Defiance College social work students Pay It Forward to Bryan homeless shelter

December 11, 2019

8 social work students, 2 directors of the Sanctuary shelter, and Professor Alesia Yakos-BrownDEFIANCE, Ohio - Students from Defiance College's social work Macro Practice with Communities and Organizations class conducted their annual Pay It Forward initiative during the fall semester. The course directly impacts community needs by awarding financial assistance. This year, 16 seniors in the class awarded $2,108.44 to the Sanctuary of Williams County, a shelter for the homeless in Northwest Ohio that provides care to individuals in need and helps them rebuild their lives.

For 11 years, the DC class has awarded more than $23,000 to address needs of transportation, hunger, unemployment, poverty, education, youth mentorship, and cultural understanding in northwest Ohio. With steps embedded in the curriculum, students conduct a five-county community assessment, prepare requests for grant proposals, send RFPs to approximately 50 non-profit social service agencies, and award grants to applicants that best address the identified community need.

Originally, this project began in 2008 with funding through the Pay It Forward student-led philanthropy program led by Ohio and Kentucky Campus Compacts, and later with the support of the Women's Giving Circle of Defiance. In recent years, the class has raised its own funds through a number of events such as raffles, bake sales, campus activities, and donation solicitation. This semester, Drop Zone played a significant part by selling pizzas to fundraise and contribute $1,000 to the total award.

This year's recipient, the Sanctuary, will use the award to fund a new program in 2020 called "Rooting for Kids" to more effectively care for the unique needs of homeless children. The program aims to provide homeless children with stability and support in regard to struggles of identity, self-worth, education, and safety. This year alone, the Sanctuary of Williams County provided more than 4,700 nights of individual stay to homeless people in the area.

"We have seen dozens of people come here with no job, no money, and no hope in their eyes," said Pastor Rob Bukowski, Executive Director for the Sanctuary. "We then see these folks find a job, build relationships, save money, get healthier, and experience the love of God and His people through local churches. We are thankful for all who partner with us in that work."

Chartered in 1850, Defiance College is an independent, liberal arts-based institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The College is guided by the four pillars of its mission: To Know, To Understand, To Lead, and To Serve. The College website is