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“Women Helping Women” Honors Four IUN Students

From teaching sixth graders about self esteem, to helping kids get through college, to making life easier for military families to making life easier for special needs kids, four Northwest Indiana women, who have collectively put thousands of hours into volunteering for their fellow man, were recognized Tuesday by Indiana University Northwest’s ‘Women Helping Women: Honoring Student Volunteer Leadership.

The four students and their local non-profit organizations, honored at a special luncheon at Indiana University Northwest, included:

  • Flo Bringas, for her work with the 909th FRG (Forward Surgical Team)
  • Deberie Hubbert, for her work with The College Starting Block
  • Deanna Proimos, for her work with Chasing Dreams
  • Dorthea Robbins, for her work with Value Art; Live Substance Free (an outreach program for The South Shore Arts)

Each recipient was awarded a gift and $350 for her organization.

Jeri Pat Gabbert, vice chancellor for University Advancement and External Affairs. said the four were, “Women who have devoted countless hours to improving the Northwest Indiana community; Women who exemplify the campus’s commitment to community-based engagement and women who are passionate about helping others. They saw a need and had the courage to step forward.

Bringas, who completed her general studies and will switch her focus to the accelerated nursing program in May, volunteers countless hours all over the state as an escort for military families the Indiana Patriot Guard and has contributed to more than 100 welcome-home celebrations for active duty soldiers.

“When I started out it was something that helped me feel good,” Bringas said. “When I got attached to these families it became more about them.”

Deberie Hubbert, a political science student graduating in May, is an adult learner, who, Gabbert said, “balances the competing demands of work, college, and family responsibilities.”

After working in the steel mills for many years, Hubbert founded The College Starting Block that helps provide students with resources necessary to complete a degree, Gabbert said.

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“One of the reasons I came back to school after working in the mills for 10 years was to show young people that it can be done,” Hubbert said. “When you look at a young person come home with a degree and you know you did everything you could to help get them there, it’s a great feeling. It’s worth it all.”

Deann Proimos, working on her master’s degree in public affairs, just over a year ago founded Chasing Dreams, an organization that helps children with Down Syndrome and their families. Proimos has done everything from event planning, serving as a board member and spending time with the children that the organization serves.

“I’ve always known I wanted to do something with children, but now I know that I really love working with kids with special need and seeing the change in their lives,” said Proimos, who wants to go into nonprofit management.

“I think it’s something I’ll do for a very long time,” she said.

Robbins, a master’s student in social work, did an internship that made her aware of Value Art; Live Substance Free. Currently a volunteer, she teaches sixth graders the importance of saying, “no” to drugs and alcohol. dealing with bullies and having positive self esteem.

“I love working with kids. Being part of this program was accidental,” Robbins said. “I saw the positive things they have to offer. Volunteering is a way of life. It’s just part of who I am.”

IUN Chancellor William J. Lowe, told those in attendance that In many cases,” like today, our student, faculty and staff commitments go beyond their institutional roles to a more active and committed level of engagement. Today I’m very proud that we are honoring four of these community leaders -- Flo, Deberie, Deanna and Dorthea. Keep up the good work ladies. We look forward to your continued inspiration and leadership on our campus and in our communities.”

The event was hosted by the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Council and this year by IUN.

Keynote speaker Indiana University First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie, filled the audience in on the history of women and philanthropy in the state of Indiana.

“In the last decade or so it was apparent to scholars of philanthropy and most notably, those at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy -- the first school of philanthropy in the world -- that women were, in fact, giving significant amounts of money,” Burns McRobbie said. “Women are more likely to give anonymously. Women give more than men; sometimes twice as much as men do.

“Women of all ages have the power to make a difference, and with examples like Flo, Deberie, Deanna and Dorthea, the future looks very bright, indeed,” Burns McRobbie said.

“Women Helping Women" was officially launched in 2010. The event takes place at a different Indiana University campus each year, McRobbie said.

“I think this was just an example of how inspiring the next generation can be,” McRobbie said after Tuesday’s event. “In a couple of cases they’ve started something that didn’t exist before, so they’ve been innovators as well as philanthropists. We’re just terribly proud they’re part of the IU family.”

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