In February 2013, the women of DePaul’s Women’s Bar Association (“WBA”) joined the College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (“PBCSI”) to provide an afternoon of lunch and entertainment for the women of Deborah’s Place, Chicago's largest provider of supportive housing exclusively for women. The service day was PBCSI’s February 2013 Donate-A-Day event. DePaul law students gathered at the Rebecca Johnson Apartments, one of five supportive and interim housing accommodations run by Deborah’s Place, located on Chicago’s near West Side. The Rebecca Johnson Apartments provide supportive housing for 90 women, each of whom have their own apartment and pay 30% of their income as rent. Deborah’s Place offers case management and many structured activities, but the women live independently and are expected to provide their own meals and cover other living expenses.
Student volunteers prepared a lunch buffet consisting of sandwiches, snacks, cookies, and refreshments and served lunch to around forty of the women residing at the apartments. Serving and eating lunch with the women provided some quality time for everyone to visit and learn a little bit more about each other. All of the guests expressed excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to gather for a carefree afternoon of lunch and games. Samantha Sommerman, Social Chair of DePaul’s WBA, reflected on her experience at Deborah’s Place: “It was refreshing to step outside the bubble of law school and connect with people. I had a lot of fun eating sandwiches and playing Bingo with these ladies. They seemed genuinely interested in hearing about law school, and I know I was interested to hear about their lives.”
After lunch was served the fun really got started! Theresa Dollinger, President of DePaul’s WBA, started up a high-energy game of BINGO. The volunteers soon learned that Bingo is a house favorite among the women at the Rebecca Johnson Apartments. The women stayed focused and competitive hoping to win one of the prizes provided by the WBA, which included candy, body wash, shampoo, jewelry, and a number of gifts. The bingo game continued until every guest “GOT BINGO” and was able to choose from the assortment of prizes. Both the student volunteers and the women of Deborah’s Place seemed to really enjoy the day. It was an experience that benefited all who participated. The women of DePaul’s WBA look forward to organizing future events with PBCSI and Deborah’s place in order to help them continue to fulfill their mission of breaking the cycle of homelessness through compassion and innovation.