Marshall University’s Women’s Studies program is organizing a Valentine’s Day fundraiser to provide private journals for young women at the Golden Girls Group Home.
The group home located in Ceredo houses 24 girls ages 12-18 and specializes in cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment.
Laura Michele Diener, associate professor of history and director of Women’s Studies, said the idea came from girls at the home who requested a private journal when a previous fundraiser generated extra money.
“A few of the girls specifically asked for a diary with a lock on it,” Diener said. “For teenagers, it’s really important to have privacy. I thought it would be something that would be really important to all of them.”
Diener said writing in a diary or journal is a good way for the girls to build their self-confidence and prepare them for higher education.
“A lot of them have been through trauma, so creativity is a good therapeutic practice for them,” Diener said. “They also need to know that a college experience is available to them, and learning to write and express yourself is one of the most basic steps to get there.”
Nikki Thomas, Advancement Director at the GGGH, said journaling is a way for the girls to express themselves in a creative and safe way.
“It’s a way to release any anger or things they may be feeling that they don’t feel comfortable talking to anybody about,” Thomas said.
Thomas said the journals give the girls an outlet that they desperately need, but there are other ways to become involved as well.
Diener said the Women’s Studies program previously raised money in an internet campaign that allowed all 24 girls to receive a new pair of Converse sneakers.
“We got an amazing response from people, not just from Marshall and the community, but from all around the U.S. because different people were sharing it,” Diener said.
Diener said although enough funds for the 24 journals have already been collected, donations are still welcome to provide extras for newcomers and to help fill other needs.
“The girls switch in and out and some get adopted, so they always maintain that 24,” Diener said. “You can never have too many journals.”
Thomas said any donations or financial support is appreciated and will help the girls with recreational activities.
“The girls wouldn’t have Christmas presents or be able to go on any trips, like camping or the movies, without fundraising,” Thomas said.
Thomas said programs like Marshall’s Women’s Studies coming together to support them is very important for the non-profit group home’s success.
Diener said anyone interested in tutoring or other volunteer work is also welcome at the GGGH, since many of the girls are behind in school.
The home was founded almost 36 years ago and housed only a few girls, but Thomas said it has grown significantly, and the need for similar shelters continues to increase.
“With the current opioid crisis, we are seeing a rise in severe abuse cases,” Thomas said. “We have their daughters. These are the innocent victims from it.”
Hanna Pennington can be contacted at [email protected]