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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

When students need help, Community of Care offers a variety of assistance on campus

Most of the members of City College’s Community of Care, also known as the Care Team, include (from left) Deborah Knowles, Anh Nguyen, Valerie Adger, Julio Delgado, Loretta Richard, Andre Coleman and Norman Lorenz. Phoenix Kanada | Photo Editor | [email protected]

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When students need help, Community of Care offers a variety of assistance on campus

Sitting in his office tucked in the back of the counseling department at Sacramento City College, Andre Coleman, dean of counseling is speaking with a visitor. Their conversation is interrupted when the office door cracks open, as Administrative Assistant Valerie Adger pokes her head in and notifies Coleman of a student in immediate need of transportation to receive help.

“There’s a student in Room 136 right now that’s in need and is in crises,” says Coleman, “and someone stopping their day for them… to say, ‘You are important enough for me to put down what I am doing so I can help you’—that matters.”

Coleman is a co-founder of Community of Care, a program at City College that helps relieve the burdens weighing down students’ ability to succeed through selfless acts of kindness.  

“There’s no glory in this—it’s just about being a good servant leader, a good person,” says Coleman, referring to setting a culture of serving students, “seeing the need and wanting to help fill that need, fill that void.”

Since fall 2016, Coleman and company at Community of Care have been serving students through three avenues: helping with basic needs, behavioral intervention, and faculty support and assistance.

The Hulda Mae Stone Fund, made available by Dan McCarty and the City College Office of Philanthropy, has been a godsend to the program, Coleman says, giving access to $30,000 a semester for the Community of Care to help students.  

“The (Hulda Mae Stone Fund) has been made available to us to help support students with books, emergency loans, to pay for things like the food bags we do for students,” says Coleman. “It’s been awesome to see the program blossom and bloom.”

Norman Lorenz, Staff Resource Center coordinator at City College, who also serves as an adviser to Community of Care, says the program is about addressing the whole student.

“When I came to higher education, it became peculiar to me that we merely focused on the academic, with the expectation that our physical, our social, our emotional development was all taken care of. And we know it’s not,” says Lorenz.

“So I think as a higher education institution it’s our duty to at least be mindful that some students are going to come with different gifts than others,” Lorenz says. “And so the Community of Care was set up with the goal to address the whole student, particularly in the case where mental fatigue, due to trauma, due to stress, due to unforeseen circumstances be it emergencies, social stresses, emotional fatigue, so that we can help them stay enrolled in their program and persist through their work, their coursework.”

Utilizing the Schedule and Reporting System (SARS), which enables counselors and advisers to identify and connect with students having difficulties, and their own “homegrown database” says Coleman, Community of Care is able to take a very active role in counseling.

“If we get a referral (about you), someone’s going to call you, someone’s going to try to track you down,” says Coleman. “We kind of take the attitude that you can’t really ignore us, like, we’re going to find you. You can say no, but we are not OK with the ‘just don’t respond to us.’ No, it doesn’t work that way. So it’s a very intrusive, intentional form of counseling.”

Conceived in early 2016, the Community of Care has had a rapid growth, starting that fall with around 100 referrals, to serving over 400 students last semester.

All of the advisers and counselors of Community of Care have other jobs, many full time, and volunteer their time to the program.

“There is no one in a direct position overseeing (the program). It’s happenstance. It’s ‘this person has a few moments, and this person has a few moments,’” says Lorenz.

While understanding that Community of Care needs a full-time staff employee, Coleman does not let that detract from the program’s dedication to the students.

“It doesn’t matter what I do and what I don’t have,” says Coleman. “We are going to find a way to serve our students regardless. It is clear that we are going to keep serving our students with whatever we have.”

Coleman attributes the success of the program to his assistant Valerie Adger, as well as the counselors and advisers, the lifeblood of the program offering their time day in and day out who believe the Community of Care cause is important.

“It’s been a labor of love,” says Coleman.


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