In 1887, Pope Leo XIII chartered The Catholic University of America in the nation’s capital to “provide the Church with worthy ministers for the salvation of souls [and] give the Republic her best citizens.”
Now, 133 years later, the world contends with a global pandemic that has yet to be contained. Quickly, everything changed as businesses and schools moved online and people were asked to stay inside. In his Angelus address on March 22, Pope Francis wisely called on us to “become light.”
With fear and anxiety mounting, we turn to the members of the Catholic University community for hope. These stories of inspiration demonstrate the wisdom of Pope Leo XIII and our founders: we are resilient; we rise to the occasion; we spread the faith.
These are only a sampling of the many great stories we could tell. We invite you to share additional stories publicly on social media with the hashtag #CUFoundersDay, and we encourage you to learn more about our crisis response fund at the bottom of this page.
Become light, and together, we will light the way.
Nurses are at the front lines of a little-understood pandemic. Even with supplies dwindling, procedures changing, and patients scared and confused, they maintain order and morale. We applaud the Conway School of Nursing for preparing nurses even for this toughest of challenges.
Conway School of Nursing
The Catholic University of America
Before PPE became a household term, the Conway School of Nursing gathered personal protective equipment (PPE) from their nursing skills laboratory and delivered it to Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md.
“PPE is critical as healthcare providers care for those who have or are at risk of having COVID-19,” said Dean Patricia McMullen. “Given that our students are studying virtually, they will not be using these materials and we are, instead, working to ensure our colleagues in the field have much-needed equipment.”
“To our friends and colleagues at Catholic University, we are grateful for your support of the Holy Cross workforce. As we share in the Catholic tradition, we are grateful for your stewardship of these important resources and your reverence for those who serve and those whom we serve.”— Dr. Norvell Coots, president and CEO of Holy Cross Health (Silver Spring, Md.)
On this page, you may select a photo from any photo grid to reveal (or hide) a story from a University community member.
CEO, Grassi Healthcare Advisors, LLC (N.Y.)
Tomaino's nursing practice focuses not on individuals but on communities and populations. Among his many projects, he serves as an ombudsman for a nursing home that is closing, and because of COVID-19, the residents are struggling to find places in new facilities.
Since the outbreak, he's changed his life to account for social distancing, all while maintaining his faith:
“The pandemic has changed everything. Prior to social distancing, I traveled extensively throughout the Northeast, working with healthcare facilities, hospitals, medical practices, and healthcare organizations. I prided myself on building strong interpersonal relationships with clients. Now, I work exclusively from my home office set up above my garage, and have learned to leverage the technology of Zoom to connect remotely.
“My wife and I have enjoyed cooking together, and leave the house very infrequently — only to get groceries or to exercise. My grown daughters connect with us regularly by Google video, and we visit and enjoy our two grandsons daily the same way. I say special prayers to St. Joseph, the patron saint of families, to intercede on our behalf and keep us all safe. He sleeps on my prayers each night — a devotion I learned from an interview with Pope Francis.”— Joe Tomaino
Emergency Room Nurse (Ill.)
Since graduating, Yep has worked as an ER nurse in Illinois. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Yep has been working closely with her manager and a few relief charge nurses to manage the inflow of coronavirus patients. The experience has not been without challenges.
“It’s been a bit of a stressful time but also neat to be on the front lines. It’s been such a blessing to see our community come together and support us at the hospital. I joke that in the ER, we really see people at their worst, and over and over again … we can get pretty jaded most days. Seeing the loads of people bringing food, thank you notes, and gifts to the ER has been overwhelming.”— Mary Yep
Nurse, Cardiovascular ICU, Washington Hospital Center (Washington, D.C.)
Since graduating from the Conway School of Nursing in 2015, Jessica has worked as a nurse at the Washington Hospital Center. Although she loves her work, she acknowledges that the pandemic has brought anxiety to the workplace.
“There is definitely a lot of apprehension and fear among my colleagues. So far, our resources have not been an issue, but I anticipate it eventually. But there is a new added level of stress every day at work that I am not used to. I normally love going to work and love the challenge, but I now worry with every patient that comes through the door could expose us and then we bring it back to our families.”— Jessica Henry
Jessica stresses that her education at Catholic University prepared her well for the workplace, and she continues to share advice that she learned at the Conway School of Nursing: “Always look at your patient first — don’t look at the machines or alarms — but look at your patient and trust your assessment!”
Emergency Department (R.I.)
Campbell had completed a M.S.N. degree in hopes of becoming a family nurse practitioner, but the pandemic struck. Her scheduled certification exam was canceled, as were her job interviews. When she wrote to us, she described a monumental — yet uncoordinated — efforts to respond to the COVID-19 virus at her hospitals.
“I think it’s difficult to stay informed as the rules and recommendations are changing not even daily, but by the hour. At my full-time job every health care worker is to wear a regular surgical mask. It’s mandated. We are having to save our surgical masks in a brown paper bag and re-wear them for at least two shifts. Managers are checking the bags and making sure they are being re-worn. At my per-diem job my manager told me I was not allowed to wear a surgical mask and that I had to take it off. The state of Rhode Island is so small you would think all the hospitals would be on the same page.”— Taylor Campbell
During times of uncertainty and isolation, we are prone to doubt. But these friends of Catholic University keep us united and faithful. Even now, we can hope. We can cherish our communities. We can be firm in our faith.
Rev. Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M. Conv.
University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry
No students on campus? No problem! Fr. Jude livestreams Daily Mass via the Campus Ministry Facebook page at 9 a.m. every morning, Praise and Adoration at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, and Sunday Mass at 6 p.m. on Sundays.
From his home or from a campus chapel, Fr. Jude continues to provide the spiritual guidance our campus community needs.
“This pandemic affords this present generation of alumni and students their moment to stand in the breach: ministering to the sick, the dying, and our most vulnerable; joining the search for vaccines and treatments; teaching our children and grandchildren to grow in Faith and Reason; and protecting the common good in every walk of life. This is who we are! These are the people from whom we come! This is and always has been what it means to be a member of The Catholic University of America!”— Fr. Jude
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries
Since March 17, 2020, Bishop Barron has offered Daily Mass online, celebrated either himself or by Fr. Steve Grunow, CEO of Word on Fire. Photo courtesy of @bishopbarron on Instagram.
Director of Campus Ministry, Diocese of Colorado Springs
Catholic University Alumni Association Board of Governors
At 2 p.m. MDT (noon EDT), Fr. Kyle has been conducting daily Mass via Instagram Live. He summarizes his motivation briefly with the hashtag #LetYourFaithBeBiggerThanYourFear.
“My time at Catholic U was absolutely essential to me discovering my vocation. During this time of crisis, it's been a privilege to offer daily and Sunday Mass on Instagram. It's helped my students stay connected to one another and to the sacraments, and I hope to continue it until this time of separation is over. People can watch Mass many places, but they want to stay connected to their own community. It's hard for me as a priest to be apart from my congregation, but the virtual Mass keeps us spiritually united.”— Fr. Kyle
Senior Associate Rector, Grace Episcopal Church (Gainesville, Ga.)
In the rush to move services online, Rev. Park has learned valuable lessons. Photo by Erin O. Smith.
“Two weeks ago, I was scrambling to adapt my limited computer skills to provide online worship and prayer opportunities for our congregation. Today, I am overwhelmed with the online resources for clergy, to the point that a regular feature in our weekly online staff meetings is vetting which of these latest innovations will work best in our context.
“Once those challenges were resolved, I discovered an underlying issue for which I hadn’t accounted: ‘How does a virtual parish family affect my priestly identity, and how do I encourage community fellowship while also reckoning with the reality that true Christian community is wider than the bounds of all my previous markers?’
“Here are some lessons I have learned thus far:
“‘Fasting’ from Holy Communion until we can all share it together again heightens the anticipation of sharing in the sacrament. It also has made me mindful of the many who are not able to take communion at all, for any number of pastoral reasons. I am also aware that it has been a long time since I took advantage of Lent’s invitation to deny myself.
“We ought not rush to ‘feel better’ about all of this, because ‘all of this’ is about so much more than a virus. It has been a harsh reminder that our interrelatedness is not a hope, but rather a scientific fact. To imagine that my previous ‘world view’ was anything more than an ‘individual view’ is no longer possible. And, I hope that it never will be again.”— Rev. Park
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
School of Theology and Religious Studies
In an article in First Things, our resident expert on Saint Augustine argues that we can find hope and purpose even in this pandemic that has fallen during Lent.
“God has made the world ‘very good.’ Yet due to our primal Fall, God does permit suffering — not as a limit upon himself, as the secularist faith would insist — but precisely to reveal his love and respect for his creature as a cause in his own image.”— Chad Pecknold
With a virus that spreads so quickly, every second counts. When our elected officials, journalists, and organizational leaders put the public first, they save lives and preserve the integrity of their communities.
Joseph St. George, B.A. 2011
Political Anchor, Fox (Denver, Colo.)
Member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors
Commonly known as the fourth branch of government, the press keeps the public informed. With some communities not yet requiring social distancing, Joe St. George interviewed Lucy Consler, B.A. 2011, an alumnus living in Spain, to make a plea directly to his viewers. Like others, he is protecting himself by working from home: “I typically only come to the studio if I have to for the story. Going live from home is common.” Despite the inconveniences, he continues to press for answers and inform the public.
“This is one of the biggest stories of my career and of each of our lives. I’m doing my part to hold leaders accountable — asking governors, senators, congressmen, and mayors if more can be done. Why isn’t there more testing? Why do results take so long? Where are the ventilators? Are hospitals ready? Will this stimulus actually go to people who are hurting?”— Joe St. George, KDVR FOX31 (Denver, Colo.)
Juvenile Defender, Maryland Office of the Public Defender (Baltimore, Md.)
Catholic University Alumni Association Board of Governors
Even as the pandemic consumes our thoughts, the world continues to turn and Geis continues to fight the rights of the youth.
“As a front line defender, I am fighting harder than ever to uphold the Constitutional rights of some of the most vulnerable members of society, indigent children. Zealous representation and ethical responsibilities don’t get to be scaled back or put on hold ever, even for a pandemic.
“I worry about children who are being unjustly detained, especially those with serious health conditions, or who are being denied access to the courts and others not receiving the appropriate services. I’ve turned my kitchen table into an office and sometimes a virtual courtroom defense table. Although we are not allowed to meet with our detained and committed kids in person because of quarantine, everyone has been working together to get systems in place so that we can have confidential meetings with our young clients and to make sure they are able to virtually attend their hearings. We are in constant contact with all of our clients and their parents to not only work on their cases but help them navigate what is on a ‘normal day’ a complicated system.
“It is very important that I, as my client’s lawyer and counselor, maintain a ‘business as usual’ demeanor for them even if I'm scared and unsure of what’s going on in our world. Obviously, new types of curve balls are coming left and right but creativity, critical thinking, and faith are what I've come to rely on more and more these days. As a Catholic University alumna who majored in drama, I have those three things in my trial bag today and every day!”— Lisa Geis
Election Commissioner for Delaware
Former President of the Catholic University Alumni Association
Commissioner Albence was already facing a stressful year with the primary election. When the COVID-19 pandemic fell on the U.S., he acted quickly and decisively to protect his staff and the First State voters:
“I was part of the State team under the governor’s leadership on this. We’re shuffling many things around with work. Many State workers are working remotely. Our team pretty much needs to be on-site, but we’re being as cautious as possible. We have moved our Presidential Primary from April 28 to June 2. Personally, my family and I are doing well!”— Anthony Albence
Dean of Students, Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, N.J.)
Dean Scalzo is responsible for 900 students from Monmouth and Ocean Counties, N.J. With COVID-19 spreading quickly in nearby New York, he acted swiftly to protect the student body.
“Considering our proximity to New York, the high number of COVID-19 cases, and the fact that we have boys from over sixty local school districts, it was imperative we closed quickly, which we did on Thursday, March 12. Our 85 teachers have adapted quickly to online instruction, and our boys have reported that distance learning is going remarkably well. As Dean of Students, I have been sending weekly video reflections to the whole of the student body. These reflections have been intended to help center the boys, remind them of the need for prayer and reflection, and to help offer them some spiritual perspective.”— Matthew Scalzo
President of the Student Government Association
International Economics and Finance, Busch School of Business
Brendan is a calm, strong leader who continues to advocate for the entire student body while finishing his last semester as an undergraduate student from home. In last week's online town hall meeting, he called on all students support their special community. Photo courtesy of the Busch School of Business.
“Our strength in our community — which is grounded in our ever-growing relationship with Christ — is best supported by each and every one of you.”— Brendan Dillon
Catholic University faculty stoically rose to the occasion. With creativity and selflessness, they have advanced research and continued to educate their students. Remarkably, they — with the head of the Technology Services team — made possible an impossible task: In a matter of days, they moved all classes online.
Professor of Viruses and Bacteriophage Biology
School of Arts and Sciences
For more than 40 years — approximately ten years as a doctoral student and 30 years with Catholic University — Dr. Rao has examined how viruses themselves can be used to develop vaccines and cure diseases, including HIV or cancer. Now, he hopes his life’s work can be used to help lead to a possible coronavirus cure.
Catholic University is offering royalty-free licenses to the vaccine delivery-related patents resulting from the work of Dr. Rao to research teams hoping to curb the global pandemic.
“As a global Catholic research university faithful to the Church, this is what we do. Our fundamental discoveries and subsequent applications are not hindered by our ethics and respect for the human person, but accelerated in the right directions by them.”— Aaron Dominguez, University Provost
Director of the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship
Assistant Professor of Practice, Busch School of Business
In early March, students in Rome were asked to return to the United States to complete their classes online. Andreas Widmer, however, stayed in Italy with his family to make a difference. Photo from a 2017 Vocation for Business class.
“We take too little advantage of our will, of our freedom in the sense that we are raising our fists against something we don't control. And then we don't do squat about what we actually control — yet that would make all the difference. [...] No matter what, you can react, and you can make it beautiful.”— Andreas Widmer
On March 18, 2020, the Catholic News Service interviewed Widmer while he was in Rome about his decision to remain and his advice to the departing Catholic University students.
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Associate Professor of Practice Pastoral Studies Area, School of Theology and Religious Studies
Susan Timoney understood that for online learning, one size does not fit all. She teaches her two classes differently and admires the sensitivity her students bring to the new experience.
“I'm doing one class live, because it only has six students, and the other class, I'm recording and using PowerPoint because it has 87 students, and Google Meets and Zoom get wonky with too many people. It takes longer to teach online, and every question becomes an email. But I’ve been really impressed, particularly with the seniors, of how sensitive they’re being to one another, and how thoughtful.
“The students are definitely more thoughtful. They’re stopping and remembering that this is hard for everybody. I also feel like they have a chance online to participate in a way they don’t in the classroom. I have 87 students in my 202 class (The Church and the Human Person) and when they’re required to write or respond to something on the discussion board, I’m getting to know them better because their responses are more personal. They speak differently to each other.”— Susan Timoney
Chair of the Department of Education
School of Arts and Sciences
As the coordinator of the Master's in Learning and Instruction program, Cave oversees students who are interning at culturally and academically diverse preschool to 12th grade (P-12) schools. As these schools have transitioned to online learning, the P-12 classroom teachers have become overtaxed, greatly increasing the impact the interns have on the classroom students.
“Our teacher education candidates fill an important role as the classroom teachers of record are assigned to teach online only a few hours a day, so P-12 students do not have access to their teacher all the time during school hours. Catholic University practicum candidates and student teachers spend valuable time teaching, helping with homework, and comforting young ones.”— Agnes Cave
Meanwhile, Cave and her colleagues in the Department of Education help, train, and educate their students — the interns in these P-12 schools — during this unprecedented time.
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
School of Engineering
Biologists and nurses alone cannot resolve the COVID-19 crisis. Davidson challenges his civil engineering students to be part of the solution:
“To finalize the semester, I have asked each student to come up with a design idea to solve a component of the COVID-19 virus: ‘Please be extremely creative and make a solution to a specific problem that the world is facing. You can use any design method possible, from creating a web app/website, to designing a new hospital, to designing an innovative method to disinfect infrastructure. In the end, I want a five-page research paper describing your design process.’”— Jason Davidson
Davidson adds that his students have adapted to online learning even faster than he has: “In terms of online classes, life has dramatically changed. My students are extremely comfortable with video calls, and I think us professors are catching up to them.”
We find ways to come together even as we're asked to stay apart. This togetherness makes us stronger and gives us the hope we need to weather this crisis. We're proud of how members of the Catholic University community unite others.
Gregory Gardner, B.M. 2015
Music Faculty, Camden Catholic High School (Cherry Hill, N.J.)
Gardner uses music to unite his community and develop leaders. Although written before COVID-19 struck the United States, his composition of “I Am With You Always” has become a perfect rallying song in this time of social distancing.
“I composed the music to ‘I Am With You Always’ at the beginning of this year as a recessional hymn for our students at the end of Mass. The verses largely come from Psalm 25, a prayer for guidance and deliverance, and the refrain is taken from Matthew 28:19-20, the end of which states: ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age.’
“The song has become an anthem for our students, an inspiring prayer for guidance and wisdom amid yearly challenges. The virtual choir was an opportunity to come together, lift our community, and show that we are resilient in this new challenge together.”
“Today, while we are social distancing, it’s easy to feel hopeless at a time of great suffering while stuck at home. However, now we find that greater opportunity to lead with mercy, while embracing the acts of mercy from others that we need ourselves.
“The role we can play is to share comfort and light in the lives of others: call a grandparent, teach someone through video calls, teach someone how to video call, sing, make music, tell stories, play games, share generously, and pray together. Amid the challenges we face each day, we are not alone.”— Gregory Gardner
Director of Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting LLC (Doylestown, Pa.)
School of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors
How do parents of children with autism cope with school closures and social distancing? Dr. Cohen recommends maintaining a routine, turning off the television, exercising, and helping others. We could all benefit from following this advice. Photo from the 2015 Alumni Awards Ceremony.
“My field is autism diagnosis and treatment. Professionally, I have been seeing clients virtually, which presents some challenges for some children who are easily distracted. My client families are very concerned now because autistic people love routine. Their routines have now been disrupted, which causes anxiety. Parents should provide ‘structure, structure, structure.’ Maintain the same daily routines as if the children were going to school — get up at the same time, get dressed, have meals at the same time, follow the same order of class instruction as they would in the classroom. Get exercise after the class sessions, which is especially important for children with ADD/ADHD, and, don’t watch TV (because of the bombardment of pandemic information).
“With my husband, Marvin, I’m checking in on older neighbors, going on grocery runs for them, and ‘this morning brought fresh baked goods to everyone.’ In times of crisis, helping others takes the focus off yourself.
“I think that this crisis will be hardest on the marginalized people, especially with the closure restaurants and struggling small, nonprofits that provide free food for the homeless. I recommend that we all can do things for the homeless now: Donate to shelters and food pantries.”— Dr. Cohen
Global Head of Equities, Jefferies LLC (London)
Busch School of Business Board of Visitors
He was living in London, but in early March, Jefferies asked him to return to the States. Now, Forlenza and his wife, Ellen, also B.A. 1988, are with their three children in Rumson, New Jersey. This past week, his friend and colleague, Peregrine Broadbent, the CFO of Jefferies, passed away as a result of the virus. Photo from the 2019 Maloney Hall opening celebration.
“I draw strength from faith, family, friendship, and a sense of purpose. For the 800 or so people I manage, it feels like it is my job to help them not worry about their careers, and to take that stress off of them at this time.
“I also own two restaurants on the Jersey Shore, and although we have had to shut one of the restaurants, we are working to keep paychecks coming to the employees of both locations. The other, Woody’s in Sea Bright, is open and offering a ‘pay what you can’ option for customers.”— Pete Forlenza
Catholic University Alumni Association Board of Governors
Crooks is among the many parents who has been thrust into the role of teacher as schools have transitioned to online learning. Like many of us, she wonders if she is doing enough just by social distancing. To us, she — and her children and her husband Rory — are heroes.
“I’m pretty much confined to the house right now, as I am now ‘homeschooling’ our two teenage boys. My older son, who is a freshman in high school, is doing school work online. My younger son, who is in seventh grade, is getting more hands-on, personal attention from me. Since he has autism and is non-verbal, I have been working with him one-on-one on a curriculum that his special education teacher provided. My husband, Rory, is considered ‘mission essential,’ so he still has to report to work each day during the week, but the majority of his co-workers are teleworking. Our governor has mandated that school be physically closed for the rest of the school year, so this is definitely uncharted territory for us.
“That said, I have not been able to go out into the broader community to volunteer, other than to donate financially to our church’s ministries and join prayer groups. I was just telling Rory yesterday that I don’t feel like we're doing enough. Now that it looks like this will be our norm for the next couple of months or so, I do plan to see if there are any ministries or volunteer work that the boys and I can do together, such as delivering food to homebound individuals. In the meantime, I’m just keeping the home fires burning!”— Lisa Crooks
Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations, March of Dimes (Arlington, Va.)
Columbus School of Law Alumni Council
Gonzalez used to spend time at the Capitol advocating for pregnant women, mothers, and babies. Now, he is working from home with his wife and caring for his own young children. He urges everyone to be kind and heed the advice of healthcare professionals.
“At work, we have gone to virtual meetings with staff work from home. Fortunately, we are equipped to handle the transition. In my personal life, my wife and children are home from school and daycare. It definitely presents challenges keeping all of them entertained, but it has allowed us to really bond as a family.
“We all need to heed the advice of our nation’s health experts. As someone steeped in healthcare law and policy, I have access to the latest information. Follow common sense guidelines: stay home, wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds, and practice physical distancing. I prefer that term over ‘social’ distancing because it has a better connotation from a mental health standpoint. Additionally, we can all be a bit kinder to one another. Check in on your elder family members and see if they need help accessing the grocery store, and do the same for the most vulnerable. Most importantly, let’s support our first responders during this crisis; be sure to thank them for their service and jeopardizing their health to save our lives.”— Ariel Gonzalez
Partner, Praemia Law, PLLC (Reston, Va.)
Columbus School of Law Barrister’s Society
Lawyers regularly work long hours. For Keller, his days became longer as he devotes even his off-hours to his community.
“My office has been inundated with calls from our business clients seeking advice about how to deal with the business consequences of the pandemic. My firm and I are trying to help make sense of the situation – which changes daily. Off hours, my wife and I are sewing masks for a local cancer treatment center that is running out of supplies. We can all help make things better for our communities during this crisis!”— Matthew Keller
Advisor in Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.)
Catholic University Alumni Association Board of Governors
Just as Catholic University reimagines Odyssey Day - an annual on-campus event for admitted students - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute must reimagine its events for admitted students. Potter has helped mobilize efforts to connect with these students online.
“I also help recruit accepted students to the department. March and April are typically very busy with many yield events for our admitted students, but as you can imagine, this year has looked much different.
“Last week, my colleague and I hosted a webinar for admitted students interested in Computer Science, and we had almost 200 students tune in! April 4 would have been the university’s huge Accepted Students Day event, when we typically have around 5,000 accepted students and family members on campus. Everything has been cancelled, but our department is still moving forward with hosting one-on-one student meetings between our current CS students and accepted students.
“This whole experience has given me a lot of hope and confidence in our college students, who are the next generation of leaders in our world.”
General Attorney, Office of Litigation Support, Board of Veterans’ Appeal, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
In this time of crisis, Charles encourages people to cut through the uncertainty with their strong moral character.
“The current situation presents an opportunity for us to show forth our character. We must now decide on the impact we desire to make within our communities.
“I have found it helpful to donate to families in need but to also understand that by remaining indoors and following CDC guidelines, I am doing my part.
“Regardless of where we are, I find our best contributions to combat the worry and anxiety is in helping those around us. You can contribute with a simple act of making a friend or neighbor feel seen and heard. Making time for video chats, telephone calls, or text messages can stave off feelings of loneliness and frustration. Even more important than reaching out, the act of listening can mean so much to someone in need of being heard.
“I hope we have all become more aware of the needs of our communities and that we are more willing to be a nation that lives Galatians 6:10 loudly, remembering ‘as we, therefore, have opportunity, let us do good unto all men.’”
Founder of Support DC, DC Tech People, and District Flight Deals
Dawson is more than a web developer; he's a storyteller. When the pandemic hit his city, Dawson understood the impact it would have on local businesses and their employees. Instead of stories of layoffs and closures, Dawson wants small businesses to tell stories of success through community support.
“A few weeks ago, people on social media started encouraging others to buy gift cards to local businesses to support them during COVID-19. Buying a gift card gives a business cash that it needs to be able to pay their employees, their lease, and just stay afloat.
“I liked the idea of buying gift cards to support local restaurants, cafes, shops, etc. So I crowdsourced a list of businesses that offer gift cards in a Google Sheet. After the list exploded to over 150+ businesses, I realized that it needed a proper site to do the most good and to spread farther, so I built supportdc.com.”— Brian Dawson
Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
Columbus School of Law Alumni Council
Ramos assists survivors of domestic abuse. With COVID-19 confining most people to the home for study and work, her work has become even more critical. Although her routine has changed, she continues to provide the support that survivors need.
“I have a moral and ethical obligation to continue to advocate for my clients during this difficult time. My work focuses on assisting survivors of domestic violence through the judicial process.
“During a usual week, you would have found me three or four days a week at the D.C. Superior Court, advocating for survivors of domestic violence or meeting with new survivors. Now, I am working from home, advocating for my clients to ensure they are in safe placements and that they understand how to access the courts during this time. I am also still actively communicating with clients, providing legal advice to prospective clients, and ensuring that the public is aware of the daily changes to the judicial and administrative system.
“I keep the spirit of CUA Law alive by supporting others during this unprecedented time.”
Housing Manager, Catholic Charities of Long Island (N.Y.)
Right now, everyone seems to be searching for answers, and for most of us, social distancing is the most can do to help others. As a social worker, Gaetani has strives to give people hope.
“My first field placement at Catholic University was at the American Red Cross. I had an incredible supervisor who ingrained in me the idea that ‘hope’ is the driving force of social work. During this period of ‘remote social work,’ it's been difficult to provide the services that I normally provide as a case manager to my clients. I haven’t been able to meet with them or connect them with direct services/resources like I usually do.
“But the most important resource I have been able to provide to my clients is hope. I’ve been able to continue client contact through phone calls and Facetime sessions, and have learned that my supervisor was right: sometimes instilling hope is the only thing — and the most important thing — we can provide. I may not be able to physically see my clients, but I’m still able to carry out my personal dedication to service. We will get through this hand in hand.”— Frank Gaetani
Head Coach, Women's Basketball Team, Catholic University
Coach Donohue held his end-of-year team meeting virtually. He shared on social media that his team is “hungry for next season” and wrote to us that he and his fellow coaches are leveraging technology to maintain their communities.
“The world changed a few weeks ago for everyone, and we simply want our players and coaches to know that we’re still connected and still here for one another. We’re family. Anytime that we can take a moment to connect, be it in a virtual capacity, over the phone, in writing, or through social media, it’s important for us to do so.”— Coach Donohue
Office of Campus Ministry and Community Service
CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA
Last fall, the Office of Campus Ministry established pop-up food pantries to combat food insecurity among campus community members. Feidelseit raises awareness of the project, collects food donations and buys additional food, and helps people in need maintain nutritious diets. With the crisis, the move to online classes, and a growing need, Feidelseit has brought new innovations to the food pantry.
“A lot of people rely on the pop-up food pantries during normal times, and with the current situation a lot more people are facing financial challenges. Over spring break, we moved from an open-shopping system to a pre-made bag system, but it became obvious that we should distribute these bags right away rather than wait until our scheduled times.
“We made more than 100 bags and they have almost all been collected by students and staff. Almost everyone who picked up a bag was feeding multiple people in their home or apartment. When the University moved to online classes, we still had funds from donations, so we decided to purchase electronic gift cards ($25) to Safeway that we could send to people who were struggling financially.
“If you are aware of someone in the Catholic University community who is having financial difficulties right now, contact me (feidelseit [at] cua.edu) and I will see if that person would like a gift card. If you would like to donate to this cause, purchase $25 Safeway e-gift cards on Amazon and email them to me so that I can distribute them.”— Kara Feidelseit
Crisis response fund: Initial goal of $300,000
For our students' safety and in the interest of public health, the University has made dramatic changes in how we fulfill our educational mission. Like most universities across the country, we have moved all instruction online for the remainder of the semester. As the situation around the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, we will continue to take proactive measures that preserve the highest quality of education.
We are humbled by the many members of our Catholic University community who have asked how they can help our students and the University to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic. In answer to your call, we have established the Light the Way Crisis Response Fund to help alleviate the hardship that our community is facing.
This fund will support a variety of needs, including — but not limited to — the following:
- Time-sensitive student needs such as unexpected travel expenses, housing assistance, food expenses, extra medical costs, and technology needs for remote instruction
- One-time emergency tuition assistance for the 2020-2021 academic year for students undergoing significant financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and at risk for being able to continue their studies
- Increased costs to develop a fully integrated online instructional model
While there is no way yet to calculate the full impact of the pandemic on the Catholic University community, our initial goal is to raise $300,000 for this urgent need. President and Mrs. Garvey have already given $50,000 to aid our collective effort. Please consider joining them in supporting Catholic University and our students during this unprecedented time.
Throughout the world, in actions large and small, the members of the Catholic University community are heroes. The people above and the thousands of others are serving on the frontlines helping the sick; spreading the faith; supporting those facing hardship; and giving hope and comfort to our neighbors, classes, families, and friends.
While we pray for you during this time of uncertainty and crisis, we are grounded in truths: You will solve problems and enrich culture; you will conduct yourself with excellence; and you will be the light that this world needs.