From retail to recycling, a Dayton, Ohio native has set out to live and promote a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle through his new role with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.
The SCN Lay Mission Volunteer Program recently welcomed Brenden Dines as a new AmeriCorps Volunteer at Nazareth, partnering with the Notre Dame Mission Volunteers program.
Brenden, 27, will spend the next year on campus focusing on ecological sustainability efforts and working closely with director Carolyn Cromer in that department. Brenden said he learned of the opportunity at Nazareth through Julia Gerwe, who preceded him as an AmeriCorps Volunteer on the campus until this summer.
“She spoke about it with so much passion that I had to come and see it for myself,” he said of learning about Nazareth while interacting with Julia at an AmeriCorps conference. Like Julia, Brenden is also passionate about environmental issues and believes the position at Nazareth will provide him with first-hand experience and knowledge to pursue solution-based change for the habitat and grounds.
“I hope I can help not only educate but learn from the Sisters on campus in ways to lead a healthier and more sustainable life,” he said.
Brenden Dines shows off a snakeskin found during an earlier visit to the Nazareth Motherhouse Campus in Bardstown.
Nazareth is Brenden’s second assignment with AmeriCorps. In his first year with the program, he was in Germantown MetroPark in Dayton, where he worked in outdoor education and outreach for the MetroParks Agency.
“I would handle and care for the various animal ambassadors that we kept in our care. These ranged from black rat snakes, eastern box turtles, eastern screech owls, an American kestrel, and a red-tailed hawk,” he said. “I would take these ambassadors around to various events and classrooms to help share the message of conservation of the natural habitats around the city of Dayton.”
Before working with AmeriCorps, Brenden worked as a personal trainer, in retail and is a jeweler by trade. For two years, he worked as a jeweler and “diamontologist” in Brooklyn, New York, helping clients accessorize and customize pieces. It was his time in retail, he said, that sparked his interest in ecological sustainability.
“‘Fast fashion’ is one of the leading causes of pollution and waste, with plastic being used in so many steps of the process,” he said. “I even asked my district manager in New York what we do with all of the plastic after we are done with receiving in a shipment. He responded with a shrug and went about his work. That led me to take it upon myself to recycle the plastic at my own building.”
Brenden Dines, right, walks the grounds with Director of Ecological Sustainability Carolyn Cromer. Wildflowers and native grasses are in bloom around areas of the campus now considered “no-mow” zones to help promote pollinator habitat.
Today, Brenden is working more diligently toward living sustainably, and his time at Nazareth will surely help him succeed in this endeavor. While working at Nazareth, Brenden will help oversee sustainability initiatives such as calculating the Congregation’s greenhouse gas emissions, leading an invasives plant removal corps, and providing environmental education to the Congregation and the wider Nelson County area.
In looking to the future, Brenden said he would like to go back to school and pursue a degree relevant to ecology or become a “master naturalist.” He is also interested in remaining with AmeriCorps in a position that will allow him to help others find their passion and give back to their communities.
Join the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in welcoming Brenden to the team.