Alumni Association awards 2023 Lennon Life Prizes

Author: Joanne Norell

2020 Lennon Life Prizes

This spring, the Notre Dame Alumni Association recognized nine clubs as recipients of the Lennon Life Prize, part of the Chuck and Joan Lennon Gospel of Life Initiative — a set of programs focused on encouraging the University’s dedicated network of clubs to uphold the value of life at all stages.

The Notre Dame clubs are recognized for their involvement in a number of projects that will assist mothers and their children, refugees and other at-risk populations. Other projects will aim to increase access to affordable housing and early childhood education.

For the fourth straight year, four award winners have collected $5,000 awards from memorials on behalf of the late Chuck Lennon. The clubs of Charlotte, Naples, Spokane and Wichita earned this funding to support the execution of their proposed projects. The clubs of Central New Jersey, Central New York/Syracuse, Mobile, Pittsburgh and Delaware received $500 honorable mention awards.

The Lennon Gospel of Life Initiative was co-created with Chuck Lennon and his wife, Joan. Chuck, who served as executive director of the Alumni Association and associate vice president of University Relations for 31 years, retired in 2011 and died in 2019.

Together with the Catholic Church’s long-standing defense of all human life, the Gospel of Life Initiative seeks to provide support to vulnerable populations around the world, and the Lennon Life Prize supports clubs as they generate a host of ideas to impact their local communities through innovative use of funding and involvement of club members.

“Our club network continues to carry forward the legacy of the Lennon family in ways I know would have made Chuck so proud,” said Dolly Duffy, executive director of the Alumni Association. “The work of our clubs and volunteers is an extension of the values at the heart of Notre Dame’s mission, and the projects planned by each of these winners will make a real difference in promoting a culture of life within their local communities.”

“In helping us put together this initiative, Chuck and Joan Lennon were passionate about their Catholic faith and the accompanying call to protect the vulnerable and affirm the dignity of life at all stages,” Duffy said. “These values are at the core of Notre Dame’s mission and that of the Alumni Association, and I am ceaselessly amazed at the work of our clubs and volunteer leaders to uphold these values in their local communities.”


The Notre Dame Club of Charlotte plans to support at-risk adolescents and expectant mothers in partnership with Florence Crittenton Services (FCS) to host a day dedicated to education, service, fellowship and fun for FCS clients, staff and ND club members. The club will coordinate programming that includes a cooking class with a local Charlotte chef, a yoga wellness class, a service project, Mass and recreation — helping to guide FSC clients on their road to self-sufficiency, while also fostering meaningful engagement to a hardworking and passionate FSC staff.


Aiming to provide support to expectant mothers and babies, the Notre Dame Club of Naples will partner with Sunlight Home, an ongoing residential center that provides housing, sustenance, education and character development to teenage expectant mothers. In addition to assisting with prenatal care and life-skills training, the club plans to enhance the center’s website and online educational resources, as well as encourage its members to accompany these mothers in direct, relational service and support at the center.


In response to the ongoing refugee crisis, the Notre Dame Club of Spokane looks to support Ukrainian refugees in the greater Spokane area — a population expected to reach 5,000 by the end of 2023 — with access to housing and employment, in addition to more immediate needs such as clothing and nourishment. The club plans to collaborate with The Ukrainian Closet, a nonprofit organization formed by the Spokane Slavic Association, to sponsor a collection drive for kitchen basics and other home essentials to help refugee families in the area in their resettlement and integration into the Spokane community.


Focusing their efforts on serving children and families, the Notre Dame Club of Wichita looks to partner with Faithbuilders, a local organization that provides mentoring, educational support, parental strengthening and goods and services “to be the hands and feet of Jesus” by serving kids and families in crisis in its community. Faithbuilder’s mission aligns with the club’s hopes to match club and client families for caretaking, as well as coordinating the purchase, donation and delivery of goods and supplies. The club also aims to provide ongoing male support and influence, as more than 80 percent of the children Faithbuilders serves have absent fathers.

 Honorable Mentions

The five clubs earning honorable mentions will perform a diverse array of projects addressing issues related to homelessness, trauma victims, poverty and literacy, the elderly, and expectant mothers.