Citizen Katie was back in person this year, with over 80 St. Kate’s students, staff, and alumni coming together for a morning of service, community building and reflection.
Citizen Katie is an annual event with a long history at St. Kate’s. It started in 2004 as a Residence Life program to engage students in the broader community. For many years now it has been a collaborative effort between Residence Life, Alumni Relations, Student Center and Activities, the Center for Community Work and Learning, and Center for Spirituality and Social Justice. This event is important because of St. Kate’s founding by the Sisters of St. Joseph, who created our institution to educate students to lead and influence and care for the dear neighbor without distinction.
One first this year was the first-ever “Dresser Build,” was made possible in large part thanks to St. Kate’s Student Senate funding. St. Kate’s has had a longstanding partnership with Bridging Inc. and organizers were excited to host an on-campus opportunity involving over 50 people. In just two hours, the teams built 50 dressers.
First-year students connected with the energy of doing good. “You are not just building a dresser, you know it is going to someone who needs it, said Kenzie Elsenpeter ‘25.”Everyone had more energy after learning it was for a good cause.” Others found a sense of accomplishment in discovering a new skill. “I didn’t think I’d be able to finish building the dressers, but after doing it and knowing it’s a quality product - that feels empowering!” remarked Madison Lawrence ’25.
Alumni reflected on the evergreen learning opportunities. “It wasn’t until my senior year at St. Kate’s that we were allowed to wear pants to class,” remembered. Nancy (Didion) Busse ’69. “And here I am today building dressers for a great organization. And I am learning so much.”
Other volunteer efforts included garden work with Highland Library, Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women, and bowl making with St. Kate’s Empty Bowls Project in collaboration with Open Arms of MN.
Caroline Hull ’22, part of the group at Highland Library, commented, “It’s great to have an opportunity to work together and give back to the community. I can imagine all of this nature was overlooked during COVID but now the library patrons will get to enjoy reading a book outside in the courtyard again.”
Jill Warren ’68, who volunteered at Sarah’s… an Oasis, found a comfort in returning to the event in person. She reflected, "We're so glad that this tradition is still going and we get to keep coming back."
St. Kate’s Empty Bowl participant Josie Lavell shared, “I like to give back to the community through art which I am passionate about,” while Jasmine Mclaurin commented, “I enjoyed learning about how many ways there are to connect and be involved with Open Arms and the St. Kate’s Empty Bowls project.”
Citizen Katie served as a starting place for some, and for many, it was a point of connection in ongoing efforts. Over the course of a Saturday morning, the St. Kate’s community truly made a difference. The event conveyed a clear message of unity and impact: together we can create positive change.