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Women empowering women: MCW donates to local homeless women

Students and mentors from MCW gather around a table of donated items for homeless women. Kat Delaney/Snapper.

Simren Shah
Associate Features Editor

This past Friday, Millersville Concerned Women (MCW) gathered in the McNairy library to organize donations collected during their “MCW Cares for You” initiative. During the initiative, students and faculty members donated feminine hygiene products and winter attire to be given to homeless women in Downtown Lancaster.

Students and mentors laid out the donations onto a long table and began to organize them into bags. Jordan Fessler, executive, said the club plans to distribute the items to local homeless women.

Students organize mini deodorants donated by MU students and faculty. Kat Delaney/Snapper.

“We did get a lot of stuff to prepare homeless women for the winter,” said Fessler.

“Today we are going to package all these things up, and then tomorrow we are going into Lancaster city… we are going to be distributing this out to homeless women across the city,” said Fessler.

Barsha Thapa, social media/marketing, joined MCW last year when the initiative took place for the first time. She talked about how she had been positively impacted by participating in collecting and distributing donations last year.

“After packaging last year when we went to distribute [the donations], we see smiles on peoples’ faces. That was like ‘wow,’” said Thapa.

Thapa said that homeless women tend to be receptive when approached by her club. 

“We go to a location, we scatter ourselves, we talk to people, and they are like ‘yes we are interested,’” said Thapa.

Deltilyn Bonal, club member, said that participating in the club and in this event took her “out of her shell.” 

Bonal spoke about the sense of community she feels within the group. 

“You never want to leave, you just want to keep talking to the ladies…It’s like a family,” said Bonal.

This year was Bonal’s first year distributing items to the homeless female population. The students and mentors planned to take a bus to Downtown Lancaster on Saturday to distribute items. They said they would be going to locations including Binns park and surrounding areas.

Various hygiene products were collected for underprivileged women in Lancaster. Kat Delaney/Snapper.

“I am so excited to do this… I love helping people, so it will be so amazing just to do this for other people,” said Bonal.

Hannah Sullivan, club member, says she shares similar sentiments as Bonal. She said she was excited to head to the city with her fellow club members for a good cause.

“[MCW] is a great group of people,” said Sullivan.

This was Sullivan’s first year travelling with the club to Downtown Lancaster.

MCW has three mentors who lead the group: Gladys Laporte Rodriguez, Marilyn Retamar, and Casandra Miller.

Gladys LaPorte Rodriguez began her journey with MCW alongside Marilyn Retamar in Fall 2017. While the group existed previously, it has since expanded and the women involved are challenging themselves to make a larger impact on the community. 

“We wanted to do something for the Lancaster community and this came up. We requested some suggestions from the students, and this was one of the things we wanted to do for women,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said the outreach has grown in success since last year. 

“The box at McComsey… was filled with hats and gloves. We were overwhelmed. That was really, really nice… It’s really cold downtown at this time,” said Rodriguez. 

MCW is a group that meets on campus to empower female students by supporting academics, social skills and leadership skills. The club offers community and friendship to the university’s female population.

MCW also partners with the President’s Commission on the Status of Women by distributing pads and tampons to campus bathrooms through the “Code Red” initiative. Student volunteers gather donations of femine hygiene products and distribute them in campus bathrooms in a basic labeled “Code Red.”

Volunteers are hard at work sorting the donated items. Kat Delaney/Snapper.

MCW meets every Friday at 3 p.m. in McNairy Library room 100. The group discusses womens’ issues, current and campus events, and they listen to featured guest speakers. The club also creates a sense of friendship and community by going on outings such as movies and hiking together.

“Our mission is three things, social, leadership and academics,” said Retamar.

The organization is also developing a womens’ empowerment conference called “Fearless Women” scheduled for March 28, 2020. The mentors said the purpose of the conference is to empower Millersville’s female student population. Guest speakers are currently being selected for the event.

The mentors and students involved with MCW challenged themselves to not only encourage each other, but to reach out to women in the surrounding community as well through “MCW Cares for You.”