Veronica Watson: NeighborWorks Week Block Party

IWU student Veronica Watson partnered with Mid Central Community Action and The West Bloomington Revitalization Project to request $500 to hold a block party for the West Bloomington residents. This will serve as a conclusion to NeighborWorks Week programming and a celebration of the beginning of summer. Materials from the Tool Library will be used to make this event happen. This block party allows residents to form stronger relationships with their neighbors while providing safe activities for kids. They hope to expand this program to have more residents-lead developments.

Nicole Pierce: Bookmarks – Books for Kids in Need


Wesleyan Student Nicole Pierce wrote a grant for First Book-McLean County, a community partner that has provided book grants to local tutoring, mentoring and literacy programs in McLean County for 13 years. She helped them to request bookmarks for the books each child receives. The organizations goal is to provide each child in need with 12 books every year. Illinois Wesleyan’s Printing and Mailing Services is even helping out by providing the design for the bookmarks.

Volunteers Needed for DBA Farmers’ Market!

The Downtown Bloomington Association is looking for volunteers to assist with their weekly Farmers’ Markets starting in May and going though October!


Duties include: Farmers' Market

- assist with financial transactions

- sharing information

- subbing for vendors when breaks are needed

- setting up and tearing down on a monthly or bi-monthly basis


Contact Marisa Brooks at at for more information!

Niko Garcia ’15: Boys & Girls Club

As Youth Program Intern, Niko Garcia’s (Sociology ’15) role at the BGC was to aid, tutor, and program for the children that attend the club. With the time that Niko spent at the Boys and Girls club, he created his own  nikogarciabasketball/fitness program for the kids that runs Wednesday and Friday nights. It is a program that was created to get the kids active in exercise as well as build a fundamentally sound foundation in the most popular sport among the children. Niko hopes to continue to work with youth and inspire them to pursue their personal dreams.

Dana Marlin ’14: Green Top Grocery

During the spring semester, Dana worked with the Outreach Committee at Green Top Grocery. As a co-op grocery store setting roots in the Bloomington-Normal area, their success relies on bringing in new owners. greentop pic (1)Dana worked with Katie Novak and other committee members to bring awareness about what a co-op grocery store is and why eating local and supporting this local business benefits the community. Dana’s work included researching and developing social media strategies to increase and sustain owner & non-owner involvement. In addition, she developed contests that support local products and farmers, researched community events that Green Top should be present at, and looked into increasing their presence on the Westside.

Civic Engagement Winners Announced!

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Students sign the “Give a Day” banner indicating that they contributed over 24 hours of Community Engagement!

On March 25th, Sam Lalonde, Student Senate Civic Engagement Commissioner, in partnership with the Action Research Center hosted the 2nd annual Civic Engagement Banquet.    Nominees and winners in a variety of categories were recognized for their continued commitment to civic engagement.    The following are the winners of the 2013-2014 Civic Engagement Awards:

Excellence in Civic Engagement by a Faculty or Staff Member

Karen Schmidt, University Librarian: Karen is the Alderman for City Council, Cultural Commissioner, board member at WBRP, and Book Bike Wrangler.

Greek Organization Committed to Civic Engagement

Acacia Fraternity: 

Acacia adopted a street, works with Home Sweet Home ministries and Mulberry School. They also plan food drives and philanthropy events to aid both of these organizations. This volunteering includes preparing and serving food to the less fortunate, or working for community events like the Run, Walk, and Scream 5k at Mulberry. Acacia is also the fraternity that generally has the highest attendance on GreekServe days. The Acacia Midwest Basketball Tournament was an event in the past that was started up again this year, which brought together many Midwest chapters of Acacia and raised over $1,500 for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Lastly, several members of the Acacia fraternity are heavily involved with excellent progressive student organizations like Safe Zone or Interfaith, which help build a more tolerant and understanding community around us.

Community Partner Award

West Bloomington Revitalization Project: WBRP has been a great partnership for IWU. Students, faculty, and staff have been able to engage with their mission on many levels. Groups have also found meaningful partnerships – the Westside 5K with the cross country team, action research projects with ARC, and the IWU Bike Share. The Tool Library found a home there and that has been an inspiration to home owners and entrepreneurs on campus and in the community. Karen Schmidt, Deborah Halperin, Greg Shaw, Cameron Blossom, and Matt LaLonde are all on the board. The WBRP is revitalizing the Westside with the energy of IWU and that is what smart partnerships should look like.

Exemplary Alternative Break Member Award

Audrey Fontaine

Athletic Team Committed to Civic Engagement

Men’s Basketball Team:  Through volunteering to working one-on-one with students at Bent Elementary school, volunteering for the Special Olympics State Basketball Tournament, and other activities, the Men’s basketball team has lived up to their duty of being role models in the community. They have shown that success and community engagement go hand-in-hand, and deserve to be recognized for this dedication

Student Organization Committed to Civic Engagement

Habitat for Humanity:  Habitat for Humanity is very welcoming to everyone and they are helping create a better community in Bloomington. As mentioned before, The University has a long-standing commitment to collegiate Habitat for Humanity.  Not only does the Volunteer Center sponsor an annual Alternative Spring Break with the Habitat Collegiate challenge, but our collegiate chapter collaborating with Illinois State has built an average of one house/year for almost 20 years. Thank you for your commitment to civic engagement.

Intern Award

Lauren Streblo, Crisis Nursery Intern, Children’s Home & Aid

First Year Student Award

Sarah Sadowski




YWCA Needs Volunteers for a Food Bank!

The YWCA McLean County is looking for students to volunteer with their monthly food bank! Volunteers would work once a month for 2-4 hours helping set up, load and unload boxes of food, and help monitor the food bank.


Dates include:

March 5
April 2
May 7


Interested? Contact Liz German at or call 309-662-7826 ext. 228.



Small Business Workshop Series!

Attend one or all of these FREE Small Business Workshops every Wednesday from 12-12:50 PM in State Farm Hall, Room 314 – open to students and community members! If you have any questions, email  Join the event on Facebook by clicking here.


Thank a Giver Day

The Office of Alumni Relations invites you to join in their Thank a Giver Day on Monday, February iwu heart17th!
As you may or may not know, tuition only covers 70% of IWU’s operating expenses.  On February 17th, we will be 70% through the school year.  On this date we celebrate Thank a Giver Day (TAG Day) and take time to thank alumni, parents, and friends for their generous donations that help cover the remaining 30% of the school year.  Help us by staffing tables on TAG Day, as we ask the campus community to help us “Thank A Giver” by personalizing a postcard (or 3!).
To sign up to volunteer, click the link below:
Please contact Sherry McClarty at with any questions!



MLK Jr. Teach-In Focuses on Healthcare


Health Care Part of King’s Social Justice Legacy

Jennifer Prochotsky and Rebecca Gearhart
Jennifer Prochotsky ’16 (left) and Rebecca Gearhart (right) spoke about health-care delivery in rural areas of the developing world.

Jan. 21, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— More than 130 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered at Illinois Wesleyan University Monday for the University’s annual Teach-In honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Several campus and community leaders spoke on this year’s theme: health care and social justice.

In introducing the topic, IWU’s William Munro, the Betty Ritchie-Birrer ’47 and Ivan Birrer, Ph.D. Endowed Professor, drew attention toKing’s remarks at a 1966 convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights. Munro said King called injustice in health care “shocking.”

Regarding health-care financing, Professor of Political Science Greg Shaw spoke about  two dominant models: government-financed or market-driven. “We have this rather messy hybrid way of doing it in the United States,” explained Shaw, who is the author of The Healthcare Debate, a book that traces the history of the government’s role in health-care financing. “We have a lot of public dollars, we have a lot of private dollars, and we mainly have private providers, with lots of nonprofit providers as well.”

In explaining a consumer-driven health care (CDHC) movement, Shaw noted the CDHC’s main tenet says when individuals more directly experience the true cost of the health-care goods and services they might consume, they consume fewer services, and in ways that most appropriately meet their needs.

Citing findings from a federally funded study — the late 1970s-era RAND Corporation project that remains the ‘gold standard’ on the topic — Shaw noted that people do not consume medical services in any direct proportion to their incomes.

“Wealthy people do not care about a new intestinal procedure and say ‘I’m going to go out and get that right away,’ the way they might about a new vehicle or a house,” Shaw said. “On the other end of things, lower-income people do not refrain from services altogether, especially for their kids. They go and find a way to get those.”

Shaw said approximately 70 percent of U.S. health-care dollars are spent on 10 percent of the population in a typical year.

“The healthy 50 percent of the population only account for about three percent of the health-care dollars we spend,” explained Shaw. “We need to understand that imposing cost-sharing on the wealthy won’t save us much.”

Shaw reminded the audience that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) focuses mostly on enhanced coverage; it focuses very little on quality or costs. The Affordable Care Act will extend coverage for more than 40 million people who have not been insured in recent years, while America still spends 17 to 18 percent of gross domestic product on health care.

A market-driven model is a piece of the puzzle, but “it’s not going to be our salvation,” Shaw said. “We do have some coverage of a generalized nature, Medicare, Medicaid, county health, but those are not intended to be universal. So we do have this hybrid model. But I do want us to think about efficient ways to get to universal coverage, that don’t involve imagining that buying surgery or a band-aid or an antibiotic is just like buying a sweater or a car.”

Teach-In speakers Trina Scott of the Immanual Health Center (left) and Angie McLaughlin of the Community Health Care Clinic talk with President Richard F. Wilson.

Other speakers included Dr. Trina Scott, medical director of Immanuel Health Center in Bloomington, and Angie McLaughlin, executive director of Community Health Care Clinic in Normal. Both spoke about local health-care delivery and financing issues. Immanuel Health Center opened in 2013 to provide a holistic approach for primary medical care, social and behavioral services, counseling and spiritual care, and community referrals for Medicare, Medicaid, uninsured and underinsured clients.

McLaughlin explained that even with expanded coverage for millions under the Affordable Care Act, there will still be tremendous need for her free clinic which serves uninsured or low-income McLean County residents. She said an information gap remains, noting that many of the clinic’s clients were unaware of the Affordable Care Act or how to enroll for coverage in recent weeks.

Chair of Sociology and Anthropology and Associate Professor of Anthropology Rebecca Gearhart and Stutzman Peace Fellow Jennifer Prochotsky ’16 presented the day’s last session on international models of health-care delivery, particularly in rural areas of the developing world. The two related the characteristics and sustainability of several models.

Prochotsky’s experience in international health care comes from her “gap year” between high school and college, when she volunteered in West Africa with Mercy Ships, the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world. Mercy Ships provide free health care, community development projects, community health education, mental health programs, agriculture projects, and palliative care for terminally ill patients.

Gearhart described several models, from the “guinea pig model” to the “surgical safari model.” She said a common problem with these models is that health-care providers trained in Western facilities are not culturally competent everywhere in the world.

“Each society has a unique cultural framework in which its members understand illness and wellness, which health-care providers need to understand in which to successfully operate within it. It is critical to delivering quality healthcare,” Gearhart said.

“The notion that inadequate health care is better than no health care is also false,” she added. “If medical intervention does not include necessary follow up and rehabilitation, it’s not a valid form of health care.”

The Action Research Center, the John and Emma Stutzman Peace Fellows Program and Unraveling Inequality, a liberal arts cluster of courses that explore human rights and social justice issues, sponsored this year’s Teach-In.

Contact: Kim Hill, (309) 556-3960

Winter Training for YWCA Stepping Stones Program!

YWCA Stepping Stones Sexual Assault Program is offering 40-hour volunteer training for those who wish to provide crisis intervention to sexual assault survivors.ywca

Winter Training Schedule
Every Tuesday & Thursday: January 28 – February 20, 6 pm – 9 pm

Saturdays: February 1 & February 22, 9 am – 5 pm

All trainings will be held at YWCA McLean County, 1201 N. Hershey Rd. in Bloomington (lower level entrance). 
Volunteer Duties
Confidentiality is REQUIRED! After completing the 40-hour training, volunteers will carry a pager and must be on call for one shift a month. Shift options include:
 4 pm Monday to 4 pm Wednesday**
 4 pm Wednesday to 4 pm Friday**
 4 pm Friday to 4 pm Monday**
Crisis intervention means possibly speaking with a victim/survivor on the phone or providing support at the hospital or police department.
**Volunteers must have their pager on during the entire time they are on-call; volunteers will respond to calls between 4 pm and 8 am and on weekends. Paid staff respond to crisis calls during business hours M-F between 8 am and 4pm.
Training Overview
The volunteer training covers types of sexual violence, rape trauma syndrome, crisis intervention techniques, listening/communication skills, medical and legal advocacy, psychology of sexual violence and information about community partners providing different levels of assistance to survivors.
Get Involved
If you are interested, please fill out an application and submit to Elizabeth Rardin at the YWCA address above. You will be contacted to schedule an orientation/interview once the form is received. Applications are due no later than Friday, January 17th. Call Elizabeth Rardin at (309) 662-0461 ext. 286 or email

Click below for application:

 Volunteer Application Stepping Stones

A Vision of West Bloomington

Name: Veronica Watson

Year of graduation: May 2014

Major(s): International Studies, Diplomatic Studies Concentration

Community Partner: WBRP & MCCA




Veronica Watson’s Reflection:

My project started after I started attending some of the meetings for the West Bloomington Housing Collaborative. The Housing Collaborative is made up of the WBRP, MCCA, Habitat for Humanity, and a few other community stakeholders, who all worked together to win a $1.5 million grant for revitalizing West Bloomington neighborhood. The grant money is specifically meant for building or improving homes, in an attempt to bring more homeowners to the area. However, the housing market in this neighborhood is not the only issue that needs to be addressed, so the Housing Collaborative would like to consider other projects that help with the neighborhood revitalization. In order to help tie any future projects to the current housing projects, Collaborative members want a community identity or “brand” that all of the projects could work under.

With this in mind, I was tasked with holding focus groups in West Bloomington for local residents to voice their opinions on a possible community identity. This would give Collaborative organizations more of a framework to work under in the community, and it would give community members the chance to be more a part of the revitalization efforts. I held 3 focus groups at Eric’s Restaurant, and 1 at MCCA; each was attended by 2-4 local residents. While some ideas for a community identity were discussed at these focus groups, mostly residents took these groups as an opportunity to talk about their concerns for the community. Topics like crime, lack of activities for kids, and lack of diverse businesses were all things that residents wanted Collaborative organizations to know about and help address.

Maybe this project didn’t accomplish what it was supposed to in terms of identifying a community brand, but I think it was incredibly useful as a reminder to Collaborative members that there are major issues in West Bloomington besides housing. More importantly, I think these groups show how much residents care about West Bloomington, and how willing they would be help with its revitalization, if someone took the time to show them exactly how they can be more involved.

WBRP Housing Initiative-Visual Marketing

Political Science major, Nicole Jovicevic (’16), chose to help the West Bloomington Revitalization Project for her Fall Action Research Seminar Project. The WBRP has a housing initiative focused on home improvement projects. In order to attract more applicants for this initiative and to create a visually stimulating overview for the current investors, Nicole collected the information needed to create two pamphlets. This included conducting several interviews and using various Adobe applications to create the product. Overall, this product will help advertising initiatives for the housing initiative in West Bloomington, and encourage future investors to give to the WBRP.

Porch Project 1 montage-1
A short reflection from Nicole:
It has been an honor working on this project for the WBRP. Although I generally like hearing stories, having the opportunity to meet with residents of West Bloomington really allowed me to connect with the community and see the difference our volunteers were having. The personal stories and endless praises for the work of the WBRP housing initiative furthered my passion and interest in helping the community and investing my own time outside of this class to community improvement.
 Porch 2.5

The Bloomington Digital Divide

As her project for the Fall Action Research Seminar, Sarah Bergman (’15), a Political Science major, explored the digital divide in Bloomington.  By partnering with Bloomington School District 87, she researched student access to the Internet in by surveying District 87 teachers.  The choice to survey teachers was made because of their firsthand experience with the effects of the digital divide on students. In addition to Deborah Halperin’s assistance, she worked with two members of the District 87 administration, Dr. Barry Reilly (Superintendent) and Cindy Helmers (Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction).  Both shared their ideas and thoughts on the matter, and they distributed the survey to the teachers.  At the end, Sarah plans to analyze the data and create a report for the district to use.  Little research exists on the digital divide in the local community, so this project will hopefully help people in the future that are interested in the issue.


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Track Your Life

Lexia Swope, a Psychology and Sociology double major from Springfield, IL, participated in the Action Research Seminar in the fall of 2013. In this class, she created a health and wellness program for girls at the Bloomington-Normal Boys and Girls Club. The goal of the program was to promote and teach the girls to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Throughout the semester, the group met once a week and learned how to properly warm up, stretch, and exercise, as well as learning various anatomy and nutrition facts. Different activities were also incorporated, like hula hooping and cheerleading, but the main focus was on the sport of track and field.

player_Swope, Lexia 2013-10

A short reflection by Lexi:

Having the opportunity to create and participate in this program was definitely one of the best experiences of my college career. Although it was challenging at times, I think the program was definitely a success and that the girls really benefitted from. My main advice for running a program would be to plan everything out in advance and communicate well with the staff so that you can have adequate space and supplies to do what you had planned.