As a recent graduate of St. Thomas, I felt unsure of how to transition from college campus life into the greater Twin Cities community. Part of me wanted to stay a Tommie forever, and part of me said it was time to move on.

As fate would have it, after college I moved to Ohio for a year. In spite of the 1,000-mile separation, I was still full of UST pride. With distance, I realized I didn’t have to choose between moving on and bleeding purple.

When I moved back and reconnected with friends and classmates, I attended a few alumni events but I wasn’t sure if and how I wanted to be more involved. Then, this past June, I volunteered with Young Alumni for Habitat for Humanity. I admit it took some convincing for me to attend. A personal invitation from two Young Alumni members finally did the trick.

Now, I don’t know why it took me so long to get involved because volunteering with Young Alumni to help Habitat for Humanity is probably one of the best things I’ve done this year.

Krissy Schoenfelder '09

Krissy Schoenfelder ’09 says that volunteering at Habitat for Humanity “is probably one of the best things I’ve done this year.”

We landscaped the yard of a house that was built last year in North Minneapolis after a tornado. According to the project information from Habitat for Humanity:

“The home is part of the Hawthorne EcoVillage, a four-block area within the Hawthorne neighborhood in North Minneapolis (and) a hallmark for successful residential redevelopment projects. Based on a community partnership model of shared responsibility, the effectiveness of the initiative is rooted in the strength and commitment of neighborhood residents, community organizations, the police, city departments, and outside partners – including Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, dedicated to working together to bring stable, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods back to the area.”

For me, landscaping was the perfect task. I wouldn’t trust myself with a hammer, but planting flowers and mulching was a great way to be a part of the project without worrying about structural soundness.

In addition to the Young Alumni members there, we were guided by three master gardeners from the University of Minnesota Extension program, and we visited with the family we were helping – talk about community partnerships! Not only did I help a family but I also was able to reconnect with a few old classmates, meet Tommies I didn’t know during my time on campus and represent my alma mater in a way that people don’t always consider when they think about St. Thomas.

If you want a personal invitation, you will probably get one eventually – but why wait? Everyone involved with Young Alumni is a Tommie grad. Even if that is the only thing you know about someone, four years at UST is a lot of common ground, and by participating you will strengthen those connections.

It’s the definition of a win-win experience, and it is something UST grads can have for themselves.

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