By Ryan Schreiber
The Rams Resource Center held an event Nov. 16 during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week to introduce students to its services.
The Rams Resource Center (RRC) is located under West Hall on the ground level, and is accessible from Maynard Lot.
It is open from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. On Wednesdays, the hours are from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and on Fridays, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The purpose of the event was for students to become acquainted with the center. Two informational tables were set up - one hosted by the Student Government Association in the McCarthy Center lobby, and the other located next to the center.
Volunteers at the table in McCarthy offered donuts and candy to students. They also educated students about homelessness with a quiz.
“We're partnering with the Rams Resource Center and the FSU dining hall to bring awareness to hunger and homelessness by doing trivia, and if you get a question right, you get a prize,” said Evelyn Campbell, SGA outreach and events coordinator.
The RRC also conducted a food drive - students, faculty members, or staff could donate canned goods or non-perishable items.
At the RRC, Sarah Ripton, coordinator of student support and advocacy, gave tours and told visitors more about what the RRC has to offer students who need help.
Kat Washburn, a Rams Engagement Ambassador, said, “The issue is not that we don’t have the resources - it’s that people don’t know about them. We have been trying to raise awareness of the RRC and make sure students know it's available for anyone.”
According to the RRC website, “The Rams Resource Center (RRC) provides non-perishable food items, toiletries, and resource referral for FSU students, faculty, and staff.”
Ripton said, “They can fill one bag with food and the other with other items.” These bags are given out by the RRC.
The RRC posted flyers in the center with QR codes, which students were encouraged to use to share a story anonymously.
Ripton said, “Students, faculty, and staff are invited to share a story of food or housing insecurity. It is aimed to destigmatize the conversation surrounding basic-need insecurity. Also, just to start a conversation and shed light onto assistance programs.”
One student wrote, “Before I came to college, I was struggling with a place to live, a relationship with my family, and school. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for college or what money I was going to have to buy myself food. I managed to figure out how to pay for school and the resource center helped me with my limited supply source. It has helped me significantly, and I appreciate it being a part of our campus.”
Another student wrote, “My heart goes out to all the students who face this problem and I want to encourage you to discuss this with interested adults around you and not to be afraid or ashamed of not being capable of supplying yourself. I'm a commuter student but similar to many students who have struggled with basic needs and necessities, my family runs on welfare and food stamps. It is very saddening to be less fortunate than the people around you, but nevertheless, the help that people give … should be looked at in a positive light.”
The Rams Resource Center works with many organizations that supply most of the items that are available.
Ripton said, “Circle of Hope is able to fulfill orders that we reach out to them for, so I was able to request winter jackets, work clothing, and a handful of bedding items that were needed.”
According to the organization's website, Circle of Hope is a nonprofit organization based in Needham, Massachusetts. The mission of Circle of Hope is to provide infants, children, and adults experiencing homelessness in Boston and MetroWest with clothing and necessities in order to preserve and enhance overall health and personal dignity.
Students thanked Circle of Hope by writing notes of appreciation and attaching them to a Circle of Hope board in the RRC pantry.
One note read, “Thank you for donating. You helped us a lot with providing us with helpful and valuable resources.”
Another note read, “Thank you for helping me in so many ways.”
Ripton said, “Dignity Matters provides us with feminine hygiene products.”
According to the organization's website, Dignity Matters is a nonprofit organization that collects, purchases, and supplies feminine hygiene products, bras, and underwear to women and girls who are homeless or disadvantaged, in order to help them stay healthy, regain self-confidence, and live with basic dignity.
“Family Promise helps students who are parents. If you have children under 18, they will help you,” Ripton said.
According to the organization's website, Family Promise is an organization that delivers innovative solutions for family homelessness, including prevention, shelter, and stabilization services.
Bianca Hudson, a family coach for Family Promise, visited FSU to speak with students.
Hudson said, “We help families facing homelessness. We have two main programs - our shelter program and our L.I.F.E. program.”
The “shelter program” offers meals, clothing, and coaching for individualized families with resources and encouragement to find affordable housing and life skills to maintain stability, according to the organization's pamphlet.
The acronym “L.I.F.E.” stands for local initiative for family empowerment. The organization supports and empowers families that are at risk of homelessness by offering assistance with security deposits, paying back rent, or moving expenses. It also offers educational scholarships, according to the organization’s pamphlet.
Food items are also available at the RRC. “All of the food purchased for the Rams Resource Center is through donations,” Ripton said.
According to Ripton, the RRC helps about 93 clients - a majority of them students.
Holding an RRC bag, Sasha Charmant, a sophomore psychology major, said, “It has helped me a lot. I got a lot of my resources there - my sanitary products for free - and that means a lot because they're expensive.”
Melanie Wu, a junior biochemistry major, said, “I love the Rams Resource Center. I’m super grateful that people donate and it's really helpful to have all the necessities that are needed for students who can't go off campus and get them.”
Djeila Barbosa, a junior early childhood education major, said, “It is very useful. It's really good to have on campus - especially for students who can't afford food.”
Barry Nangle, a junior criminology major, said, “I think any program that helps students who need products that they don't have access to is a good thing.”
Aline Genovese, a sophomore English major, said, “I think it's good that they are able to help students because a lot of us think going to college is something for people with a lot of money, but that's changing. Some students need a little extra help to make it. It's really great that we can help here.”
Hailey Sanders, a junior child and family studies major, said, “I think more people should know about it - it's a great resource.”
Alivia Smith, a freshman psychology major, said, “It's great for students who can't afford food. I've been in that situation where I can't afford things, so I think it’s really important for schools to have it and I'm proud that Framingham State has it.”
Sabrina Beach ’22, a volunteer at the RRC, said she enjoys helping others in need. “I enjoy helping the students, faculty, and staff who come in and knowing that I’m contributing to the RRC mission of combating campus-wide basic needs insecurity. I also love that I can still be involved in the FSU community even post-graduation.”
According to Beach, “Needing stuff from the RRC should not be looked at as shameful. It should be thought of as just another support system to help you succeed at FSU, like what CASA or the Health Center or Counseling Center is there for.”