Crucial Connection — Phonathon Brings Together Students and Alumni

Now, more than ever, Phonathon is about making connections, not just logging pledges.

“This year I found myself talking more and more about how the alumni were grappling with the pandemic and the world we are all currently living in,” said Lillian Lyons '22. “The overall theme of every conversation I had with these particular alumni was hope. Hope that one day we will be able to live life as we used to — that this too will pass. I gave them hope as much as they gave me hope. And that’s what the CJ community is about. During our darkest days, we give each other support and the ability to keep going. That’s the greatest thing about Phonathon, the fact that every so often you have a conversation with someone that brings a smile to your face. A person who gives you hope.”

COVID-19 has provided counteless opportunities for implementing creative strategies for traditional programs and Phonathon is no exception.

“When COVID-19 hit last March and canceled Phonathon, I was devastated. I had just finished making and putting up posters on the lockers to encourage students to participate in the joyous event,” said Suzie Lyons '22. “However, Mrs. Bonner and the amazing development department at CJ came up with a way to not only connect students with alumni, but to recreate some of that same energy that we had last year, virtually.”

Google Meet keeps volunteers connected to alumni and enables annual giving coordinator, Elaine Bonner, to observe and listen to the callers.

“The students have been amazing,” said Bonner. “They are cheerful and positive every night! It’s about the connections, praying for the intentions of our community, and showing gratitude. Our alumni and parents have always made CJ this special community.”

Bonner has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from alumni. A member of the class of  '94 texted her and said, “the student caller was great and thank you for the introduction and best of luck with the Phonathon. I'm glad to contribute. I appreciate CJ more and more as I get older.” A graduate from the class of ’96 made a gift while live-streaming the CJ vs. Alter football game. The initial goal was to raise $1,000 each night during the course of the 20-day Phonathon, and volunteers exceeded that goal by Day 15, raising more than $23,000 by the end of that shift.

From hearing interesting stories about days gone by, to staying connected to CJ to gaining valuable life skills, the student volunteers reap many rewards.

“Oftentimes, I will spend 20-30 minutes on the phone with an alum, discussing the new procedures put in place to keep the students, faculty, and staff safe at CJ, or discussing my future plans,” Lyons said. “It brings a smile to my face hearing the many stories that the alumni share about their time at Chaminade, Julienne, St. Joseph, or CJ.”

Anna Nevius '22 has had similar positive experiences.

“I had a very nice conversation with Ms. Tamms, class of '62. She told me interesting stories about her time at CJ and how she had a great experience here,” Nevius said.. “She said she always loves to give at least a little each year because she wants to help the future generations.”

Participating in Phonathon has been especially meaningful for Chloe Proffitt '21, a first-year student development chair and current distance learning student.

“I was worried about not being able to participate as a CJ student fully from home, but being a part of Phonathon has really helped me stay connected to my peers,” Proffitt said. “I'm just so glad I can be a voice for CJ to reach out to all these lovely alumni.”

And the skills the student volunteers are developing will be helpful long after they graduate.

“A huge positive of Phonathon is that young people are getting to polish their telephone skills and with the age of digital communication, this is becoming increasingly rare,” said Bonner. “We care for our CJ family and Phonathon allows our students to get this message out.”

Phonathon by the Numbers
20 — Number of volunteers
160 — Number of volunteer hours logged
$1,000 — Pledge goal per shift for the 20 nights of Phonathon
2,500 — Calls made
$23,740 — Money raised through the 15th shift
New this year: Pay by VENMO @cjeagles


-- Published on Oct. 6, 2020.