Giving H.O.P.E. to local Emmaus House

SVSU’s new Leadership and Service minor is getting students interested in giving back to their community as well as providing H.O.P.E.

“Everyone is doing Toys for Tots,” said Ashley Dijkstra, elementary education sophomore and member of Project H.O.P.E. “We wanted to do something different, something local.”

Project H.O.P.E is a service project formed by students from the Leadership and Service minor with the goal of supporting downtown Saginaw’s Emmaus House.

Emmaus House is a home for women, specifically women coming from jail, prison or rehab.

Project H.O.P.E, which stands for “Helping Out People of Emmaus House,” hopes to provide the women with a family-like, Christian atmosphere while they are working to create new and better lives for themselves.

“Although their stay is temporary, it is an opportunity for them to make a fresh start,” said Josephine Garza, psychology junior and member of Project H.O.P.E.

Sixteen students are involved with Project H.O.P.E and have contributed to raising awareness of Emmaus House as well as helping to collect dozens of to be donated.

They collected clothing, linens, personal-care products, paper products and canned food at their table in front of the Marketplace at Doan and through collection boxes at on-campus living centers and department offices. They will continue collecting through Thursday, Dec. 5.

“It has been a huge collaboration between the students, the school and local businesses,” Dijkstra said. “We hope to get even more outside donations from businesses so we can give even more to Emmaus House.”

Local businesses such as McDonald’s and Papa John’s donated gift cards, and some students donated some items.

“We appreciate the charity,” Garza said. “It is all for a good cause.”

It was Garza’s idea to choose the Emmaus House for their charity.

“With 14 houses in the area, we wanted to do something that would stand out,” she said. “Many of us never heard about them before this, and that shouldn’t be the case.”

She said originally they wanted to choose a charity that supported children, but found the Emmaus House was “in their neighborhood” and “a great cause.”

Garza said she has always been drawn to leadership and philanthropy.

“A leader is everything that I am and that I want to be,” she said. “If you have the resources to do it, you might as well do it.”

Garza explained that this is the “service” side of the Leadership and Service minor, and it has helped students to see what they can do to love their community.

“You can get recognized for doing something just for the sake of doing it,” she said.

The following students contributed time and energy to making Project H.O.P.E a success: Hassan Haider Almadan, Josephine Garza, Kohl Coffin, Crystal Gwizdala, George Copeland, Brandon Jones, Benjamin Curtis, Todd McBride, Lauren Delzeith, Krystle Rajewski, Ashley Dijkstra, Jeremy Osmond-Bailey, Katherine Elwell, Alissa Schley, Giuliana Gardner, Sheela Joles as well as their professor, John Kaczynski.

Garza said she has always thought of Saginaw as a beautiful place, having lived here her whole life.

“It breaks my heart when people say that we don’t have any hope. It only takes one thing for people to change their minds,” she said. “We wanted to change what people think about Saginaw and about the people here. We all have hope.”

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