Find a home with HOMES

HOMES+hosted+a+painting+event+called+%E2%80%9CDestress+with+Bob+Ross%E2%80%9D+in+the+%0AOakland+Center+in+April+to+relax+before+finals.+Eboard+members+Pooja%0APatel%2C+Hannah+Brendle+and+Meghan+Savel+proudly+display+their+artwork.+

Photo courtesy of Meghan Savel

HOMES hosted a painting event called “Destress with Bob Ross” in the Oakland Center in April to relax before finals. Eboard members Pooja Patel, Hannah Brendle and Meghan Savel proudly display their artwork.

Sarah Gudenau, Graphic Designer

Healthy, Optimistic, Mindfulness, Education, Stability (HOMES), an Oakland University mental health student organization, has remained active despite challenges related to the pandemic. 

HOMES advocates for a balance between body, mind and social aspects of life. The group works to educate students about health and connect them to related resources on and off campus. 

“Our mission is just to let everyone be themselves and talk about things they don’t normally get the chance to talk about,” said Hannah Brendle, vice president of HOMES. 

Weekly meetings are safe spaces for members to share their thoughts and connect with one another — discussing topics such as stress management, mental illness, healthy relationships, boundaries, productivity, allyship and racial discrimination.

Meetings typically consist of a powerpoint presented by the executive board, followed by interactive activities for the members such as Kahoot games or worksheets to keep them engaged with the topic.

Prior to COVID-19, meetings were held in Kresge library, but have since moved to Google Hangouts. Meetings still took place online every Thursday during the fall 2020 and winter 2021 semesters.

“I think that with COVID-19 and mental health being more serious, we’ve definitely gained more people, which is really great,” said HOMES President Megan Savel. “Because it’s a smaller organization, we get to know everybody quickly and we get to know everyone’s background  —  I feel like we’re really close.”

Despite weekly meetings changing to an online format, the organization was still able to have in-person events during the 2020-2021 school year. HOMES hosted an outdoor tie dye event, a Galentine’s Day dinner, a “Destress with Bob Ross” painting event and a yoga event.

The group also held a “Chalk Walk” in September where they wrote positive messages around campus, spread awareness about mental health statistics and shared resources such as phone numbers for the suicide hotline and the Graham Health Center.

“One of our members came up to me [at the Chalk Walk] and said, ‘my therapist actually recommended that I reach out to a mental health organization on campus to try to find a support group or good close-knit friends’ and she’s been coming back ever since,” Savel said.

As for the upcoming school year, Savel and Brendle plan to reach out to more people. They also hope to have more in-person events and meetings as more members are vaccinated. 

“It always makes me excited because I never thought I was going to join a group when I came to Oakland — when I found this community, I was so glad I did,”  Brendle said. “My goal is to hopefully make people feel more welcome — especially since COVID-19 has made interacting with people harder — I want to give people the opportunity to make friends and learn about these important topics but in a chill way.”

HOMES welcomes all interested OU students. To stay updated, follow their Instagram @homes.org.ou or sign up to be a member on Campus Labs for email blasts about upcoming meetings and events.