The social work program was begun at Southwestern in the fall of 1980 by Rebecca Bolinger. A group of enthused students expressed to her concern about caring for a local abused boy. Class research indicated that there was no place in Texas for multi-problem children, and the students began a campaign to start such a center. Through providence, much hard work on the part of the social work students, through wise guidance from the volunteer board of directors, chaired by Dr. Erwin Sicher, and through considerable financial commitment from Ms. Bolinger, Odyssey Harbor was founded in June of 1983. Its goals were to provide treatment for multi-problem abused children, to provide practical training for college students in many fields, and to provide employment for college students. It successfully accomplished all these goals.
In its 13 years of operation it achieved a statewide reputation for excellent care to the state's most challenging students. It provided experience in the fields of education, psychology, social work and business for countless college students, assisting many in identifying career choices. Most importantly, it provided full-time jobs for up to 90 students each year. Several thousand children have benefitted, and over 1,000 students have been able to graduate from Southwestern who otherwise would have found that goal impossible.
The Odyssey Harbor Scholarship is awarded each year to a religion major.