Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Students Fight Domestic Violence with LOVE

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, the Ladies of Vital Essence (LOVE) partnered with SafePath to empower women they have never met in an event called Totes Against Domestic Violence. For the second year in a row, students met in the CORE Commons to paint bags, construct cards, and craft handmade bracelets for SafePath, an organization that offers resources for those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness.
Hosted by the multicultural sorority, the annual event creates opportunities for students on the Augustana campus to connect with women affected by domestic violence in the Quad Cities. Last year, the group stocked baskets with materials that SafePath needed. This year, however, LOVE’s motivation to design totes is to deliver the same message of encouragement through a more personal touch.
“We wanted to make things the women could get personally, so we thought about giving them bags that people designed themselves and put time into to show that they really care about the cause. If they need to put something into a bag, everybody can use a tote bag,” Nicolette Hampton, senior and president of LOVE, said.
According to Hampton, the needs of the women supported by SafePath are ever-changing: feminine hygiene products, natural hair goods, canned food, cleaning materials, and goods for babies. The demand is always high, but SafePath operates highly on donations from the community.
“These women need all the support they can get, and we want to make sure they can get back on their feet. They need different things for different times, but we want to make sure they get what they need so they can continue to support their children and get out of whatever situation they were in,” Hampton said.
The inspiration behind Totes Against Domestic Violence came from vice-president and senior Lauren Kaboggoza’s experience with a victim advocacy class through the Augustana psychology department’s partnership with SafePath.
“I am a victim advocate. The class entailed me getting a competency lesson in what you should say, what you shouldn’t say, getting acquainted a bit with the law in regards to domestic violence and sexual assault cases.” Kaboggoza said, “As a victim advocate,  I don’t speak for victims of any of those cases. I try to help them however I can. This event was kind of inspired by my class. I got to volunteer, and through that experience, I realized that in their shelter sometimes, they don’t have enough. They work almost purely on donations. By getting donations, it kind of eases that burden on them.”
She notes that though Augustana students can very much be in their own bubble sometimes, it is important to understand that Augustana is still a part of the surrounding community.
“I don’t think people realize that we’re kind of living in the Quad Cities, and all of this is happening in our backyard. There’s a lot of domestic violence and assault cases out here – even human trafficking. A lot of people don’t realize that there’s a lot of people in need in this area. You don’t have to go to a far-away land to do volunteering. There’s a good amount of stuff that can be done right here in the Quad Cities,” Kaboggoza said.
Founded in 1980 by all black women, the Ladies of Vital Essence is a multicultural, non-Greek sisterhood that seeks to serve the multicultural woman on Augustana’s campus. After decades of change, the group is changing and finding itself again. However, there is one key element of LOVE’s identity that Hampton hopes to highlight with the event: empathy.
“Hopefully, people who come think more about women – or anyone, really – who are in that kind of situation. I want to get them thinking ‘How can I give back?’ Even if it’s just giving a tote or making a bracelet or card.” Hampton said, “Could that make someone’s day? Could that make them feel better? Could it make them feel like people care – even at college? I want them to know that college students do care.”

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Students Fight Domestic Violence with LOVE