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C-N’s Women of Vision Organization Moves to Stage Two

First Project Focuses on Swann Residence Hall

Donna Harmon and Kay O’Brien love it when a plan comes together. That happened last week when some 30 members of their Carson-Newman College group of volunteers spent four days working on projects in Sarah Swann Residence Hall, the campus’s oldest building.

Launched with an April luncheon, Women of Vision is a grassroots organization that focuses on ways to support C-N through hands-on efforts. WOV Honorary Chair Ruth Graham suggested during the inaugural lunch that summer might be a good time to offer projects to enhance student environs. Graham expected to help with the event but was forced to cancel by the conflict of travel arrangements to another event.

As chair and event chair, respectively, O’Brien and Harmon studied possibilities and issued an invitation to those who wanted to participate. Held from Wednesday to Saturday last week, the blitz, called “Back to the Creek,” offered several ways to make a difference before students return to campus in a little over two weeks. Breaks, meals, evening yoga and morning devotion sessions were added to the mix for the sake of variety.

Funded by initial membership dues – of any amount the individual chooses – projects included new flooring for a pair of parlors on the 108-year-old building’s main level, landscaping and three decorative projects. Using an HGTV “Design on a Dime” theme, three teams each were given a $250 budget and the incentive of friendly competition directed at a basement kitchen and student lounge areas.

“It’s been amazing,” said Harmon, adding that some brought items from home to make the seed money go farther. “The new floors took most of the budget, so we wanted a way to make it fun.”

O’Brien sees her role as being C-N’s “first volunteer.” She said she has been impressed by the extra initiative members are taking. “Once they become invested and involved, they start having ideas and taking on more. It’s really making a difference.”

A bit of serendipity one the first evening set the tone for the week. The group encountered the Cosby Academy volleyball team, a high school squad taking part in a weeklong training camp. Rather than make the team stop watching a movie, the volunteers told them their yoga could wait until the end.

“We went upstairs to the porch, pulled together the rockers and we talked about dreams we had – kind of a visioning time,” said O’Brien. “As time was winding down we began to talk about mentoring opportunities, things to just connect with students.”

Much time passed as the friends became engrossed in conversation. It therefore took a few minutes for the Women of Vision to notice the volleyball player who was standing with the front door open.

Once noticed, Obrien said the player threw her hands to her hips, pleading, “When’s the yoga? We stopped the movie ’cause we’d like to do yoga. Can we?!”

Prompted by the needs of students, the first lady said the group went and did what they were asked. She said it just seemed right.

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