EGCC Tackles Retention by Meeting Basic Needs
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Eastern Gateway Community College is fighting back the barriers that may affect student’s academic careers.
On Monday the college cut the ribbon for its new Care Center for students. The center is located directly behind the Mocha House of downtown Youngstown, on Champion Street, and includes a food pantry, a career-focused clothing closet and even a pet center.
Roxanne Bohach, director of career development and director of the campus Care Center, said the Care Center Team launched the project due to concern over some students ability to meet basic needs. While there are some resources for them in the area, she wanted there to be something more specific for their students.
“We started in 2018 with the concept of a food pantry. We know that there’s a lot of different pantries in the valley, but we wanted a centralized location for students to overcome that barrier of food insecurity,” Bohach said. “We found that students were coming hungry to school, rushing around, maybe forgetting to pack a lunch for them [selves].”
When providing for their students, it is not just the students they keep in mind, but their families, as well.
“This is just that one-stop shop they can come in and confidently talk to us and we can make sure that they are best prepared and that they’re not hungry,” Bohach said. ”We even have a pet center behind us where we know they are part of the family, as well. With those great resources we have in the community, we get a lot of great donations that are going to help them be successful.”
Abbie Twyford Wilson, director of student activities, said it is about more than just providing students with material resources they may need. She said many of the departments that are involved with the EGCC Care Center specialize in different areas of student success at the college.
“It’s not just food. It’s not just dress for success,” she said. “It’s resource support. It’s possibly looking at some meetings and other groups for LGBTQ support for veteran resources, for [Alcoholics Anonymous] – for any kind of support that we can offer to our students just to make sure that they are off to the right start and have as much support around them as they can.”
Additionally, the center will help students find programs resume assistance, interview preparation, as well as support for first generation students and other academic skill building assistance.
“We are also working on setting up an Amazon wish list so we can put our items directly on there where we see the greatest need,” Wilson said. “We really want look at just building new resources. We’d love to start brining in fresh produce in as well. The meat has been a great thing…but we’d like to bring produce in as well.“
Wilson said the most important word in “Eastern Gateway Community College” is “community.” She said their goal is to be a good steward of their resources and build support in the community that will benefit everyone.
Large portions of the donations have come in from staff and faculty members in fundraisers, Bohach said, although they do have a couple partnerships, as well. She said they are always taking donations, primarily in the areas of ready-to-eat foods and other sustainable items. They are also open to new local business partnerships.
Pictured at top: Roxanne Bohach, Director of Career Development, EGCC / Director, Campus Care Center, EGCC
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