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Students walk for St. Margaret’s House

| Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sunday afternoon, more than 30 Saint Mary’s students participated in the St. Margaret’s House annual Winter Walk, a fundraiser organized to benefit the women’s care and day center, professor of social work Jennifer Bauwens-Byers said. 

StMargaretHouseEmilie Kefalas | The Observer

“The Winter Walk is a way to increase awareness about the needs of the women who come to St. Margaret’s House,” Bauwens-Byers said. “St. Margaret’s House provides a safe place during the day to women and children. This is place for them to learn new skills and to also get a hot meal.”

Members of the South Bend community support St. Margaret’s House by walking a mile around the city, according to the center’s website.

“Every winter, we walk in solidarity with women and children whose everyday means of transportation is their feet, in any kind of weather,” the website said.

The event kicked off at 2:30 p.m. at the County City Building and was followed by a reception at St. Margaret’s House in downtown South Bend. Students were enthusiastic to get involved and take part in a worthy cause in spite of the cold, Social Work Club president and senior Corinna Martinez said.

“I thought we had a good number of girls willing to participate,” Martinez said. “It was exciting to see SMC students outside the club happy and energetic about the walk even though it was cold.”

Junior Macy Genenbacher said she experienced warmth and positive energy as she walked the one-mile loop Sunday afternoon.

“I was motivated to continue the walk by the members of St. Margaret’s House who cheered us along the whole way and expressed their gratitude towards all of the supporters who help them improve their quality of life,” she said.

Though not a social work major, Genenbacher said she made the decision to participate after being inspired to promote and support the services of St. Margaret’s House.

“My decision to participate was based on wanting to raise awareness about the good works that St. Margaret’s House is doing in the South Bend community, and to help them continue and expand that work,” she said. “It was so great to see how many people came together for such a great cause. Seeing everyone walk in solidarity for the women and children of our community was so amazing.”

Senior biology major Haley Koth said she was impressed by the number of people who participated and donated their Sunday afternoon to support St. Margaret’s House.

“The County Building was packed,” Koth said. “I was inspired by the enthusiasm and good nature of everyone there, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of the event.”

The walk marks the first major event of the spring semester for the Social Work Club, Martinez said.

“As a club, we chose to participate because it gets us involved in the community,” she said. “Part of being in the Social Work Club is going out and helping others in the community as much as we can.”

“I am personally drawn to these types of events, because I know I am helping someone make a change in their life. It is very rewarding and satisfying knowing someone is going to bed happy.”

Bauwen-Byers said she was proud of the Saint Mary’s students’ presence and representation at the walk.

“I believe it is important to participate in events that bring awareness to social justice issues,” she said. “It is paramount that we be aware of the concerns in our own cities, towns and state because we all have a responsibility to those in need and when we do so, we help to build a stronger community.”

As a senior, Martinez’s main hope for the Social Work Club is its continued participation in the South Bend Community, Martinez said.

“All I can say to SMC and ND students is to not be afraid to dip their feet in the water,” she said. “As students, I think having organizations like St. Margaret’s House welcoming volunteers and donations is a great thing.

“I believe students need to take advantage of the opportunity. The best advice that I can give is for students to get to know the South Bend community. Go out there and see what you can do to make a difference.”

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