By Ashton Mithchell
Saturday, November 10, marked the first-ever Day of Service for the Quinlan School of Business. More than 40 undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff came together to volunteer at A Safe Haven Foundation, a shelter program with 16 locations around Chicago, to help those who have been homeless find jobs and housing.
Brian Rowland (BBA ’89) and Neli Vazquez-Rowland (BA ’85) started A Safe Haven Foundation in 1994. They developed a holistic program to serve the needs of those recovering from addiction and those who have fallen into homelessness.
Alex See, student activities coordinator for the Quinlan School of Business, co-organized the event along with Mark Law, academic adviser in the graduate programs office, with the support of Quinlan Dean Kathleen A. Getz.
See says partnering with A Safe Haven was a natural fit due to the founders’ connection to the University.
“A Safe Haven is a leader in social enterprise, and it has a strong business model that has attracted attention locally and as far away as China,” he says.
See also noted that November was the perfect time to hold the service event because of Ignatian Heritage Month.
“We are proud of our Jesuit heritage and wanted a way to celebrate our commitment to service, values, and responsible leadership,” he says.
During the Day of Service, volunteers worked side by side with people who had benefited from A Safe Haven, planting tulips for troops, cleaning out the organic garden bed, and cataloging old files.
“Their stories of how their lives were impacted by A Safe Haven were touching and inspiring,” See says. “The experience also reminds us that everyone can make a difference. Neli and Brian were successful in the financial field; they saw a need in the community and decided to take action.”
The Rowlands see drug addiction as something the country needs to shift its perception of. Because users, statistically speaking, go through detox six times a year, there is often no type of aftercare offered, and most addicts end up back on the street. The program at A Safe Haven is designed to capture addicts before they can derail from recovery. The guiding principles of the program teach them skills to cope with addiction so they can sustain a livelihood and avoid falling back into homelessness.
The Rowland’s mission seems to be working. About 80 percent of those in A Safe Haven’s training program secure job placements, which gives them a shot at building a solid foundation to support their recovery and establish an independent living situation.
Carly Stevens, 19, business major, says the Day of Service was eye opening.
“I would participate in this event again and really encourage others to help this awesome organization,” she says. “I enjoyed myself. I like doing service work, and this organization in particular was for a really good cause.”
For more information on A Safe Haven and programs available for the homeless, underserved, and veterans, visit ASafeHaven.org.