The West Georgia Technical College Foundation has received a $25,000 grant from the Tides Foundation, on the recommendation of Google Data Centers Grants Fund, to support its Project CARE program.
Project CARE, funded by the WGTC Foundation, was created in 2009 to provide financial assistance and food pantry assistance to students and employees of West Georgia Technical College who are in need, according to a release from WGTC.
The program receives applications, with stories like the one below, for assistance regarding situations including homelessness, food insecurity, job loss, health crisis, loss of loved ones, and most recently, COVID-19 relief.
“My name is Marcus and I have been struggling for some time now. Before losing my car at the end of December, I was sleeping in my car and working a part-time job that didn’t give me enough hours to work to pay my car note and insurance, let alone to buy soups, canned foods, bread and peanut butter.”
“After losing my car, I started going to Labor Finders and Craigslist looking for work to make some extra income, and my mother sent me what little she could to help me get my car back. After I got it back, I started sleeping in my car again instead of wherever I could find a place — a park or a friend’s couch — for the night.”
“Sometimes it seems no matter how hard I try it is never enough. By the time I get some money, I have to try to pay past-due car payments, which has to be my priority because I sleep in my car, and it is all I have. That is one reason why I am going to school to be an RN and will do so no matter how hard it will be or how long it will take.”
“I would like nothing more than to get a place of my own. If I had a place of my own instead of my car, I could sleep better. Living out of my car is hard. I get woken up by cars playing loud music, garbage trucks, and people cutting grass and hedges. Summer is so hot, and winter is so cold. Finding a restroom is difficult.”
“I would be a better student and better worker if I just had a place. I hate asking for anything, but if there is any help out there, I could really use it. This has been the roughest time of my life, but I never lose hope. I’m grateful for the experience because it has taught me a lot.”
Stories like Marcus’s are too common, but the WGTC Foundation will use this grant to make a difference for many students, Vice President of Student Affairs Tonya Whitlock said in the release.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the WGTC Foundation for years on Project CARE, and I can tell you from firsthand experience how important this funding is to our students — not just in times of worldwide crisis like now with COVID-19, but year-round as our students work to better their own lives and the lives of their families,” Whitlock said. “I’m so grateful that the Tides Foundation saw this and felt compelled to support this effort with their generous gift.”
In previous years, the application period would be made available only two times per year, with assistance being awarded to roughly 50 people per year. The Tides grant will greatly supplement the Project CARE operating budget, allowing the WGTC Foundation to open the application more often and help many more people.
“The WGTC Foundation is so proud to be the beneficiaries of Tides Foundation’s generosity,” Executive Director of Institutional Advancement Kelsey Jones said. “At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Foundation began to actively fundraise for more support for Project CARE, and we personally committed a 40 percent budgetary increase to the program. Even at that, we had to turn away dozens of worthy applications for assistance. With the help of this grant, we are going to be able to support more students for quite some time, and we could not be more grateful.”
Tides envisions a world of shared prosperity and social justice founded on equality and human rights, sustainable environment, quality education and healthy individuals and communities. Since 1976, Tides has partnered with innovative organizations to accelerate the pace of social change and solve society's toughest problems, according to the release. For more information, visit westgatech.edu .