Hess Fellows Program Provides Insight About YWCA's Direct Service To Community

June 20, 2012

Almost halfway through her summer internship with the YWCA Central Alabama's Social Justice department, Alex Lupo, a rising senior at Birmingham-Southern College (BSC), has been given a firsthand glimpse into the services that the YWCA provides to the community.

Lupo is one of 14 students selected to participate in BSC's Hess Fellows Program - a program that pairs students with nonprofit organizations dedicated to advocacy. Excited to have been paired with the YWCA because of her passion for working with women and children and the critical role the YWCA plays in enhancing the lives of women and their families, Lupo says that her time here has definitely been an eye-opening experience. 

"Working at the YWCA has definitely given me a greater understanding of the multitude of issues that women and children face on a daily basis," she said.

Lupo has become engaged in the programs and services provided by the YWCA's Social Justice department. She helped facilitate Anytown Alabama and The Heritage Panel program and will be assisting with additional programming throughout the summer.

Anytown Alabama, sponsored by the YWCA and the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), is an inclusive weeklong camp environment that provides an opportunity for high school students to develop leadership skills that they can take back to their schools and communities.  The Heritage Panel program empowers a diverse group of student leaders to make their school a more inclusive and welcoming place by creating a climate which discourages bullying and harassing behavior. Both programs open students' eyes to needs in their schools and communities and empower them to advocate for the issues that they care about.

In addition to taking part in these programs, Lupo is conducting research and reviewing statistics about the needs and disparities in the Birmingham community at large and identifying ways that the programs and advocacy work of the YWCA can make a lasting impact by addressing these needs.

"As a social justice as well as a social service agency, the YWCA is committed to advocating for institutional change which will better the lives of the women and families we serve," said Joan Witherspoon-Norris, Director of Social Justice. "This is the sixth summer that the YWCA has hosted a Hess Fellow, and as others did before her, Alex has already made significant contributions to our advocacy work."

Having had past advocacy experience, Lupo credits the YWCA's work environment for enhancing her experience. "It's great to work in an environment where there is a mutual respect for everyone and their contributions to the overall goal," she said. "I don't feel like an intern, I feel like a valued part of a team."

As she returns to Birmingham-Southern College this fall to continue her studies in Psychology with a distinction in Leadership Studies, Lupo is committed to identifying more ways to raise awareness about the issues facing women and children in the Birmingham community and beyond.

The YWCA is grateful to Alex and to Birmingham-Southern College for their support and dedication to the YWCA during her internship and wish her the best in her future endeavors.

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