Come up the stairs by the Jamba Juice in the Wilkinson Center, turn left down the hallway and enter the first room on the left. You enter a room that is warm and cozy. It is well decorated with soft lighting, tasteful decorations and plush couches. It smells like fresh cut flowers. A woman looks up from her desk, smiles genuinely and asks what she can do to help you today; and you really feel welcome. This is the Women’s Recources and Services Office.
The Women’s Resources and Services center was founded in the early 1990s as a service oriented office and now serves a broader purpose.
“It was created as a place to help with sexual abuse,” said Elise Petersen the office manager of the Women’s Resource office.
It was created at a time when more women were openly talking about sexual abuse. Women were going to female professors to get help dealing with abuse suffered during childhood, said LaNae Valentine, director of the Women’s Resource Center.
Now, the office is taking a new role in the community in order to help more women than ever: helping women at BYU deal with a variety of physical, mental and emotional issues and concerns.
It offers a wide variety of activities to help women revitalize their mind and body.
“One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind,” said Elder Hugh B. Brown in an address to students in 1969. “From this all other freedoms spring.”
The Women’s Resources and Service Center offers confidential consultations to help women dealing with a wide variety of problems.
“Coming to college is a confusing and hard time, not knowing how to deal with family stuff, being away from home,” said Carly Ostler, a counselor at the center. “We also do a lot with eating disorders, body image concerns, marriage issues, miscarriage and dealing with loss.”
Two interns in their second year in the marriage and family master’s program run the confidential consultations. The consultations take priority over many of their other responsibilities. Exactly how they help depends on the person they are counseling.
“Mostly we listen and hear their story and point them in the direction of resources that can help them,” Ostler said.
The organization also holds yoga sessions twice a week. Yoga can help improve physical and mental health, said Valentine, who is the coordinator of the yoga class.
“Studies have shown that [yoga] helps with obsessions, anxiety, addiction, stress management, all sorts of things,” said Valentine “It was never meant to be a workout. It was meant to be centering and balancing.”
The class also offers people a break from the stress of daily life.
“It’s a place to breathe,” said April Cropper, a participant in the class. “It’s a place with no one yelling at you.”
While the yoga class focuses on a more restorative type of yoga, the class offers physical benefits as well.
“I can feel that my flexibility, balance and strength has improved,” said Nancy Wilson, a participant in the class.
Physical health is important for the overall health of women.
“The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit,” said President Ezra Taft Benson in the October 1974 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The class generally has about 30 participants at the start of the semester but dwindles as the semester continues.
In addition to offering yoga to help women improve strength and flexibility, the office also offers consultations for women wanting to improve their eating habits. The Women’s Resource office offers nutrition consultations for students wanting to improve their diet. The consultants focus on teaching the new principle of MyPlate, a program under the new food pyramid.
“[MyPlate] focuses on planning meals in the appropriate food groups,” said Candace Woodbury, a senior dietetics major from Centerville, who runs runs the consultations.
The nutrition consultations are not designed for women with eating disorders because there are other programs offered to fill that role.
“We do work with intuitive eating and mindful eating,” Woodbury said.
Women can meet with a nutrition counselor for free up to three times a semester.
For more information on any of the projects, students can contact the Women’s Resource and Service office at 3326 WSC or call 422-4877.
What was once a limited use agency is growing into a service agency to help all women at BYU. The Women’s Resource and Service Office is growing and expanding and inviting the women of BYU to grow as well.