Coughanowr learned about Nourish International, an organization that engages students and empowers communities to make a lasting impact on extreme poverty, through a friend she visited at the University of Georgia. She researched the organization and decided to apply to be a founder.
Coughanowr and another friend co-founded the Nourish International chapter at IU, which now has an estimated 25 active members.
"I had been to Poland on a mission trip before, so I am very passionate about international work and eradicating poverty and seeing what little others have to live with," Coughanowr said. "This stuck out to me because it's all about eradicating poverty, global poverty and extreme poverty. So if there is any way we -- just a small town of Bloomington -- can help a community overseas suffering from extreme poverty, it really touches me."
The IU chapter of Nourish started small business ventures on the campus such as selling headbands, pizza or other items. All of the profits go to an international project for an organization overseas, which the chapter will visit over the summer. The ventures also help raise awareness for the chapter and its goals.
Currently, the IU chapter is raising money for the project and writing proposals for project options. The girls said they have three project options including building a medical clinic in Peru, helping women in the Dominican Republic start a bakery business or working with educating children in Honduras.
Oehler's job as international projects director was to survey the members to see what their interests were, do research on the different organizations and countries, narrow down the options and present the ideas to the chapter.
On Dec. 4, the chapter will vote on which project they want to work with.
This summer, the group will spend six to eight weeks in the chosen country working with the organization to end poverty.
Next semester, the group will focus on planning and preparing for their trip.
Nourish's goals are important to both Oehler and Coughanowr.
"It's important to me because I have a lot here and even though sometimes it may not seem like we have a lot, we do compared to those overseas that are struggling to survive on $2 a day, when I'm eating lunch for $7," Coughanowr said.
"To take what we can and help them improve their life so they can just meet their daily needs when we have much more than our daily needs."
Oehler said people don't realize how much they have until they see how little others have.
"What we're doing is not just relief based, so what we go there to do will last a long time," Oehler said.
Coughanowr continued, "You're going over to create something that will have a lasting impact on that community. You're not just helping one person -- you are helping the community as a whole and individuals."
The students each must raise $2,000 for their travel expenses.
Oehler and Coughanowr are having a spaghetti dinner at 6 p.m., Dec. 19, at the Elks Lodge to help with their expenses. Cost for the meal is $12.
To help the IU chapter raise money for their specific project, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Nourish International website, the founders, "envision Nourish as a global movement through which students make a sustainable impact on extreme poverty and create opportunities for change. We envision a world in which all people are able to meet their basic human needs."
This year, Nourish has expanded to 29 campuses across the country. For more information, visit www.nourish.org.