For some students, giving back isn’t just a nice thing to do; it’s their purpose. Reilly Ebbs is a Penn State student who goes above and beyond in serving the community one phone call at a time.
As a high schooler, Ebbs began her journey into the realm of volunteer firefighting. Inspired after reading a book about a female firefighter, she reached out to and spoke with her about her experiences. This pushed Reilly to begin volunteering for a women’s crisis center, just like her fire fighting role model did.
“I wanted to do more than just fund raise for an organization. I wanted to be a part of something where I could actually interact and help,” says Ebbs.
Now at Penn State, Ebbs volunteers as a Rape and Domestic Violence counselor advocate at the Centre County Women’s Resource Center and an EMT for the University Ambulance Service and Centre LifeLink. She is always on the run and ready to help, from “assisting a student who faints in class to the women who call in to the hotline who feel pressured to have sex with their boyfriend.”
Unsurprisingly, the work can be extremely heavy and difficult. “I went in with the idea that I would get all these women out of their abusive relationships or to go to the police with their rape. However, that’s not my place,” says Ebbs. “I have learned to be patient and understand that sometimes what is best for them is not what I would do in their situation. I can’t push my own beliefs on them because I could never in a million years understand the complexity of their situation.”
Ebbs wants to inspire other students to give back and act as advocates. She says, “I think all students should find ways to use their passions to help others who are less fortunate or lack the proper resources. I’ve never even thought of a life where I didn’t use my privilege to help others. How can we not?”
After college, Ebbs will continue to make a difference. As a history and anthropology major, she hopes to take on law school next. She tells VALLEY, “I am really interested in immigration, especially helping men and women in abusive relationships who fear deportation due to their immigrant status. No matter what your status is in this country, I believe people deserve to have access to resources to keep them safe from harm and abuse.”
Reflecting on her line of work, Ebbs has truly found a calling in the work that she loves. “I think the best part of this work is being able to speak with people I would normally never be able to interact with. I am able to listen and offer advice and resources to women from all over, which teaches me so much about this community,” says Ebbs.
Reilly is the perfect example of an advocate. She has dedicated so much time and energy to helping others, and she has single-handedly made a very real difference in people’s lives. VALLEY is touched and inspired by her story. We would like to thank Reilly for her work and her motivation.