With a small yet powerful group, Ava Tischbein has helped recruit members and raise funds to support military members in need.

Mount St. Joseph News

Rebuilding an organization from the ground up is not an easy feat, but with determination combined with the passion for making even a small difference, anything is possible.

A biology major with a pre-physician assistant focus, Ava became involved in a student organization called HAVIC during her first semester as a transfer student. With only three students involved, the group raised over $2,300 in their first fundraiser alone.

Helping all Veterans in Communities (HAVIC) is an organization at Mount St. Joseph University that provides outreach to the local community in need, local military and military members overseas, disabled Veterans in the community, and supports fellow student Veterans. It also serves to assist and educate the student body of Mount St. Joseph University in veteran and military affairs.

“HAVIC is meaningful to me because a lot of people do not truly understand how much those serving actually sacrifice,” says Ava. “The individuals who serve in the United States military are putting in the time and effort to protect our country, which also allows for others to pursue their goals in other fields that do not want to serve the country. Therefore, I think we need to recognize those who have sacrificed and do what we can to help them.”

Rebuilding New Hope

New to the Mount as a student transfer last fall, Ava wanted to become more involved on campus and meet others within the MSJ community. So, she began looking for clubs that interested her. Shortly after, she came across HAVIC. After the pandemic, HAVIC was in the rebuilding phase and there were currently no members other than the HAVIC Staff Advisor, Amy Wolf.

Ava was motivated to help the Mount rebuild HAVIC to support the veteran community.

“Before this club, I volunteered at my local food pantry because I have a passion for giving back to those in need,” she says. “This club allowed me to continue to give back and make a difference, especially for those who sacrificed their lives to fight for our country.”

When she first joined, Ava was the only student member, and the group started to make a game plan on how to fundraise. With a total of eight students and some staff, they welcome anyone to join—you just need a passion to give back.

Recently, the organization organized a raffle basket for “4 Paws for Ability,” a non-profit organization that places service dogs with veterans with disabilities. Ava began reaching out to local businesses to gauge their interest in donating gift cards, merchandise, and more to their basket.

“We received such great support and filled the basket with over $300 in gift cards, coolers, Alexa Echo dot, hydro flasks, a deep fryer, and much more. We sold raffle tickets on campus for a week, a football game, and online. We received over $2,300 from our raffle basket which was all donated to “4 Paws for Ability.” We were able to recruit more members throughout this process, and have more members to come with us to deliver the check, and meet their cute puppies who are in training to be service dogs!”

Leading from the Heart: Enabling Others to Strive for More

HAVIC has served as a positive and welcoming environment for Ava in many ways, and she credits club advisor Amy Wolf, who also serves as the assistant director for adult & transfer recruitment in the Office of Admission.

From the beginning, Amy was open to Ava’s ideas, and helped her kick-start HAVIC again.

“Amy has put a lot of time and effort into HAVIC over the years, but COVID caused some issues.  However, she helped push me to be the leader of this group and I am very happy she did. Together, we have recruited members, raised funds, and most importantly, given back to our veterans!”

While Ava feels there is so much more to be done to give back to veterans, she feels positive about the progress thus far. “It is a good feeling knowing I am making a small difference as well as recruiting other students to take part in the group.”

From the beginning of her MSJ transfer process to gearing up to apply to graduate school, Ava says MSJ faculty and staff have shown endless support inside the classroom. “The professors go above and beyond to help me strive, and I feel that they truly care about my education. Additionally, I have met some great friends along the way who have also encouraged me to always do better and continue to work towards my goals!”

Moreover, balancing extracurriculars as a full-time student can be a lot to juggle, so Ava makes sure to prioritize her time each week by jotting down when assignments are due, checking them off her list to help visualize what’s left to be completed and to stay on track—Additionally, being able to make time for self-care is really important, she adds.

“It is okay to allow yourself a break and downtime here and there. Your mental health has a big impact on your education, so maintaining a balance has helped me be successful.”

The organization is currently working on a project for Volunteers of America, serving 40+ homeless veterans. HAVIC raised $796.00 in a week through split-the-pot raffles which led to another $500.00 donation. With steadfast commitment, HAVIC used the money to buy backpacks, toiletry items and military branded ball caps, so each unhoused veteran can receive a meaningful Blessing Bag.

Interested in Joining Helping all Veterans in Communities?

HAVIC is open to all MSJ students, alumni, faculty and staff that would like to participate in the mission of HAVIC. It has allowed students to meet others they can relate to, find support on campus, make friends, and also make a difference in the community they live in.

HAVIC is also a way for a veteran student to continue living out their mission of helping others.

To get involved, reach out to HAVIC President, Ava Tischbein at ava.tischbein@msj.edu or HAVIC Staff Advisor, Amy Wolf at Amy.Wolf@msj.edu