PAC student finds hope for the holidays
Elizabeth, a Palo Alto College student and single mother, was desperate to leave her unstable living situation and move somewhere more suitable for her family. With the help of financial resources provided through the Student Health, Advocacy, Resource, and Engagement (S.H.A.R.E.) Center
, Elizabeth was able to do just that.
“The S.H.A.R.E. Center helped me move,” said Elizabeth. “They are the reason I am able to relax during the holidays; the reason I am able to have a place for my family.”
The S.H.A.R.E. Center provides wrap-around services for students and the surrounding community, including financial literacy training, mental and physical health services, social services, a clothes closet, and a food pantry. The Center also helped facilitate holiday giving this season. First, by providing holiday food baskets to select students who have used the S.H.A.R.E. Center services this semester; and second, by referring students to the Little Palomino Tree, a giving initiative in which members of the Palo Alto College community purchase holiday gifts for children of limited-income students.
“It’s amazing… the kindness of the staff at the S.H.A.R.E. Center. Just being able to walk in to the doors and genuinely get asked how I’m doing,” said Elizabeth, after receiving one of the holiday food baskets and gifts for her daughter and nephew, who she recently took in.
Elizabeth makes a habit of caring for those around her. In addition to being a mom to her daughter and nephew, she also cares for her elderly grandmother. Elizabeth says being kind and helping those in need was a family value instilled in her from a young age; she appreciated being on the receiving end of assistance in her time of transition.
“I’m usually the one carrying around a house-full of stress and taking care of everybody and my health,” said Elizabeth. “It’s not easy. It hasn’t been easy.”
The financial education and resources Elizabeth received through the S.H.A.R.E. Center has given her peace of mind and helped her focus on finishing the semester strong.
“I can go home, sit down, and study for finals without worrying,” said Elizabeth.
Delilah Marquez, grant project director of the Center, explains that the wrap-around services provided at the S.H.A.R.E. Center is the difference-maker. On any given day, dedicated staff listen closely to students’ specific situations and connect them with the appropriate resources to remove roadblocks preventing students from focusing on their studies. Marquez said she encourages students to remember that Palo Alto College faculty and staff are here to listen and build relationships with each individual—something Elizabeth has found to be true.
“The help is here. All you have to do is walk through the door of the S.H.A.R.E. Center, and there is someone willing to connect you with the right resources,” said Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is nearly finished with her associate degree, and plans to continue her education upon graduation from Palo Alto College. She hopes her story will encourage others to seek help when needed, something that she admits was not easy to do. No matter the circumstance, the faculty and staff at Palo Alto College are committed to helping students achieve their goals, and that has inspired Elizabeth to remain resilient, even when the going gets tough.
“It took me a long time, but I’m going towards my master’s degree,” said Elizabeth. “That’s my dream.”