Representatives from three non-profits praised Public Relations students for projects the class took on during the fall semester.
“We are so pleased with what the students did for us,” said Suzanne Hoby-Shippen, one of the founders of New Hope House, a Georgia-based organization that provides hospitality services and support for families of death row inmates.
“Most people don’t like getting involved with our organization, as capital punishment is such a controversial issue. To see these students do so much work on our behalf and with such passion is such a blessing,” said Hoby-Shippen, who with other group founders drove 11 hours from Atlanta to attend the presentation.
Professor Gemma Puglisi’s Public Relations Portfolio students also provided PR services for Bethany House and The Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation.
Students, who worked with Bethany House, held a linen drive to help women who are victims of domestic violence. The group also raised awareness at an AU volleyball game and were recognized along with the organization during half-time. One student redesigned the entire website for the nonprofit and worked with local schools in the area to raise funds. The students collected over $300 and nearly 25 sets of linens.
For New Hope House, students rebranded the image of the nonprofit. Because the organization helps the families of men on death row in the state of Georgia, the goal was to help people understand all the great work New Hope House does. The students redesigned the monthly newsletter, helped the organization target specific foundations for funding, held a small fundraiser, and produced a panel that included James Rocap, III, the attorney for Teresa Lewis, the first women executed in the state of Virginia in 100 years; Terri Steinberg, mother of Justin Wolfe, the youngest man on death row in Virginia, and Yasmine Arrington, a high school student whose father is serving time in Georgia.
The last team worked with The Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation. A nonprofit started by Jan and Linton Weeks, the parents of two sons who were tragically killed in a car accident in the summer of 2009. The students created marketing materials, helped promote a blood drive in October, which created a great deal of media, and created a Wikipedia page. Another highpoint for the students was establishing a scholarship in memory of one of the boys with a fraternity on the campus.
MFA Professor Nina Shapiro-Perl, a close friend of Jan Linton, spoke about the unthinkable loss that the Lintons have faced and the great work the Foundation has already done in carrying on their son's legacy. "Gemma's students' work to help the Foundation was remarkable," she said.
“It was truly impressive,” said Catherine Hassinger of Bethany House, a Virginia-based non-profit that offers support for victims of domestic abuse. “We are all very grateful to [the students] for the hard work that went into each of the project.”
Puglisi’s students get hands-on experience working with real clients. Her classes have received recognition from the Washington Post and the Washington Mystics.