Manchester University
Oak Leaves

September 21, 2018

MU Students Provide Information on Poverty at VIA

Matt Barbosa

Manchester University students Virginia Rendler, Daisy Byers, MacKenzie Weadick and Caraline Feairheller spent their summer giving back to various communities in need through a new partnership with the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP). Professor Katy Gray Brown and these four students helped forge a path for Manchester University students to become involved by helping people experiencing poverty in the United States. SHECP is a nonprofit organization committed to informing and enriching students' education with information on poverty and how to diminish it through a poverty studies program.

For senior Feairheller, addressing poverty means what she calls "taking a holistic approach to the issue of poverty and understanding it is way more complex and then from that understanding doing actionable things to expose it and eliminate it."

Feairheller spent her internship with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth in Kentucky. This is a grass roots organization that encourages the people of the community to take on responsibility and accountability for their own community.

She worked with feeding the homeless and participating in the Smoketown Get Down for Democracy where Kentuckians for the Commonwealth organized a block party with food and drink as well as voter registration.

Junior Rendler spent her internship at Career Collaborative in Boston, MA. This organization focuses on helping adults that need employment develop skills to find long-term employment through a class offered. These classes are primarily taken by immigrants, ex-convicts, refugees and non-native English speakers. After learning what it is like to work in a professional environment in the United States, the adults move on to a job search and employment counseling.

Rendler learned an important lesson from this internship. "Poverty colors every aspect of your life," she said.

Senior Byers spent her time in the program at New American Pathways in Atlanta, GA. This organization defines the "Pathway to Success" in four stages: safety & stability, success, self-sufficiency and service. Primarily refugees and immigrants are helped through this organization. They are taught how to become acquainted with Atlanta and the United States and they are encouraged to explore their passions. This program emphasizes to the participants the importance of giving back to Atlanta.

Byers enjoyed learning the success stories of those refugees and immigrants and said she believes that hard work matters and will allow the individual to accomplish any task he/she sets his/her mind to.

Junior Weadick spent her time with the Young Women's Christian Association in Austin, TX.

YWCA has a mission statement of "eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all." It helps counsel women and helps Austin school children that are at a high propensity to turn to a gang life.

Weadick participated in fundraising outreach, giving information on counseling over the phone, increasing social media presence of YWCA Austin and also participating in the "Families Belong Together" protests. She learned to hope for the best and prepare for the worst and also said that this internship was "emotionally draining" and changed her perspective on poverty.

Senior Amy Weeks attended the VIA. "It is nice to see your friends having a platform to speak about their experiences and sharing the stories of others," she said. Weeks added that storytelling is a critical part to bringing about meaningful change.

Senior Ryan Morley also attended. "The students that spoke told amazing stories about their experience working with and helping people living in poverty," he said. "I think it's important that Manchester continues to offer these opportunities for students to help others."

Feairheller says that students can apply to the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty internship through Peace Studies.