The 2015 Charity Week theme, “United We Can,” is unique in more ways than one. Although Charity Week has existed almost as long as the university itself, there is no record or recent memory of an alignment of the theme and charities supported by the week’s festivities. This year’s patriotic proceedings were all planned with a particular focus on our troops, past and present. From the red, white and blue posters that have been plastered across campus, to the charities themselves, this week is sure to make you proud to be an American.
Charity Week co-chairs Katie Spellmeyer and Rachel Parkey were attracted to the idea of supporting charities for veterans, a cause somewhat outside of the normal scope of the University of Dallas’ Charity Week, and “[they] just kept coming back to those charities,” Spellmeyer said.
My first two years at UD, I had no idea who the supported charities were, and apparently I was not the only one in the dark. Due to a plethora of similar feedback on previous Charity Weeks, Parkey and Spellmeyer shared the common goal of closely relating the theme and the selected charities in order to better communicate who they are and what they do.
“The goal is for students to understand where the money is going – not just that it’s going somewhere,” Parkey said.
So who are these charities that were so thoughtfully picked? Honor, Courage, Commitment, Inc. focuses heavily on helping veterans re-enter the civilian sphere by assisting them in developing business and entrepreneurship skills. In addition, they assist vets in transitioning back into family life by offering counseling resources. Their awareness program, #22KILL, focuses on raising awareness for the high veteran suicide rate, while working in tandem with counseling services to help reduce the risk of suicide.
The second charity, Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas, works with those veterans who did not have the support or resources to avoid poverty and are now homeless in the Dallas area. Their Veterans Resource Center (VRC) gives homeless veterans a place to come wash clothes, research jobs and rest. Personnel at the VRC assist in helping veterans find jobs and homes when possible. They are also close to completing their Female Resource Center, which caters to the specific needs and counsel of female veterans and, very often, their children. It is partially operational at the moment, so the proceeds from the week will undoubtedly help get this important resource for female veterans up and running.
As for other new aspects of an otherwise traditional week, there is a rumored faculty team in the Quizbowl on Wednesday night, ready to outshine students in their knowledge of all things ’Murica. On Saturday morning, following the Semper Fi-veK, the Office of Advancement is co-sponsoring the first Military Brunch. A slight change to the traditional schedule of events has occurred this year as well. The beloved Male Auction will wrap up the week on a hilarious note on Saturday night, with the Charity Week Social taking its usual Friday night spot. A revival of tradition has taken place, however, in the construction of the jail. The senior class and the Society of St. Joseph have restored the tradition of a student-erected, built-with-love jail in order to make a meaningful contribution to the week, especially from the senior class.
But no matter who built the jail, it is almost a guarantee that Dr. Hanssen will be spotted atop of it, reciting a rally speech in a manner that would move even the most complacent compatriot. Each junior class gets to put its own unique spin on the week to make it even more memorable and successful than those past, but it is smaller traditions like these that retain Charity Week’s sense of tradition and continuity across generations of UD legacies.