Pathway to Empathy

Pathway to Empathy

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring,” shared Kyle Damen, a senior biology major from Mount St. Joseph University, as he quoted from Martin Luther King, Jr. to his peers who participated in the Mount’s Summer Employment Program. This unique program gives students the opportunity to gain awareness of social justice issues and make an impact in the local community by working with nonprofit agencies. Through the support of the SC Ministry Foundation, the program incorporates the Mount’s mission of integrating life and learning as well as community engagement, all the while helping to alleviate students’ expenses. This summer, 80 students from Mount St. Joseph University assisted 32 nonprofit agencies throughout Greater Cincinnati.

Kyle Damen gained a better understanding of the Greater Cincinnati community through his summer experience with Working in Neighborhoods.

While many students identifed placements that align with their field of study, others chose to broaden their life experience. Kyle plans to attend medical school upon graduation, and while his experience as a development assistant with Working in Neighborhoods (WIN) may not have a direct correlation with his field of study, the experience has made a lasting impression. “It opened my eyes a lot,” Kyle shared. “I learned a lot about where people come from and gained a greater understanding of poverty. It really opened up a pathway to empathy.”

Alex Combs’ experience at DePaul Cristo Rey High School provoked him to consider a nonprofit career.

For several students, this was their first time working for a nonprofit. Alex Combs, a senior majoring in financial economics, worked as a business office intern at DePaul Cristo Rey High School. Alex revealed, “Before working there I always thought about working for a bank or some company. Due to this experience, I now think I would also enjoy working for a nonprofit.” Alex further elaborated, “Working for a nonprofit lets you know that you are really part of something that is making a difference in the world.”


Kenneth Mitchell’s experience with Cincinnati Works this summer has furthered his passion for helping others. 

Kenneth Mitchell, a sophomore majoring in history, shared that sentiment Alex expressed. Kenneth worked at Cincinnati Works as an employee relations assistant. He revealed, “I came to this hoping to be able to say I made a difference. Little did I know that the people I would cross paths with would make such a difference for me.” Kenneth added, “The people here build lasting, loving relationships with each other. It is a beautiful thing.”

Always Learning

A number of Mount students spent their summer assisting grade school students at summer learning camps coordinated through the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. These camps, also supported by the SC Ministry Foundation, provide learning enrichment and/or credit recovery for students who attend schools supported by the Catholic Inner City Schools Education Fund (CISE).

Dominesha Washington-Colvin’s experience as a classroom aide with the CISE Summer Learning Camp confirmed her desire to become a teacher. 

Mount sophomore Dominesha Washington-Colvin spent her second summer as a classroom aide with the CISE Summer Learning Camp hosted at DePaul Cristo Rey High School. As a former student of St. Francis de Sales School and a 2015 graduate of DePaul Cristo Rey, Dominesha enjoys the opportunity to help other students and reconnect with the community. “My experience at the camp helped me to decide to major in Early Childhood Education,” Dominesha shared.


Mount senior Michelle Bushle helped elementary school students improve their reading skills over the summer.  

Senior Michelle Bushle, a special education major, worked toward her career goal as an intervention specialist through her role this summer as a classroom aide in the Price Hill Summer Learning Camp, hosted at Seton High School. Michelle specifically worked with third grade students who needed extra assistance with reading skills. “This job gave me more experience in working one on one with students,”shared Michelle. “I have also built relationships with the students and the faculty.” Amanda Schrand, [pictured top, left], a senior majoring in early childhood education, was also a classroom aide with the camp. She shared, “I have learned tips for teaching in my first years, ideas for lesson plans, how to differentiate instruction, and the importance of manipulates.”

Leandra McCrary enjoyed assisting students and building relationships with the teachers who served as her mentors.

Leandra McCrary, a junior, also worked as a classroom aide at the Price Hill Summer Learning Camp, which was a valuable experience pertaining to her major in early childhood education. Leandra said, “I have wanted to be a teacher since I was young and this summer experience has only reassured my decision.”  Leandra further admits, “The program was designed to provide quality instruction to students in need of remediation…I only wish I could aid the students more, that I could give students more one on one instruction throughout the entire summer.”

Community Engagement

Toria Black gained valuable computer skills while serving as a technology assistant at DePaul Cristo Rey High School. 

Toria Black, a sophomore majoring in early childhood education, worked at DePaul Cristo Rey as a technology office intern. Through her experience, Toria said, “I have learned a lot more about computers than I could imagine.”  In addition to learning how to repair computers,  she also gained valuable organizational and communication skills. “I am now a better employee because I have worked on so many different skills and I have improved some skills that I already had.” Toria also shares the insight, “I have realized that the more you are able to learn, the more you can help others in the community.”


Adam Dick gained greater insight for his social work major while staffing the thrift shop at Community Matters.

Adam Dick, a senior majoring in social work, worked at Community Matters as a thrift store assistant. He shared, “This summer job has impacted me by showing me what poverty in real life looks like when you are being faced with not getting the resources that you need for you and your family. It also made me think about how I shouldn’t take life for granted and that you need to earn it and live life to the fullest.”

Beyond Work Experience

The work experience is only a small segment of the many benefits the students receive from this program. The students strengthen values and realize the joys of service while contributing to the betterment of the Cincinnati community. They obtain knowledge of the world beyond their home and campus, an invaluable quality for future professionals. Kyle emphasizes, “While poverty is commonly known to all, it is often overlooked when it doesn’t directly affect you as an individual. This habitual tendency of looking the other way is the fuel that drives things like poverty in our country, and one of the greatest impacts that working through the summer program has had on me is just how important community involvement is.”

By assisting non-profit organizations through the summer employment program, the students become part of the change they wish to see and feel empowered because they know they are making a genuine impact—and that is something that cannot be taught.


Enriching Hearts and Minds

Enriching Hearts and Minds

“You can’t teach someone a great heart,” shared Carlos Crump, in praise of Seton High School students. “There are no classes for that. It has to be genuine.” Carlos had the opportunity to mentor Seton High School students as they assisted his team in the patient transport department at Good Samaritan Hospital as a part of the Seton/TriHealth Summer Employment Program. For 15 years, the SC Ministry Foundation has supported the program to give Seton students real-world experience in health care. Over a span of eight weeks this summer, 59 Seton students provided assistance to 17 locations across the Greater Cincinnati TriHealth network, in positions ranging from transporting patients, to serving as a clerk in the pharmacy, or staffing the registration desk.

Seton seniors Paola Rios and Zoey Bass, (pictured above), welcomed daily visitors to Good Samaritan Hospital during their service at the hospital registration center. Their mentor, Ashley Walriven shared that “Zoey and Paola encountered hundreds of people through this role. Their smiles set the tone for each person’s experience at Good Samaritan.”

This year was Seton junior Kim Tope’s first experience with the program, through which she worked in the senior behavioral health department at Good Samaritan.  While she said she was uncertain in the beginning, it ultimately turned into a great experience; “I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was really neat being with the patients and spending time with them and just making their day better.” Kim also added, “It was a challenge, but out of the challenge there was a bigger reward.”

Seton 2016 graduate Maureen O’Brien (left), and junior Kim Tope (right) assisted their mentor Nicole Crump (center) in the senior behavioral health department. Kim and Maureen were often companions to patients as they spent time in conversation, or engaging in games, puzzles, or music.

Unforgettable Experience

Gaining real-world experience is a key factor in the success of this program. For Sydney Hoffmann and Abby Nutter, both 2016 Seton graduates, working in the labor and delivery department at Good Samaritan and observing births was a defining influence. Sydney revealed, “It has really helped me and opened my eyes on what I want to do for my career.” Both Abby and Sydney emphasized, “We are really grateful for this program.”

Isabella Timon, also a 2016 graduate, was able to expand her experience beyond her assigned post in the the post-anesthesia care unit to observe surgical procedures, including a gall bladder surgery and a hysterectomy. Because Isabella will be studying nursing in college this fall, she said, “It was really helpful for me to get the experience with the patients.” This was Isabella’s second summer with the program at TriHealth. During her senior year at Seton, Isabella chose the Seton/TriHealth Summer Employment Program as the focus of her senior project to help promote the value of the program to her peers. Isabella’s efforts contributed to a waiting list for student entry to the program for the first time since the program’s initiation fifteen years ago.

Isabella Timon (left) and Joan Von Korff (right). Isabella enjoyed the opportunity to assist with the care of patients during their recovery from surgery.

Katie Tope, a 2016 graduate, explained how useful the experience was for her. “My major is going to be pre-med psychology,” she shared. “I got to learn a lot and see a lot before I go to college and see what my major is really going to be like.”

Jessica Lee, a Seton senior, worked at the TriHealth Fitness Pavilion in the Kids’ Life Center. Jessica happily reminisced that “I personally think I had the funnest job out of everyone because I got to play with kids all day and that’s what I love to do. It might not have been the most medical-based job, but I was still able to see different parts of the medical field.” Jessica learned that, “You don’t have to be in a hospital to be medically integrated.” Through her participation in the program, she also had the opportunity to observe a physical therapy session, which is a field she is considering for her college studies.

Katie Roll (left) and Jessica Lee (right) spent their time assisting with the summer camp in the Kids’ Life Center with mentor LaShaunda Jones (center). Katie and Jessica helped prepare themed activities and would interact with the children during crafts, games, and story time. 

A Win-Win

TriHealth staff who serve as mentors provide invaluable support for the program, and in return, mentors recognize how the students have benefited their departments. LaShaunda Jones from the TriHealth Fitness Pavilion speaks for both herself and her department saying, “We look forward every year to having the Seton students. They are hard workers, they are really respectable, and they are such a great help to us.”

This summer, 55 TriHealth employees participated as mentors in the program, a significant increase from 31 in 2015. New mentor Brian Cameron from the Bethesda North surgery department positively asserted, “Our student, Kelsey Lively, was more efficient than I could have imagined. She would notice and attend to the details that really impact patient care. We see things the same way every day. It takes someone like Kelsey to see it differently.”

Continual Impact

The Seton/TriHealth Summer Employment Program not only provides support for departments, but also invaluable experience to Seton students and extra smiles for the patients they encounter. As one of the largest employers in Cincinnati, TriHealth often continues their connection with Seton students, and has hired many Seton graduates who have participated in the program.

This unique opportunity for Seton students is driven by a dynamic collaboration among four Cincinnati organizations: TriHealth, Inc., Seton High School, the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation and the SC Ministry Foundation. The common thread that intertwines these organizations is a shared mission based on the values of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, who founded Good Samaritan Hospital and Seton High School more than 160 years ago. The tradition of excellence in health care and education established by the Sisters of Charity continues today through all those connected with the Seton/TriHealth Summer Employment Program.

Immigration: the Facts, the Challenges and the Nonprofit Response

Immigration: the Facts, the Challenges and the Nonprofit Response

“Catholics have a long history of welcoming and working with immigrants.  The call to welcome is rooted in our faith and in our traditions.  We are an immigrant church in an immigrant nation.”  – Jeanne Atkinson

On August 31, SC Ministry Foundation hosted nearly 70 community partners and Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati for: “Immigration: the Facts, the Challenges and the Nonprofit Response,” presented by Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).

Since 2003, SC Ministry Foundation has supported the efforts of CLINIC, which provides legal, technical and advocacy support services to nearly 300 affiliates that assist vulnerable and low-income immigrants with family reunification, citizenship, and protection from persecution and violence.

jeanneatkinsonatcedars_083116_img4742_700pJeanne Atkinson’s expertise with immigration law stems from her current role with CLINIC, as well as her prior experience as the Director of Catholic Charities’ Immigration Legal Services for the Archdiocese of Washington. Ms. Atkinson holds a J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law and is a member of the Pennsylvania bar.

Jeanne presented factual data to foster understanding of the immigrant population in the United States and the need for comprehensive reform of immigration policies in our country. Reports show that 41 million immigrants are living in the U.S., including 11 million people who are unauthorized. Of those 11 million people, approximately 6 million have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years and nearly 2 million have lived in the U.S. for 20 years or more.

Who are We Talking About?

“We are talking about our neighbors, our kids’ playmates, our parents’ caregivers, our doctors and cashiers, our friends,” shared Jeanne. “As we look at the big picture of immigration, we see that we are talking about people who have made lives here and become part of our communities, participate in the labor market, and have created families.” In fact, 5.2 million children born in the U.S. live with at least one undocumented parent.

“We are talking about our workers,” Jeanne explained. “Unauthorized immigrants make up more than 5% of the U.S. labor force.” She added, “There are sectors of our economy that rely heavily on immigrant labor, including agriculture and the service industry.”

Jeanne cited a Brookings Institute Study which found that immigrants raise the overall standard of living of American workers by filling jobs that complement the jobs that employ American citizens.

She presented additional facts to dispel the misinformation that has been shared about immigrants, including:

  • Undocumented immigrants pay $11.6 billion a year in taxes;
  • Tax revenues of both legal and undocumented immigrants exceed the cost of the services they use;
  • Since 1990, the number of unauthorized immigrants has more than tripled. During the same period, the FBI reported that the violent crime rate fell by 48% and the property crime rate fell 41%.

How Are We ‘Welcoming the Stranger’?

Jeanne also discussed the unjust treatment of undocumented immigrants, especially concerning women and children held in detention centers. She shared how CLINIC is advocating for their needs, since many do not have access to adequate medical care, legal counsel, and language-appropriate services.

CLINIC is one of the partners involved with the CARA Pro Bono Representation Project that is dedicated to providing legal services to the women and children detained at the family detention centers in south Texas. SC Ministry Foundation has supported these efforts that have resulted in nearly 8,000 families initiating the process of seeking asylum through CLINIC’s involvement and assistance from 700+ volunteers.

“There is no humane way to detain parents and their children,”shared Jeanne Atkinson. CLINIC organized the Diapers in Detention campaign to raise awareness of the inhumane practice of detaining babies in prison-like conditions.

In response to enforcement efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last winter, CLINIC worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education to provide clear communication to immigrant communities. CLINIC created an infographic (shown below) and distributed it in English and Spanish to assure immigrant families of the locations where ICE would not conduct enforcement actions or raids.


For additional information, the program’s presentation slides and a list of resources on immigration issues is available on the SC Ministry Foundation website at:

Sister Sally Duffy, SC, President and Executive Director of SC Ministry Foundation, introduces Jeanne Atkinson to the group gathered at the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Motherhouse. 


Heckmann Joins Foundation

Michael Heckmannmichael-photo joined the team of the SC Ministry Foundation in May to serve as the Grants Administrator and IT Coordinator. Among Michael’s responsibilities are administrating the grants management database and completing data analysis, while also utilizing his technical expertise to support various foundation operations, including communications and educational programming. Michael’s transition to the foundation team occurred in response to the retirement of long-time employee, Marybeth Schroer.

Michael has always felt drawn to the nonprofit sector. During his six years of nonprofit experience, he developed strong skills in database management and analysis, web-based technology, communications, marketing, and community outreach.

Michael is a Cincinnati native and a 2011 graduate of Mount St. Joseph University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in both psychology and religious studies. While studying at the Mount, Michael served the SC Ministry Foundation as the Communications and Development Co-op. “The year of experience and the values of the Sisters of Charity that I gained from working at the foundation have directly influenced my professional life,” Michael shared. “These values of faith, advocacy, and communal impact have become part of who I am as an individual.”

Since graduating from the Mount, Michael kept himself immersed in places that shared his spiritual values and furthered his professional growth: serving as a project manager with Starfire Council, a student ministry producer with Crossroads Church, and beginning studies toward a Master of Divinity through Cincinnati Christian University.

Michael’s talents and past experiences have made him an excellent addition to the foundation’s team. “I have enjoyed seeing how everything has progressed since my co-op six years ago,” Michael shared. “Now I can continue to help it grow.”

In addition to his new role with the foundation, Michael and his wife Greta are also enjoying their new roles as parents of their newborn daughter, Joelle. When asked how fatherhood has affected him, Michael revealed, “It’s impossible to put into words. Parenthood is the craziest thing, but in a good way.”