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
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
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
selling instructional CDs to social work programs around
The shelter was transformed, appropriately, over the
Mothers Day weekend.