Holly Schlaack took over as director of volunteer engagement for the Sisters’ Live The Good program in January 2020. Six weeks later, COVID hit.
For a program that emphasized togetherness, community and fellowship, the future did not look promising.
“How do you have these kind of volunteer events when everything is shutting down?” says Holly.
Creatively, she says.
Events were cut back, yes. But some continued. By working outside, or in carefully controlled environments, or by out-sourcing work to people’s homes, the ‘Good’ in Live The Good was able to continue, and among volunteers of which there was no shortage.
|Holly Schlaack, Director of Community Engagement, working with volunteers at Tikkun Farm.|
Too, and importantly, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur leaned into the program. This was a way to continue ministry even in fraught times.
“No matter what barrier they come across,” says Holly, “the Sisters find a way around. They don’t stop.”
And indeed, Sisters participated in many of the events. As did whole families, students and Sisters’ employees. And in ways that not only negotiated a way around the pandemic, but that responded to it.
Food insecurity is an example. As the economic fallout of the pandemic deepened, and as breadwinners were laid off or furloughed or who in some cases lost their jobs completely, families suddenly were without income, and without food. The Live The Good program responded with a food collection event that working from the Mount Notre Dame convent and the individual homes of volunteers, collected and packed over 6,000 sacks of food.
“What amazes me is the number of volunteers who say they’ll help, and then do,” says Holly. “It’s unheard of to have this kind of follow-through. They are very committed. They show up to work. They show up to have that faith component. It just drives them.”
In 2021, and as the pandemic continued, Live The Good conducted six volunteer opportunities. One-hundred-ninety-two volunteers participated, including 79 who participated more than once. All told, 402 hours were donated for the benefit of the greater community.
“It gives me a lot of encouragement for the future,” says Holly. “There is no end to how far we can go with this.”
Published in the 2022 Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Ohio Province Annual Report, November 2022