Citizen Katie 2019 harnessed the power of caring to make a difference

Citizen Katie 2019

Nearly 200 students, faculty, staff, and alumni showed that the first taste of winter weather was no match for the power of community spirit this weekend for Citizen Katie 2019. Citizen Katie is an annual event that brings together students, faculty, staff, and alumni in collaboration with community efforts.

After a breakfast rally in the Rauenhorst Ballroom, teams of Katies set off with a mission to work with and learn from 13 incredible community efforts. The teams spread out across campus and out into the community, working with community partners like Carondelet Village, Highland Park Public Library, Breaking Free, Celeste's Dream Young Adult Spirituality, Mano a Mano International, Dress For Success Twin Cities, Sarah's an Oasis for Women, St. Joseph's Home for Children, Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, St. Kate's Empty Bowls, Open Arms of Minnesota, and Amicus/Sisters Helping Sisters.

It takes a village to help the village

“This year’s Citizen Katie was a huge success,” said D’Ann Urbaniak Lesch, director of Community Work and Learning at St. Catherine University. “This an amazing collaboration of dedicated organizations and staff within St. Kate’s to make this day possible. The volunteers who show up to make a difference all come together to show the power of doing good. It is both humbling and inspiring. We are proud of this important tradition at St. Kate’s.”

A dedicated team of planners work year-round to make Citizen Katie a successful day of service: Community Work and Learning, St. Kate's SEEK Team, Residence Life, Student Center & Activities, St. Catherine University Alumni Relations. Lead staff was SCA Programming Graduate intern Lindsay Borkin who worked with SEEK team on the registration and event details.

Planting hope for the future at Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women

This team of 10 — 7 students and 3 St. Kate's alumnae — braved near-freezing temperatures and falling snow to clean up the courtyard garden at Sarah' Oasis for Women. Sarah’s is a home for women from all over the world who are homeless and without resources. Dedicated to safety and dignity for a diverse community of women where they can begin new and productive lives, Sarah’s is always operating at capacity. The student team was transported from campus in a St. Kate’s van to Sarah’s. Before beginning their work, Community Work and Learning staff member Emily Seru read them a blog post from a former Sarah’s resident that shared the impact of her time at Sarah’s. When they exited the van, they were greeted by a Sarah’s volunteer and three alumnae volunteers. 

A total of 15 bags of lawn waste, weeds, and roots were cleared, and then the team planted two dozen daffodil bulbs for springtime blooming. Despite the cold temperatures, volunteers were warmed by smiles of encouragement and offers of tea from some of the women at Sarah's.

Demonstrating care through work, building trust, and strengthening communities were the common threads that connected the Citizen Katie experiences across the volunteer teams. Projects supported by Citizen Katie produced the following good works:

Volunteers from all projects took some time to reflect on their Citizen Katie experiences:

“I so enjoyed being a part of the Empty Bowls project, working with Open Arms of Minnesota. The volunteers worked in harmony, all knew what to do and there seemed to be a camaraderie amongst everyone, in working for a very worthy cause!  I had fun showing some of my ceramic pieces and commenting on the reflective part.  All went well! Thank You again for a treasured experience!” — Christine Pratt ‘91

"During the reflection time, our group members conveyed that they felt more connected to St. Kate's through this experience, and loved learning about Project Linus and more about Carondelet Village." — Emily Fiske '18

"Citizen Katie is a great way to start your weekend off right with an act of service. It feels really good to get up and get moving with other people that share your values." — Addy Cross ‘20

“I love being a part of Citizen Katie because it gives me the chance to step out of my comfort zone and meet lots of Katies I wouldn't normally cross paths with. This year I worked at Minneapolis Crisis Nursery and it was wonderful to learn about an organization that is so important to many kids and parents in the Twin Cities area. Helping the nursery through tasks like cleaning and painting was great team bonding and a great way to help the people who are working so hard to help Twin Cities families.” — Ellen Heistand ‘21

Upcoming community involvement opportunities

Service and community projects are planned year-round at St. Catherine University. Here are a couple upcoming events to consider:

St, Kate’s will host its annual Soup Social for Empty Bowls on November 19 in the Visual Arts Building. Stop by between 11:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.; all proceeds will be donated to Open Arms of Minnesota.

On March 10, participate in a variety of service opportunities as we honor the legacy of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph.


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2015: St. Kate's volunteers continue Citizen Katie community service tradition