Jan Langbein visits ESD to promote the Genesis Women’s Shelter food drive

Abby Baughman

On March 3, Jan Langbein, founder of Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support, spoke during chapel. She talked about the purpose of the shelter: providing support to women and children escaping domestic violence situations. She also spoke in detail about how anyone is able to fall victim to abuse. She spoke on behalf of the Women’s Studies Organization for National Women’s History Month.

“I think [Jan Langbein speaking in chapel is] a great opportunity to listen to someone who has seen and been through these different communities and has one on one talks to these women that have been through these particular situations,” freshman member of WSO Elle Williams said. “I think she will be able to promote the snack food drive to our community, which will lead us to have more people donate as well.”

However, not all students thought chapel was the right place to have such a heavy discussion about abuse. Out of a poll of 117 community members who attended the chapel talk 49 percent thought it was appropriate for chapel compared to 33 percent who thought it was inappropriate.

“I liked the message of [the chapel talk], but the execution wasn’t very appropriate with the place and the context, like she kind of just jumped in, very rushed and choppy, no real explanation,” junior Dalyan Prieto-Akmansoy said. “They should have given us more context or introduced this to us more carefully and appropriately. [The talk] almost seemed not empathetic towards abuse victims, but chapel was definitely not the time to have that conversation.”

Every year, the WSO holds a food drive for Genesis Women’s Shelter. The club aims to make the families there more comfortable.

 “Children at Genesis with their mothers eat similar meals every night, and it’s a good meal, but it’s, in other words, roast beef, meatloaf, chicken,” WSO Sponsor Catherine Civello said. “When you’re five or six, let’s face it, you want mac and cheese. The drive looks to bring them comfort food because kids are often an afterthought. You always think about the women, which you should, but there are more children at the shelter.”

The purpose of the WSO is to bring female-identifying students together to celebrate female identity, insert the female voice in ESD’s co-educational environment and run the snack and food drive The food drive was held from March 6 to March 9. The seniors donated the most food, and, in total, 2,960 food items were donated by the ESD community, over the course of the food drive.

“A lot of our club is educational and informative,” Civello said. “We don’t sit around discussing the oppression of women as much as we talk about the history of women and watch films, find time to support each other and provide outreach. It’s like a class because we learn things and have great discussions.”

This year, Civello is retiring and moving to be close to her family in California. The WSO will be transferred to Lynda Gonzalez, who is currently co-sponsoring the club to learn the ropes. 

“[Gonzalez taking over] is wonderful,” Civello said. “She actually [has experience teaching in] high school and she worked for the Dallas Morning News, so she comes to us very talented with a very rich background. She’s already started working with members of the organization on the snack food drive, and they like her very much. And she’s working very hard, especially on the graphics, the fliers and the posters that go along with the snack food drive. So I feel that I’m leaving the Women’s Studies Organization in wonderful hands with her.”

WSO has 20 members and meets one to two times per month. The club also learns about and discusses current political issues and how they affect women.

“I decided to join this club because I wanted to be able to better pursue my knowledge about women and gender and some issues still going on today and be able to know what to do to be able to promote and support women,” Williams said. “We have discussed many issues facing women today globally, such as the Iranian protests and how as a community, we are able to support and promote those ongoing movements for the women living there.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, the Genesis Women’s Shelter 24-hour hotline is always available for help and guidance: 421-946-HELP (4347).

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