Dame football team, he couldn’t wait for the first game of the season. The Irish were playing Northwestern in Chicago and Kouris, who grew up in the Chicagoland area, was looking forward to having his family in the stands. But when he went to look at the list of players dressing for the game, his name was missing.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I just felt my heart sink into my stomach, and I started talking out loud to myself, saying, ‘You gotta quit,’” Kouris recalls. </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Demetrius DuBose ’93</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">, the senior All-American linebacker and captain, happened to be in the hallway at the same time. Kouris had just spent weeks of two-a-day practices going head-to-head with DuBose — calling it “the equivalent of going up against a ram,” — and he was exhausted and discouraged. He returned to his room in Flanner Hall and then, a couple hours later, a knock sounded at the door.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“It’s Demetrius,” said Kouris. “And he said, ‘Listen, I’ve been hard on you and that’s gonna stop now. I’m gonna take you under my wing and I’m going to help you on the field. And if you need anything, you come see me.’ And I was just so touched. I don’t even know how he figured out where I lived.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“He told me, ‘You need to be about business and football,’” Kouris said. “I considered him a mentor and a guide and somebody I aspired to be like.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Now, 28 years after that first conversation — and amid a national reckoning on racial injustice — Kouris is making a documentary about DuBose’s life, which was cut short at age 28 when he was shot and killed by police in San Diego in July 1999. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">The circumstances around DuBose’s death, set into motion by a misunderstanding with a neighbor, are clouded in controversy. On the evening of July 24, 1999, DuBose had climbed onto a neighbor’s balcony for a better view of the sunset and then fell asleep on the premises. When the neighbor got home, he called the police, who showed up and said they were responding to a call about a burglary. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Though DuBose, his friend Randy West — who he was living with at the time —and the neighbor had nearly resolved the issue by the time the police arrived, the officers began questioning DuBose about his record, citing a disturbance charge at at South Bend bar in 1998 and an underage alcohol violation from college. DuBose cooperated and the officers told him he was not in any trouble, but they moved to handcuff him, anyway.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Witnesses say that DuBose resisted, and in the ensuing scuffle, was shot 13 times, including six times in the back. The two officers, who were white, said that DuBose had assumed a “linebacker’s stance” before charging at them, but witness testimonies provided conflicting information. Several stated that DuBose was turning away from the officers, while at least one placed him at least 10 feet away from them.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">In the ensuing days, demonstrations popped up all over San Diego as the Black community reacted to the news. DuBose’s mother, Jacqueline DuBose-Wright sued the city for wrongful death.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">While the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California ruled that the shooting was justified, a citizen review board ruled that the officers “did not exercise sufficient discretion” when they shot DuBose. Kouris says he wants the documentary to “rehumanize Demetrius in the public’s eye,” and tell the full story of his life, not just the violence in his final moments.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Kug1reS_kNQ?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Back in the fall of 1992, struggling on the field was a new experience for Kouris, the son of a Big Ten football referee and tight end who had been recruited out of high school by Duke, North Carolina, and Western Michigan. But it had always been his dream to play at Notre Dame, so he came to South Bend to walk on and run through the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium. Adjusting to college and the pace of Division I football was tough, but DuBose helped make it easier.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I had never seen the level of athleticism. [Even] our fourth-string guys were incredible,” Kouris said. “Demetrius stood out, though. And it wasn’t just how he played — it was how he carried himself. He had an effervescent light around him. Students, faculty, people in the football office, the training staff and the managers — Demetrius was kin to all people, all walks of life.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">When Kouris interviewed friends from DuBose’s hometown of Seattle for the documentary, he heard similar stories about his time in high school.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“A couple of people were openly gay at his high school and they were ostracized, and what did Demetrius do? He goes and sits with them at lunch,” Kouris said. “He was the star of the school, and other people saw [him sit with them] and the issues stopped. He looked out for people who were overlooked.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">When DuBose was killed, Kouris was shocked and devastated. They hadn’t kept in close touch in the years since Notre Dame. DuBose played in the NFL for a couple years and then was in San Diego to start a career in beach volleyball. Kouris was working in the food distribution business in Chicago.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I couldn’t believe what I was reading — the newspaper articles were describing a dangerous, violent, drug-addled guy. And it didn’t feel right,” Kouris said. “Like so many other people, I said, ‘Why did they have to shoot him so many times?’ Rather than, ‘Why did they shoot him at all?’ — which should have been my thought.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">He saved the newspaper articles (“They’re yellow now,”), and revisited them when similar stories began gaining mainstream attention in recent years.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“When Michael Brown was killed [by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014], that set me off, and I became obsessed with Demetrius’ story. [I said] ‘You gotta do this, no matter the cost.’” So he started working on the documentary.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Kouris, who went to film school before working in the food industry, got in touch with DuBose’s mother through friends to get her blessing and the family’s support for the film. He’s been working on the film in his spare time, during nights and weekends, for years, interviewing DuBose’s family members, Notre Dame and NFL teammates, friends, and former significant others. After 35 interviews, he is in the process of editing 55 hours of footage into a documentary.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Kouris is the director and is working with a director of photography, plus friends and family have pitched in to help film interviews. They are also in talks with production companies to distribute the film. He’s put his own money into the project, as well as donations from friends and Notre Dame teammates. Kouris says the goal is to release the documentary either by the end of 2020, or on what would have been DuBose’s 50th birthday: March 23, 2021. They’ll host a screening in Seattle for family and friends (pending safety regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic). Not only is it important to him that DuBose’s story be told, but Kouris also wants the film to contribute to the current national conversation about racial injustice.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“It needs to be a film that raises our collective consciousness as a world. My hope is that Demetrius’ beautiful spirit will shine through this project and will get everyone to stop what we’re doing right now, because my children — I can’t have them in a world like this,” said Kouris, who is pictured holding DuBose’s jersey with his son, Lucius.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“There is no justice — he’s gone. No matter what we do, it won’t bring him back, but I want people to feel him when they’re seeing this [film] and maybe he can always be alive if this keeps playing. It’s important for us to come together around our captain, around his story, and I’m just a part of it.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"> </p> Building A Brotherhood on the Slopes After a lifetime creating opportunities for Black skiers, Ben Finley '60 is set to enter the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Mon, 12 Oct 2020 08:00:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/building-a-brotherhood-on-the-slopes-2/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/building-a-brotherhood-on-the-slopes-2/ <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">In March, in Sun Valley, Idaho, 600 Black skiers decked in neon gear zoom down the snow-covered mountain. They’re there for the Black Summit, an annual event hosted by the National Brotherhood of Skiers, and to honor the organization's founders, among them, </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Ben Finley ’60</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Finley, along with the Brotherhood’s co-founder, Art Clay, will be the first Black Americans inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. (Though originally set to be enshrined in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the postponement and ultimate cancellation of this year’s event.) Their work has introduced tens of thousands of Black skiers and snowboarders to the sport and garnered millions of dollars for the winter sports industry. It has also built an impressive network of 3,500 member Black skiers and snowboarders in more than 50 clubs nationwide. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Finley looks around at the hundreds of assembled guests and is humbled. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“This was not envisioned in any way,” Finley emphatically states. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Rather, he laughs, the route from his hometown in Harlem, New York, to his upcoming Hall of Fame induction was often shaped by persuasive women. It was a woman who pointed him to Notre Dame, and another who strapped him to his first pair of skis, two of the defining moments of his life.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">While it was the priests at All Hallows, Finley’s all-boys Catholic high school, who required an application to at least one Catholic college, it was his teenage girlfriend who pushed him to select Notre Dame. At decision time, he was torn between the University of Colorado and the University of Notre Dame, but she was more decisive: “I would rather tell my friends you went to Notre Dame instead of the University of Colorado,” he recalls she said. He reasoned the stricter, all-male community would also encourage him to buckle down and do well in engineering, so off to Notre Dame he went.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">There, Finley was one of the first African-American students, an experience he recalls in the anthology </span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic">Black Domers: African-American Students at Notre Dame in Their Own Words</em></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">. During those formative years, the Civil Rights Movement picked up momentum. Inspired by its work, and supported by Rev. Theodore Hesburgh C.S.C., Finley set up a civil rights committee at Notre Dame, thus beginning his work fighting for opportunities for Black people. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Years later, Finley would co-found the Black Alumni of Notre Dame, and would be instrumental in recruiting more than 150 Black students, including his sons, to Notre Dame. His work helped win him the William D. Reynolds Award from the Alumni Association in 2000, which is “conferred on alumni doing exceptional work with youth for the betterment of their quality of life.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:16px; margin-top:16px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">He’d also bring that commitment to creating opportunities in skiing.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:16px; margin-top:16px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">In 1963, Finley and a girlfriend were camping in Yosemite National Park. On their way out of the park, they stopped to have margaritas at the base of a ski area. Watching people zip down the mountain, his partner expressed interest in learning to ski.</span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:16px; margin-top:16px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“The first thing that went through my mind were dollar bills and broken legs,” he laughs. But then he made her a deal: If she would get her scuba certification and join the scuba diving club he led, he’d take ski lessons. Six weeks later, she had passed her ocean check-out, and he was strapped to a pair of skis. The first four lessons were a little shaky, but then he was hooked.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:16px; margin-top:16px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“The exhilaration of flying down a hill on six-foot boards, at 20 miles per hour, hoping you wouldn’t kill yourself, it was just fun! It was different,” Finley says.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">After he learned to ski, Finley wanted to get other Black skiers onto the slopes. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">He asked around for fellow adventurers at the local community center near his home in California with the hope of assembling a group of 12 so they could get a group discount. Thirty-two beginners with no ski experience asked to join — enough for a charter bus to take them to and from the mountain. From there, the group started Four Seasons West Ski Club of Los Angeles, a predominately Black ski group, which has introduced thousands of Californians to winter sports.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">In 1972, Finley met Art Clay, then the trip director of the Sno-Gophers Ski Club of Chicago. Together, they decided to invite skiers from 13 Black ski clubs from around the country to gather together to ski, socialize, and discuss issues pertinent to Black skiers. A year later, in 1973, 350 of them gathered in Aspen, Colorado, for the first Black Summit. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Finley recounts that the first gathering was shrouded in uncertainty and anticipation. “We agreed we would sneak into Aspen because at that time in history we were not sure that Aspen, Colorado, the ski Mecca of America, was ready to have Black folks descend upon it.” Later he learned that the governor had put the National Guard on standby, but they were never called. Instead, the people of Aspen encouraged the group to return often, Finley says.</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">From that first Summit came the National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS), a nonprofit dedicated to its annual social gathering and to getting young Black kids onto the slopes to achieve the NBS mission: “To identify, develop, and support athletes of color who will win international and Olympic winter sports competitions representing the United States.” NBS members have also competed and medaled in the Paralympics.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I was put on this earth to change people’s lives and to introduce them to things they have never been introduced to,” Finley says. “If you look at what I’ve done and have been recognized for, it’s always changing people’s lives.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">He’s hesitant to take too much credit though. He says the tribute and all the thanks has been so humbling. At the time, he says, he was just looking for a good time himself; then the snowball started rolling.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“It’s amazing what happens when you’re just having fun and can produce an event with an organization with a mission and a spirit to bring thousands of people to the mountain,” Finley says.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">He still makes it onto the mountain, too, both with the NBS and on his home turf on Mammoth Mountain in California.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“At 81 years old, I average 15 days a year on skis,” he pauses then jokes, “but I don’t know how much longer I can do this!” </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">He’s modest. In his retirement from a career in engineering weapons systems, he has taken up sailing instruction and is still chasing adventure from the Greek isles, to Tonga, to Thailand. </span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">In April 2021 his travels will take him to Snowmass, Colorado, this time for his official induction ceremony into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic">The induction ceremony was originally scheduled for March 28, 2020, but has been canceled in light of the coronavirus pandemic.</em></span></p> Strengthening His Community Amid Crisis and Loss Despite a devastating loss, Global Health alum uses his passion for service to strengthen his community. Mon, 28 Sep 2020 09:30:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/strengthening-his-community-amid-crisis-and-loss/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/strengthening-his-community-amid-crisis-and-loss/ <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Growing up in Cameroon, </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Desmond Jumbam ‘16 M.S.</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> formed deep ties to his community and developed a drive to create better lives for others and to care for those around him. These values have not only impacted his career path but continue to prompt him to fight for justice in his home country.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">In 2010, Jumbam started pursuing his interest in science. He moved to the United States with the help of his aunts Anne and Loveline Shey and family friends Sue and Patrick Schmidt and June and Alfred Barrow to study biotechnology at Delaware Technical Community College. He then studied biology on the pre-med track at Taylor University, thinking medicine was a secure career choice. In reflecting on the public health system in Cameroon, however, he shifted his focus.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“You need to find ways to prevent diseases. You have to find ways to improve the raw health care system, which is very poor. People are extremely poor, so they cannot afford the health services, and a lot of the hospitals are run-down. This is how my interest in public health came about.” </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Jumbam was accepted into Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Global Health program and went on to be a Health Policy Analyst in the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard University. He also worked at Boston Children’s Hospital. Jumbam is now a health policy advisor at </span></span><a href="https://www.operationsmile.org/"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">Operation Smile</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">, which provides cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">It is clear from his career choices that his passions lie in serving others, but while his education and career led him across the globe, his heart has remained in Cameroon. That feeling has only grown as civil war in the country has intensified over the last several years. At the end of 2016, tensions between the minority Anglophone population and the Francophone majority boiled over as a result of years of economic and political marginalization of Anglophone communities. The crisis has led to the looting and burning of villages, as well as the death and displacement of thousands of Anglophones. (Read more on the Anglophone conflict </span></span><a href="https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/central-africa/cameroon/250-cameroons-anglophone-crisis-crossroads"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">here</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">.)</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">This crisis hit home this past March with the loss of Jumbam’s father, a local councilor in Oku, a subdivision in North West Region, Cameroon. On his way home from organizing legislative elections, the elder Jumbam — along with eight other councilors — was ambushed and beheaded by separatist fighters. Five more were taken hostage. His mother, Seh Rebecca, had to bury her husband without his head and Jumbam, who was in Ghana at the time, could not attend his own father’s burial because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">While his father’s death was devastating, particularly as he grieved alone, Jumbam resolved to make his mother smile. So, he posted his story on the crowdfunding site </span></span><a href="https://www.mightycause.com/story/Bqts1g"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">MightyCause</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> to raise money for school tuition for children, food, medical care, and “financial aid for starting small businesses for sustainable living” for those financially affected by the ongoing crisis.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“It took a lot for me to do that. Just writing about it and putting it out there is not an easy thing,” Jumbam said, “After a few months, I finally got the courage to write that story, and I put it on MightyCause. I was just amazed by the response that we got. What was amazing about that was how much support and love I got from friends from high school, friends from Delaware, friends from Taylor, Notre Dame, Harvard, and strangers. That was the most moving part to me. I kept updating my mom. My goal was primarily to make her smile. When I told her that, she was just so happy. She was smiling and dancing and just ecstatic. I just love that.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Seh Rebecca also felt that the cause was bigger than herself. She realized that she was in a position to support the other women affected by similar circumstances — those who were struggling to make ends meet. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“We all had different goals,” Jumbam said. “My goal was to give my mom hope after such a horrible loss. Her goal was to help the women who had it worse than she did. And others came to support me and my mom but also to support other women who had been horribly afflicted.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">A month ago, his mother arranged for about 20 women — from both the North West and South West regions of Cameroon — to gather over two days. The first day was for women to share their experiences, and the second day was a small business workshop. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“The stories that they told; it is the most heartbreaking you could hear. A lot of these women had not told their stories to anyone before. They have not had time to have closure and mourn properly. They cried together; we had a grief counselor there. That was extremely powerful. The second day was for the tools they needed to build their lives. We wanted to give them the resources they needed to go back and start their livelihoods again. We had small business training. We brought women from our communities who had small businesses and they shared advice on how to succeed. My mom and the other women volunteering had them talk through their ideas. Finally, we provided them with capital, so they can go and start their business. Many of them have already started running businesses for themselves.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">The way that Jumbam handled his loss reaffirmed his dedication to community and finding ways to share our common humanity. To Jumbam, this extends beyond family.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“You have to value your family, your friends, your fellow human being,” he said. “But I also realize there is injustice that prevails. You also have to fight for justice when you see things happening like they are in Cameroon, in the U.S., and in a lot of parts of the world. You have to be determined because those injustices will be there. (It is important to be) in solidarity with your fellow human being. We have to find ways to relieve suffering, especially when it is unjust.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Jumbam is currently in Ghana and continues to work with Operation Smile. His mom still talks to the other widows on the phone each night, and the two of them are starting the Jumbam Family Foundation in honor of his father.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“The goal is to help other widows, to get children back to school, and to help women get back on their feet.</span></span></p> Making Healthy Eating Accessible — and Delicious Alumna uses platform to make healthy eating accessible, affordable, and delicious. Tue, 15 Sep 2020 08:25:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/making-healthy-eating-accessible-and-delicious/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/making-healthy-eating-accessible-and-delicious/ <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Erin Clarke ’08</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> learned to bake in her Grammy’s kitchen on summer afternoons.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“Every Thursday, she would pick my sisters and me up and had picked out a different dessert recipe for us to make together. When we were little, we did pretty simple things, like cookies and simple cakes, but by the end of high school, we were able to make chocolate mousse and more complicated frosted and filled cakes,” says Clarke, who grew up in Wichita, Kansas. “She is the one who definitely instilled in me my sweet tooth, but she also taught me how to read and follow a recipe. On the other side of my family, my Grandma was an avid baker, too, and taught us how to prepare cookies and yeast breads. I learned from them not only the beginnings of how to make a recipe, but also the special, lasting impact of memories created in the kitchen.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Today, Clarke is the creator of the blog Well Plated</span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> and author of The Well Plated Cookbook</span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">, both of which are dedicated to making healthy eating affordable, accessible, and delicious. Inspired by the comfort foods of her childhood, Clarke set out to make some of those classic recipes healthier, or put a new twist on them. She started the blog in 2012 as a hobby, sharing the budget-friendly recipes she created while her husband, </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Ben Clarke ’08</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">, was in law school. Now the site has grown to include more than 1,300 recipes and receives millions of visitors every month, along with the cookbook and an Instagram account with nearly 140,000 followers.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I identified a need. People wanted to eat healthy meals but they didn’t have a lot of time to cook them and were also craving deliciousness,” she says. “I realized I didn’t need to spend a ton of money or seek out fancy ingredients to make healthy food that people are really going to like. I leaned into that idea and developed a niche for creating healthy recipes that taste great, are made with ingredients that you can find at any grocery store, preferably can be ready  in under 45 minutes, and dirty as few dishes as possible. Making healthy eating easy, accessible, affordable, and delicious — that is what Well Plated is all about.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Clarke went from her Grammy’s kitchen in Wichita to cooking in the basement kitchen in her dorm, Lyons Hall, and says she also liked to whip up creations at mealtime in South Dining Hall. Clarke recalls one December when she doubled the recipe for Grammy’s famous Christmas sugar cookies and, “it just got out of control. The cookies were cooling all over — not just the entire Lyons kitchen, but the entire basement area, the couches, everywhere. If you knew me, if we had a class together, you’ve probably eaten those cookies.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Many of the same friends who ate those Christmas cookies helped out as recipe testers for The Well Plated Cookbook, which was published in August 2020. Clarke, who lives in Milwaukee, has cooked live on Good Morning America from her home kitchen, and been featured in People magazine and on Wisconsin Public Radio. As her blog following has grown and publicity rolled in from the cookbook, Clarke says she keeps the focus on being of service to her readers and that, “at the end of the day, it’s all about relationships and community.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“Notre Dame taught me the value of relationships, having a heart for service and keeping that at the forefront,” Clarke says. “You might ask, ‘Running a website, what does that have to do with serving others?’ But for me, sharing healthy recipes that make life easier provides a service and helps create community around the table.”.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I’ve gone from having four people reading my recipes to having millions of people that read them every single month, but that genuine love for sharing food online for others has not changed. It will never get old to me that people make my recipes and bring them to life in their kitchens.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">And so many readers are making her recipes because Clarke makes every effort to remove barriers to cooking healthy recipes at home. Her blog posts include step-by-step videos and suggestions for substitutions if you don’t have certain ingredients on hand, as well as options to adapt a recipe for certain dietary needs, like for gluten free or paleo diets. And she ends the posts with tips for storing, reheating, and freezing the dish.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Clarke, who was a marketing major at Notre Dame, started Well Plated in 2012, at a time when blogs were just starting to gain popularity, but it wasn’t necessarily a career move.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“Nowadays, there are people who get into blogging with the idea that it might be an income. When I started, that did not exist,” says Clarke, who worked for Target’s corporate headquarters and as a consultant before making Well Plated her full-time gig in the fall of 2014.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I was really scared. I had only worked in strictly structured business environments where your career path is fairly set. And then you get into blogging and it is just a completely different mindset,” she says. “I would say that it took me a full year to get used to it and now I love working for myself. Whereas before, I found it very intimidating not to have a clear path set for me, now I find it very exciting that I get to identify opportunities and determine what the path will be.”</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">A typical week at Well Plated includes one or two days in the kitchen, perfecting recipes and taking photos and videos of the finished products. The rest of the time, Clarke spends on the online aspect of the business, writing content and using search engine optimization to track her site’s performance and analyze trends to see what kind of recipes people need or are interested in, so she can brainstorm what she’ll cook next.</span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“We’ve been tricked into thinking that enjoying a healthy diet means that we need to spend a ton of time in the kitchen or we need to spend a lot of money. Cooking can be intimidating and eating healthy can be intimidating, and it doesn’t have to be,” Clarke says. “Or we think, well, if I’m going to eat healthy, it has to be bland chicken or sad salads with dressing on the side. Life is just too short for that. I believe that healthy food and healthy recipes should be accessible to everyone. When you make something that you are proud of and it can nourish you and nourish your family, that is just wonderful. The fact that I can be part of making that a reality more often for people by removing those barriers is just so inspiring and exciting to me.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">To make some of Erin’s recipes or check out the cookbook, visit </span></span><a href="https://www.wellplated.com/"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">wellplated.com</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">.</span></span></p> Building A Catholic Worker Community in Charlottesville Couple has dedicated themselves to offering affordable housing and a stable community at their Catholic Worker urban homestead in Charlottesville, Virginia. Tue, 08 Sep 2020 08:00:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/building-a-catholic-worker-community-in-charlottesville/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/building-a-catholic-worker-community-in-charlottesville/ <p style="margin-top:19px; padding:0pt 0pt 4pt"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Laura and </span></span><strong style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:700; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Steve Brown ’95</span></strong><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> had always had a heart for service. The couple met while volunteering in Hartford, Connecticut, and later moved their young family to South America, where they served with the </span></span><a href="https://mklm.org/"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">Maryknoll Lay Missioners</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">.</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">So when they moved to Charlottesville in 2009 with their three daughters, they wanted to find a way to integrate their faith and values into their daily work. To do so, they hoped to build support for a </span></span><a href="https://www.catholicworker.org/"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">Catholic Worker</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> community.</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">The Catholic Worker Movement was founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin during the Great Depression. Today, more than 200 Catholic Worker communities strive to “live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ.”</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mZV-AfZJsJU?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></span></span></p> <p style="margin-top:19px; padding:0pt 0pt 4pt"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">The Browns expected that starting a Charlottesville community might take years, but they didn’t have long to wait. They soon discovered a life-changing opportunity to serve families seeking affordable housing. Within months of returning, they had scrounged together the money for a down payment on three dilapidated homes in one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, and they began working with volunteers to rehab the dwellings.</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Now, more than a decade later, the Browns, with the help of volunteers and residents, have transformed the property into a bucolic urban homestead that reflects the Catholic Worker principles they hold dear: Seeking God first, loving one’s neighbor by responding to the immediate needs of the poor, and living simply and caring for creation.</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">The Browns live in one of the renovated homes and over the years have welcomed more than a dozen families into the two adjacent houses of hospitality. Guests arrive seeking a safe, quiet, and affordable place to live that allows them to transition from a challenging situation, save money, and plan for the future. </span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“The range of experiences of families who come here to stay at </span></span><a href="http://www.casa-alma.org/"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">Casa Alma</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> is pretty broad,” Steve says. “We've had three families that have been in the pipeline to receive Habitat housing. So they’ve come in here with the knowledge that at the end of their time here they were going to be moving into their own home. For other families, it could be that they have been living in the house of somebody that they know. It might be a family of four, a mom and three kids, sleeping on a sofa. They have no real control over the front door of a place like that. People are coming in and out, and they're dependent on the host for everything, and that’s a very unstable situation.”</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Casa Alma’s houses of hospitality provide these families a place to catch their breath. Guests choose how much they can afford to pay for rent, and no one has ever paid more than $100 per month. They now have money to spend on medical and dental needs, and they become healthier. They start to save for the future. And they live in community, working alongside the Browns and volunteers to tend and harvest a variety of seasonal crops that grow well in Charlottesville’s climate — everything from strawberries, bush cherries, and currants to kale and sweet potatoes. Over time, they transition into their next home. But many return to visit and to volunteer at the place that provided their family with a much-needed respite.</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Casa Alma has also provided the Browns with opportunities to connect with others who are seeking to build a better world — everyone from fellow urban farmers and affordable housing advocates to people looking for opportunities to explore social justice through conversation, prayer, and reflection. After the well-publicized white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville in 2017, the Browns organized multiple opportunities for local residents to draw on their faith and confront racism together.</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Together, the Browns continue to appreciate the opportunities they have found to live in community and use their talents to help others. </span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“I think it's a real privilege to accompany the guests who stay in our hospitality houses,” Laura says. “We really get to hear the details of their lives before they came to Casa Alma and learn a lot about the struggles that they face, the ways in which they come up against systematic injustice, and what that looks like in their life, and in their kids' lives. They're giving us the opportunity to accompany them, and leverage some of the resources that we have, whether that's our education, contacts, or just being able to steward this place, and make it safe and welcoming.</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">“That really feels like a privilege, and I really enjoy it, because I get to know people and am invited into their lives. I wouldn't have the opportunity to know people at the same depth if we weren't living so closely together, and sharing parts of our lives together.”</span></span></p> What’s Within You Drive to break barriers motivates alum in nonprofit work to "unleash the potential of the human spirit." Mon, 17 Aug 2020 08:30:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/whats-within-you/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/whats-within-you/ <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">When I was younger, I had a stubborn speech impediment that made my R sounds come out as L’s. The problem persisted into middle school and I remember a theater instructor telling me that I would need to change my lines so that the audience wouldn’t laugh at me. While she may have thought she was looking out for me, she planted the first seeds of insecurity and shame around a challenge that I was trying hard to overcome. </span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">I developed systems that I thought would help. In reading class, when we would take turns reading aloud from a book, I would read a page ahead of the class so I could identify the paragraphs in which there weren't any R words and then raised my hand vigorously to read that paragraph. While that avoidance strategy worked most of the time, it was only pushing me closer to the sidelines of the life that I wanted to live and farther away from the person I wanted to be.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Throughout middle school, I worked diligently with my speech therapist to re-train my tongue to find a different way to make the R sound. It worked! Within a few years, I had not only trained myself how to make the R sound, I had learned that my struggle had made me a stronger person. While my adversity was relatively minimal during my adolescence, this experience planted a new seed. I became fascinated with stories of resilience and the capacity of the human potential. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">For almost two decades, I have served as the board chairman of nonprofit </span></span><a href="http://nobarriersusa.org/"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">No Barriers</span></span></span></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">, an organization I co-founded with a mission that inspires me every day, to unleash the potential of the human spirit. We serve tens of thousands of people from all walks of life — wounded veterans, business executives, students, caretakers, people with disabilities, people facing discrimination, people struggling with grief, and many others. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Our primary method of working with people comes in the form of immersive experiences in which we share our educational framework through activities like hikes, retreats, concerts, and outdoor adventures. Recognizing that our in-person activities are only able to impact a small fraction of the millions of people that could potentially benefit from our work — most especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit — we have created a suite of tools to help folks break through barriers in their daily lives, including an online learning platform, a weekly podcast, and most recently, a new book, </span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic">What’s Within You</em></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">, which I co-wrote over the past year.</span></span></p> <figure class="image-right"><img alt="Lillig 2" height="369" src="/assets/399436/lillig_2.jpg" width="600"></figure> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">No Barriers has been featured on The Today Show, NPR, and in The New York Times, in part, because the work we are doing is relevant to what people are desperately seeking in their lives. No Barriers operates at the intersection of two fundamental questions that have been at the heart of the human condition since the beginning of time: 1. What is my purpose? and 2. How can I overcome the barriers in my way? Through our work, we provide a roadmap to help people navigate the gap between our idealistic aspirations for a life of purpose and the realistic barriers that often get in the way.</span></span></p> <figure class="image-right"> </figure> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">Over the years, we have worked closely with researchers to help evaluate the impact of our program on our participants. What we have learned is that 95 percent of all No Barriers participants say that our programs changed their lives forever. We are especially excited to continue to teach people </span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">how to break through their challenges and live a driven, purposeful life, </span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">in an accessible, low-cost, and scalable way.</span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">On a personal level, what has fueled my own journey has been my desire to move closer to my purpose. Throughout all of my life, I have been driven by a message I learned from my parents and later at Notre Dame, to be “a force for good” in my family, my relationships, and my work. Since I graduated in 1995 with a double major in Italian literature and economics, I have sought to weave the message into both my work relationships and the marketing campaigns I create for global organizations like U.S. Soccer, the Kellogg Company, Snap-on Tools, and the Peace Corps. </span></span><br> <br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">In my work with No Barriers, I have had the opportunity to climb mountains with world-famous barrier-breakers like co-founder Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to summit Mt. Everest, and collaborate on projects with Mandy Harvey, the deaf singer-songwriter who captivated the nation by earning the golden buzzer on America’s Got Talent. What is most rewarding to me is to be a part of the No Barriers community where we drop our defenses at the door and acknowledge the pain, the scars, and the fear that each of us carries; and tell ourselves and each other “we got this” as we reach toward our next goal. It is through our process that we not only move closer to achieving our vision, but also to the “rope team” of friends who have supported, guided us, prayed for us, and willed us forward on the journey.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">All of us face challenges and all of us need tools, inspiration, and community to overcome these very real barriers in our lives. And as hard as this is to believe, most of us are never taught what the tools are, nor are we equipped to use these tools. Whether it be next month or next year or next decade, it is my hope that our No Barriers organization can serve as a useful resource for you or someone you love. Like the thousands of participants we serve every year, I hope you’ll come to discover the guiding principle of our organization:</span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic"> “What’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way”</em></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">I think back to middle school and I remember a day when I had been teased by some classmates for my R. My speech therapist, Mrs. Bork, was outraged and declared, “This is unacceptable. No one in this school will ever make fun of you again.” What Mrs. Bork gave me that day was the affirmation that not only do my feelings matter, but they are worth fighting for. One year later, I was voted to give a speech at graduation. </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal">I left all the R’s in.</span></span></p> <p style="background-clip:padding-box; border-bottom:solid #000000 1.5pt; padding:0pt 0pt 1pt 0pt"> </p> <p><br> <span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"><strong>Tom Lillig '95</strong> is the Board Chairman of No Barriers USA and co-author of</span></span><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic"> </em></span><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Within-You-Roadmap-Barriers-ebook/dp/B089QVLWGR"><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><em style="font-style:italic"><span style="-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none"><span style="text-decoration-skip-ink:none">What’s Within You: Your Roadmap to Living Life with No Barriers</span></span></em></span></a><span style="font-variant:normal; font-weight:400; white-space:pre-wrap"><span style="font-style:normal"> (KenilworthLore Publishing) which launches on September 15. The book, already an e-book bestseller, has received early praise from Dr. Jane Goodall and ABC journalist Bob Woodruff, as well as Notre Dame legends Lou Holtz and Rudy Ruettiger. Tom runs the Chicago office of Stone Ward, a creative agency dedicated to building good.</span></span></p> <p><span style="white-space:pre-wrap"><em>Top photo credit: Marcus Norman</em></span></p>