KOKOMO, Ind. — J.R. Pico hopes when students leave his Spanish classes, they’ve gained more than a second language.
“It’s important for me that when they graduate, they’ve learned about altruism, and to give to others,” said Pico, teaching professor in Spanish and humanities at Indiana University Kokomo.
That’s why he’s incorporated service learning into his curriculum throughout his 14 years on campus. Most recently, his classes filled a van with donations of household and toiletry items for the Family Service Association of Howard County (FSA) Domestic Violence Shelter.
Pico gave students a list of needed items, and was pleased not only that every student contributed, but also that they gave more than he asked.
“This is the most generous class,” he said. “They are learning about why we have to care about others who are in need. It is key that they are good citizens and help others.”
The campus has a long history of supporting the domestic violence shelter, including with the annual Angel Walk, which is one of its largest fundraiser.
The 2022 Angel Walk is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 25 at the Pavilion, on the east side of Hunt Hall. The one mile walk also raises awareness of the issue of domestic violence, and where help is available.
Hayden Turner, one of Pico’s students, said though he’s from Kokomo, he did not previously know about the shelter. He’s glad to know about the resource available in the community, and to be able to do something to help.
“It feels good to know there is a way I can contribute,” he said.
Student Lilly Johnson said in addition to helping the shelter by bringing in supplies, the project allowed them to support those it helps, and made students aware of what it offers, in case any of them ever need it.
“It’s impactful to know there is a community surrounding you,” she said. “It’s good to bring it into the classroom, to remind you that people have these challenges, and to let you know if you are in this situation, you are not alone.”
Chloe Shields said the donations could also give someone the push they need to get out of a domestic violence situation.
“Sometimes, knowing someone supports you makes you brave enough to get out,” she said. “There are people experiencing domestic abuse and not saying anything because they are too scared. Now they know where to go.”
They added that Pico sets an example of giving back to the community. He and his wife, Angie Nelson Pico, recently received an award of appreciation from the FSA for volunteering as translators for a woman in the shelter whose primary language is Spanish.