With 275 alumni clubs around the world, Notre Dame University has one of the world's largest alumni networks.
"In the United States alone, there are 225 clubs in cities both large and small," said Bill Pflouts, secretary of the Notre Dame Club of Greensburg-Uniontown, a group that encompasses Westmoreland and Fayette counties. "You don't have to be an alumni to join. Of our 125 members, 70 percent are not alumni."
Membership is $25 a year and the club organizes a number of activities and events annually, starting with the Alumni Association Leadership Conference in April. The conference coincides with the Blue and Gold Game, which pits Notre Dame's defense against its offense and ends the spring football practice.
"For the conference, each club sends one representative to the university campus to network and attend workshops," said Mr. Pflouts of Greensburg.
At 6 p.m. June 25, the club will stage its annual Universal Notre Dame Celebration at the Pleasant Valley Country Club, 440 Pleasant Valley Road in Connellsville. The evening begins with hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar followed by dinner.
The guest speaker is Thomas F.X. Noble, a history professor with a doctorate whose research includes the history of Rome and the papacy. The cost of the dinner and talk is $30, but $20 for students and this year's Notre Dame graduates.
"The talk will focus on what's going on currently at the university, but I'm sure attendees will ask Dr. Nobel about the new pope," Mr. Pflouts said.
Each year, the club also sponsors a Notre Dame student in a four-week summer service project. This year, Ryan Grzyb of Sewickley will stay at the home of a club member while volunteering for two weeks at Clelian Heights, a school for exceptional children in Greensburg. Then he will volunteer at the Westmoreland County Food Bank.
"The club will provide him with a $2,500 stipend and he'll get three college credits," Mr. Pflouts said. "The summer service project is open to all Notre Dame students, but they must apply. Club members provide housing, food and transportation."
On Aug. 7, the club will stage its annual student send-off, a picnic that welcomes new freshmen and returning students and their parents. This year's send-off is at 5 p.m. at Pershing Park in Unity.
"The send-off is a chance for freshmen to talk to the upper classmen about campus life," Mr. Pflouts said.
On Sept. 21, the club will organize its annual bus trip to Notre Dame, this year for the Michigan State football game. Jacob Dvorak of Natrona Heights has organized the bus trip for the past 20 years.
"I first got involved with the club when I decided to take the trip as a nonmember," he said. "Three years later, as a member, I took over as trip organizer. This may be my last one, however, because I'll turn 78 this year and I can't maneuver the campus very well."
The bus trip leaves Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensburg at 7 a.m. Sept. 20 and stops in Toledo for lunch. Check-in at the motel in Elkhart, 15 miles from campus, is at 2:30 p.m., followed by a pep rally on campus that afternoon.
The following day, the bus leaves the motel at 7 a.m., then heads to campus for a tailgate party followed by the game at 3:30 p.m. On Sept. 22, the bus leaves Elkhart at 7 a.m. with an expected arrival back in Greensburg around 4 p.m.
The cost of the trip is $350 per person which includes the bus, motel accommodations, game ticket and tailgate party. Call 724-226-0672.
The bus trip is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year," Mr. Pflouts said. "We present four $1,000 scholarships annually to students from Westmoreland and Fayette counties who will be attending Notre Dame. Right now, there are 22 Notre Dame students from our two counties."
On Nov. 9, Notre Dame will play Pitt in a game at Heinz Field. Tickets are available starting at $60, call 800-456-8499.
In conjunction with Seton Hill University, the club sponsors a free lecture called the Father Hesburgh lecture. No date has been set for this year's lecture, which is held at the Seton Hill campus in Greensburg.
In December, the club will hold its final event of the year, with a Mass and Communion breakfast at St. Emma's Monastery in Greensburg. During the breakfast, the club will collect Christmas gifts for needy children.
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: email@example.com.