NACWC working on projects at Eastern

Emilie Bowman and Elizabeth Taylor, Reporters

Since 1896, the National Association of Colored Women’s Club has been devoted to volunteer work across the country.

Eastern’s chapter, Women Improving Lives, uses service projects, both on and off campus, to achieve their mission of advocating for African American women and children and protecting their rights.

They choose their projects each semester based on the needs of the community.

Starr Smith,  a junior community health major, is the club’s current vice president.

“Involvement and inclusion is very important to us,” Smith said. “You know, coming up with creative ways to inform the students about important things in the community or that’s going on in the world, as well as having fun and doing service.”

During African American Heritage Month, they hosted the Black Business Expo to help promote local businesses.

The club also gives members the opportunity to connect with women from other chapters.

The NACWC holds a national convention in July each year featuring workshops and meet ups, as well as acknowledgement of different chapters’ accomplishments.

Even though the NACWC is a national organization, most chapters focus on local issues and volunteer opportunities.

This year, the group is working with TRiO, Coles County Breastfeeding Support, nursing homes and clothing donation sites, as well as with students on campus for volunteer opportunities.

The members also serve as a support group internally, providing friends and role models for the women involved.

“This is a group of women either around my age or a little older that I can look to for insight academically, personally and to help me with my career field,” Smith said. “I think there are women in this organization that are just great resources.”

Jerrie Hinds, senior kinesiology major, said she appreciates the opportunities for activism provided by the organization.

“[The club helps] to give certain students that aren’t as involved a voice,” Hinds said. “Having a voice is something that is very important to me and especially for people who look like me because sometimes we are silenced, so in this organization, we allow students of color to actually voice how they feel on certain things so we do touch on those topics that may be uncomfortable for everybody.”

The organization was inspired by charity and self-improvement groups led by people like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, so activism was a main focus from the beginning.

Since its founding, the members of NACWC have worked in their communities to bring about social change and give help to those who need it most.

Not only does the organization help those in the community around them but helps draw women together to support each other.

“A lot of women, especially women who look like me, are usually put against each other, whether it be in media or just in general, like we’re always competing with one another,” Hinds said. “This was the first ever time I’ve seen black women who are unapologetically themselves.”

Emilie Bowman and Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]