IU South Bend Honors Program students have created a class project volunteering for the YWCA to give back to their community and raise awareness of domestic violence. The project began as a class assignment from Dr. Cathy Borkshuk, professor and assistant director of the Honors Program at IU South Bend.
“In the summer when I learned I’d be teaching 75 students in the honors seminar, I went around searching for community service opportunities. Given that a strong research and teaching area of mine is gendered violence, it was clear that I’d have some students working in those areas,” Borshuk shared. “The YWCA is certainly a great community partner, the staff there are wonderful and I knew they had needs. So it was a great match.”
(left to right): Corin Nyce, Carsyn Ryan, Brisa Magana, Casey Yankosky, Jennifer Aguilar, Elaina Holmes
It soon evolved into more than just a group project and became a strong drive to help aid people in need within the community. During the course of the project, group members say they have grown to find joy and value in their volunteer program, empowering themselves and women in need throughout the community.
The group is composed of honors students from various majors, including psychology, accounting and finance, healthcare management, and dental hygiene. After Borshuk contacted staff at the YWCA, the students visited the facilities and heard that the YWCA needed significant help making resources in their donation rooms accessible. The group created a plan to organize, clean, and configure these facilities, explained student Corin Nyce.
“My end goal is to help the donation room become a very efficient place that will allow the residents easy access to any of the supplies they need,” student Casey Yankosky said.
YWCA needed help making resources in their donation rooms accessible.
“We, like many organizations, are struggling to hire people in certain positions. This is one reason we are so grateful for the help provided by IU South Bend,” said Jena Perkins, YWCA development associate. “We typically have five large volunteer groups a year and smaller groups helping in our kitchen, wrapping presents around the holidays and keeping our outside looking nice.”
“I love that I get to do work that is beneficial to domestic violence victims,” student Carsyn Ryan added.
Dr. Borshuk said service learning is increasingly important for civic education. Higher ed is no longer about separating students in an ivory tower’; we try to remind everyone of how we fit into a larger context,” she said. “Also, students are resources that community groups often need: young, energetic, smart, willing.”
“To me, giving back to the community means helping those who are struggling around me and contributing to help this community grow and thrive. I’m so happy that I get to help support [the YWCA] in all of the great things that they’re doing for their residents and this community,” Nyce said.
IU South Bend Honors students are helping to organize and configure the facilities.
Perkins said that many things would not get done without the continued help of volunteers. “We are able to prepare more meals to store, we are able to complete our large mailings much faster, we are able to offer more children’s activities with all the help from volunteers,” Perkins said. “We need volunteer groups to help with gardening in the spring and summer. We also would welcome more volunteer help working in the kitchen.”
The efforts to support groups like the YWCA are always crucial for those in domestic violence relationships. “It is important for us to know of safe places, like the YWCA, for ourselves and others to go to when we need help,” Ryan said.
If you are someone you love in a domestic violence relationship or danger, the YWCA encourages them to reach out. Their facilities are staffed 24/7, and their referral line is also open 24/7 for calls or texts at 1-866-YES-YWCA.