In these extraordinary times of social distancing, good will has no boundaries. Time, talent, and treasure from the Dominican community near and far are shared daily. Good will takes many forms – grocery runs for neighbors, making meals for healthcare workers, repurposing donated materials of bags and clothing into protective masks, thank you signs on mailboxes, colorful chalk murals on sidewalks – these and countless other acts of kindness touch many lives.
Thank you for all that you do!
Neighborhood Stations of the Cross
A group of friends, that includes Dominican families, organized Stations of the Cross in their River Ridge neighborhood. Photos of the Stations of the Cross have been shared on social media, with church websites, and local media. DHS organizers included Emily Stricker, Natasha Forest, Christine Bertucci, Stacie Richardson (’96), and Stephanie Centanni who have daughters at Dominican.
“I am so proud to call these prayerful ladies friends,” said Christine Bertucci. “We witnessed an overwhelming response and were blessed by the amount of prayer that took place in our community by young and old alike.”
Serving Those Who Serve
Tiffany Assaf Tandecki (’90) and husband Leo Tandecki are owners of Vintage Garden Kitchen. Leo is the Executive Chef of Vintage Garden Kitchen that has two locations: one in the CBD and the other Uptown. Vintage Garden Kitchen serves healthy, made-from-scratch gourmet soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches and daily specials, providing vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free and meat options.
During the pandemic, the Tandeckis have donated food three times to feed the front lines: customers and neighbors at Touro Infirmary/LCMC Health via the LCMC Foundation; Ochsner Baptist Hospital, and the Musicians Clinic, feeding musicians and those who work in the service industry.
“It is a privilege and an honor to make these donations to people who make up the fabric of our city and are our heroes,” said Tiffany. “We live by our tagline, Eat Good. Feel Good. DO GOOD. Next week, we have more on the books to continue feeding the front lines.”
Dawn Harris Jeffries (’87), started a nonprofit organization, Girls Light Our Way, and transformed her home into a warehouse, factory, and office. Since March 16th, Dawn and her assistant – husband James M. Jeffries, III, MD FACS – have provided girls and their families with nearly 250 grocery totes filled with snacks, frozen and dry foods. “They also look forward to receiving hot meals delivered to their doors just before one of our online mental, physical, and nutritional wellness, self-efficacy and financial literacy sessions every Thursday. To God Be The Glory!” shared Dawn.
Mary Anne Frey Schindler (’72), Matthew 25:35 Ministries’ Food Pantry President, organized a prayer chain that anyone praying for the World in these challenging times can add their name as a link.
She also shared that each week, the Matthew 25:35 Ministries’ Food Pantry in Destrehan is serving families in St. Charles Parish https://matthew2535ministries.com/
Shelly Bacharach Raynal (’81) of Gris Graphix has been creating one of a kind cards for any occasion to send to a special someone, free of charge. “All that is required is an email from the sender with occasion, what they want the card to say, how to sign the card, name and address of recipient and return address or can use my return address,” said Shelly.
You can reach Shelly at her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dawn Deffner Tupper (’87) and Fr. David Caron, Vicar of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank.
“We certainly are living in different times right now,” shared Alexa Schexnaildre (’04). “I saw the video of the Dominican faculty going around a couple weeks ago, and it really warmed my heart! The Dominican community is so special. I’m still in the thick of things with my health situation, so I would appreciate some extra prayers.”
Recently, Alexa started a blog, “For the Greater Purpose” to share spiritual lessons that she is learning in the midst health challenges she has been enduring for many years. “My spiritual director and many other people have been encouraging me to write for years now. I have always felt called to write, but I did not feel like God was telling me it was the right time until a few weeks before everything unfolded with coronavirus,” she said. ”I didn’t understand why this was suddenly ‘the’ time until everything started unfolding with coronavirus. Now I understand God’s timing better, as I hope much of what I share will be comforting to people dealing with all of the uncertainties during this time. The focus of my blog is that God is the only steadfast presence in our lives, as everything of this world is fleeting. I’m sharing the ways in which I’ve had to grow in my faith during my health challenges, and I hope that this blog will offer encouragement to all during these challenging times. Hope all is well. The Dominican community is in my prayers! God bless.”
Alexa plans to post a few times each month.
Kathryn Wild and her daughters, Audrey (a junior) and Sammie (8th Grade) at Dominican, found ways to keep busy while helping others during the current stay at home order. After seeing a national story about Giving Hope NOLA, they have been volunteering at the food bank located in New Orleans East. The food bank feed ups to 700+ families each day with a week’s worth of groceries. Cars enter a driveway and pass by different stations as volunteers load their vehicles with dairy, produce, meat, and miscellaneous groceries. “It has been an amazing experience,” said Kathryn. Kathryn and her daughters also helped a family whose loved one was recovering from a critical illness. In two days, the three of them made, packaged, and delivered bath bombs for Easter gifts. Their efforts raised $1,035 for the family.
Sewing For Others
Gabrielle Abadie Champagne (’87) has been busy making masks for health care workers who are on the front lines. She has made and handed out 580 masks and has about 300 that are still being made. In a shout out to Gabrielle, alumna Jennifer Collins (’87) said several alumnae have reached out to Gabrielle who “is not only inspiring her friends to help gather supplies, she is inspiring and garnering help from all of her friends and beyond. It’s quite the amazing effort and a bit of feel good Christian outreach amidst this chaos,” said Jennifer.
Using materials donated from her classmates, Karen Kloesel Katz (’82) is making protective masks. So far, she has made 50 masks, and is sewing more for family friends and neighbors.
Jan Gustafson (’59) delivered her homemade masks to 40 of her Orchard neighbors on the Northshore. “I thought it would be a small gesture of care and concern, and following the directive of wearing masks when going out,” said Jan. “They were fun to make and appreciated by those who got them. I pray for the safety of everyone , young and old.”
Karen Schowalter Cooper (’82), who enjoyed a career singing around the world, now spends her time teaching music in the Memphis area. During her studies at LSU where she earned a Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in vocal performance, Karen worked at the fabric boutique, Classic Fabrics, where she learned to sew and enjoy the beauty of various textiles – from simple cottons to luxurious silks. Of course, she first learned to operate a sewing machine in Home Economics class at Dominican!
Recently, Karen joined the 4M/Mid-South Medical Mask Makers. The need for masks during the Covid-19 Crisis is clear and Karen wanted to do what she could to help. The 4M group distributes masks to hospitals, retirement communities, and frontline essential workers. Karen will continue to sew masks until the need subsides.
Brooklyn Ellzey, who will be a Dominican 8th grader in the fall, used her artistic talents to spread cheer to her neighbors. Brooklyn is the daughter of Michelle Menes Ellzey (’97).
Jewelry designer Cathy Capritto Gotzkowsky (’86) of CC Gotz Designs is offering a discount to ‘Thank Our Heroes’ on her website – ccgotz.com through May 16! Use the code MOM30.