Painting for Survivors

By Britni Berg, ’16

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Read time: 2 minutes

Twenty-four U-M alumni gathered on April 16 to paint counseling rooms at the YWCA Greater Los Angeles. While the project required no special skills and took only a few hours of their time, it has made a significant difference to a group of women who have been victims of sexual assault.

“The women who work at YWCA expressed a tremendous amount of gratitude,” says Shokofeh Naiini, ’05, who has served as community service chairperson for the U of M Club of Los Angeles for the past three years. “These rooms are sacred for the abused individuals because they can feel safe and comfortable to share their traumatic experiences.”
Each year, U-M alumni around the country participate in Community Service Day. From April 16 through May 14, clubs organize events that benefit a host of nonprofit organizations. This year, the Los Angeles club chose its event, Painting for Survivors, because Naiini had been hoping to work with an organization that helps abused women and children.

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The day began at a local doughnut shop, where volunteers gathered before heading over to the YWCA’s Angeles Mesa Empowerment Center. Once there, volunteers painted and decorated three counseling rooms. The high turnout for the event guaranteed that the job would get done in one day.

“This is the first time they’re able to revive their three counseling rooms,” says Naiini. “We made a record being the largest group of volunteers they’ve ever had.”

The event is just one of many, from reading to underserved elementary school children to cleaning beaches, that the club organizes each year as a way for alumni to give back to their community.
“We’re able to directly help people who are very vulnerable due to lack of food, clothing, and/or housing, and what we take for granted excites them tremendously,” says Naiini. “They are so appreciative that it’s almost heartbreaking.”

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The Association encourages alumni around the country to participate in Community Service Day events in their area. Start by visiting the event finder on the Association website.

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