Volunteers clean up community garden for Make a Difference Day

UW-Green Bay campus ministry, Norbertine volunteers team up for day

GREEN BAY — The Norbertine Volunteer Community welcomed several helping hands for its garden cleanup project on Saturday, Oct. 24. Members of UW-Green Bay Catholic Campus Ministry and the Newman Club joined them to remove any remaining vegetables and debris from plots at the community garden, located east of Golden House on University Avenue.

This year marked the fifth growing season at the garden, a short walk from the Norbertine Volunteer Community house.

Members of Catholic Campus Ministry and the Newman Club at UW-Green Bay partnered with the Norbertine Volunteer Community on Make a Difference Day, Saturday, Oct. 24, to clean up plots at the community garden, located on University Avenue in Green Bay. (Jeff Kurowski | The Compass)

“We partnered with the Boys and Girls Club. They had three plots,” said Ellen Mommaerts, director of the Volunteer Community. “The rest were neighbors. A lot of the communal stuff goes to Golden House. It’s an easy thing. We harvest it and walk it over.”

The Norbertine Volunteer Community, founded in 2008, is a post-graduate, long-term service program for young adults who commit to a year of volunteer service in full-time internships with local non-profit agencies and schools. The community currently has two members — Elisabeth Will, who volunteers at Golden House, and Matt Mahon, who serves in campus ministry at St. Thomas More School in Green Bay. The community will welcome a third member in January. Stephanie Birmingham serves as the house coordinator.

Following the garden cleanup, the UW-Green Bay students joined the community for lunch and fellowship.

“We give a little spiel about what we do at our service sites,” said Mahon, who taught social studies last year as a long-term substitute at St. Thomas More. “I’m happy that there are about 15 people here. Last year, there were five. We are getting everything done a lot faster.”

Franciscan Sr. Laura Zelten, Catholic campus minister at UW-Green Bay, coordinated the team effort with Mommaerts.

“It’s a way to help her and her ministry and to give our students something to focus on for the future in terms of volunteering,” she said. “It’s Make a Difference Day, so we decided to combine the two.”

Many of the students participated in small groups for Make a Difference Day projects last year. They sought an opportunity to volunteer as one large group.

“We hope to continue this partnership so this is the first time, not the last time, that we gather as a community with the Norbertine Volunteer Community,” said Sr. Laura. “These Catholic students are really interested in volunteer service. How they can make a difference with their faith is an important piece.”

Catholic Campus Ministry members are active most days of the week on the UW-Green Bay campus. Mass with Fr. Ryan Starks is celebrated at 7 p.m. on Sundays in the Fr. Mauthe Center. They also gather to pray the rosary, for Bible study, men’s night, women’s night and community night.

Senior Leslie Trochlil said that living your faith at a public university can be difficult. She is thankful for the community built through Catholic Campus Ministry.

“Being Catholic, so often you feel so alone, that it’s really just you,” she said. “It’s great to be with these other men and women who feel the same way as you about their faith and really want to have a relationship with God and one another.”