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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The ARMS Center Profile: A Route Out of Poverty

In 1982, Dottie Stevens attended a class with colleague Diane Dujon titled “Basic Organizing” where they had the chance to learn how to collectively organize around human needs. From there, approximately eight classmates got together and formed the Advocacy Resources for Modern Survival (ARMS) Center “for students receiving welfare and other forms of public assistance.”

“A bunch of us were welfare mothers trying to get an education to boost our lives,” recalled Stevens.

Dujon commented, “At that time, there were lots of welfare recipients on campus. Women were making 69 percent of the man’s dollar.” The women felt as though recipients of welfare needed a place to ask for help and obtain resources. “Everyone thought people on welfare weren’t working”, says Dujon. She further commented, “The struggle should be to end poverty-not welfare.” Dujon and Stevens knew that many women were unaware of the variety of services and resources they were eligible for, such as winter clothing allowance, rental assistance, fuel assistance, etc. They began publishing pamphlets, holding breakfast programs, and running workshops. The women researched the services and the eligibility requirements for Welfare and published a booklet out each other’s homes entitled “You Can Apply”, which later matured into the Survival News.

Today the ARMS Center is still standing strong, offering support for anyone who seeks help. Daphnie Armond is presently the coordinator for the ARMS Center. She commented, “The purpose of the ARMS Center is to promote support and awareness about social justice.” The center provides information about food hotlines, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays are a time when the ARMS Center holds an annual food drive.

Armond thinks there are more welfare recipients today as opposed to when the center first formed. She explained, “You know minimum wage hasn’t really changed but yet the cost of living has gone up dramatically.” Although most of the students who seek help at the ARMS Center are women, Armond says single fathers are on the rise.

The ARMS Center will be sponsoring an event entitled, “Welfare…then & now…” on October 27 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. The event will take place on the third floor of the Campus Center in the Point Lounge. Free food will be available. Visit the center on the third floor of the campus center-they are always looking for volunteers.