Benedictine College Receives “Embracing Change” Award

Benedictine Students at the Extreme Neighborhood Makeover 2021

Benedictine College sophomore Daryl Easterling and other Benedictine students participated in the Extreme Neighborhood Makeover in Atchison in April 2021.

GivePulse, an international network that matches volunteers with causes, has presented its Embracing Change Award to Benedictine College. The award recognizes an institution that pivoted quickly and effectively to implement virtual engagement opportunities to meet the needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Benedictine College and its Center for Service-Learning used the GivePulse platform extensively to match student volunteers with needs in the Atchison community and beyond, like virtual activities for the Boys & Girls Club, letters to residents of a long-term care facility, an online archive preservation project, the Extreme Neighborhood Makeover with Project Atchison and Habitat for Humanity, and more.

“This is a testament to the importance that our faculty and community partners place on service-learning and community engagement,” said Meredith Doyle, Director of the Center for Service-Learning at Benedictine, acknowledging the flexibility and time required to initiate or rework these partnerships for online settings, especially amid such uncertainty.

Doyle noted that the empathy and generosity shown by Ravens were also critical to Benedictine’s COVID response. One example is rising junior Lia Reckmeyer, who recorded a video in Spring 2020 on how to make a paper boat and submitted it to the Atchison Boys and Girls Club YouTube page, which was launched at the beginning of the pandemic.

“I love working with kids and even though we are all far away from each other, it is important for them to know how much they still mean to us,” Reckmeyer said after making the video.

One of the most extensive virtual engagement initiatives that Benedictine has taken on during the pandemic is an online version of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas’ respite program for individuals with special needs, called BREATHE. Before the pandemic, BREATHE participants met once a month for a few hours, enjoying time for physical activity, arts and crafts, and religious education. As the coronavirus continued to spread, the Archdiocese’s Special Needs Ministry teamed up with the Benedictine College School of Education to offer a “Virtual BREATHE” program once a week. Ravens worked in pairs to offer personalized Zoom sessions for would-be attendees of BREATHE. This initiative provided a much-needed space for socialization and spiritual formation during the 2020-2021 academic year, and the plan is to continue it into Fall 2021. You can read more about Virtual BREATHE here.

The Embracing Change award was presented at the virtual GivePulse Impact & Showcase Awards ceremony on July 27, 2021.

“We applaud you for your hard work and dedication to facilitating impactful opportunities for students and community members during this crisis,” said George Luc, cofounder of GivePulse. “We are so grateful that you have chosen to use GivePulse to further your efforts.”

The Center for Service-Learning was created at Benedictine College in 2016 with the goal of engaging students in challenging academic work and the promotion of the common good as understood in the Catholic, Benedictine tradition.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named in the Top 10 in the Midwest of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.