Photo by ACCESS
At SOU we have privilege of living in the wonderfully helpful community of Ashland, but sometimes it can be a little difficult to ask for help. Many of us are just a paycheck away from living on the streets, but that struggle doesn’t have to be so hard. There are many resources available to us, some even here on campus. It’s important to know that there are organizations that are working in your best interests to help ensure your success in college, and even offer the opportunity for you to give back.
Jackie Blanchette, Student Director of the Student Sustainability Center (SSC) located on the second story of the Stevenson Union (SU), has been working hard to bring resources together and make real institutional change. “One of our biggest undertakings is our student-ran ‘Real Food Challenge’, a program that brings organic and locally sourced foods to campus.”
Their most recent accomplishment was changing the brand of coffee at The Hawk from Seattle’s Best to a fair-trade company called Mom’s Café. “The process takes a lot of work researching vendors and establishing price points to present to the institution. The switch took about a year to make, and in the end we discovered that the fair-trade option was actually cheaper than the conventional one.”
The SSC also acts as the promotional liaison for other on campus organizations such as the Outdoor Program and the Community Garden. Some upcoming events are the return of the Bike Rental program and reserving space at the Community Garden for Spring. Also available, is the food pantry that allows students to take up to 10 items once a week, free of charge.
The SSC doesn’t just offer help to students, but offers volunteer opportunities to give back to the community. Starting January 31st the campus wide food drive has been collecting donations and will be distributing them in partnership with ACCESS at the Food Bank in Medford on February 29th. A shuttle bus will be available to take students from SOU to the event.
ACCESS is a local organization that works in partnership with the Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland (OHRA) and the Ashland Community Resource Center (ACRC), located at 611 Siskiyou Blvd, Suite #4. Tina Stevens, a Job Specialist at the resource center, explained, “We have a lot of resources to offer from food and clothing to rent and bill assistance. You don’t have to be homeless to utilize our resources, anyone struggling to survive including students are welcome, and if you have a need that we don’t specifically meet we will probably be able to refer you to someone that does.” Tina is a former SOU student and is familiar with the challenges of student life.
To schedule an appointment yourself, simply go to their offices and sign up. “We recently separated from our parent organization and will be changing our name to ‘OHRA Community Resource Center’ in the next couple of months, so just a friendly reminder to those who are trying to find us on the internet, otherwise just stop by.”
Between the resources available at the SSC, OHRA and ACRC, you do not have to struggle or worry about where your next meal will come from. These resources are ran by down-to-earth people who understand the challenges we face and are personally experienced in these difficulties. You do not need to be homeless to access these resources, and there is no reason to be ashamed for needing help. If you would like to volunteer for the ACCESS food drive event click here, or come by their offices upstairs in the SU to register for the event.