Category Archives: Community service

Pope Francis Build - Habitat for Humanity

Pope Francis Build: Helping two Wichita families in need of a home

Newman University partnered with Habitat for Humanity and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita to help two families in need of a new home. Both families are headed by working single mothers who are fighting to keep their children in school and keep them safe.

Newman University Student Government President Brandon Golhofer (left) and Newman University Faculty Senate President John McCormick (right) break in the build with Blanca Fernandez and her daughter. Photo credit: Christopher Riggs, Catholic Advance
Newman University Student Government President Brandon Golhofer (left) and Newman University Faculty Senate President John McCormick (right) break in the build with Blanca Fernandez and her daughter. Photo credit: Christopher Riggs, Catholic Advance

The Most Rev. Carl E. Kemme, Bishop of the Wichita Catholic Diocese, blessed the ground on which the houses will be built. "It is not shameful to be poor," Bishop Kemme said during the blessing. "It is shameful to have more than what we need and not share it with those in need."

The project, "Pope Francis Build," is dedicated to Pope Francis and broke ground on Aug. 27, 2015. Bishop Kemme said "This build reflects Pope Francis when he said, 'The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need.'"

Blanca Fernandez

One of the homes is being built for Blanca Fernandez and her children, who now share a two-bedroom house with her parents. They struggle to be comfortable doing things like cooking meals or getting ready for work and school. Fernandez is a hard-working single mother who is ready to provide a safe, stable home for her children.

Being able to buy a home from Habitat will benefit my family in many ways. I truly believe it will impact my children's lives forever: I want to prove to my children that I can provide them a home where they can grow up with dignity and have a place to call home. I am a hard-working mother willing to work hard to provide for my children and myself. I pray to God that we will see the light again and trust there are better times for us.

~ Blanca Fernandez

Michelle Johnson

The other home is being built for Michelle Johnson. She wrote a list of five goals for herself and her family in 2012. She has accomplished all but one and will be able to cross off the final goal this year: "Save for a down payment."

I believe Habitat for Humanity is the right program for me and my family, because I want my children and I to have a home we can call our own. The neighborhood we live in is not very safe at all. I would love to become a homeowner and know my kids are safe in their own community. I want to be able to show my kids that if you work hard for what you want you will be able to get it. When I told my four kids about the program and that I would be working to become a homeowner their faces lit up, and that's priceless! Hopefully they will follow my footsteps one day and become homeowners.

~ Michelle Johnson

If you would like to help Fernandez and Johnson make their dreams come true, contact Monica Borger at to volunteer for the Pope Francis Build project.

Feature Photograph: Pictured from left to right: Newman University Campus Ministry Administrative Assistant Monica Borger; Blanca Fernandez and daughter; Student Government President Brandon Golhofer; Newman University Provost Michael Austin, Ph.D.; Newman University Staff Assembly President Daniel Murphy; Newman University Faculty Senate President John McCormick, Ph.D. Photo credit: Christopher Riggs, Catholic Advance

Jet Days Service Project

Jet Days service project: 50K meals for poor in Tanzania

While most universities and colleges around the country have orientation sessions for new students, few include a service project as part of the agenda.

During the Saturday morning Jet Days ’15 schedule, time was set aside for new students and parents, along with Newman faculty, staff and current students, to package 50,000 meals for children in Tanzania. In addition to the Newman representatives, several sisters from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) volunteered for the project as well.

Meals give children in need nutritional food.
Meals give children in need nutritional food.

Three separate shifts of volunteers, divided into teams, took bulk rice, fortified soy protein, vegetables,  essential vitamins and minerals and created individual meal packets. The group that helped facilitate the Newman project is Outreach, Inc., a non-profit organization that helps address hunger issues internationally.

According to Outreach, each package provides six nutritionally complete servings to feed the starving children around the world and the hungry in the United States for 25 cents per serving.

Rick McNary Outreach Inc VP of Private and Public Partnerships
Rick McNary is Vice President of Private and Public Partnerships for Outreach, Inc.

"The power of these meal packaging events is it gives people something practical to do to help feed the hungry," said Outreach, Inc. Vice President of Private and Public Partnerships Rick McNary. "We see images of children in Africa starving and we don't know what to do and we feel bad. The real power of this connection at Newman University is that these meals…are going to go to the most vulnerable children. It gives people here the ability to do something about a problem they see but often feel like they can’t do anything about.

“It’s a scary thing to go to college the first time and yet they are able to do something practical that’s very meaningful and build relationships as they’re doing it. It’s fun. They’re building teamwork and they’re getting to know people across the table for each other," McNary added.

The effort was unexpected but welcomed by new freshman students at Newman.

Newman freshman Amy Emerson
Newman freshman student Amy Emerson

“I would not expect this from a college," freshman student Amy Emerson said. "Maybe a prayer group or a church together, but it’s awesome to know as a college community we can join forces and help people. I did not expect that, so it’s been a very pleasant surprise.”

Newman Associate Professor of Nursing Amy Siple gave up a portion of her weekend to take part in the packaging project with her son Nate, a Newman student, and daughter Rachel, a high school student.

“In the nursing department we are very much into service learning opportunities and service in general, so if we can love other people as Christ loves us through service projects - what a blessing. And to do it alongside students and even my own children is just an added bonus," Siple said.

In addition to assembling of the meal packages, students and parents learned about world hunger and specifically the Adorers ministry to feed the poorest of the poor in Tanzania. The presentation slides included on the educational sessions are below.

McNary believes that events like Newman's Jet Day service project create awareness for groups and individuals who have the ability to help, and that education is crucial for those affected by hunger.

“The power of this is it gets kids in school. One of the most critical components of keeping people from starving to death is education. Education is what takes people out of poverty," McNary explained. "In the hunger space they are always two issues - relief and development. This is a relief effort, that we’re doing. We’re providing a meal, it’s a band aid for today, but it gets them in school and that’s the long-term effect, that’s the development effect of all of this.”


Watch the presentation slides from the World Hunger Education Sessions:

Christina Scherer, standing, center, and some of the participants she works with in the YESS camp.

Newman University student Christina Scherer says ‘Yes’ to YESS

Newman University students and faculty find summer opportunities all over the place. Take student Christina Scherer, who found one right here in Wichita working with the Arc of Sedgwick County’s “Youth Education Summer Socialization,” or “YESS,” Program.

Scherer is entering her junior year at Newman as an elementary education major. Beyond her studies, Scherer is involved with the Newman Chorale, Troubadours, Theatre Department and Campus Ministries, and is an active member of Jets4Life, the Theatre Club, Swing Dancing Club and Art Club. She also holds a position on the Campus Activities Board (CAB), and is a 2015 Orientation Leader.

Yet even before Scherer was a Newman student, she was working with YESS.

“This is my fourth summer with the program.” Scherer commented.

Christina Scherer, standing, center, and some of the participants she works with in the YESS camp.
Christina Scherer, standing, center, and some of the participants she works with in the YESS camp.

The YESS Program is a summer camp for individuals aged 5 to 21 who have developmental disabilities. Participants are split into age groups, and attend educational classes in the mornings and recreational activities in the afternoons. Activities include swimming at the YMCA or Rock River Rapids; attending Music Theatre of Wichita shows; horseback riding; ice skating; bowling; a trip to Frontier City, and a trip to Kansas City - just to name a few.

Scherer said she decided to work with the camp because, “A couple of my friends worked at YESS, so I started out volunteering at the program while in high school. I ended up getting hired on as staff that same summer.”

Scherer said working with YESS helped her realize she had a passion for working with children.

Sherer-2-325Web“It’s why I’m pursuing a degree in elementary education at Newman," she said. "Since I switched to education, my courses have helped me more effectively work with the kids and their individual needs.”

Scherer hopes to become a middle school special education teacher when she completes her degree. It appears that both the YESS camp and Newman have helped prepare Scherer for her future career.

For more information about the YESS Camp, visit their page on the Arc of Sedgwick County website here.

See more photos of Scherer and YESS camp participants at the Newman Flickr site.


Newman’s Linda Fields receives award for helping local youth

Linda Fields
Linda Fields

Newman Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Enrollment Management Linda Fields recently received an award for her long-time commitment to the Wichita chapter of Continental Societies, Inc. The organization is made up of local citizens who volunteer their time to help young people including special needs and emotionally challenged youth through outreach programs in youth centers, schools, pediatric wards and homes for the delinquent.

webfields-2Fields received the award June 23, when Continental officials made a surprise visit to Newman. The award reads, "For your support for making a difference in the life of children.”

Continental Societies, Inc. serves more than a quarter of a million children and youth across the nation each year. With the help of local volunteers such as Fields, the organization offers a range of services, including helping underprivileged youth improve speech and image, set goals, eat healthy, get school supplies, learn from guest speakers, manage finances, succeed in high school, earn scholarships, and attend college.

To learn more about Continental Societies visit their website.


Newman students craft bracelets, raise money for earthquake victims in Nepal

When disaster strikes a faraway place, many immediately look for some way to help. Some may donate to a service organization committed to helping, while others may try to raise public awareness.

Two Newman students decided to take their efforts to the next level.

When the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and powerful aftershocks hit Nepal, Newman University senior and member of the Multicultural Leadership Organization Suwash Gautam, who has family members living in Nepal, knew he wanted to do more than donate money. That’s when his wife Pamela, also a Newman student and the former president of her high school’s multicultural club, had an idea. Continue reading


Newman University again named to President’s Community Service Honor Roll

Newman University has again been recognized for its commitment to service by being named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service to America’s communities. This marks the fifth time Newman has been named to the prestigious national honor roll. Continue reading


Ugly Sweater Run raises $820 for Make-A-Wish

The Newman University Student Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) organized its second annual Ugly Sweater Run on Nov. 15 on the campus of Newman University. The event, which included 30 runners participating in the race and donations from students, faculty and staff, raised $820 for Make-A-Wish. Continue reading


President Carrocci among celebrities at June 10 Orpheum Theater benefit

Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. will be among the celebrities who pair up with a local chef for an "Iron Chef" style culinary competition to benefit the Orpheum Theatre. The 2014 Celebrity & Chef Cookoff event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, June 10 at the Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita. Continue reading

Affirmations of the University – Newman sophomore Chase Blasi receives national civic award

Newman University sophomore student Chase Blasi has been selected to receive a national civic involvement award sponsored by Campus Compact. The award honors student leaders committed to creating lasting change in communities throughout the country.

Blasi was nominated for the award by Newman University. He is one of 197 student leaders representing colleges and universities from 36 states and Washington, D.C., to receive the award for 2014. Continue reading

Newman University students, alums volunteer to help ‘Give Kids a Smile’ at dental clinic

Newman University students and alumni volunteered to help uninsured children receive free dental care at "Give Kids a Smile Day," a cooperative effort between the Wichita-Sedgwick County Oral Health Coalition and the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita.

The March 8 event took place at the Grace Med Clinic, and helped 120 uninsured Sedgwick County children between the ages of 3 and 12 receive free exams, teeth cleaning, fluoride varnish, sealants, fillings, tooth removal and other recommended dental procedures. Continue reading

President Carrocci joins with other leaders to enhance city through ‘Together Wichita 2014′

Newman University President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. has joined with 21 other leaders of education and business for "Together Wichita 2014," a partnership designed to celebrate life in Wichita, and to identify, organize and fund projects to enhance the community. Continue reading

END IT Campaign

Newman University to host human trafficking awareness event Jan. 29

In recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Newman University will host a Volunteer Fair and a free screening of the documentary film, "What I Have Been Through is Not Who I Am," at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29 in the  Dugan-Gorges Conference Center. Continue reading

Affirmations of the university – Culture of Service

Students in the Newman Traditions and Transitions class led by Professor of Chemistry John Leyba, Ph.D. are showing their commitment to the university Core Value of "Culture of Service" by sponsoring a toy drive to benefit children of the Navajo Reservation at Crownpoint, N.M. Toys may be donated through Oct. 31 in collection boxes located in the Heimerman Science Center Room 242, the Dugan Library Atrium, the Nursing and Allied Health Information Office in Eck Hall, and the Campus Ministry Office, Sacred Heart Hall Room 219. Continue reading

Newman University students work to collect 22,000 toothbrushes for Guatemalan children by April 7

Students in the Newman University "Guatemala Study & Serve" program have again launched a campaign to collect new toothbrushes for Guatemalan children. The campaign, called Project SONRISA (Sonrisa means "smile" in Spanish), was created by Sonja Bontrager, assistant professor of Spanish and director of the Guatemala Study & Serve Program at Newman University. Continue reading

Freshman students help bring food to children in need

More than 200 bags of food were packed by the approximately 185 freshman students who participated in the Traditions and Transition (TNT) service project, part of Freshman Student Orientation activities over the Aug. 25-26 weekend. The students, aided by about 15 upperclassmen, packed each bag with 10 - 12 food items for children from low-income families in inner-city Catholic schools.

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Dodge City Diocese students experience faith, fellowship, and fun at Newman University service camp

Sixteen high school students from the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City attended the 4th annual Summer Service Camp hosted by Newman University in June. The weeklong camp is held to give students from schools in the Dodge City Diocese an opportunity to serve others while growing in faith and experiencing fellowship.

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Newman University named to national service honor roll for third time

Newman University has been named for the third time to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its exemplary service to America's communities in 2011.

Newman is one of only eight colleges and universities in Kansas and the only university in Wichita selected for inclusion on the 2012 Honor Roll.

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Newman University profs help United Way allocate funds

Newman University Associate Professor of Social Work Sue Ellen Gardner, Ph.D. and Associate Professor of Philosophy Jamey Findling, Ph.D. were part of a volunteer panel that recently helped the United Way of the Plains allocate funds to local programs for the coming year.

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Volunteers needed for Newman University/SWIPE Numana food packaging event to benefit the hungry

Newman University is partnering with Numana, Inc. in an event to help save the starving. Newman will host a State-Wide Packaging Event (SWIPE) from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oct. 1, in the Fugate Gymnasium on the Newman campus, 3100 McCormick in Wichita. Volunteers will package up to 40,000 meal packs that will each provide food for a family of six. Four hundred volunteers are needed to help make the event as successful as possible.

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Newman University again cited for community service

Newman University has again been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its exemplary service to America's communities. The inclusion of Newman on the 2010 Honor Roll comes two years after the university was recognized in the 2008 list. Newman is one of only seven colleges and universities in Kansas and the only university in Wichita selected for inclusion on the 2010 Honor Roll.

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Newman again appointed to national community service honor roll

Newman University has been named to the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its commitment to and achievements in service to America's communities. Newman, which was also on the 2008 honor roll, is one of only six colleges and universities in Kansas and the only university in Wichita selected for inclusion on the 2010 honor roll. Nationwide, only 641 colleges and universities were selected for their impact on issues ranging from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth.

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Newman University raises $3,000 for Women’s Initiative Network

Members of the Newman University Staff Assembly Silent Auction Committee met with staff and participants from the Wichita Women's Initiative Network (WIN) May 2 to present a check for $3,012. The money was raised through the Staff Assembly's 12th annual Silent Auction, held April 8.

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Project SONRISA seeks toothbrushes for Guatemalan children

The Newman University Project SONRISA is again seeking donations of toothbrushes for Guatemalan children. The project has set a goal this year of collecting 11,000 toothbrushes by April 1.

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Newman students work with ASC in St. Louis

In early January several Newman University students traveled to St. Louis, Mo., as part of a service learning trip hosted by Campus Ministry. The students partnered with Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) ministries in St. Louis to perform community service work in the area. Just this week a feature story about the service project, "Learning to Serve the Neighbor," was posted to the ASC website ( Click here to read the story Continue reading

Newman University nursing students team with local optometrists and dispensers to benefit children

Several children from low-income families in Wichita are able to see better today at no cost to their parents, thanks to a joint effort by Newman University nursing students and several Wichita area optometrists and optical dispensers.

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Newman University to award Honorary Degrees to Paul and Bettie Eck, Teresa Hall Bartels

Newman University officials have announced that Paul and Bettie Eck and Teresa Hall Bartels will be awarded Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa degrees during the Fall 2010 Commencement ceremony, beginning at 10 a.m. Dec. 11 at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple in Wichita. Continue reading

Help students collect 11,000 new toothbrushes by April 1 for Guatemalan children

Students in the "Study and Serve in Guatemala" program are heavily involved in their campaign called Project SONRISA to collect 11,000 new toothbrushes by April 1 for Guatemalan children. Continue reading

Students work to collect 11,000 toothbrushes for Guatemalan children

Students in the "Study and Serve in Guatemala" program have launched a campaign to collect 11,000 new toothbrushes by April 1, for Guatemalan children. The campaign, called Project SONRISA, means "Project Smile" in Spanish and was created by Sonja Bontrager, assistant professor of Spanish and chair of the Foreign Language Department at Newman. Continue reading

Social, dance benefit for Haiti moved to Feb. 20

The social and dance to benefit Haiti, which was postponed because of winter weather, is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20. The social will feature food and beverages, and will be followed by a dance featuring a deejay, refreshments and snacks. Continue reading

Newman University to honor John and Marilyn Dugan and four alumni at Feb. 27 Cardinal Newman Banquet

Newman University will honor two longtime benefactors to the university and four distinguished alumni at the Cardinal Newman Banquet and Awards Ceremony, at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center on the Newman campus. Continue reading

‘Christmas Angels’ program

Joseph Baalman with donations from Newman Students and Employees

Senior Newman University student Joseph Baalmann of Andale sits among the more than 150 packages of toys, school supplies, clothing and other gifts donated by Newman students and employees for the "Christmas Angels" program. Continue reading

NU at the Kansas State Fair 2009

Newman University thanks all who stopped by the NU booth at the 2009 Kansas State Fair, which ended Sept. 20. Continue reading