DuBOIS, Pa. — When Emi Brown, a Penn State alumna and former president of the Penn State DuBois Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) Club, reached out regarding a possible partnership, the current club members jumped at the opportunity to give back to someone facing adversity and surround them with support.
Brown earned a bachelor of science degree in human development and family studies from Penn State DuBois in 2017, then went on to the University of Pittsburgh to complete a master's degree in social work. She became licensed in social work and has gained experience working with children, adolescents and adults in hospital and school settings. Brown was no stranger to the field of human services prior to her time at Penn State, as her aunt, Jodi Morelli, also a Penn State DuBois HDFS alumna, inspired her journey to become a social worker.
When Morelli was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, Brown wanted to surround her aunt and family with community support and remembered her close-knit Penn State family within the HDFS department. She connected with Jessica Clontz, assistant teaching professor, program coordinator, and club adviser in human development and family studies, who then alerted the HDFS Club members of a local alumna in need of support.
I’m blessed to have made lasting connections and friendships at Penn State DuBois. The HDFS Club went above and beyond to hold fundraisers for my aunt Jodi’s fight against breast cancer. They worked tirelessly while showing such compassion.
—Emi Brown , 2017 Penn State alumna and past Penn State DuBois HDFS Club president
The HDFS Club members quickly jumped into action under the leadership of the current club president, Brook Grove. Grove swiftly organized two fundraisers that pulled in a combined $800. The club agreed to utilize some of its own funds to make a total donation of $1,000 to Morelli and her family, helping to offset medical costs. The students also gathered donations to form a care package that included tea, snacks, candles and a blanket made by a current HDFS student.
“I’m blessed to have made lasting connections and friendships at Penn State DuBois,” Brown said. “The HDFS Club went above and beyond to hold fundraisers for my aunt Jodi’s fight against breast cancer. They worked tirelessly while showing such compassion. It was always fun being a member of the HDFS Club and helping people in the community. Now it has come full circle with the HDFS Club giving back to my aunt and her family. It truly takes a village. I’m forever grateful for all the kindness, love and support from the HDFS Club at Penn State DuBois.”
This project connected students across time, as the HDFS students today are supporting an HDFS student from years ago. That was powerful to be a part of.
—Jessica Clontz , assistant teaching professor of human development and family studies
The former and current HDFS club presidents met on campus at the end of the spring semester to hand off the donations.
“It was awesome to see a former student and club president engaged with the current students in such a meaningful way,” Clontz said. “I am so proud of them for their hard work fundraising this semester and this selfless act of service. This project connected students across time, as the HDFS students today are supporting an HDFS student from years ago. That was powerful to be a part of.”
Grove noted, “this service project meant a great deal to me because we could help someone who really needs uplifting right now. I am honored to be able to be a part of a group who helps people in difficult situations. This donation will hopefully bring comfort to her and her family.”