Compassion Fund helps Notre Dame employees with financial emergencies

Author: Erin Blasko

University of Notre Dame employees who donate to the United Way of St. Joseph County also support the Employee Compassion Fund, an emergency assistance program that helps members of the Notre Dame community faced with temporary financial hardship. For every amount pledged to the United Way by a Notre Dame employee, five percent is deposited into the fund to help members of the campus community respond to financial crises resulting from unforeseen events or circumstances such as fire, natural disaster or illness. Since 2015, the fund has provided more than $41,000 in assistance to 49 employees, including more than $24,000 to 25 employees in 2016.

A local human services agency, the Family and Children’s Center administers the fund with help from a review committee comprised of Notre Dame employees and a representative of the United Way. Only active employees who have worked for the University for at least one year qualify for help. Assistance is limited to $1,000 per employee or family unit during a two-year period, with a lifetime limit of two grants per employee.

Earlier this year, an employee whose wife was involved in an automobile accident turned to the fund for help with an insurance claim. In a note to his “Notre Dame Family,” the employee wrote:

“Early this year my wife was involved in a car accident. I gave thanks to God that no one was hurt and that the car could be fixed, but I wondered how we would make the payment necessary for the insurance company to provide for the repairs. My wife and I both work full time to support ourselves and our daughter — then just over a year old. We have always been blessed with enough, but this situation called for a bit more than we could spare.

“To make a long story short, I appealed to the Employee Compassion Fund for help, and our insurance deductible was covered in full. I cannot express in words how relieved we were to receive the kindness of so many. I realized then just what people mean when they speak about the Notre Dame ‘family.’

“From a young family doing our best, our deepest gratitude. In future we will surely share the blessings we have been given.”

According to the guidelines, a financial emergency is any event or combination of circumstances that justify immediate action, or any pressing need following a sudden and unexpected occurrence that is beyond an employee’s control, including but not limited to:

• Fire

• Natural disaster

• Property theft

• Loss of property

• Disease

• Extended illness/disability

“The Compassion Fund has helped so many employees. The stories we hear when a request is made are often heartbreaking,” said Tamara Freeman, director of human resources services for Notre Dame. “Being able to assist when people most need the help is a testament to Notre Dame and the commitment we have to our employees.”

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Originally published by Erin Blasko at on October 17, 2017.