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NKU students helping professor launch Renew project for women

By Terry Boehmker
NKU Web Marketing + Communications

NKU professor Dr. Jennifer Webster is amazed how quickly her idea is becoming a reality.

One year after she first started talking about providing help for women with criminal records who want to change their lives, Webster has acquired a residence in Newport and is making plans to launch Renew.

She never expected the community outreach project to come this far so fast.

“No, not at all,” said Webster, assistant director of Integrative Studies at NKU. “I thought, ‘Well, maybe in a few years we’ll raise this money and be able to do something.’ But this has been fantastic.”

Webster received more than $9,000 in donations from The Bridge Community Church in Wilder to get the Renew project started and a woman donated the portion of a building she owned in Newport to be converted into a residence home.

The building is in the process of being remodeled to accommodate six residents. When it opens this spring, it will be named Tamara House in memory of the donor’s late granddaughter.

Webster said several NKU students are among the volunteers who are helping get the Tamara House ready and the Renew project started.  

“I was teaching a graduate course last fall and one student, who owned his own business, came up to me after class and said, ‘What can my business do to help?’” Webster said. “I just have example after example of that very thing, people just saying, ‘We like what you’re doing and we want to help.’”

According to its mission statement, Renew was created to help women with a criminal record or history of drug addiction achieve personal and economic success by providing a stable living environment and helping them develop skills they need to make a better life.

While living in the Tamara House, residents will make cosmetic items to package and sell. It’s an enterprise that will teach them life skills as well as business skills.

The residents will also be required to participate in Bible studies and spiritual discussions each week. Webster hopes that will put them in touch with the true purpose that God has for their lives.

NKU students in an Intro to Integrative Studies class that Webster teaches are helping organize a fund-raising banquet on Tuesday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Erlanger Baptist Church.

There are also two NKU students involved with service learning projects associated with Renew.   

  • Colleen Donohue created a photo documentary focusing on the renovation of the Tamara House as a project for an upper-level photography course. Renew has retained rights to the photo documentary and will use it as a promotional tool.

  • Stefanie Nelson-Guffey, an Integrative Studies major, serves on the advisory board for Renew. She is developing therapeutic activities for the women who will be living in the Tamara House.

“It’s really fascinating how students have thought hard about their personal strengths and their academic interests and how they can use those in this particular project,” Webster said.


Dr. Jennifer Webster, right, and NKU student
Stefanie Nelson-Guffey stop on the wooden
stairway inside the three-story building that
will soon become the Tamara House.