Hopewell residents get a helping hand from AU social work students

Mon, 2010-04-19 07:15 -- univcomm
April 19, 2010

Growing up most children are taught to do as many activities as possible by themselves. Feeding, brushing their teeth and interacting with others are all abilities taught at a young age, to mature and develop as a child gets older. However, there are many people who do not possess these simple skills due to developmental disabilities.

grouphomeAnderson University students Jenn Simpkins, Julie Venis and Kayla Kaufman are there to stand in the gap. These three women are just a part of the support system employed by the Hopewell Center in downtown Anderson. Originally created for focusing on persons with disabilities, the Hopewell Center has now expanded its services to families with infants and toddlers that are 'at-risk' due to developmental or socio-economic factors. [Picture on left: Senior Jenn Simpkins reads with an individual from the Hopewell Center at the Anderson Public Library. Simpkins meets with different people during the week to assist them with everyday activities.]

“It’s our goal to encourage them to be as independent as possible,” said Venis, a senior social work major. Venis, Simpkins and Kaufman work at Hopewell Center as Certified Living Assistants. Although the residents and members of the center are pushed to be independent, there are still things that may need to be done for them.

"Depending on the client and their schedule, we may take them to appointments, make dinner for them or do some chores,” said Kaufman. “Each client has a different program, which takes several months to complete. It could be a hygiene program or chores or vocalizing when they need help, but they are encouraged to be independent.”

Currently, over 600 individuals learn how to lead healthier, more self-sufficient lives each year thanks to the Hopewell Center’s program. Staff at the Hopewell Center make personal home visits to many of the clients to spend time with them in a one-on-one setting.

“I think my favorite part about this job would be the opportunity to make them so happy by doing the smallest things,” said Simpkins. “One of my favorite moments was when I was asked to clean the bathtub of a little old woman. When I was finished, she couldn’t stop thanking me. She was so happy.”

Although the girls have the option of staying and working at the center after graduation, all of them say they would rather move on to other things. Simpkins wants to pursue a career helping autistic children, Venis is looking for a career in healthcare, and Kaufman sees herself working with kids.

“My favorite part of being here is that you get to be in different situations. Once you know the schedules of the clients, you know what to expect, yet you still have variety,” said Kaufman. “Even though they are disabled, these patients have the potential to do some wonderful things and it’s awesome to be able to help them succeed.”

- Missi Martin is a junior from Goshen, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Martin is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.