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Sometimes All It Takes Is A Small Gesture To A Transform Life

February, 2019
  • A sample care bag
    A sample care bag

At Quinsigamond Community College student success means caring for the whole student; however, sometimes that caring takes on different forms that transcend education.

QCC’s Dean of Compliance Liz Woods is someone who knows this first hand. In her time at QCC and in particular since taking on the role of Dean of Compliance, she has seen students who have been in domestic abuse situations, struggling not only with school, but in finding just the basic necessities. While support services and resources were available at the school, what could the college do for the immediate need?

“We wanted to know, how we can help those students of domestic violence, who don’t feel ready for the day and who may be couch-surfing due to their situations,” Ms. Woods said.

This spawned the idea of the care bag.  The bag is a simple, non-descript QCC nylon backpack filled with personal items that offer students in distress assistance with some of their immediate and basic personal needs.  Included in the backpack is a towel and other personal toiletries that students can take to the athletic center, obtain a locker and take a shower.

Ms. Woods acknowledged that while this is far from a solution to the issues domestic violence or homeless students are facing, it offers them a way to, “feel somewhat whole again while we can get them more resources and services.”

The care bags are given out by QCC’s CARE team members after they have learned of a student in need.

“When someone is in need this can make such a difference for them,” Ms. Woods said.

QCC’s CARE team is made up of the Dean of Students Terry Vecchio, Assistant Dean of Students Jason Kurland, Chief of Police Kevin Ritacco, Mental Health Counselor Tina Wells, Director of Disability Services Kristie Proctor and Ms. Woods. The group meets weekly to discuss student issues and work on ways to connect students with services and resources.

Ms. Woods said the first person to receive a care bag was a student who was experiencing domestic violence. The student said it was that initial small act of kindness and compassion that made a difference for her. Today, Ms. Woods is happy to say that the student, while no longer attending QCC, is doing well and is out of her domestic violence situation.

“She said she is so grateful for the support of the college and is looking to finish her education in the state she is now living in,” Ms. Woods said.

Faculty and staff who see a student they feel is in need can fill out a Care Team referral form, or contact any of the CARE team members.