Winthrop University: Eagles Come Together for A Place for Hope
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Eagles Come Together for A Place for Hope

May 18, 2020

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Blackmon Road community of Rock Hill, an under-served, predominantly minority community, is about a 10-minute drive from campus.
  • Winthrop students have been staffing the homework center and creating a website for non-profit A Place for Hope.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Though the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on seemingly everything, you can still find the good if you look carefully: the people who are helping others. 

Winthrop University faculty member Jeannie Haubert and Amber Margies ’12 are two of those people.

The pair has teamed up in different ways to help the Blackmon Road community of Rock Hill, an under-served, predominantly minority community about a 10-minute drive from campus. 

‘We haven’t forgotten about them’

Haubert, chair of the Department of Sociology, Criminology and Anthropology, had frequently volunteered at A Place for Hope, a nonprofit and resource center for the Blackmon Road community. When A Place for Hope was unable to continue its youth empowerment program due to lack of funding, she couldn’t just stand by. Instead, she created a service-learning course, in which she taught students about poverty and inequalities and race and class issues.

Meanwhile, Political Science Department Chair Jennifer Disney offered a non-profit internship for students that involved volunteering at A Place for Hope’s homework clinic. (Disney is also president of A Place for Hope’s board.) The resulting partnership is known as A Place for Hope Eagles Program.

But things changed abruptly in March due to the pandemic.

“In March, when things were disrupted, we worked to try and give the students some at-home projects they could do [to help the community],” Haubert said. “Some created a new website for the program. Before, it had little to no Internet presence. There’s no way to really know about this great program, which makes it hard to raise funds for it.”

Winthrop students have been calling their charges directly to check in on them and offer support, posting the updates to Winthrop’s Blackboard.

“Even though I’m not physically teaching there anymore, I didn’t want to leave those kids just hanging,” Haubert said. “The idea is to really maintain a presence in the community and let them know we haven’t forgotten about them and to be sure that food doesn’t become scarce for them now that schools are closed and unemployment is rising. …It’s been great for the Winthrop students. It’s been good for them to see what kind of living conditions these folks have and feel like they can make an impact working with that youth.” 

Nutritious meals – and a pizza treat!

People have been worried about the economic impact the pandemic has had on small businesses. Haubert and her Fort Mill neighborhood community decided to select a local small business to support and partner with.

That’s where Amber Margies ’12 and Danny’s Pizza and Pasta of Tega Cay* stepped in.

Margies has worked in the restaurant industry in various roles for more than 20 years. She and her husband, Dan, own the restaurant. Once a week, they cook and prepare nutritious and delicious meals, which Haubert then delivers to the Blackmon Road community – everything from full pork roasts with garlic roasted potatoes to chicken parmesan and chicken marsala, from vegetable casseroles to the occasional treat of pizza. This marks the 10th week of bringing meals to the community.

“Jeannie presented the need to a group of friends and suggested our support, and it was a no-brainer!” Margies said.

Danny’s Pizza and Pasta is able to provide the meals through donations from the community. 

The partnership has been fantastic, Haubert notes. 

The importance of social networks 

In another group, Haubert has found people with IT experience who have been clearing out older laptops and donating them to children in the Blackmon Road community so they can continue their schoolwork. They’ve set up an outdoor space at A Place for Hope with access to steady Wi-Fi.

“It’s difficult to continue during the pandemic, but we’ve been able to find some creative ways to stay involved and start thinking about what we’re going to do in the fall to keep it going,” she said. “We will also be exploring other ways to continue to support the children and community residents as needs shift.”

She hopes to expand the A Place for Hope Eagles Program.

“We’re eager to involve other departments in the fall,” Haubert said. “We envision social work majors, nutrition majors, education majors – all with something valuable to contribute to youth development.” 

WANT TO HELP A PLACE FOR HOPE?

Consider making a donation through A Place for Hope’s website for upcoming needs in the fall, such as snacks, playground refurbishment and more. Donations are tax deductible: https://placeforhope.weebly.com/

WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE MEALS?

Contact Danny’s Pizza and Pasta at 803/547-9700 to buy a gift certificate to go toward the donations or Venmo @amber-margies. (Use last numbers 5666 to avoid credit card fees.)

*Danny’s Pizza and Pasta of Tega Cay is locates at 2435 Highway 160 W and has no affiliation with Danny’s Pizza in Rock Hill and Fort Mill.

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Last Updated: 10/4/21