Care Team Book Club: A club that cares

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The Care Team Book Club holding their weekly Thursday meetings in the Den with a sign behind them that reads "Connecting. Caring. Community." Photo credit: Jay Guzman

Thursdays at the Student Union Den highlights the weekly meeting of The Care Team Book Club, an organization that allows students and staff to be themselves, and to think outside of the box. Run by Care Team coordinator Lisa Terwilliger, the Care Team Book Club is open to everyone and anyone and encourages an atmosphere of comfort and reality.

Terwilliger started the club in 2016, after wanting to create a safe environment in which both students and staff could mingle and meet. Terwilliger, experienced in working as a mental health provider, was hired at UAA in 2013 as a Care Team coordinator. She realized that many students weren’t asking for help when they needed it and wanted to bridge that disconnect of communication.

“Mostly people that were being referred to me mostly were lonely and didn’t have a lot of social systems. They didn’t have friends, and they didn’t have the form to make friends,” Terwilliger said, when asked why she started the club in the first place. “Some of these people are Care Team referrals, some of them are just people who see or are invited by others.”

The book club brings in readers from different ages and backgrounds. The club is open to discussions about the subject material, as well as the members’ opinions and whether or not they disagree with the author.

“It just brings people together, and you can get to know new people, you get to have insights about what other people feel about the books, and — I love to read,” Makenzie Johnson, English major, said.

This semester, the book club is focusing on “The Fighter’s Mind” by Sam Sheridan. It’s a nonfiction collection about the psychological and physical aspects of professional fighting.

“The subject material is also very interesting, particularly this book is something I am especially interested in,” Chris Hoch, a business major, said. “I’ve not just learned stuff out of it, but I’m excited by it.”

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Though “The Fighter’s Mind” isn’t greeted with as much enthusiasm by everyone in the club, it still sparks many opinions and evokes many thoughts during the club’s discussions.

“I really wanted students to understand about resiliency and vulnerability,” Terwilliger said. This book, in particular, was referred to Terwilliger by a former book club member.

The Care Team Book Club – though still small compared to many organizations at UAA – packs a big punch. Not only is it an organization that allows others to think and speak up, but it encourages a support system that should be scattered onward throughout the campus.

“If we take the book club and we spread it throughout UAA, we’ll have more of a supportive environment,” Johnson said.

“It has a good atmosphere here, and [it’s] a good place,” Joel Stitt, a UAA guest, said.

Overall, though the book club is a place to read, reflect and discuss, it is also a place to meet, mingle and befriend others – students and staff alike. First and foremost, the club is part of the Care Team.

“Everybody on campus is part of the Care Team, you know? Anybody can refer anybody to get help. We all need to care for each other.” Terwilliger said.

This book club is certainly a good place to start.