Junior Kathryn Luke started a new GOAL program called Widows Connecting Point, serving the widows of Hillsdale County by connecting them to students on campus, as well as one another.
“Imagine this scenario,” Associate Dean of Men, Jeffery “Chief” Rogers, who first noticed the need for the program in the community, said.
“You have two people that are in love with each other, they’ve been married for 55 years, and the husband dies,” he said. “What do you think the widow is going to do? She’s going to be hurt. She may never move his pictures, just fading into the shadows of society.”
Rogers said after the devastating loss of her husband, a widow needs community to thrive.
“Imagine all these young people love on her, hear her story, validate her, pray for her, encourage her, and allow her to pour her sorrows into helping another widow who’s been through what she’s been through,” he said.
The Widows Connecting Point GOAL program aims to serve widows by providing them with love, support, and community.
“Widows often become isolated especially when they stop getting invited to couple get-togethers,” Luke said.
Junior Lewis Degoffau explained why he signed up to volunteer.
“Widows will be hurting, in a lot of pain, and maybe have a crisis in their faith,” Degoffau, a volunteer in the new program, said. “If we can be there for them in that time, that could provide the necessary support for them to continue believing.”
When the program commences, two students will be paired with a widow. Students will visit her home or meet with her at another arranged location once a week for one hour.
“It’s not much more than a conversation,” Luke said.
The program will also hold monthly gatherings to help the women build relationships with each other.
“In four years, the students will leave,” Luke said. “But if the widows can become friends and find community with each other, that will be really powerful.
Luke said that helping widows build relationships with each other is the most important aspect of the program.
“Women who lost their husbands many years ago understand the pain and can care for newer widows who have only recently lost their husbands,” she said.
The program needs more students with only 18 volunteers for 60 widows.
“The reason I accepted the invitation to join the program was because of the commands in Scripture to love and care for orphans and widows,” Degoffau said. “Specifically, those two groups are mentioned a lot and widows are ones that we often forget about.”
Luke said the busyness of college life and a lack of transportation often deter students from volunteering. However, she said the program is very flexible, assigning students to widows based on their schedules and providing transportation arrangements.
“It’s really nice to get off campus and an added benefit of the program is the intergenerational relationships. We get stuck in our little 18-to-22-year-old bubble,” Luke said. “So, it’s refreshing to go and talk to somebody who has lived through so much more than you have. They’re concerned about different things than you are. It changes your perspective.”