Blessings Celebrates National Girls & Women in Sports Day

Blessings Celebrates National Girls & Women in Sports Day
A snapshot of how women in sports lead the way in the Blessings community

National Girls & Women in Sports Day

National Girls and Women in Sports Day is an annual day of observance in February . To celebrate, we salute two women who are making the world of sports a better place through continued partnerships with Blessings in a Backpack: Alyssa Murphy and Jennifer Dedes-Nowak.

Alyssa Murphy

Alyssa Murphy, University of Louisville
Assistant Athletic Director of Student-Athlete Leadership & Development

For over five years, Alyssa Murphy has organized University of Louisville (UofL) student-athletes to partner on countless activations with Blessings in a Backpack, from packing events at local schools, reading activities with children, hosting fundraisers and food raisers, and more — all benefiting children in the Louisville, Kentucky, Blessings in a Backpack program.

“Community engagement and connection are core values of the student-athlete experience at UofL, which are reaffirmed through the thousands of hours spent volunteering, supporting, and connecting with the community year after year,” Murphy said. “Partnering with Blessings in a Backpack has been especially rewarding for student-athletes, knowing they can help children in the community secure food when they aren’t in school.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when volunteers were not allowed inside the schools, UofL student-athletes conceptualized and implemented a unique and uplifting project that spread positivity and encouragement: they created vision boards to go in children’s backpacks.

“Giving back in various ways will remain a priority for student-athletes, staff, and coaches at UofL. We look forward to continuing to support specific initiatives and programs and look to identify new partnerships every year.”

We asked Murphy to share what it means to be a female in the collegiate sports industry:

“I have an incredible opportunity to mentor student-athletes and expose them to career opportunities that they may not understand exists or are options for their future,” she said. “I know that female student-athletes, particularly, see professional women in the field as role models, doing work they can see themselves doing in the future.”

Louisville Football players
Jennifer Dedes-Nowak

Jennifer Dedes-Nowak, Chicago Cubs
Assistant Director, Community Affairs and Cubs Charities

On the professional side of sports, we salute long-time partner and friend to Blessings in a Backpack, Jennifer Dedes-Nowak.

Since 2012, Nowak has implemented service opportunities with Blessings for players, coaches, front-office associates, fans, and corporate partners, all in the name of giving back to the city of Chicago. She has been instrumental in our work — providing food to local programs, gifting tickets to Blessings kids, and including our organization in events like “Cubs 100 Gifts of Service” to celebrate Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday.

In addition, Nowak has made countless and priceless introductions on our behalf to Major League Baseball, Boys & Girls Clubs, and corporate teams, all in the name of goodwill.

“Our partnership with Blessings in a Backpack has offered many opportunities to help feed kids who go hungry on the weekends while engaging our Cubs Front Office and Seasonal Associates, players and their families, and corporate partners,” Nowak shared. “We now have a focused partnership through Blessings with our local Boys & Girls Club, which is thriving.”

Since launching volunteer initiatives, the Cubs organization has contributed more than 16,000 service hours to Chicago.

“Being a woman in the sports industry means being a role model and helping to create and show a path for younger women starting their careers. It’s important to support the women around you and the next generation,” Nowak said. “I feel so grateful to do this, especially through our educational Cubs Charities programs that include Cubs Scholars and CASE (Careers as Sports Executives).”

Cub packing event
Chicago kid with food
Chicago packing event
Beth Bush

Beth Bush, Blessings in a Backpack
Director of Athletic & Strategic Partnerships

Beth Bush recalls her work with Murphy and Nowak:

“I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with colleagues such as Alyssa and Jen. We are like-minded in wanting to provide a great experience from the donor or volunteer to the recipient in a heartfelt and meaningful way. We have bounced ideas off each other for years. I think brainstorming is one major piece of collaboration that women pull off extremely well together.”

Over the past 15 years, athletic and strategic partnerships have brought in over $10 million to fund Blessings programs nationwide.

“Every partnership or activation I work toward is combining sport and philanthropy. I am grateful for my position because it provides exciting opportunities to help kids and families in need. It also allows me to work in my chosen field of sports marketing, where I meet many wonderful women leaders,” Bush shared.

“In a nod to my favorite quote by [author] E.B. White, this job provides an outlet to wake up every morning determined to both change the world and have a good time doing so. No day is the same, and I cherish every moment I’ve helped a child and each person I’ve met along the way.”

Video: Beth Bush talks about Blessings in a Backpack’s partnership with the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. 

Bush with PGA TOUR Wives
Bush with Dale Earnhardt Jr