RWU Magazine - Fall 2013 / Issue #9 - page 17

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Working in cross-disciplinary teams, the
students created two distinct marketing
plans, complete with a new website, social
media strategies, communications plans,
public relations plans and fundraising events.
Each team pitched their campaign to the
organization’s Board of Directors, which
selected the winning concept.
“The students get two important things
out of this process,” Micken says. “First, they
really have to learn the material, because
they have to implement it – someone is going
to use this for real. Second, they have to
think about concerns important to someone
else – how to do their work so it benefits
someone else. That’s an important
perspective for students to have in the real
world; it teaches them to go beyond their
own interests and broadens their perspective
on social issues.”
According to Smith, the Coalition was
thrilled with the winning plan, and the
student-designed website is already up
and running.
“The final product exceeded our
expectations. They not only gave us a
marketing plan based on real surveys and
best practices, but provided us with a new
logo and website that is user-friendly, easily
accessible and compelling.”
For Christine Couto ’14, a web
development major who worked on the
winning website design, working with a real
client raised the stakes and provided a
real-world experience she says cannot be
replicated in the classroom.
“We spent time with our client and
tried to understand what was important to
her, what her needs were,” Couto says. “It’s
so different when you just hand in a project
and get a grade. This was the real deal – I
made a website that real people will use,
and that’s meaningful.”
According to recent graduate Matt Silva ’13,
the experience has career-boosting capability.
“I loved it from the get-go, and really
wanted to see the project through,” he says.
“The experience has been so useful. I have it
on my résumé and I’m asked about it in
interviews all the time.”
For more on the East Bay Coalition for the
Homeless, and to see the students’ work in
action, visit
Documentary film on hunger among the elderly has outsized impact
Hunger Hits Home
the opening of
recently debuted
Lorraine Burns of the St. Theresa Food Pantry
in Providence recounts a story of a man
visiting the pantry and telling her that his
wife makes a wonderful tuna sandwich. There
is a hopeful pause before he reveals its main
ingredient: cat food.
Hunger in Rhode Island’s most
marginalized communities is an old story. But
sometimes, it takes a retelling to provide new
insight. Longtime journalist John Martin, a
communications director at AARP Rhode
Island and adjunct faculty member at RWU,
partnered with journalist and teacher Jody
McPhillips to explore hunger among the
elderly population of the capital city’s West
End neighborhood – a mostly low-income
neighborhood with the highest unemployment
rate for Latinos in the nation. The result is an
eight-part web documentary that is impacting
communities worldwide.
The series, screened in full at the Roving
Eye Film Festival at Roger Williams University
in April, investigates the obstacles preventing
elderly residents from eating well – from
difficulty shopping for and preparing meals to
empathy for others in their shoes, often too
afraid to ask for food assistance so that others
won’t go without. A variety of voices tell the
story of hunger in Martin’s film, including
neighborhood elders, a Meals on Wheels
driver, food pantry directors, religious leaders,
state agency sources and more.
Though its focus is folks living under the
shadow of hunger and poverty, the film has
found itself in an unexpected spotlight as an
official selection in the 2013 Los Angeles
International Web Series Festival, picking up
a surprise win for best producer. In addition,
it is one of only 30 projects from around the
world selected for the 2013 Melbourne Web
Series Festival, is an official selection in both
the Rhode Island International Film Festival
and the Independent Film and Television
Festival, and received a W3 Silver Award from
the International Academy of the Visual Arts.
“We wanted to go in close, tell a story more
intimately and give voice to some people who
rarely fall into the media spotlight,” Martin
says. Unfortunately, he adds, it’s hard to offer
a solution to this perennial problem.
“We are an aging culture at a time of
diminishing resources, and there’s a debate
raging in Washington about whether we can
afford old people at all.”
Watch “Hungry in the West End” at http://
June DiLorenzo and fellow employees at quality of
life services corporation Sodexo volunteer every
Friday afternoon to fill backpacks with 15 to 25
pounds of food for 140 West End families. Many
of the families are multigenerational, including
school children with elderly guardians.
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