Campus celebrates Hawk CARES Center grand opening


Asyah Zamani

The Hawk CARES Center held a grand opening on Thursday to present the center. Faculty gets together to cut the ribbon for the grand opening.

The Hawk CARES Center, which helps students with basic needs, held a grand opening event on campus on Thursday.
The event featured speeches from faculty about their appreciation of the Hawk CARES Center, a ribbon cutting ceremony and a self-guided tour of the center.
“The purpose is to unveil the center, especially since we’re now allowing students to come in,” said Hawk CARES Student Personnel Assistant Jonathan Leong. “This is actually a very monumental program, it’s one of the first in the state as far as community colleges.”
Cosumnes River College President Edward Bush gave a speech about identifying institutional barriers and to root it out at any point of the educational process.
“Our goal is to put students in position to break the cycle of poverty that exists within their homes and within their community,” Bush said. “We have an unrelenting approach to make sure that every student that comes to our institution can have the expectation that our college is going to do everything we can with the resources that we have to ensure that they’re in best position to be successful.”
Students are not able to be successful if they are hungry or if they are not housed and it will be difficult to excel in their full-term semester of classes, said Claire Oliveros, the vice president of institutional equity, research and planning.
“The Hawk CARES Center really is a culmination of a place of being, belonging and also addressing some of the core root causes for what gets in the way of being successful,” Oliveros said. “I think the services and the connections more importantly, and the relationships that our team here builds with each of you in the room and with our college and campus community and neighboring community is so essential to the success of our students.”
Oliveros said basic needs is a national, local and neighborhood-centered issue.
“Here, is a place where we see hope and love and compassion, where we de-stigmatize needing food, where we de-stigmatize asking for help, for assistance for housing, where it’s a strength-based approach to learn about CalFresh or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and to be able to have a shopping experience,” Oliveros said.
Home for Hawks Case Manager Malisha Blakes said students can do their own shopping when they come into the Hawk CARES Center.
“They can come in once a week, they can get whatever they need, they can come back the next week,” Blakes said. “If they want to eat like right now, if they’re hungry, they can get some of our frozen food. We have frozen Hot Pockets, so we have ready to eat meals.”
Blakes said the center gives out diapers and hygiene kits as well.
“Those were given out every Monday, we give them out once a week, but if the student comes in and they say they need them now, we’ll give it to them,” Blakes said.
Emilia Murillo, a 23-year-old kinesiology and physical education major and Student Ambassador at the Hawk CARES Center, shared her story of how the Hawk CARES Center was useful for her.
“When we did the drive-thru distributions, I would always be here, always like the first three cars, and that would be really helpful to not only me, but my kids and my whole family because we have a family of 10,” Murillo said. “Sometimes, we wouldn’t be able to purchase some diapers for my kids because we were struggling during COVID and being able to have that on our campus here, being able to give students diapers like that’s a really huge help because diapers are just increasing right now.”
Interim Director of Student Equity and Engagement Oscar Mendoza Plascencia said he loves the space of the Hawk CARES Center because he knows what it represents and how much it means to students who are experiencing basic needs.
“I love the fact that we have a lot of people who made this possible in one space,” Mendoza Plascencia said. “This space will be continuously changing because it changes with the needs of students, so our goal is to continue evolving, to continue meeting the needs of our students.”
The Hawk CARES Center is located in the portable building in room P-48 and the food pantry hours are Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information about the Hawk CARES program, click the link here.