Madeline Duntley , Ph.D.—Director of the Chapman Community.
Madeline has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies with a specialty in North American Religions. Her interests in cultural diversity are rooted in her experiences growing up in an inner-city, multi-cultural neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. She teaches and publishes in the areas of Japanese American studies; Mother/Stepmotherhood; Ritual Studies; Religion in American Culture; Sociology of Religion; Witchcraft; New Religions/New Religious Movements; Religion & Popular Culture; and Religious Misfits of the 18th century. She has received research and teaching grants and fellowships from the Louisville Institute/Lilly Endowment, Young Scholars of American Religion/Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. Before coming to BGSU in 2005, Madeline taught for 14 years and served as a department chair at the College of Wooster. Off the Chapman clock she enjoys being with her family, tent camping, hiking, kayaking, gardening, shopping, travel, mountains, & visiting all types of secular and sacred historic sites.
Project: Wood County Gift Exchange
It is tough to be a kid when your birth parents aren’t speaking to one another, or are battling it out in the courts over “possession” or “custody” of you and your siblings. Some children can’t even safely visit their fathers or mothers without the intervention and oversight of programs like the Wood County Gift Exchange.
The Wood County Gift Exchange is a program located just down Wooster Street at the First Presbyterian Church facilities. It’s independent of the court system and is a volunteer service to parents and children. Focusing on the rights of children to have regular and consistent contact with, and access to, both parents, this program allows court ordered visitation of children of divorced or fragmented families whose parents are not getting along very well. One parent drops off the child/ren for his/her weekly visit to the Exchange, and then 15 minutes later the other parent comes and has play time or a meal with the child/ren.
Our project will have many dimensions. The first part of the semester will be spent in volunteer training. Once we begin volunteering (typically on Wednesday evenings) we will meet and greet and log in the children and parents and keep important records. We will stock the information kiosk and design brochures and posters to keep the parents updated on social services in Wood County. We will update and stock age-appropriate toys for the children. We will make the kids feel comfortable while they wait, and will play and chat with the children. We will observe the supervised family visits. We will help make the wider community aware of this important service through a variety of outreach projects. And, for course credit, beyond volunteering, we will read current materials & visit the Wood County court, engage in discussions/projects involving child’s rights that will supplement our course-linked Chapman class on diversity in the American family (ACS 250). Come and join me in this important work!