- Student Life
By Pavel Stankov. October 24, 2012 - 10:54 am
Psych club and other volunteers at the Oct 6th NAMI walk. Photo: Pavel Stankov
The multiple award winning Psychology Club at Hawai’i Pacific University has been an active factor in local altruism events.
Their recent participation in the Oct. 6 NAMI Walk, aimed at raising awareness of mental illness, showcases energetic involvement in community service. The event was organized by National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nonprofit counseling and psychological health establishment that aims in improving the lives of people with disorders through education, advocacy and support.
Along with 14 other teams from Hawai’i schools and private individuals, members of the Psych Club at HPU did a 40-minute walk in Downtown Honolulu and raised $200 from donations.
“It was our first time participating in a NAMI Walk,” explained Club President Christina Torres. “We hope to raise at least $500 next time.”
The club is negotiating with organizer Janet Shores about possibly hosting the next NAMI Walk, added Torres.
“It’s important to note that none of our activities are meant exclusively for HPU Psychology students,” she explained. “Everybody is welcome to participate and make a difference!”
An exciting upcoming event the student organization will be involved in will be this Friday’s Kiwanis Club Halloween Family Dance with the Disabled. The internationally known community service club will host a party on Oct. 26 at the Kaimuki Rec Center from 6 to 9 pm. The event is part of a series of dances organized by Kiwanis every third Friday of the month.
As usual, there will be two MCs who volunteer their time and skills to entertain the audience – developmentally disabled people chaperoned by family members and everybody who wants to join them.
“People are invited to come, dance, interact with the participants, make friendships, and, most importantly, have fun”, encouraged Torres. The Family Dance would be an opportunity to establish meaningful and lasting relationships with people who need more social interaction.
Similarly to NAMI Hawai’i, Kiwanis’ representative Phil McInnis is negotiating with the Psychology Club about the possibility of greater involvement with HPU. Thus, the organization will most likely welcome the students to a Christmas Family Dance as well.
Kaimuki Rec Center is on the corner of Waialae Ave and 11th Ave, near Kaimuki Community Park.
Two events in coordination with the Institute for Human Services (IHS) will occupy the following couple of weeks for the Psych Club. IHS is a locally operating private nonprofit social services agency whose focus is on Oahu’s homeless. In addition, the institution also takes care of people with substance abuse problems, and victims of domestic violence.
On Wednesday, Oct. 31, the Psych Club at HPU will volunteer to help at the IHS First Annual Halloween Barbecue. The two organizations have collaborated previously on a similar Easter event, and are hoping to have one next spring too.
“IHS coordinator Angela Dumais invited us to help, for instance, handling out candy to the homeless kids at the shelter”, said the Psychology Club President. IHS supports two havens – one specialized for women and children, and another one for men. HPU’s club donates time and resources to the former one, at 546 Kaaahi Street. The Barbecue will be held from 2 to about 6 pm and will include fun games, trick or treating, pumpkin carving, face painting and other fun activities for the kids.
Christina’s husband and the Psych Club’s Vice President Shandon Torres commented: “It’s a great way to make the children feel appreciated on a holiday. We should think of others sometimes, and not only about ourselves.”
The other activity in collaboration with IHS will be the “Give Thanks” event. Essentially a distribution of food drive items, it will take place at the same location on Nov. 17. People are invited to stop by the IHS warehouse and help box cans for needy families around the island. Those who have cars and are willing to help more can take the supplies to their destinations and meet the people in need.
Another nonprofit organization the Psych Club has become affiliated with is the Bobby Benson Center. The corporation’s Kahuku branch Executive Director and an adjunct HPU Faculty member Dr. William Johnson assisted with coordinating the student organization’s volunteers. The Center focuses mainly on providing counseling and health services to adolescents struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. According to the foundation’s website, one of its major concerns is helping teens to “develop skills to manage the ups and downs of life and begin taking personal responsibility for actions”.
The Psychology Club will organize a clothing and school supply drive in support of the center some time in the latter half of November (dates are to be announced). Boxes for donations, clean clothes as well as monetary, will be set up in frequented locations like the Computer Lab, the Sea Warrior Center, Sharkey’s Cove, and the Meader Library.
Kalamalama will keep its readers posted on the upcoming Christmas charity activities by the Psychology Club. Do not miss our following issues where you can learn how to participate in the next event – the “Giving Tree”, which will be entirely HPU sponsored and organized.
Apart from the satisfaction of community service, the benefit from participation in such activities for Psychology students may be establishing important connections, as both the Institute for Human Services and the Bobby Benson Center often look for interns to help the organizations on a more permanent basis.
Christina also added: “A lot of our activity is geared toward Psychology because this is obviously what we are prepared to help with. However, one does not have to be a Psych major or minor to get involved. Everybody can feel useful because we are operating mainly on a local level. We also want to concentrate on the younger generations because they are our future”.
With the contribution of the Psychology Club, it surely seems bright.
Feel free to contact the club regarding any of these activities at firstname.lastname@example.org