By Julie Thompson
GGC faculty donated hundreds of dollars in care-packages in a statewide initiative to help needy students. The School of Liberal Arts initiated Grizzlies Helping Grizzlies this semester–a program designed to support the GGC community of food-insecure and homeless students. Grizzlies Helping Grizzlies is one among many programs in a statewide effort to help needy students.
While the University System of Georgia mandates that each USG school has one assigned homeless student liaison, the initiative each school implements might vary. GGC’s program is primarily a donation-based. According to Dean of Students ,Tom Jimenez, GGC faculty have been overwhelmingly supportive.
An estimate of 45 faculty members have donated $500 in gift cards and four boxes with toiletries to the program. David Kirschner, an Assistant Professor of Sociology, donated a ‘universal gift’–a grocery gift card. “Everyone needs food,” was the logic behind his gift choice. Dr. Kirschner has worked closely with homeless and disadvantaged populations; he and his wife served with homeless shelters and were foster parents before having biological children.
“We talk about student success here at GGC, but teaching them in the classroom is only a part of our responsibility. Engaging with them outside the classroom, finding out what they are struggling with personally, and providing appropriate help within our means all contribute to producing holistic humans who will hopefully pass on the types of gifts to others in their lives,” Kirschner said.
So far the program is primarily faculty driven , but Macintosh hopes RSOs and students will get involved.
“Our group has several goals for this academic year and enlisting student volunteers is part of that,” said Laurel Starling-McIntosh, an Assistant Director of Financial Aid. As GGC’s designated campus Foster and Homeless Youth Support Contact, she is a forerunner of the program. Because students must register in order to receive program benefits, the community of students who lack bear necessities is being marginalized.
“Sadly, the numbers seem to be growing each semester; however, that may be because we have this effort and people are now reaching out for assistance – may not really be increased numbers.”
Regardless of the community’s marginal development, these students need help; and Grizzlies Helping Grizzly extends that help–it can “not only be the difference between a student having a place of refuge, but the difference between obtaining a college degree and not obtaining one,” said McIntosh. Students who are homeless, food-insecure or homeless, who know such students can contact McIntosh at email@example.com or by phone at 678-407-5977.