In the 60’s, a group of Bellarmine students, some local and some from out of state, decided to create a club for hangin’ out, for brainstorming, and for projects. Inexplicably they named it the Podiceps. A Podicep is a duck billed Platypus that pursues its fish prey under water, which has nothing to do with a college social club. But this was the 60’s so it didn’t need to make sense. It was therefore perfect and it wasn’t “Greek” (Bellarmine didn’t allow fraternities). It stuck, and over the next few years the Podiceps grew to around 50 members, had parties, debated the current issues, marched against Vietnam, poverty and racism, did projects, and found a clubhouse at St Johns parish. Our Patron Saint was the unforgettable Father Vernon Robertson, the pastor at St Johns, who was our benefactor and who let us use his building for parties, events, and even as a place for 10 or so members to live. St Johns was our hangout, and we all remember it fondly. (See newspaper article below)
In 2018, we had a 50 year reunion attended by over 50 Podiceps (see our reunion photo below), and we still are friends, communicate regularly, and are thrilled to be able to contribute to the new (to us) repurposed St Johns Center for Homeless Men. When we discovered what our former haunt had been transformed into, it was obvious that we had to contribute to its success. (See email text below.)
Dear Fellow PODICEPS and FRIENDS
Since my retirement from full time law practice I have been working part time for the County Attorney’s Office and have spent a significant amount of time in downtown Louisville. Prior to the pandemic, there was a significant problem in homelessness. Many times I passed a homeless man or woman on the corner of a downtown street with a sign asking for help. At first I tried to ignore this, but after a period of time I began to stop and give money to them. I realized that I had no right to ignore them, or judge them, or to decide on my own that they did not need or deserve help. To ignore this was not a Christ like response.
Then the PANDEMIC! Now the hunger and homelessness is magnified! And my reaction has been fear and inaction. I have stopped putting my window down and giving. I have stopped approaching the Man on the corner and giving. I truly have been afraid to do this because of the virus! I wonder what is the proper thing to do? I am 73 years old. I am vulnerable to the lethality of this virus! Have you had this experience or something similar? Do you wonder what you can do?
I have talked with Bob about this and we have a suggestion. As Podiceps, we all remember and have a unique connection to “St. John’s”. We had many parties and good times there, and some of you lived there while going to BU. I still remember sitting at the bar in the party room. I remember the beer cooler behind the bar. And I remember that we discussed social issues and the neighborhood conditions surrounding our clubhouse.
It is ironic, but St John’s is now St John’s Center for Homeless Men. Their website is www.stjohncenter.org, and the site and its video provide a compelling idea of what St. John’s has become—a haven and a salvation for the unfortunate victims of homelessness.
But we can help. They are having a fundraising event called “Raisin The Rent” between now and March 6, culminating with a virtual event on March 6 at 7:30 pm EST. See the Raisin' the Rent Main Page link at the top of this page for a description. Part of this event is a contest/challenge to see who can raise the most money for the center. We ask you to consider participating in this event and commit to a donation.
It is clearly a worthwhile repurposing of our old haunt, and It would be very satisfying to be able to make a significant donation to the St John Center, and help those people who use it now in a different way. Bob and I hope you will consider this.
Dan Albers ‘69
Bob Albers ‘68
Podiceps Reunion, Bellarmine classes of '68 and '69