Wearing our hearts on our sheets
The Flyer community demonstrated once again how it comes together to support those with the greatest need during a day of sharing and caring April 2.
More than 1,550 supporters donated $702,481 to aid student and University priorities. They also submitted more than 160 signs of goodwill through a decidedly UD form of communication — sheet signs often hung from porches, plus sidewalk chalk art and other creative displays.
These “sheets of solidarity” thanked health care workers and first responders, showed Flyer Pride and displayed a commitment to social distancing. The idea came from Campus Ministry as a way for Flyers around the country to come together at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was necessitating we be apart, said Kelly Adamson, director of residence life ministry.
The pandemic required many changes to the original plans for April 2 — and quickly. In two weeks, in-person events were canceled and the day shifted to a virtual event focusing on care and community, as well as the opportunity to support the financial needs of students. The Student Crisis Fund netted $135,000 in direct support and will be combined with other donations — such as to the UD Fund and deans’ excellence funds — to support the high number of assistance requests from students, said Jen Howe, vice president for University advancement. Because of the pandemic, students are experiencing hardships in the areas of food, housing, transportation and tuition.
“Thanks to the donors who are contributing to this fund, these students are able to cover those needs and continue with their education at a time when their financial challenges would otherwise force them to stop,” Howe said. “We thank the donors for putting into practice the University’s Catholic and Marianist tradition to care for others in community.”
Jennifer Weed ’95 was among those answering the call. A regular contributor to the UD Fund and the UD Alumni Association Scholarship, she donated an additional $100 on April 2 to benefit the Student Crisis Fund.
“I want them to leave feeling the same way about their student experience.”
“Without the time I had at UD, I would not be the person I am today,” said Weed, vice president of education for the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute. “I want them to leave feeling the same way about their student experience.”
Weed, who lives in a mid-rise apartment building in Chicago that has neither a porch nor a balcony, also submitted her own take on a sheet sign — a chalkboard decorated with the phrase “There’s no place like home.” It’s an homage to 101 Lawnview and the lifelong friends she made in that house.
Twelve groups of lead donors — all of whom followed through with their original commitments made before the current global financial crisis — include Debra Plousha-Moore ’89, Margie Smith Klesse ’68 and Bill Klesse ’68, and an anonymous donor from the Class of 1985. The others are Brigid Brakefield ’88, Matt Lambiase ’88, John McKeon ’68 and Kathy Quinlan McKeon ’68, Greg Palmer ’78 and Denise Eder Palmer ’77, an anonymous donor from the Class of 1976, and the members of the Alumni Association Board, the Parent Leadership Council, the School of Engineering Advisory Council and the University Libraries Advisory Council.
“The fact that they all fulfilled their commitments speaks a tremendous amount about their character and how this place makes them feel,” Howe said.
Nationally, university campaigns for student crisis funds have been averaging $50,000 to $60,000 in gifts, said Jen Foster, executive director of annual giving. “People have been experiencing the pandemic in very different ways, but our audiences are still asking what they can do for students,” she said. “Switching our focus to a day of caring and sharing was true to UD’s nature and the right thing to do.”