In the spring of 2010, Kathleen Mulligan and her Husband, David Studwell, traveled to Kerala, India. An associate professor of theatre arts at Ithaca College, Kathleen used her Fulbright Scholarship to fund a project she entitled "Finding Women's Voices".
Kathleen taught workshops to the women at the Shanti Bhavan shelter for victims of domestic violence, focusing on empowering the women through voice. At the end of a workshop one evening, David asked the director of the shelter, Beena Sebastian, what they needed most.
"We need a vehicle," she responded. "We need a way to rescue women and their children in the middle of the night without having to rely on cab drivers who may or may not be sympathetic." Out of this, "Wheels for Women" was born.
Kathleen and David strove to raise the funds to purchase a brand new auto-rickshaw, a three-wheeled public transportation vehicle in India. With the help of actors at the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, Michigan, several of whom were Ithaca College students, "Wheels 4 Women" produced a benefit cabaret to provide the shelter with their first auto-rickshaw.
Today, now in its 7th year, Wheels 4 Women continues to be a part of the annual traditions held at Ithaca College, each year led by the students in the Department of Theatre Arts. It's a time where the entire IC and local community come together to support a cause that is rooted in family, love, and togetherness.