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Co-workers at Motherhouse Live out Mission

October 19, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – For the past year, an experimental program at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse Campus coordinated fundraising efforts for three local organizations, while calling forth the creativity and generosity of Co-workers and Sisters on campus. 

Members of the ADSGives committee present a donation to The Salvation Army in January 2017. From left are Sister Frances Nadolny, OP; ADS Gives Committee members Amy Palmer and Erin Dress; Salvation Army Envoy Terry Gaster; and committee members Candy Strine, Carol Anne West, and Debe Blohm.

The newly formed ADSGives Committee led the campus in raising $2,242.34 for The Salvation Army in Adrian; $3,232 for Catherine Cobb, a domestic violence shelter for women and children; and $4,179.42 for Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County.

ADSGives is an adaptation of the campus’ longtime involvement in fundraising efforts for the local United Way. The total raised was comparable to previous United Way campaigns.

At the recommendation of the ADSGives Committee, the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters approved the continuation of ADSGives and two changes for the coming year: Co-workers will be able to donate to ADSGives through payroll deduction, and the committee will concentrate fundraising efforts on two organizations. The recipients have not yet been selected, but Co-workers and Sisters will be part of the decision-making process by recommending local nonprofit agencies to support.

For the remainder of 2017, the committee has taken on two special projects: a Thanksgiving canned food drive for Associated Charities of Lenawee County and the traditional collection of hats, mittens, and scarves for children in Adrian.

Erin Dress, Director of Human Resources and Committee Co-chair with Gina Ku, Mailroom Office Assistant, said Co-workers are interested in ways they can be partners in Mission with the Sisters. “Because the Committee tied the fundraising efforts for local organizations to the Enactments of General Chapter 2016, they offered concrete ways for the Co-workers to see how their lives could make a difference,” Erin said. “We have made a direct connection between the treasures and talents of the Co-workers and the needs of the people of Lenawee County.”

Along with generosity, the fundraising efforts called on the creativity and sense of community of the Co-workers and Sisters on campus. Events included the ever-popular Jeans Day in which Co-workers purchased the privilege to wear jeans to work on Fridays, raffle drawings, a lemonade and cookie sale, and a socks and underwear drive for people living at Catherine Cobb.

Carol Ann West, ADSGives committee member, presents roses to Sister Lee Cooney, OP.

A recent effort for Habitat for Humanity perhaps best exemplifies the spirit of ADSGives. In late August and early September, the Committee invited Sisters and Co-workers on the Motherhouse and Siena Heights University campuses to buy a rose that would be delivered to someone on either campus. With the help of a local business sponsor and at-cost purchasing from the florist, the $3 donation for each delivery went directly to Habitat for Humanity. The 650 roses purchased – far exceeding the committee’s goal of 300 – brought great joy to the recipients and benefited clients of Habitat for Humanity. Every Sister and many Co-workers on campus ended up receiving a rose that day.

“The energy on campus that day was reflective of the Dominican charism and the Dominican spirit of the Co-workers,” Erin said. “I’m constantly in awe of the generosity on campus, not only of the Sisters but of the Co-workers.”

In addition, Co-workers and Sisters have responded to fundraising drives and collections that have met immediate needs. Most recently, they donated $2,030 and 13 gift cards to a health camp for local migrant workers. In addition, for more than 25 years, Co-workers and Sisters have donated hats, mittens, and scarves around Christmas to help children from low-income families stay warm during the winter.

Co-workers at the Motherhouse have also gotten into the habit of saving and bringing in small items that can be used to benefit others. For example, they have brought in plastic lids of all sizes, which are melted down to create benches for school playgrounds. They have collected plastic grocery bags, which are used to create mats for people who are homeless.

The various charitable outreach programs have helped to foster a spirit of giving and of empathy among Co-workers, Gina said. “Some of the Co-workers might have been in those shoes before: of not knowing where that next meal will come from or that next $50 to put into the gas tank.” Even for Co-workers who have not been in that situation, the plight of the people they are serving “hits home,” Gina said.

Gina said she receives a special benefit from serving on the committee. “I’m in the action,” she said. “I’m able to give suggestions and help with activities, giving back to the community. You can’t necessarily do that on a daily basis with your work life and your family life, but being on the committee, I can do something – whether donating or choosing which organizations we give to.”

Feature photo: Members of the ADSGives committee present a donation to Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County. Also pictured are representatives from Flowers & Such and RE/MAX Main Street Realty who assisted in the rose sale.

Leaders of Michigan Congregations of Catholic Sisters Urge Governor to Address Water Concerns

October 18, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Leaders of eight Michigan congregations of Catholic Sisters have joined to urge Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to address deep concerns they have about the state’s enforcement of regulations protecting waterways. In a joint letter, dated October 17, the 27 leaders – whose congregations have had a presence in Michigan for up to 170 years – called on the governor to “take immediate steps to enforce existing regulations limiting total E. coli loads in our waterways and act to establish limits for other harmful nutrients.”

In a separate letter to the governor, also dated October 17, the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters addressed concerns about the presence of microcystin, E. coli, and other nutrients found in the south branch of the River Raisin, following up on earlier correspondence about the matter. 

“We are concerned that the State of Michigan is setting the bar too low in its tolerance of microcystin in waterways that domesticated animals and wildlife use as drinking water; that Michiganders swim and fish in; and that cities (in our area) draw upon for municipal water,” the General Council wrote. The letter was written in response to information sent by Teresa Seidel, Director of the Water Resources Division of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), on behalf of the governor in reply to a letter from the Council dated September 11. 

In their follow up letter, the Sisters asked the governor to explain the basis for the State of Michigan’s determination that the concentrations of microcystin found in Black Creek – a tributary of Wolf Creek which feeds Lake Adrian, a primary source of city drinking water – are “well below levels of concern,” as stated by MDEQ. Specifically, the Adrian Dominican Council members asked the governor, “Given the Flint crisis, what direction are you providing MDEQ regarding critical public health determinations like this?” 

The General Council also asked the governor to address the failure of the State of Michigan to develop and publish guidelines that would compel those with permits for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), or factory farms, to evaluate their waste management practices and take corrective action as needed. Test results from the area “repeatedly show E. coli in excess of approved levels,” the Sisters noted. 

Members of the General Council are Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress/Councilor; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator/Councilor; Patricia Harvat, OP, Councilor; and Elise D. García, OP, Councilor.

The joint letter to Governor Snyder of the leaders of the eight congregations also addressed the need for stricter regulatory enforcement. “We are concerned that current industrial farm (CAFO) permit regulations and best-management practices are failing to protect Michigan waterways, putting the health and well-being of all Michiganders at risk,” the Sisters wrote. 

“We add our voice to those calling for an end to the practice of giving federal taxpayer dollars to polluting factory farms, for a ban on the application of untreated waste on frozen or snow-covered ground, and for a reduction in the rate of phosphorous allowed from manure applications to match other forms of phosphorus fertilizer,” the congregation leaders stated.

The joint letter was signed by the leadership of the Adrian Dominican Sisters (Adrian), Consolata Missionary Sisters (Belmont), Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters (Grand Rapids), Home Visitors of Mary (Detroit), Marist Sisters (Eastpointe), Mission Sisters of the Holy Spirit (Saginaw), Servants of Jesus (Saginaw), and Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Monroe).  

The General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters had received a letter from Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM), a nonprofit organization that has done extensive testing of waterways in south central Michigan. The ECCSCM letter addresses specific issues raised by MDEQ in its response on behalf of the governor to the earlier letter sent by the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters on September 11.



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