The Lake Area United Way along with Haven House Family Advocacy Center celebrated the Student’s Day of Caring at Purdue University Calumet on Friday. Students made and filled Mother’s Day themed gift bags for local Haven House mothers who have fallen victim to domestic violence.
Students painted and decorated cards, gift bags and clay pots which were transformed into picture frames. They then filled each care kit with an assortment of items ranging from toiletries and personal care products to fruit and snacks. Many of the items had been donated through a drive that had been put on by Purdue students in preparation for the event.
“Every semester we do community events like this,” said Linda Atkinson-Pettee, Senior Retention Advisor from Purdue’s Center for Learning and Academic Success. “It’s made up of students, mostly freshmen, from our seminar course and part of that class is civic engagement. We just wanted to let these mothers know we’re thinking of them and their struggles.”
Megan Sikes, event coordinator from the Lake Area United Way, spoke about the impact that a small project like this can have.
“We really wanted to hammer home to the students what they’re doing and how important it is,” Sikes said. “It doesn’t seem like a lot but to someone who’s been a victim of domestic violence or who may not have a home it is a really big deal. To know there are people out there thinking of them and making an effort to help is incredible.”
Domestic violence is a far ranging issue and one that has a heavy impact on Northwest Indiana. The rate of domestic violence is high in our region; it has been the cause of 68 deaths over the last year.
Haven House is an emergency shelter and provider of services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. They are helping victims to establish direction in their lives and find long term solutions for each family through utilizing resources that will promote independent living. Haven House has been helping victims for nearly 32 years.
Lisa Wein, Executive Director of Haven House, spoke to students about the work they do.
“Victims and their children don’t see beyond their grief,” Wein said, “so seeing and knowing there’s someone who cares out there is a big deal. Haven House rarely sees men so having so many males here helping today was very important. We’re a domestic violence shelter because we want every victim who comes to us to feel welcome no matter what their gender or sexual orientation might be.”
Purdue University Calumet is active in teaching students techniques on how to deal with witnessing assault and how to properly report it to authorities. Programs like Student Support and Advocacy, an awareness program, and Step Up, a leadership program, focus on respecting boundaries and dealing with situations as a bystander. They use scenarios to help students identify domestic violence and ways in which to deal with it if it happens. So far, Purdue has trained nearly 600 students in 27 different training sessions on how to deal with domestic violence issues.