The second annual KU Cares Month of Service gave Jayhawks the chance to meet each other and support their communities at the same time. Alumni in 23 cities across the country organized 27 different events.
The KU Alumni Association set out to have participants share the spirit of the holidays by giving back to people in need.
Here’s a sample of the many awesome events that alumni network volunteers organized. Thanks again to all who participated!
Phoenix Jayhawks: Lunches for the homeless
KU alumni in Phoenix packed meals for people in need at St. Vincent De Paul’s “Hearts and Hands” event.
Twin Cities Jayhawks: Halloween Supply Drive
Minneapolis Jayhawks started the month of service a day early: a night early, to be exact. They partnered with the St. Louis Park Emergency Program to spend their Halloween forgoing candy and collecting supplies for a local homeless shelter instead.
Portland Jayhawks: Oregon Food Bank
A small group made a big difference in Portland. Six Jayhawks showed their love for their city with two and a half hours of work leading to 455 packaged meals.
Milwaukee Jayhawks: Breakfast for military families
Area Jayhawks got to work to thank area veterans and their families by cooking breakfast at the the Fisher House, a temporary housing option for military families. Families stay at the house while their loved one receives care at the Medical Center.
Denver Jayhawks: Watch party with a purpose
Local alumni started their watch party season with a purpose. The group collected more than 500 items for the St. Francis Center, a local homeless refuge.
KU Cares Month of Service may be over, but Jayhawks can get together to support their communities anytime! Visit the KU Cares page for more information, and reach out to your local network leaders to organize an event in your area.
KU’s annual Late Night in the Phog brings with it the excitement of a new basketball season. And when Kansas Athletics needed a high-energy host to keep the crowd of 16,300 buzzing, they turned to KU Alumni’s own Danny Woods.
Woods, j’13, helps manage the 50-plus networks of Jayhawk alumni across the country with a level of enthusiasm worthy of the Phog. We sat down with him to hear about his experience on James Naismith Court.
How did you get the job?
I was approached by KU Athletics around the time of the KU vs. Rutgers football game. They asked if I would be interested in doing pregame PA announcements for Gameday on the Hill, a tailgating experience on Campanile Hill with food, beverages, retail and live music before football games. Nothing was mentioned about Late Night at this time, but I think it was a test run. Athletics was just making sure I could, as the saying goes, walk and chew gum at the same time. I was offered the emcee position the following week.
How much freedom were you given?
Working with the Athletics marketing office was great. Leading up to Late Night they provided me with a script and a timeline of events. But they told me, “We want you to be yourself out there. Change up any of the language so it feels comfortable and natural to you.” It was a great feeling to have the framework of the house, but then be able to furnish it myself.
How did you think your performance went?
Well, I didn’t get fired yet, so that’s always a plus! But for real, it was awesome. To be honest, I was super nervous. Late Night is a huge night for KU students, alumni and fans, and I just wanted to make sure they had a great experience. There are definitely opportunities for me to grow and make future emcee performances better. And yes, this is definitely me openly lobbying to be the emcee for future Late Nights.
What was your favorite part of the night?
Can I take the easy road out and say the whole thing? This was actually the first Late Night I have been to since I was a student. When I worked in the Office of Admissions, Late Night always fell during travel and recruitment season. *cough cough* Any prospective students out there reading this make sure you apply by the Nov. 1st scholarship deadline! And since I have been at the Alumni Association, I have always been out in one of our national networks during Late Night. So just having the opportunity to be in Allen Fieldhouse during Late Night was the best.
Most importantly: Did you get to meet 2 Chainz?
2 Chainz and I got to be in the same room and we definitely breathed the same air. I did not, however, formally meet him. I was afraid if I actually tried to introduce myself to him before Late Night that I would pass out from excitement.
The KU Alumni Association’s summer on the road continues! The alumni networks team has visited Jayhawks in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and most recently, Omaha.
Omaha is home to 1,700 alumni, including network leader Holly Currie. Currie, c’09, g’10, organizes watch parties for KU games at the Good Life Bar and Grill. “The watch parties and the network have grown exponentially with Holly,” said Grace Knott, h’78. “She chose a great location.”
The happy hour brought together Omaha residents of all ages and levels of knowledge about their city. Knott has lived in Omaha for 40 years, while Ashlee Duffy, c’01, just moved to the city from Alabama this month.
The trips are part of a summer-long effort to encourage Jayhawks to volunteer in their local networks. “The best kind of event you can organize is one you are passionate about,” said Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs.
More trips are in store, with Woods visiting Oklahoma City and Tulsa next week.
Check out the KU Alumni Association calendar for more upcoming events. For more on how to volunteer in your network and the types of events you can help coordinate, visit the network volunteer page.
Pulley, c’77, moved to Sacramento in 1997 and has organized watch parties and other alumni events for Jayhawks since 1999.
Nick Kallail, assistant vice president of alumni and network programs, is impressed with Pulley’s efforts.
“Sacramento checks in with just under 600 alumni within 25 miles, but always compares favorably in event attendance and network Facebook activity with much larger groups,” said Kallail.
“The great connections within this network and love for KU was shared with Jayhawk Nation at the KU/Stanford Basketball game played in Sacramento this past December and is a testimony to the great volunteer work Joyce has done for the KU Alumni Association.”
Kallail will present the award to Pulley at a summer happy hour July 11.
About the award
The award is named for Dick Wintermote, c’51, who served as the executive director of the Association from 1963 to 1983. His legacy represents the importance of building a strong volunteer network, the need for a dues-paying membership program and establishing the KU Alumni Association as one of the premier associations of graduates in the country.
As a local and national KU volunteer, Camille Bribiesca Nyberg is known for her warmth, dedication and hospitality—qualities that earned her a 2017 Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year Award. As her hometown Wichita Network alumni gather this week for the 15th annual Jayhawk Roundup, Alumni Association president Heath Peterson will honor Nyberg, c’96, g’98, who has contributed countless hours to the Roundup and, with her husband, Glenn, ’79, chaired the event in 2014 and 2015.
Nyberg’s guidance was critical for Danielle Lafferty Hoover, c’07, when she joined the Association staff in 2015 as assistant director of Wichita programs. “Camille was instrumental when I first began my role,” says Hoover, who is now director of donor relations and Wichita programs. “She spent a lot of time helping me get to know the other volunteers and network board members. Anyone who knows Camille would agree that she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.”
As a new KU graduate, Nyberg left her home state to live in Dallas, where she quickly became involved in the local network, helping to host alumni and athletic events and Jayhawk Generations picnics for new freshmen and their families. Her fellow alumni nominated her to serve on the Association’s National Board of Directors, which she joined in 2009. Nyberg led the Association as national chair from 2014-’15, shortly after she moved back to her hometown. Back in Wichita, she attended numerous activities in addition to the Roundup, and she hosted events for alumni mentors and Wichita North High School students through the Helpful Alumni Working for KU (HAWK) Mentor Program with KU’s Office of Admissions.
Peterson, d’04, g’09, credits Nyberg for strengthening the Wichita Network: “Camille has invested considerable time in our events. Thanks to her efforts, KU has a much more visible and active presence in the largest city in Kansas.”
Nyberg was one of three alumni in 2017 to receive the annual award named for Dick Wintermote, j’51, who served as the Association’s executive director from 1963 to 1983 and helped establish the strong Jayhawk tradition of volunteering to help alumni and current students as well as prospective Jayhawks. The other winners were Kate Feller McSwain, b’12, who leads the Dallas Network, and Brandon Petz, b’06, g’07, who leads the Lawrence Network.
About the Award
This annual award recognizes network volunteers who demonstrate extraordinary leadership to their network and the KU Alumni Association during a one-year period (July 1-June 30). An internal staff committee within the KU Alumni Association consisting of those who work closest with volunteers meets each year to decide on award winners.
In recognition of their service to Wichita-area alumni, Jerry and Lucy Burtnett will be presented with the Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award, affectionately known as the “Millie” award, at Jayhawk Roundup on April 13.
Jerry, p’69, and Lucy have helped organize the Jayhawk Roundup since 2006, and they hosted the event in 2011 and 2012. KU Alumni Association president Heath Peterson thanked the Burtnetts for giving “a tremendous amount of sweat equity to Jayhawk Roundup, both serving on the volunteer committee and later as chairs of the event.”
Danielle Hoover, director of donor relations and Wichita programs, echoed Peterson’s praise, stating the Burtnetts “are some of the hardest working volunteers I have ever worked with. They’ve spent many, many hours helping set up, decorate and clean up the Murfin Stables for Jayhawk Roundup.”
“We got involved because of our local KU contacts and wanted to help,” said Jerry. “Working with our KU friends was very enjoyable and we continue to help with Roundup.”
The Burtnetts, who are Life Members of the KU Alumni Association, now split their time between Wichita and Florida.
The Burtnetts as “event chairs” at the 2011 Halloween-themed Jayhawk Roundup
About the award
The Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award was created in 1987 to thank alumni and friends for sustained volunteer service to the University at the local level. The award honors Mildred Clodfelter, b’41, who worked for the University for 47 years, including 42 at the Alumni Association.
With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Jayhawk fans came out in full force. More than 70 watch parties around the country brought Jayhawks together in bars and restaurants from Ann Arbor to Washington, D.C. The game lived up to the hype, with KU defeating Duke in an instant classic. Check out some photos of just a few of the watch parties!
The Richmond ’Hawks wave the wheat at Carolina Ale House.
The Boise Jayhawks had a record turnout, with 35+ fans gathering to see the big game.
The Charlotte Jayhawks were deep in enemy territory, but that didn’t stop them from Rock Chalking it up after a big win over the home state’s Blue Devils!
Washington, D.C. fans fill Mackey’s for big games, but an Elite Eight game calls for a full Jayhawk takeover.
The Tampa Jayhawk Alumni Network is ready for the Final Four.
Seattle Jayhawks celebrate KU being Final Four bound!
The San Antonio Jayhawks were hopeful for a KU win, and now they get to welcome Jayhawks from everywhere to their city.
Keep an eye out for information on pep rallies and other festivities in San Antonio, as well as watch parties in a network near you! Visit our ’Hawks ’n Hoops postseason hub for more details.
After 19 different events in 16 different cities, the first KU Cares Month of Service brought Jayhawks closer to the communities they call home.
The KU Alumni Association set out to have participants in the Month of Service share the spirit of Thanksgiving by giving back, both in their networks and in the KU community.
A portion of all membership dues collected during the month of November was earmarked for the Wounded Warrior scholarship fund. Thanks to the generosity of those who joined, renewed, or donated, more than $5,500 will be given to the scholarship fund that helps qualified veterans and their family pursue their education at KU.
Continuing on the theme of an earlier post, we wanted to highlight some of the events where Jayhawks made a difference.
Wichita: Ronald McDonald House
Members of the Wichita Jayhawk Network came together to help those staying in the Ronald McDonald house. Volunteers brought, prepared and served dinner to the families with children in nearby hospitals.
Milwaukee: Fill the Freezer
Local KU alumni joined forces with the United Way to fight hunger at the first annual “Fill the Freezer” event. Network leader Jay Craig, b’85 g’87, brought area Jayhawk volunteers together with local chefs to prepare frozen meals for those in transitional housing and family support programs.
Phoenix: St. Vincent De Paul’s Watkins Kitchen
More than 15 Jayhawks gave their Saturday morning to prepare meals for the homeless at St. Vincent De Paul’s Watkins Kitchen. Phoenix Network Leader Chris Colyer, b’04 l’09, thanked everyone for representing KU and showing compassion for their community.
San Antonio: Haven for Hope
Area alumni put on their Jayhawk gear, along with aprons and gloves, and served food to those in need in downtown San Antonio. Network leader Morgan Bertram, d’02, thanked those who helped feed 383 at Haven for Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless find a new beginning.
While the KU Cares Month of Service is over, Jayhawks can get together to give time and talents to their communities anytime! Visit the KU Cares page for more information, and reach out to your local network leaders. View our Flickr album of these events and more from the KU Cares Month of Service:
While many University of Kansas alumni head to local game watch parties to feel like they’re back home in Lawrence, one family came to see if Lawrence was home.
Curtis Rach of Orange County, California, says he always pushed his kids to explore things outside of their home state. So when his son Davis was choosing a college, he had narrowed it down to two choices: follow his twin brother to Auburn, or strike out on his own at KU. To help him make the decision, Curtis took Davis to a local watch party for KU’s tournament game against Purdue last season.
Rach reached out to Ramy Rahman, b’09, Orange County Network leader, beforehand and told him about his plans. When he arrived at the watch party with Davis, they both were more than impressed with the hospitality.
“When people at the event heard he was thinking about KU, they all came up, introduced themselves, and told us stories about their experience at KU,” Rach said.
Both alumni and current students on spring break took time to meet Davis and his father. “What helped with the decision for him was how warm and inviting everyone was, and that they were so passionate about KU,” Rach explained.
The camaraderie and excitement of KU watch parties may have surprised the Rach family, but Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs, knows it well.
“The goal of watch parties is to provide a venue in which alumni can gather and feel like they’re back on campus for a big game,” Woods said. “When you graduate you’re still yearning for that experience. ”
He added that watch parties are like the “front porch” of KU alumni events. “They are often the first alumni gathering that people attend, and it opens the door for them to attend other events in their area.”
Davis carried through on his promise and is now a freshman at KU.
Interested in finding a watch party near you? Visit our website for a list of watch sites by state, and check out the online calendar for official watch parties organized by alumni networks.
As the KU Cares Month of Service continues, the pictures and stories from the events are rolling in. We’re sharing a few from the first events to show how Jayhawks are making a difference in their communities. Visit the KU Cares Month of Service homepage to learn how you can participate in giving back to those in need.
Portland: Friends of Trees
The Portland Jayhawks joined forces with other volunteers on a misty Saturday afternoon to plant more than 200 trees in southeast Portland. Network volunteer Meg Viezbicke, c’97, organized the event and praised Friends of Trees for helping ensure the Jayhawks could be involved. Friends of Trees, a local nonprofit, aims to to inspire community stewardship of the area’s urban forest by planting and caring for trees in both neighborhoods and green spaces.
Seattle: Food Lifeline
Network volunteer Deanna Marks, b’16 e’16, brought together 10 Seattle Jayhawks who donned aprons and hairnets over their KU gear and packed 1,420 meals for their community at Food Lifeline, a nonprofit that provides meals to residents of Western Washington. Food Lifeline is a member of Feeding America, a nationwide network of over 200 food banks.
Tampa Bay: Feeding America
The Tampa Bay ’Hawks also partnered with Feeding America by collecting over 100 pounds of food. Network leader Chris Longino, b’06, thanked those who brought donations to their watch site for football and basketball watch parties. “I am always impressed with the generosity and goodwill of the Jayhawk Nation,” Longino said. “Hopefully, we can plan many future opportunities for our KU group to give back to our adopted Tampa Bay community.”
San Diego: Sunset Cliffs beach cleanup
San Diego Jayhawks spent a Saturday morning by the ocean, but instead of lounging in the sun they opted to beautify the beach. Network volunteer Stephanie Shehi, b’86, partnered with the San Diego Coastkeeper organization, which helps keep Sunset Cliffs Park clean and beautiful for the community. The network picked up 20 pounds of trash, enjoyed stunning views, and heard lots of “Rock Chalks” from bystanders.
The easiest way to participate in the KU Cares Month of Service is to join or renew your Alumni Association membership. During the month of November, a portion of all dues will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund. Join, renew, or upgrade your membership to participate in this initiative!