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CEO Rebecca Darr receives LAS alumni humanitarian award

Senator+Tom+Rooney%2C+Kris+Ford+%28College+of+LAS+alumna%29+and+Rebecca+Snyder+Darr+%282018+LAS+Alumni+Humanitarian+Award+recipient%29+pose+for+a+photo+at+the+LAS+Alumni+Awards+Ceremony+on+Oct.+11%2C+2018.+Darr+was+honored+for+her+work+as+the+CEO+of+WINGS%2C+a+program+dedicated+to+providing+a+safe+space+to+victims+of+domestic+abuse.
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CEO Rebecca Darr receives LAS alumni humanitarian award

Senator Tom Rooney, Kris Ford (College of LAS alumna) and Rebecca Snyder Darr (2018 LAS Alumni Humanitarian Award recipient) pose for a photo at the LAS Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 11, 2018. Darr was honored for her work as the CEO of WINGS, a program dedicated to providing a safe space to victims of domestic abuse.

Senator Tom Rooney, Kris Ford (College of LAS alumna) and Rebecca Snyder Darr (2018 LAS Alumni Humanitarian Award recipient) pose for a photo at the LAS Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 11, 2018. Darr was honored for her work as the CEO of WINGS, a program dedicated to providing a safe space to victims of domestic abuse.

Senator Tom Rooney, Kris Ford (College of LAS alumna) and Rebecca Snyder Darr (2018 LAS Alumni Humanitarian Award recipient) pose for a photo at the LAS Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 11, 2018. Darr was honored for her work as the CEO of WINGS, a program dedicated to providing a safe space to victims of domestic abuse.

Senator Tom Rooney, Kris Ford (College of LAS alumna) and Rebecca Snyder Darr (2018 LAS Alumni Humanitarian Award recipient) pose for a photo at the LAS Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 11, 2018. Darr was honored for her work as the CEO of WINGS, a program dedicated to providing a safe space to victims of domestic abuse.

By Min Cheong Kim, Contributing Writer

While passionate about her job, Rebecca Snyder Darr, University alumni, wishes it did not exist.

Darr has been working for the WINGS Program for over 20 years and currently serves as the CEO. Because of her dedication to the program, on Oct. 12, she received the LAS Alumni Humanitarian Award for her leadership in WINGS.

“My number one goal is to eradicate domestic violence,” Darr said. “My number one goal is to be out of business. WINGS should not exist if everyone treated each other with respect and love.”

As stated on the LAS website, the criteria of the LAS Alumni Humanitarian Award is an LAS alumni who “demonstrates the values derived from a liberal arts and sciences education by significantly improving or enhancing the lives of others.”

President of the LAS Alumni Board Jerry Levy explained that there is a lot of room for freedom of interpretation and discussion in the selection process for the alumni award.

“The only direction we receive is the criteria, so it’s up to each person to decide what they think that means with respect to the candidates,” Levy said. “We like it to be that flexible.”

The WINGS program, established in 1985, is located in Palatine, a northwestern suburb of Chicago. The focus of the program is to provide a safe space for people whose lives have been altered by domestic violence. Through this program, they provide services based on each person’s individual needs.

This includes educational programs on subjects such as legal assistance, job training or just general education on signs of unhealthy relationships and how to get help.

“WINGS means freedom. It is a path to help people get free from the chains of domestic violence. It is a liberating career,” Darr said. “No one does any of this alone. We have lots of colleagues, staff and volunteers to make it happen.”

Darr was an undergraduate studying psychology at the University. She was in an honors program for psychology which enabled her to participate in the research of relationships and service. During her experiences at the University, she realized she wanted to dedicate her life to helping people live happy and healthy lives.

“I always knew this is what I wanted to do,” Darr said. “A lot of it comes to you if you keep your eyes open.”

She said that men are crucial in the fight against domestic abuse and didn’t forget to mention her husband, who is an alumnus of the College of Engineering, to emphasize this point.

“Men are a big part of the movement,” Darr said. “I recognized my husband in my remarks because he has been with me all along the way.”

Darr is also a part of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence and often works with and supports other domestic violence shelters such as Courage Connection.

Isak Griffiths is the Executive Director of Courage Connection and is a colleague of Darr. They often collaborate on educating the community and determining the best practices for services they could provide to victims and survivors of domestic violence.

“We really are in this together and it’s a community of people that believe in the same right for people — for dignity, respect and safety,” Griffiths said.

Both of them being leaders of groups with a uniform goal, she described her relationship with Darr as “mutual admiration society.”

Darr said she is impressed by the work ethic and ambition of the students in the University and is hopeful for the future to be led by this generation. But she has some advice to share for current students.

“You can be anything you put your mind to,” Darr said. “College can be really daunting especially at the age where you are trying to find your way into the world. I always appreciate all the friends I made along the way because we have accomplished these things together. There is so much negativity around but know that you can make a positive impact in the world.”

Darr emphasizes mutual respect and teamwork as a key component for bettering the community. Domestic violence needs awareness, education and action. Until every person in this world has a safe space to call home, the action of the whole community is needed to support the survivors and prevent the victims.

“I just want people to remember that, one, you are not alone, and, two, if people want to do something about it they can get involved.”

Illinois Domestic Violence Help Line: 877-863-6338

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

[email protected]

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