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Women in Sheltered Homes, or WISH, is a new club on campus attempting to support local women’s shelters and “contribute to the betterment and well-being” of the women in them. We spoke to them about the inspiration for their mission and how SBU students wanting to contribute can join them.
(Sam Murphy) You mentioned that you are a relatively new club, when did your club start? Where did you get the inspiration to start this club?
(Shilang Chen) We started WISH last semester. Initially, we were a part of another nonprofit organization and was discouraged because we were unable to see any change happening. Rather than trying to support a club that didn’t reflect our collective passion nor be proactive towards our goal, we decided to use the same group of passionate women to create a club with a purpose that we all believed in. Our goal is to support local women’s shelters by providing them with donated goods. This semester, we chose to work with Brighter Tomorrows, a women’s shelter in Long Island that primarily serves domestic violence victims. Domestic violence is a major problem and we feel that the victims are often overlooked and are not provided the appropriate resources to succeed on their own. We hope to contribute to this cause by providing Bright Tomorrows with items donated by our generous Stony Brook peers.
What kind of events does WISH put on (such as donation drives, volunteer work, discussion meetings, etc)?
(Shilang Chen) As of this moment, we are only doing donation drives. We table every Wednesday in the Humanities Atrium during Campus Lifetime. Anyone who would like to learn more about WISH or donate to the cause can find us there!
You mentioned that your goal is to support local women’s shelters, how do you attempt to do this?
(Sammie Woo) Our club attempts to support local women’s shelters by collecting donations from students that may be beneficial for women in these shelters. We collect casual and business clothes, cosmetics, feminine hygiene products and items like diapers and blankets, which will be useful for the children in these shelters. We also plan to collect arts and crafts materials and give them to the shelters to enrich the learning environment for the children. Another idea that we plan to work on is hosting surprise birthday parties or festive celebrations to create a more warm and positive atmosphere in these shelters.
And why do you do the work that you do?
(Sammie Woo) We focused on helping women’s shelters because we believe that this community of women and children are not receiving enough attention and aid. At first, we focused on how we can help the homeless community but because we are a new club and that would be too much to handle, we narrowed our focus to women’s shelters. We decided to dedicate our club to women’s shelters after inviting a speaker from Brighter Tomorrows and listening to her experience with the shelter. She shared many upsetting instances such as having to turn down many clients due to limited space, which made us feel like more support should be provided to these women. She also shared encouraging experiences such as helping a woman reconnect with her family, which strengthened our passion for helping women’s shelters.
What women’s shelters do you work with?
(Tiffany Chan) The way we hope to structure our club is to help a different women shelter every school year. At the moment, we’re working in collaboration with Brighter Tomorrows, which is a shelter that houses women and families of domestic violence.
If students are interested in joining this club, how can they do so?
(Tiffany Chan) We meet every Wednesday at the Humanities Atrium from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Although we, as a team, meet there for our donation drives, anyone is open to sitting there while we plan what we can do to increase involvement or just enjoy a lovely conversation with likeminded people. Anyone interested in joining or getting in contact with us, please feel free to contact us on our Facebook page (facebook.com/wishsbu) or through our email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can SBU students that are not members of your club contribute to your cause? Do you need volunteers/donations, etc?
(Grace Kim) At the moment, we’re definitely limited by our size. I believe that with the bigger team, we could increase our reach, which would allow for more donations, more fundraising events, and more friends to make from this club! However, we completely understand that most students won’t have the necessary time to spend at weekly club meetings, or money to buy baked goods or donuts, which is why we ask people just to donate. At their own leisure, they could donate their unloved clothes, any extraneous items that they’ll be throwing out by the end of the semester, and if there is any to spare, cash. We’ve already spoke to our representative, from the women’s shelter we chose to work with, about being able to volunteer or being able to help more directly but considering the delicate situation these women are placed, it would be in their best interests to maintain their privacy.
Is there anything else that you would like to ask of or tell the SBU community? Or just anything else you’d like to add about your experiences with WISH?
(Grace Kim) I remember a certain point in high school where I felt as if I’ve been living an unfulfilling life. Eighteen years and I haven’t done anything for anyone except myself. Using my plentiful spare time was one method of making my life more fulfilling while helping those that were less fortunate. As a non-driver that lives on campus, I can’t routinely make trips outside of Stony Brook’s campus to volunteer somewhere, but this club and many other non-profit clubs/organizations here don’t require every individual to commit all of their resources every week. Just a few hours every week to help a collective cause that can better the life of someone in the world, that’s really all it takes.
If you are interested in advocacy and service, WISH is a great place to start making a difference right from our own campus.