Showered with comfort and shelter

Showered with comfort and shelter

Housing insecurity can make academic studies challenging and can add stress to students.

But there is hope.

Eligible Pierce College students between the ages of 18-28 at risk or experiencing homelessness can apply for the Shower of Hope Program. 

The program houses 16 total Los Angeles Community College District students from East Los Angeles College, Pierce College and Los Angeles Valley College.

Program Support Manager Raymond Mora said Shower of Hope, which started in August of 2020, sees students as the future leaders of the community. 

“We are not a shelter and we don’t want them to feel that we are just filling a bed,” Mora said. “It’s much deeper than that for us, it’s about providing them with everything they need to be holistic individuals that are eventually going to give back to the community.” 

According to Mora, students living in these homes have chores, including cooking for their housemates. 

“We want them to use this time and space to think about what they really want to do with their life, professionally or personally,” Mora said. 

To qualify for this program, students need to continuously be enrolled in nine units. Students enrolled in less than nine units will participate in creating an educational plan with a student case manager. 

“Student case managers will go through their course work and say that they will meet the nine units in future semesters while they are in the program,” Mora said. “A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required, but a student can come in without a 2.0. However, we want to help them get there.” 

Volunteering must be done with a local non-profit or organization 2-3 times per week for a total of 15 hours, if they are not at least working part time. 

“We’re fairly flexible with our requirements,” Mora said. “If a student is facing a certain circumstance that doesn’t allow them to meet one requirement, we’ll work together to see how we can make it happen.” 

Once a student fills out the application including basic questions about the student’s current situation, the interview process begins. A phone interview covers the information submitted. A Zoom interview is then set up with the Shower of Hope team to see if the applicant is a good fit for the program. An in-person interview is the next step so the student can see the facilities and services offered.

“All of that takes place within a week or two weeks after we receive the application,” Mora said. 

Executive Director Mel Tillekeratne said that a bed, clothing, meals, access to WiFi and computers are included. 

“We also work with case managers and outside counselors to make sure that the students get the mental health support they need,” Tillekeratne said. 

Brahma Pantry and Basic Needs Lead D’arcy Corwin said she believes that the program provides a lot of stability and allows students to stay on track to becoming successful. 

“I think it’s great because it provides a college-like experience,” Corwin said. “I want students to know that they have an option to be in a place where they can thrive and have support.” 

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