|Students apply classroom PR skills to help non-profits
Published: June 19, 2012.
Several local non-profit organizations received a little extra public relations help from 34 students enrolled in the course “Public Relations Writing” at Lewis University in Romeoville. Taught by Lewis University communications professors Assistant Professor Lisa O’Toole and Associate Professor Robert G. Nulph, Ph.D., the course integrated the university’s mission of service into the curriculum to positively impact local issues, address community needs and enhance a sense of civic responsibility.
In conjunction with the university’s Office of Service Learning, Public Relations Writing students developed partnerships with a variety of community organizations and volunteered to assist them with achieving their communication goals. Several students developed long-term relationships with the organizations, created a variety of public relations tools and helped with fund raising initiatives.
“This service learning project provided a superb opportunity for both our students and a wide array of community organizations,” said O’Toole. Students were able to apply their newly acquired public relations writing skills and become more active and engaged in the community.”
Students served social service agencies, animal welfare organizations, health groups as well as local youth sports organizations. While each organization embraced a different mission, all of them welcomed the support of the Lewis University public relations students.
Alyssa Cicero served the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will, Grundy, Kankakee and Iroquois Counties. The Joliet-based organization is volunteer-supported and helps at-risk children of single and low-income parents succeed through one-to-one mentoring relationships. Cicero promoted the value of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring program by creating a variety of recruitment tools.
Sarah Palya assisted the Will County Humane Society with promoting their important role. The Will County Humane Society is Will County’s oldest no-kill animal shelter. It receives no assistance from local or state government. Palya helped promote the organization’s adoption and public education programs.
Jesse Tierney developed a relationship with Agape Missions, a Joliet-based agency providing social services to people living with HIV/AIDS and formerly incarcerated individuals. Tierney’s efforts focused on promoting awareness of the organization’s purpose as well as promoting fund raising initiatives.
As a resident of the southwest suburbs, Katie Esposito was familiar with The Bridge Teen Center in Orland Park. Esposito believes in the organization’s mission to provide relevant and free programs to ensure that teens develop mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually in a safe environment. Esposito’s public relations efforts focused on promoting anti-bullying presentations.
Carolyn Jones contacted the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation about helping the Orland Park-based charity promote its vital mission to comfort children and teens undergoing cancer treatment. The organization ensures that cancer patients through 18 years can choose a toy or gift as a reward for undergoing painful cancer treatment. Jones wrote press releases and other public relations tools to advance the foundation’s benevolent endeavors.
Vanessa Phillips has a great love for horses and wanted to work with an organization that shared her affinity for these beautiful animals. She developed a relationship with Mended Hearts Equine Therapeutic Center in Metamora, Ill., and created a range of public relations tools to promote the organization’s unique mission to support equine specialized therapy and education for people with disabilities.
Fitness 4 Change, a southwest suburban non-profit group that exists to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn to dance and play a sport, called on student Taylor Swearingen to develop promotional materials to communicate their services to families in their service area. Fitness 4 Change Executive Director Julie Zipperich described Swearingen’s efforts as a “gift” that her organization truly appreciates.
Eric Hernandez contacted “Hoo” Haven, a wildlife rehabilitation and education center in Durand, Ill., to volunteer to write and design newsletters, brochures and online communication tools. Hernandez values the non-profit organization’s mission to rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned North American wildlife and present education on the importance of conservation.
Sarah Sampson believes in the mission of the Plainfield-based Green Harvest Food Pantry to provide groceries for low-income families, retirees and others who have recently lost their jobs. Sampson wrote and designed a full array of public relations materials to help the pantry increase donations and recruit volunteers.
“The students leave the Public Relations Writing course with a genuine portfolio of their work as well as empathy and a sense of giving back to their community,” commented Nulph.
Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The ninth largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.