Student group helps women's shelter
By Melissa Higgins
Student volunteers from a Purdue Agriculture student organization have been working with a women's shelter near the West Lafayette campus to help victims of domestic violence.
Photo provided by Brian Springer
Diana Moyer, a senior agricultural education major from Lowell, Ind., repairs the back stairs at the women's emergency shelter maintained by Lafayette's YWCA Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention Program.
Students in the Indiana Association of Agricultural Educators-Purdue (IAAE) have donated their time and labor to the emergency women's shelter maintained by the YWCA Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention Program. The shelter provides 24-hour care and services for up to 25 women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
"Seeing what the shelter does for these women has been a life changing experience," said Diana Moyer, a senior agricultural education major from Lowell, Ind. "They are a valuable asset to the community and I have been very lucky to be involved with them." The student group's first project was to replace and install new shelves to help alleviate many of the shelter's organizational and storage problems. This may seem like a simple task but it was a huge help for the shelter.
"We provide everything for these women when they decide to come to the shelter and we do not get the opportunities to write grants for the maintenance of the shelter. So, this has been a huge help," said Rita Smeyak, director of the YWCA Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention Program.
This project had some unique rules. Before going to work, volunteers signed waivers that said they would not disclose the shelter's location. "Keeping the location of the shelter secret is very important," said Smeyak. "Oftentimes, these women are being followed by their abusers and if we cannot keep these women safe, then they will not come to us for help."
The money for the new cabinets came from a grant the student volunteers received through Purdue. The grant was donated to the shelter to be used for keeping their house maintained. "The shelter doesn't have the extra money to help maintain the shelter, so having IAAE come in and volunteer their time - both building the project and finding the funds - has been a blessing for us," said Rachel Gallichan, the YWCA's outreach coordinator.
For their first project, volunteers rebuilt the shelter's basement stairs and back steps, and replaced shelves that hold emergency supplies. "The IAAE members were really excited about getting involved with this project. There is need for the project and the women's shelter is a huge asset to the community," said Brian Springer a junior agricultural education major from Paoli, Ind.
Plans are under way for an ongoing volunteer project that will benefit both the shelter and the community. "We're trying to build a lasting relationship with the shelter," said Springer. "We are looking into ideas for an ongoing project, instead of a small project here and there."