Date: March 26, 2008
Contact: Carol Connelly, Director,
Media & Communication Services, ext. 5267, email@example.com
PNC Staff Member Judy Back Earns State Recognition
Westville – Purdue University North Central professional staff member Judy Back has earned the Indiana Campus Compact 2008 Community Service Director Award. Back, PNC business representative, was presented the award at the Indiana Campus Compact 2008 Governor's Conference.
This is the third year for the Community Service Director Award, which is given annually to recognize staff at Indiana Campus Compact member campuses who facilitate and inspire service-learning and exemplify the virtues of the campus and community connection.
Indiana Campus Compact is a 15-year-old network of Indiana colleges supporting the integration of service-learning and civic engagement in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities of students, faculty and staff.
Back was nominated for the award by PNC Chancellor Dr. James B. Dworkin who also serves as the ICC board-chair elect. Dworkin and several PNC representatives were in attendance when the award was presented to Back.
According to Dworkin, "Indiana Campus Compact has led the way in establishing service learning as a way of life on university campuses. Through service learning, students experience the positive aspects of helping others and they are able to hone their organizational, leadership and communication skills.”
“Judy Back enthusiastically supports the University‘s vision and commitment of learning, discovery, and engagement through service learning opportunities that connect the campus and communities,” said Dworkin. “She is an inspiring individual who has made significant contributions to service learning.”
Back is visible on the PNC campus organizing and leading various events that serve to better the community. In Dworkin's letter of nomination, he noted her role in the planning and execution of an apartment renovation for the Christian Community Action Spring Valley Homeless Shelter in Valparaiso .
For some years, Back and the Purdue North Central Women's Association (PNCWA) have made afghans for families residing in the Spring Valley Homeless Shelter and to the Michigan City Homeless Shelter. These afghans were a gift to the families leaving the shelter as a way to let them know that the community and Purdue North Central in particular, cares about them and their needs. PNCWA has also held programs on the value of education for the Spring Valley families. As Spring Valley prepared to move to a new facility, Back became aware of the need for volunteer groups to remodel the facility's apartment.
“I saw this as an opportunity to bring our campus together for a significant and long-lasting impact on the communities we serve. Spring Valley serves all of Porter, Jasper, and Newton counties and the southern portion of Lake County ,” described Back.
Things looked bleak when Back first visited the apartment her group was assigned to “launch.”
“We saw water damage, holes to be patched and a long-neglected bathroom. The vintage 1964 kitchen cabinets appeared to be salvageable under layers of accumulated grime. The carpeting was destined for a dumpster,” said Back. “It was difficult to imagine that we could transform this sad and damaged unit into a home for a family of four. But we felt strongly about being a part of the project and were determined to renovate this unit into a safe, warm and welcoming home.”
When the call went out within Purdue North Central and the PNC Women's Association about the project, the first response came from Martha Garcia-Saenz, associate professor Building Construction Management Technology and members of the PNC Construction Club.
According to Back, “Without Garcia-Saenz and the commitment and skills of her students, this project could not have been done. The students, many with construction experience, had a great work ethic and immediately began transforming the space. As day one ended we could see the beginnings of a home.”
PNC staff, students and PNCWA members worked when time permitted, suffered a few setbacks with water leaks but they completed the apartment. The beds were covered with quilts made by the PNCWA Sew Bee It Quilters. The apartment has been continuously occupied since its rehab.
Back also is chair of the PNCWA Knitting and Crocheting Group. The group directs its efforts to providing items for women and children in need in our communities. Blankets, booties and caps are given to the three local hospitals for the newborn babies of low income families. These items are also given to local women's shelters. The most recent project is providing prayer shawls for women dealing with cancer treatments at local hospitals.
“My personal commitment, as well our PNC Women's Association, is to reach out to those in our community who face the most difficult daily struggles,” said Back. “The focus is on women and children as they feel the greatest impact of family distress. I am also committed to service on the Advisory Board of The Salvation Army of Porter County offering my management and public relations skills to help them serve our families in need. “
Also nominated for ICC awards were PNC student Tracy Wylie and faculty member Dr. Nancy Marthakis, assistant professor of Biology. Both were finalists in their award categories. Wylie was nominated for the Richard J. Wood Student Community Commitment Award which recognizes students who demonstrate a commitment to community service. Wylie has been involved with 4-H for many years and is active in helping 4-H members learn about dog care and showing of dogs.
Marthakis was nominated for the Brian Douglas Hiltunen Faculty Award, which is given annually to recognize faculty members exemplify of the scholarship of engagement. Marthakis teaches the “Biology and Controversy of Medical Ethics" course where students are assigned to a variety of health care locations where they encounter real-world medical situations and gain a better understanding of medical ethical situations.