What's Happening


October 4, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – The Permaculture site on the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse Campus includes numerous wonders – sunflowers, an edible food forest, rain gardens to prevent storm run-off and erosion, and even bins of worms involved in composting. But a new addition – an outdoor sink – could lead onlookers to wonder, “What is this doing here?”

Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of the Office of Sustainability, and Jared Aslakson, Permaculture Specialist, explained the practical use of the sink: to provide water to clean produce from the Permaculture site before it’s used in the Motherhouse kitchens. 

“It was a way to streamline the process,” Jared explained. “We would deliver huge amounts of potatoes to the kitchen,” leaving it up to the kitchen staff to wash them. But that was too much for the kitchen staff to handle on top of their other duties, he said. Permaculture harvests typically include more than 200 pounds of potatoes, 250 pounds of apples, and a variety of other crops.

Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of the Office of Sustainability, washes potatoes from the Permaculture site the old way – in a bucket.

Jared, Sister Corinne, and other Permaculture Co-workers began to wash the produce in a bucket of water. “It worked but it was cold and got dirty – and you had to crouch at a weird angle,” Jared explained. Afterward, they washed the produce in the Madden Hall kitchen. 

Providentially, Joel Henricks, Director of Facilities and Grounds, was replacing the water main of the Motherhouse and had considered adding a spigot to the Permaculture site. “They were doing this once-in-a-lifetime work,” Jared said. “It was now or never to put the spigot in Permaculture.” 

The sink – designed and built by Jeff Mackey, of the Facilities and Grounds Department – incorporates the water spigot and includes protection from the elements, storage space for rags, and shelves for the produce. The water comes from the City of Adrian and is potable – safe to drink and to wash produce. 

By contrast, the plants in the Permaculture site are irrigated by rainwater catchment – allowing the Motherhouse to re-use water that comes to Earth naturally, Sister Corinne said. 

Jared said it took Jeff about a month to complete the sink – in between the many other projects in which Facilities and Grounds Co-workers are involved. But his work drew attention from many other Co-workers who saw the project and even tried to place orders for their own outdoor sinks. 

The sink will come in handy this semester as honor students from neighboring Siena Heights University come on Friday mornings to learn about Permaculture and the environment and to provide hands-on service. At the end of September, the students were involved in a potato harvest – requiring extensive use of the new sink. 

Sister Corinne said another positive aspect of the sink is that it could involve some creative gatherings – perhaps tea-tasting or soup making. “How it ends up getting used will unfold as it does,” Jared added.

If you have any creative ideas of how the kitchen sink could be used for gatherings, please include them in the comment section below. 


Feature photo: Jared Aslakson, Permaculture Specialist, washes potatoes in a new sink created by Jeff Mackey, of the Facilities and Grounds team, to provide a convenient place to wash produce from the Permaculture site with potable water.

October 4, 2022, Washington, D.C. – Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), was among the Nonprofit Times’ (NPT) 2022 Power and Influence Top 50 during a gala held in September at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. This is the seventh year in a row that Sister Donna has received this honor.

“The honorees have distinguished themselves as initiators, innovators, and leaders who can redirect and sometimes restrict vital nonprofits and their operations,” wrote Paul Clolery in the announcement of the top 50 honorees. He noted that the honorees distinguished themselves in their day-in, day-out work during a challenging year, still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, food shortages, and inflation.

Sister Donna was recognized for going beyond talk in the social sector and taking action, such as visiting the border to see firsthand the situation for immigrants. Responding to the challenges faced by 58,000 Catholic Charities workers, Sister Donna is focusing on housing and healthcare, “particularly seeing housing as a moral imperative and partnering with anyone willing to pitch in,” the 2022 Top 50 influencers program states. 

Catholic Charities USA is the national office for diocesan agencies throughout the United States. Its mission is “to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same.” 

Catholic Charities agencies serve all people in need in such areas as food and nutrition, affordable housing, social enterprise initiatives, advocacy and social policy initiatives, immigration and refugee services, disaster relief, and leadership development and Catholic identity. Sister Donna is the first female President and CEO in CCUSA’s more than 110 years of history.


Featured photo: Leaders attending the Nonprofit Times 2022 Power and Influence Top 50 Gala are, from left, Jonathan Reckford, President of Habitat for Humanity; Nancy Brown, President of the American Heart Association; Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA; and Gail McGovern, President of the American Red Cross.



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