Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU students continue the Jane Addams legacy of service

October 2, 2009

CHICAGO - As a little girl with a pink shirt and pigtails ran through the crowd and around a corner filled with free toys, she shouted, "Where are the book bags?"

She smiled as an Indiana State University student helped her pick out a brand new book bag for school during the Hull House Association event.

"Students here are using grocery bags for books. And they are embarrassed to go to school," Mark Tissdahl, a volunteer manager and in-kind coordinator of Hull House said.

A group of 26 Indiana State students participated in a service-learning trip to Hull House from Sept. 25-27.

Students volunteered for a jamboree hosted by Hull House Association to help benefit the poverty-stricken urban community in Chicago.

"We are gonna get 400-450 kids excited about going to school," said Tissdahl before the event began.

The jamboree provided not only school supplies but also other necessities such as toiletries and clothing. Some students from ISU set up tables filled with these products along with books and toys, while others set up the rest of the jamboree with carnival games, food, music and dancing.

"The most exciting thing about this event is the look on the children's faces when I tell them that they can have as many books as they want," said Dashiell Adler, a senior communications studies major from New York City.

This was Adler's second trip to Hull House.

"I went my sophomore year and had a really good time. This is volunteer work and I really like helping kids," said Adler.

Linda Maule, Indiana State coordinator of general education and associate professor of political science and women's studies, led ISU students at the event.

"This project introduces students to the value of community engagement and reminds them that solving or eradicating the problem of poverty is just as important as putting a bandage on the problem," Maule said.

Maule, began the trips to Hull House with a political science class that discussed the various aspects of poverty, hunger, and homelessness. Those trips turned into service projects.

Stephanee Squires, a graduate student in student affairs and higher education from Connersville, works in ISU's Center for Public Service and Community Engagement and helped to organize the event.

"The service project shows different departments at ISU working together for a cause. For example, Linda working as a faculty member for the general education department as well as women's studies collaborating with the Center for Public Service and Community Engagement," Squires said.

Jane Addams founded the Hull House in 1889 on the west side of Chicago. It was the first social settlement in Chicago that offered a variety of services including childcare, after school programs, foster care, job training, housing assistance, domestic violence counseling, court advocacy and much more.

The original settlement house, named after the owner Charles Hull, provided opportunities for education, reform, recreation, and socialization for its neighbors.

Despite neighborhood protests, the Hull House settlement consisting of 13 buildings was demolished to make way for the University of Illinois-Chicago campus in 1963. In 1967, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum opened on the original site of the settlement and is now a part of the College of Architecture and the Arts at the UIC campus.

Today the Hull House Association programs have more than 40 sites, including three community centers and seven community schools throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. It continues its mission of service to improve social conditions for underserved people and communities by providing creative, innovative programs and advocating for related public policy reforms.

"Our goal is to help anyone in need. It doesn't matter if you're an infant or an 80 year old," said Mark Tissdahl.

The various programs serve more than 60,000 individuals and families annually. The majority of the population that benefits from Hull House are women and children of predominantly African-American and Latino households.

"For our Euro-American students, it's good to put a face on poverty," said Maule

Most of Indiana State students do not come from an urban background and the experience at Hull House will make them more likely to volunteer in other urban communities, she said.

About 300 people attended the jamboree, and Tissdahl said more didn't come because most families don't have a source of transportation.

"We try to have our events at different locations across the city so that we can meet our clients where they are at," he said.

During the event, supplies went quickly as families stuffed bags filled with products.

"This was a good day for us," said a Chicago resident as she watched over her items while her children picked out toys.

"I wasn't expecting this, they told me to get as much as I wanted. Most places don't do that so this is really going to be good for the kids," said the mother of five.

ISU has participated in these service trips with the Hull House Association for the past six years.

"When I did the trip my sophomore year, we had to stuff envelopes for a marathon. But this year is different because I actually feel close to the people I'm helping," Adler said.

ISU students have continued to keep a positive reputation with the Hull House Association from the service projects in the past.

"I don't really take volunteers from other colleges to work with me on these service events. ISU students have always been the most dependable," said Tissdahl.

The students show up when they say they are going to show up and with the amount of students that they say are going to bring, he said.

Kenzie O'Hair, a senior social work major from Crawfordsville said she would recommend everyone to come every year.

"I became interested by just being able to help people and knowing that I'm doing something to help someone else," she said.

Photos: - Indiana State University graduate student Kara Brant of Frankfort hands out book bags and other school supplies to needy youngsters during a service learning trip to Hull House in Chicago. (ISU/Kendra Thomas) - Indiana State University student Ashley Walters of Paragon prepares toys for distribution to needy children during a service learning trip to Hull House in Chicago. (ISU/Kendra Thomas)

Writer: Kendra Thomas, media relations intern, Office of Communications and marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or