Community Service a Family Affair for ND Alumni

Author: South Bend Tribune Report


By Laura Schulte | Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013 7:57 am

SOUTH BEND - The University of Notre Dame's mission to lifelong service brings alumni and their families to South Bend every summer to help those less fortunate.

They come here for the Notre Dame Alumni Association's Family Volunteer Camp, a weeklong experience giving families the opportunity to work with nonprofits.

"Each day families go into the community and do service, whatever the nonprofit needs," Angie Appleby Purcell, the Spirituality Program director at Notre Dame, said. "They come on a Sunday and leave on a Friday, and live in the dorms."

This week, the campers were painting and doing general upkeep at places such as YWCA North Central Indiana and Healthwin.

The camp, which has been taking place every summer since 1996, not only offers opportunities for alumni and their families to volunteer, but gives them a chance to connect with the university as well.

"They do family activities every night when they get back," Purcell said. "The evening activities help families reconnect with Notre Dame and each other."

What alumni especially like about the camp is having families working by their sides.

"I wanted my daughter to get perspective on the less fortunate," Nick Morin, of Atlanta, a 1993 graduate of Notre Dame, said. "And I wanted her to learn to give back to the community."

"It's important to involve the family because we think it's important to be together. It's important to help as a family," he said.

And the camp turned out to be fun for Campbell, 10, as well as her dad. Both were painting Thursday at the YWCA.

"I like that I get to spend time with my dad while helping others," she said. "It makes me happy."

Another family participated this year not only to teach their children about service, but to remember their own family members as well.

"We had been receiving notices (about the camp) in the mail for a while," Michelle Cannon, a 1991 graduate, said. "We decided to come not only to teach the kids, but my husband was an alum as well, and he passed away this fall.

"I brought the kids back to show them where we met. It's also a good way to explore campus and give back."

Cannon brought her three children and their grandfather, Vincent Bolduc, who is a 1968 Notre Dame graduate. The family volunteered together in hopes that the children would learn what it means to serve the community.

"We become virtuous by doing virtuous things," Bolduc said. "We need to do things and let our kids see, so they learn."

And the family's favorite part about the week at camp?

"Seeing how much individuals can do," Griffin Cannon said. "It's good to meet people who are in a different place than we are, and help them out."

Families aren't the only ones who participate.

Notre Dame students were installed into the program as student leaders, but none have attended the camp as long as junior Kevin McMannis, of Houston.

"I've been attending for eight years," he said. "This year is my ninth."

McMannis decided to attend Notre Dame after coming to the Family Volunteer Camp for many years.

"My dad and older brother came here, so at first I was resistant," he said. "After doing camp a few years, I realized it was a great place."

McMannis believes that the camp is a uniting force for families and for the community, and plans on bringing his family after he graduates.

"When I have kids I'll bring them," he said. "It's a great camp to show volunteering and the values of Notre Dame."