IU First Lady visit celebrates young women philanthropists

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Staff Writer

While IU First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie served as the keynote speaker for a luncheon event entitled “Women Helping Women” on Thursday, the guests of honor were actually four female IU South Bend students. The students were nominated by directors of local programs and organizations that each has played a significant role in making a success. The four young women recognized were given a certificate of appreciation and the organization for which they work was given a financial gift from McRobbie’s Women’s Philanthropy program.

In a one-on-one interview with The Preface, McRobbie spoke about her interest in encouraging women to give, and the change in the culture that has led to a significant increase in the instances of women becoming more philanthropic. She discussed the fact that it wasn’t until the 1980s that women became more and more independent in their acquisition of wealth. This came on the heels of the feminist movement and more women becoming independent of men when it came to being breadwinners in their families.

Referring to an annual study done by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI called “WomenGive,” she revealed that, “Once you correct for income, education and so forth, women give more than men.”

The issue McRobbie has attempted to address in her work is the fact that, “A lot of women prefer to give anonymously.”

She has attempted to counteract that concept by looking for ways to put a spotlight on the giving that women do. Events like Thursday’s luncheon are intended to help meet that goal along with encouraging younger women to start thinking about why and how they should engage with their communities philanthropically.

Honor student, Paige Closson, an Accounting and Finance major, was one of the four IU South Bend students recognized at the event. She has served as a volunteer at Camp Mariposa, which according to their website is “a national addiction prevention and mentoring program for youth who have been impacted by substance use in their families.” She was nominated by Honors Program Director, Neovi Karakatsanis.

The honor was “an amazing opportunity and it’s great to be recognized and show this amazing organization that I work with and give them a little bit more light,” said Closson.

In her introduction of honoree Gabrielle (Gabby) Garver, Kathy Schneider, executive director of St. Margaret’s House, stated that within minutes of meeting Gabrielle, she could tell that “Gabby just got it.”

She said that what started out as a way for Garver to supplement her formal study in Elementary Education by working with the children in their program, became a relationship in which she has become a “vital member” of their team.

Garver got involved aggressively in St. Margaret’s signature annual event known as Winter Walk and helped grow it from 200 participants her first year to nearly 1200 participants in recent years.

“The people there are incredible. What they do for the women there it’s just, it’s remarkable, so it’s really easy to fall in love and get involved,” said Garver.

Exemplifying the philosophy being touted at the event, Garver stated, “Volunteerism is incredibly important to me and so as a teacher I really want to inspire that in my students.”

The other two honorees were Maggie Fink, a Biochemistry major, who has played a significant leadership role in the First-Year Seminar program on campus, serving this year as its Lead Peer Mentor, and Toni Wyatt, a Nursing student who has been a volunteer at Loveway, Inc. in Middlebury, which provides therapeutic horseback riding for individuals of all ages with physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities.

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