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Students upgrade family shelter
When a battered woman grabs her children and flees for her life, she should be able to find a welcoming environment. But the staffs of domestic violence shelters often don’t have the time or the money to do more than provide the basics. That’s where the senior class of HPU’s Social Work program stepped in.


For three days in May, the women and children of the Leeward Domestic Violence Shelter were relocated while students and some of their families and friends went to work.

The group painted the exterior of the building and much of the interior, made minor repairs, and hung new curtains and wallpaper.

The project began with a student’s term paper. Lisa Tongg, herself a domestic abuse survivor, was doing her senior practicum at the shelter and noticed that, while it was not dirty, it was dilapidated and its atmosphere was unpleasant. “(Lisa) told me if she had been at a shelter that wasn’t a real, welcoming place, she wouldn’t have wanted to stay,” said Dr. Mary Sheridan, HPU social work professor.

When Sheridan assigned a paper on a real or potential community project, Tongg wrote about what could be done to improve the shelter.

“ I always knew I wanted to give back at a shelter,” Tongg recalled, but she concluded in her paper that nothing would happen. The student in her class felt otherwise, and they were determined to make the project happen.

“ I was really shocked because I didn’t think that my ideas were that big a deal,” said Lisa.”
Sheridan explained: “It was one of those spontaneous things that happen in a classroom,” she said. “It was just magic.”

Students formed teams, a decorator gave advice on color schemes, and the faculty contributed nearly $1,000 they had earned selling instructional CDs to social work programs around the nation.

The shelter was transformed, appropriately, over the Mothers Day weekend.




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