Even though the Institute of Notre Dame closed its doors on June 30, 2020, residents of the Latrobe homes directly across Aisquith Street received traditional Thanksgiving boxes as gifts from the IND Alumnae Association. On Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Alumnae Reunion Mass, Fr. Tom Malia, from Mercy Medical Center, blessed one basket representing the 80 baskets for distribution. More than 400 alumnae participated in the live-streamed Mass.
Local alumnae worked with the Baltimore Housing administrator for Latrobe to inform each family of the time to pick up their box over the following two days to assure social distancing. Each box had a turkey and all the trimmings, as well as dairy products such as eggs, butter, and cheese. Former IND students now at Notre Dame Prep decorated the boxes. Six former IND students from John Carroll High School came in their IND uniforms to earn service hours by assisting in the distribution.
The tradition of Thankgiving boxes for Latrobe was started by Sister Hilda Marie Sutherland (Sr.Hildie) about 30 years ago. Alumna Mary Pat Moulder’80 organized this project.
Ms. Sue Petti’74, President of the Alumnae Association, initiated the movement to incorporate INDAA as a 501c3 nonprofit organization to continue IND traditions. Alumna Mary Helfrich ’80, accomplished this, and by August 18, 2020, INDAA had nonprofit status, and fund-raising began.
The goals of the Association are very broad, and activities started at once. As soon as the alumnae were informed about the closing, local alumnae helped to plan and organize a graduation ceremony for the senior class to be held at Notre Dame of Maryland University. Seniors wearing long white dresses and carrying red roses graduated, IND style, for the last time.
Alumnae undertook the immense task of inventorying the books in the library, costumes and props in the theatre department, bookstore contents and artworks. These were organized for a “Courtyard Sale,” held on three weekends in October. A dozen alumnae volunteers joined a core group of eight to arrange sale material, price everything from fine china to furniture to clothing to books and memorabilia, work out a plan to uphold social distancing, and act as cashiers. Alums lined up, six feet apart, eager to purchase some reminders if their heritage.
Other service projects included a Skirts for School Campaign. INDAA raised over $8,000 to assist students who had to leave IND to buy new school uniforms; those in need received checks. Three groups profited by a School Supplies Drive: 42 children from Latrobe homes received a duffle bag with school supplies; Our Lady of Hope School in Dundalk received school supplies for 30 students, as well as 50 sets of watercolor paints and brushes for their Art Department; Mother Seton Academy, an SSND middle school located on York Road north of IND, received other art supplies.
INDAA reaches out to the old as well as the young. The Mission Committee, led by Ms. Helfrich, sponsors a program to bring joy to the School Sisters of Notre Dame who live at Villa Assumpta, Charles St. and Bellona Ave. Many of their former teachers live there, either in retirement or in the Health Care Center. They send gifts, favors, cakes and cookies for every holiday and feast day, and have been doing this for several years. After COVID 19 ends, they will resume recreation activities, in person.
Continuing the tradition of the Distinguished Alumnae Award at the Reunion Mass, the INDAA president honored Nancy Longo ’80, owner of Pierpoint Restaurant. Nancy began her catering career at IND as a teenager. She made food for every IND event. Her teachers encouraged her to become a caterer, and, with professional training, she opened her restaurant in downtown Baltimore 31 years ago. During the COVID shutdown, she used Pierpoint to prepare over 25,000 meals for needy people through Heart of the Park, with many donations from IND friends and others. She also provided free lunches for those in need at the Italian Cultural Center, and free meals for nurses and other healthcare workers at various Baltimore area hospitals.
For the incorporated INDAA, the leaders crafted a strong and encompassing Vision Statement: “The Institute of Notre Dame Alumnae Association (INDAA) will be a large network of members who further their bond with one another through social and philanthropic activities. In addition, with supporters’ help, we will grow educational opportunities for girls and make Baltimore a better community. Collectively, through these actions, we will carry the IND torch into the future.”
And they will do this with cheers for the legacy they have inherited!