C.A.R.E. Corner provides basic needs and other resources to students in need

Many college students today live in their vehicles and often lack funds for other basic needs such as food, healthcare, and clothing. However, there are resources available specifically for those in need. Canva/Magic Edit AI

Marc closed his laptop, unable to focus on his economics paper. He wondered how rich the person who coined the phrase “disposable income” was because every penny he had to his name was priceless. His mind kept wandering as his stomach rumbled loudly. He’d run out of cash over a week ago and had barely eaten since. He knew the campus food pantry’s hours, but living with his ailing aunt because he traded paying rent for taking care of her saved him from living on the street.

Searching through coat pockets, Marc found only lint and a few dollars in spare change. His scholarship covered tuition and books, but living expenses were proving impossible on what he made working part-time. He tried not to add more stress to the issue, knowing he’d have to address the “check engine” light on his car soon, but he needed it running to get to his classes, let alone his 25-hours-a-week job. But repairs took money he clearly couldn’t spare right now.

More than two-thirds of California community college students reported facing at least one basic needs insecurity, with 47% reporting food insecurity, 58% reporting housing insecurity, and 24% reporting having been homeless in the past year, according to results published in September 2023 Community College League of California survey

Marc could be a student at Saddleback College. Student services are available for students living with or facing financial difficulties that enable them not to have life’s necessities—food and shelter. 

Saddleback’s C.A.R.E. (Community Allocated Resources for Everyone) Corner is an on-campus basic needs center for all students to secure their food, clothing, wellness and financial needs, according to the organization’s website.

Students must be enrolled in at least one course in the current semester to schedule appointments with the C.A.R.E. team. However, students who are not currently enrolled may receive referrals to community resources.

By addressing these basic needs, the C.A.R.E Corner aims to remove barriers to academic success and promote student well-being. Castellanos said the Corner wants students to prioritize their academics and not have to worry about those basic needs. For example, it can provide an Airbnb gift card for a one-night stay.

“Students can go on to the Airbnb website and look for a room or a hotel…. the room can be inside a home,” she said.

The first step is to schedule an appointment to meet with a counselor to determine what services will provide the most assistance for temporary housing or other basic needs. Students have the option to go in person or to meet with someone via Zoom.

“A case manager meets with them to discuss their needs,” Castellanos said.  “All of these factors matter in terms of the type of shelters that may be available for them.”

Although many services are available through on-campus resources, most are provided by off-campus services recommended by C.A.R.E. Corner.  The website has a list of services and pertinent information covering diversified categories such as legal, employment, transportation, utilities and technology, and those faced by students with dependents. 

Other services include the CARE Corner Closet, which provides gently used clothing to all students who are enrolled in the current semester. Items available include professional attire, T-shirts, sweatshirts/jackets, pants, shoes, accessories as well as children’s clothes. Students may visit the CARE Corner Closet once per month during drop-in hours, Monday-Thursday, from 10-11 a.m.  The closet is located in the Student Services Building, across from Room SSC 223

Castellanos’ inspiration for giving back to students at Saddleback, according to her, is closely tied to her own life growing up.

“Coming from a background where I didn’t have everything that I needed back when I was a child. There was even a point where I was home insecure myself. We lived in motels,” she said, “So, going back to the way I grew up and the challenges that I faced, I always said that I would like to give back in terms of mentorship to help students navigate.” 

For further information about student services and resources, visit the college’s Student Support website.

Story by JRN 2 Team 2 – Kasper Owen, Selene Agudo Cruz, Trinity Lembeck, Dylann Carrido