Feb 22, 2012

Community support

Nine local organizations reaffirmed support for the Central Lakes College Veterans Resource Center Feb. 11 when representatives met to plan assistance to veteran students struggling with housing, food, and transportation needs. In the past few months the school has seen a tremendous increase in financial hardships of their veterans, service members and dependents. Some of this is due to Veterans’ Administration payments being later than normal. Another impacting reason is people struggling to find jobs in an economy with such significantly high unemployment rates. The community meeting featured presentation of a $2,000 check from the Brainerd Elks in support of the organization’s Fare for All food program that functions in support of CLC veteran students. Jim Van Duyn of the Elks made the presentation to Kathy Marshik, coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center at CLC.
“This was our first such meeting, and the results were extraordinary,” said Kathy Marshik, who since November has served as coordinator of the center on the Brainerd campus. She said the objective was to link the school and those organizations that support veterans by building stronger relationships.
            Representatives from the Disabled American Veterans, the Purple Heart Association, Brainerd Elks, Brainerd VFW, Crow Wing County Veterans Service Officer, DAV Auxiliary, VFW Auxiliary, Salvation Army and the Central Lakes College Foundation were present.
Budgeting and financial assistance programs were identified to developed and guide these students toward future success.
         “The support of community programs, staff and faculty at Central Lakes College truly must be commended,” Marshik said. “When a veteran reports an issue or needs assistance people diligently work together to resolve the matter.”
           Marshik cited two recent examples of support that has spared veteran students facing dire circumstance.
           In December, a veteran was about to lose his heat and possibly home if he did not pay his bills. Between Marshik, the Purple Heart Association and the CLC Foundation, this individual received enough assistance to avoid a loss with just days before shut-off.
           In January another family was struggling with rent issues, no gas or food money. “With the aid of the DAV and the CLC Foundation we were able to resolve these issues in a few short hours,” Marshik said.
           “These are among the many examples of how teamwork helps those in need. So many efforts have come together to create stories of hope and success for the futures of our veterans.”
             To express gratitude to the many organizations supporting veterans enrolled at CLC, students will be volunteering time and skills to help with special programs.
“Central Lakes College is putting together a color guard, which will march proudly alongside our veterans’ organizations in parades and community events,” Marshik said. “It’s important to start building relationships among our generations of veterans. And it’s one way to give back to our community.”
Another community event will be held this spring. Any organizations wanting to join the team are welcome, Marshik said. “Students and community veterans, service members and families are encouraged to join us.”
Central Lakes College is also working with community organizations to assist veterans with education and career searching pathways. There will be many events coming up this summer to encourage successful futures through education at CLC.