An Ongoing Conversation
Eric Sorensen, editor
Be sure to say hi if you see Eric Sorensen, editor of Connections, seen here with his dog Lily on the SU Green.
Welcome to Connections, a new newsletter celebrating Seattle University’s 119-year-old and growing relationship with our neighborhood.
I’m the senior writer for the university, arriving here after several decades in newspapers and magazines. I like to think of my work here as another newsroom beat, with lots of fascinating people and issues to write about on a regular basis. As editor and writer of this newsletter, I get to extend that concept into one of the more fruitful and interesting areas of the school–our connections to the surrounding community.
“I like to think Community Connections is about celebrating the great relationships between Seattle University and our
community, and building more.”
I noticed this last summer while writing a report on the close relationship Seattle University has with Seattle. The school is the
main source of income for more than 1,000 families while supporting thousands more with an economic impact of more than half a billion dollars. But I was even more impressed to see how much the community gives to us. Nearly 100 non-profits and agencies share our commitment to serving the community.
These relationships are a rich source of stories. Just a few blocks south on 12th Avenue, I can find Kathleen McKay, one of our alumni, providing clothing, meals and a sympathetic ear to the scores of low-income people coming to the St. Francis House day center. On 19th Avenue, I can see the Rotary Boys and Girls
Club giving kids a safe, supportive place to shoot baskets or do homework, with SU students lending a hand. Up on Broadway, Childhaven is helping bring stability to the lives of abused and neglected children and giving students such as SU’s Chelsea Krema a chance to learn the art of building a caring social environment.
Organizations like these are key allies in fulfilling Seattle University’s vision of service, a vision that has resulted in a singularly noteworthy SU fact: Three out of four Seattle University students serve the community as part of their studies. That’s almost three times the national average. It takes an impressive group of young people to do that and an impressive school to commit to leading them. It also takes an impressive community to give them those opportunities.
Preparing this issue, I met Katherine Berg, an energetic and caring teacher at the Bailey Gatzert Elementary School on Yesler. She was telling me about the summer bookmobile she helped start and how it fueled partnerships with community centers and a wealth of volunteers.
“A lot of what we know about education is relationships are very important,” she said, “so that was a good thing, to start to build those relationships.”
I like to think that’s what Connections is about: Celebrating the great relationships between Seattle University and our neighbors, and building more.