Women for DeSales Makes Big Impact on Campus
Women for DeSales is gearing up for its biggest year of giving yet. After just two short years, the philanthropic giving circle’s impact can be felt across campus.
“The goal of Women for DeSales is to help women embrace their own philanthropy,” says Lina Barbieri, associate vice president for annual giving. “Women in the group feel empowered and inspired and are impacting the lives of DeSales students.”
The giving program started in 2016 with 13 women. Today, it has 25 members and counting, with each participant committed to giving $1,000 or more annually to the fund.
Each January, the women meet with groups around campus that are seeking funding. The groups explain their funding needs and afterwards Women for DeSales decides where to direct its dollars. In June, the two sides come together again to discuss how the funding has helped.
“It’s so impactful to hear a student tell us that the dollars we gave touched them so personally and profoundly."
In the past year, Women for DeSales has helped fund a number of initiatives, including mission trips, the English department’s annual Poetry Festival, the natural science department’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and the Academic Resource Center’s Textbook Lending Library.
“I’ve been here 21 years and I’ve never seen this kind of a donation,” says Ann Koefer, director of the Academic Resource Center. “It’s just mind blowing.”
The money that Koefer received has been helping to put textbooks into students’ hands through the center’s Gateway to Success program, which is geared toward helping new students succeed in the first weeks of their freshman year.
“It’s just the overwhelming cost of college; I don’t think you can fully understand it until you live it,” Koefer says. “We have certain kids who have very unique circumstances. Books to them are a luxury.”
Fern Strunk ’94, one of the group’s founding members and former director of the University’s Student Health Center, calls it a blessing to be able to give back. “As St. Francis says, the measure of love is to love without measure. I feel that our support is a part of giving back out of love without measure,” she says.
Barbieri hopes to eventually get 50 women or more to join Women for DeSales—a goal that should not be too far off. “Any woman who has a philanthropic spirit and wants to see the value of their giving, this is the program for them,” she says.