Students put on fall fun fest at eastside apartment complex

For two hours on a recent Friday, Bachelor of Social Work students from IUPUI offered the residents of a low-income housing complex on Indianapolis’s far-eastside something that was priceless: a chance to smile and laugh all for free.

Face Painting
Child enjoys face painting at fall fund fest

The Fall Fun Fest held at the Orleans Apartments was just the latest effort by the students, members of the Introduction to Case Management class, to reach out a helping hand to the residents. It is the second year students in the class taught by Indiana University School of Social Work faculty member Erika Galyean, have operated Helping Hands Resource Center at the apartment complex. The students get to experience first-hand what it is like to help people looking for answers and the residents can get assistance without having to leave apartment grounds. The students research the types of assistance that is available for residents who come to the center on Tuesdays and Thursdays and learn the ins and outs of case management.

The class runs for a semester and each group of students decides what type of special project they will hold in addition to their regular work with the residents. This class built this semester’s event around the theme of fun. And as it turned out, the residents were more than ready to participate.

The event was scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m., but a line had already formed by the time the students opened the doors to their center located in an apartment provided by Partners in Housing Development Corp. Once inside, the residents had choices of picking out winter coats for the household, which the students had collected, getting their picture taken, face painting or what turned out to be a popular attraction, Bingo! Everything offered, from the scores of coats for adults and children, to the popcorn, cookies, hot dogs and other snacks to the face paint was provided by the students. Because of the time the students had already spent at the resource center, they greeted many of those attending by their first names. Even the police, who happened to be in the area, stopped in and were impressed with how the apartment was decorated for the event.  

At times it was harder to tell who wore the largest smiles….the residents or the students. The children of the residents lined up as two students painted kitty-cat and Spiderman faces. Just off the kitchen, residents laughing and teasing one another as two students called out numbers in the bingo game. Prizes included hygiene products, household items, and Kroger gift cards (donated by the neighborhood Kroger store). Students doing the face-paintings got their own rewards in the form of little faces smiling as they were transformed into their favorite animal or super hero.

The class is made up of a mixture of students, some of whom are in or applying to the BSW program and others who are interested in exploring what case management or social work is all about. The School of Social Work offers a certificate in case management. As she did last year, Galyean oversees their efforts, but leaves it up to the students to decide how to run the center. “They see if they like case management or if they don’t, which is just as important,” Galyean said of the students’ involvement at center, which began as initiative she developed through a RISE Grant.

Jason Evans, a psychology major set to graduate this spring, said he wished every department was as hands on as the social work department. Evans said as part of the class the students had to go out in the community and see what resources are available. “That’s why I like the Social Work department more because you get to apply what you learn in class. It makes you look from a different perspective of what other people are going through,” he noted. “It’s really hands on. You get to learn your material by going out in the community and helping out in different organizations.” Evans plans to apply to the Master of Social Work program.

Brandy Clements had agreed to take pictures of the residents as one of the fall fest activities and felt obligated to come even though her eight-year-old son was in the intensive care unit at a hospital because of his asthma. “I had to do the photography…no one else could do that,” she explained. She left a relative and some friends with her son and with her mom, Dawn Mann arrived on time. While Brandy took pictures, he mother operated the popcorn machine. “It’s amazing,” Brandy said looking around the apartment filled with people. “This is real life.”

“You put a lot of smiles on people’s faces tonight,” Jamie Nicole Heichelbech, one of the student’s in the class wrote in an email to her classmates. Heichelbech, brimming with the happiness of having pulled off a well-planned event, praised all of her classmates including Brandy. “I think our class came to the consensus that you girl did a great job. This was your idea and through your own personal struggles and obstacles, you rolled with it woman!” Jamie summed up everyone’s reaction to the students who did the face painting: “Fantastic!! Did you see the look on the kids’ faces when they came out? They were priceless,” she wrote. “It warmed my heart and I’m sure everyone else’s to see those kids as happy as they were.”

She also expressed an opinion that was most likely shared by many of the students at the event. “Thanks for give us the motivation to keep the ball rolling,” she said of Erika Galyean. “After tonight’s event, I am reassured that my goal in pursuing a future in social work is truly awesome. This was my first experience in getting my feet wet and I am so very excited to see the avenues it leads me in.”

Press Release Contact:
Rob Schneider
(317) 278-0303