Single Parents College Program Topic of Westfield-Mayville Rotary Meeting

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Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville President Elect John "Doc" Hamels (left) is shown some information about the Jamestown Community College SPREE (Single Parents Reaching Education to Employment) program by Linda DeJoseph (right), SPREE Project Navigator. DeJoseph explained this JCC initiative during the Jan. 8 meeting of this Rotary club at The Parkside in Westfield.

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Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville

Jamestown Community College’s SPREE program was explained by guest presenter Linda DeJoseph, SPREE Project Navigator, during the Jan. 8 meeting of the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville, which was held at The Parkview in Westfield. SPREE is Single Parents Reaching Education to Employment. DeJoseph’s program was sponsored by John “Doc” Hamels, who is president-elect of this Rotary Club.
DeJoseph said, “Our goal is to help single parents get enrolled in college, stay in college and get a degree in order to help them move out of poverty.” The mission statement of JCC’s SPREE initiative is to “connect single parent students to comprehensive services and resources which will empower, engage, and support them to achieve self-sustaining academic, professional, and personal success.”
As the SPREE Project Navigator, an instructor on the JCC Jamestown Campus, and a JCC graduate, DeJoseph stated, “I love working at the institution where I started my own academic journey. I enjoy helping students get on course to reach their college and career goals. A college education is life changing, and my hope is to support students to achieve their dreams.” DeJoseph earned her bachelor’s degree at SUNY at Buffalo and master’s degree in counseling psychology at St. Bonaventure University. She is currently working towards her doctoral degree.
The JCC SPREE program was begun in Feb. 2018. DeJoseph said, “Our goal is to serve up to 100 single parents. We offer peer support groups, access to JCC and community services, personalized assistance and financial support.” In addition, program participants get personalized assistance from achievement and career coaches, as well as specialized services for single parents. We make a lot of community service connections, such as child care, WIC, SNAP and human service agencies.”
“Single parents are very resilient, as they have learned how to live with one crisis after another. But sometimes one little thing can make the whole system collapse. We have learned that what affects our single parents typically affects many of our students at JCC. Forty-percent of Jamestown High School students live in poverty, and 80% of JCC students get financial aid,” DeJoseph noted.
She said, “We do a lot of problem solving and help SPREE students navigate systems. In addition to counseling, we offer financial support and can issue emergency funds up to $250, such as in the form of gas cards and funds for car repairs so the students can get to campus. Those who live in poverty live in crisis mode and crises can mount. We help SPREE students address their issues and be successful in college. We recently had our first request from an honors student and SPREE participant, who requested $95 to help pay for the honor society membership fee and regalia for graduation.”
In order to address students’ food insecurity issues on campus, DeJoseph and her colleagues, with assistance from others, have established a food pantry, which is now being run by SPREE. She said that some of the college students, particularly the athletes, are using the food pantry. These students often can afford only the one meal per day food plan.
DeJoseph noted that 84% of the SPREE program participants are returning for this spring term, and that the first participants will be graduating at the end of this term. The Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville applauds Linda DeJoseph and her SPREE colleagues for helping single parent students be successful in college and gain employment. For more information about the JCC SPREE program, visit the sunyjcc.edu/spree website, stop by the JCC campus HULT 295 office, or phone 716-388-1431.