More than 52 single parents from low-income families received gifts for their children during a holiday celebration Saturday hosted by the Mt. San Jacinto College Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education program.
MSJC provides education and services to thousands of valley residents, including families from Temecula, Lake Elsinore and Murrieta.
Student and Murrieta resident Tiffany Harris, 23, is a single parent and part of the CARE program. As a parent of two, she knows firsthand how difficult earning an education can be.
“Without the services provided through these programs, I'm not sure how I can do it,’’ said Harris.
Harris is earning a degree in radiology and just earned a spot in the school's honor society.
“I want to be able to provide for my family.’’
Fellow CARE student Marquita Barney, 29, is also appreciative of the services she receives through CARE.
“CARE provides support, not just with school, but the students really pull together and support one another,’’ said Barney. "We are all single parents, facing our own struggles, but we can relate to each other because we all know how hard it can be.’’
CARE is a state-funded program designed to provide assistance and support for single-parent head of households. The main goal is to help obtain a degree, certification, transfer and/or marketable job skills.
Services include priority registration, book aid, academic and personal counseling and low-cost parking permits.
“Many of the programs providing these services go unknown to the student, which is unfortunate because many students could benefit from these programs,’’ said Ketmani Kouanchao, director of the CARE and EOPS programs for the college.
Kouanchao goes onto to emphasize that for many, the choice to further their education depends on factors such as finances, the ability to earn a living and balancing parenthood with homework.
CARE coordinator Cindy Manzanilla concurs and encourages those interested in furthering their education to not let these obstacles deter them.
“Anyone, current student or not, is welcome to contact the school to find out about these services, financial aid and other programs that can help ease the strains or concerns that are stopping them from achieving their educational goals.’’
Saturday's event included holiday crafts for the children, lunch and a visit from Santa.
The Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, Soboba Casino and the Soboba Foundation also donated 100 toys for the children of CARE program parents.
Much of the event was made possible by student volunteers through clubs such as CARE, EOPS and the Black Student Union.
For more information on becoming a member of any of these programs or sponsorship opportunities for next year's event, contact Ketmani Kouanchao, Director of EOPS/CARE Programs at Kkouanchao@msjc.edu or Cindy Manzanilla at firstname.lastname@example.org.