The public is invited to attend the Dedication Ceremony of the new Porterville College Veterans Resource Center on Friday, Nov. 7 from 12:15 – 1:00 p.m. in the campus quad area. The dedication will include a “Tribute to All Veterans.”
The Veterans Resource Center was developed as part of Porterville College’s response to the summer 2013 White House’s Initiative “8 Keys to Success in Serving Veterans.” In an effort to respond, Porterville College established a Veterans Advisory Task Force consisting of campus staff and faculty, community members and student veterans, to discuss the keys and formulate responses that the College could implement.
The task force reviewed and discussed recent literature and best practices and some members also visited veteran centers on other community college campuses. The task force began meeting twice per month in December of 2013 and made its final recommendations to Dr. Rosa Carlson, president of Porterville College, in April of 2014. The recommendations were then presented and approved at a meeting of the College Learning Council.
Key #4 of the White House initiative encouraged colleges to create a designated space on campus where the veterans could go for assistance, referral, or to meet with fellow veterans. A location for the center was determined where six offices were being vacated as programs or staff members originally in those offices were relocating to other offices on campus. Since this location would not displace any current programs or staff, it was determined to be a perfect location for the center.
Once these offices became vacant at the end of the spring 2014 term, the staff in Maintenance and Operations demolished four of the offices, leaving one office for the Veteran Resource Center coordinator/counselor- Steve Schultz, the other office to be used for student study or as an on-campus location for community service agencies that may want to meet privately with our veterans and the open area to serve as a lounge, mess area, etc.
With a wish list in hand and no money in the budget for furniture or other equipment for the center, Schultz began contacting local businesses, agencies, organizations and individuals in the community to consider donating to the center. The response from the community was tremendous. The wish list of needs Schultz had for the center was completely met by the generous donations from the community. Everything in the center has been donated, so when a veteran walks into the center they will get an immediate visual of the community’s support for them.
The services and activities of the Veterans Resource Center include: priority registration, a designated veteran’s counselor, study room with computers, lounge area for camaraderie, the Student Veterans Organization (student club), Veterans Affairs Work Study students working as “Veterans Assistants,” Mikes passes (free parking passes) at initial enrollment, referrals to the VA and numerous veteran service providers, monthly camaraderie lunches, monthly “Late Lunch and Learn” workshops, end of academic year “Patriot Awards” for leadership, academic excellence and commitment to fellow students and community service projects and involvement.
Additional services and activities are being planned and the recommendations from the Veterans Advisory Task Force’s report on the College’s response to the “8 Keys to Success” initiative will be fully implemented.