To help student veterans meet basic needs as they pursue their academic goals, Saddleback College is working with local Bank of America employees in Orange County to provide career mentoring and other forms of assistance including school supplies and food. Bank of America is also partnering with Saddleback College to deliver tailored financial education to veteran students.
At the start of the new academic school year, local bank employees held a donation drive at financial centers across Orange County to provide 2,000 individual school supplies and items of food through the Saddleback College Foundation to benefit dozens of Saddleback College veteran students. The donation was so large that it filled five vans, according to Saddleback College’s Veterans Education & Transition Services Program (VETS) coordinator Terence C. Nelson, MEd MS. “Four of the van loads have already been distributed. We deployed the food pretty quickly through our counselors and staff, especially after several students admitted to only being able to afford to eat one meal a day. This challenge of a lack of finances and sustenance is not uncommon at the beginning and between semesters for student veterans.”
“The donations are very heart warming,” said Chase Tolles, president of the Veterans Student Council, a branch of the Associated Student Government at the college. “It’s humbling that people will help out. It shows the kindness of strangers.”
Allen Staff, Bank of America market president for Orange County, articulated why the organization is committed to veterans and in particular the program at Saddleback College: “We owe so much thanks to our military men and women, and one way Bank of America demonstrates gratitude is with programs that help active military, reservists and veterans get on the path to economic self-sufficiency. This begins with having basic needs met and access to financial curriculum in addition to higher education opportunities. With Saddleback College having one of the largest student populations of active military and veterans in Orange County, it made great sense to partner with them to see where our grant dollars and local bank employees can help forward their great work supporting this important community of heroes.”
The donation drive comes on the heels of a generous $5,000 grant that Bank of America awarded to the VETS Program at Saddleback College. “Their grant will be used to help students whose tuition may be covered through the GI Bill, but who can’t afford other necessities to succeed, such as textbooks, basic school supplies, rent or food. Not having to worry about those areas, allows them to have a future focus and increase the likelihood of succeeding in the program of study,” Nelson explained.
“I am deeply moved by the outpouring of support for our student veterans from Bank of America’s local employees as well as their national leadership,” said Dr. Donald Rickner, executive director of the Saddleback College Foundation.
The VETS Program and Bank of America also plan to deliver financial education to supplement what student veterans are already learning in the Boots to Books course. Beyond the workshop, students will also spend a day receiving mentorship and job coaching on-site from Bank of America employees. “We will pair employees with our students to talk about landing a solid career as civilians,” Nelson said. “We hope the relationships with our private sector partners continue. This is a template we developed with Google last year again with the help of our Foundation Office and their Board.”
Saddleback College is committed to easing the transition process and providing opportunities for success to our United States Military Veterans. The VETS Program directly provides support services and acts as a bridge to external support services for student veterans, active military personnel, and their loved ones. VETS Program services include but are not limited to: new student guidance, veterans counseling, scholarship and financial aid assistance, a link to the Veterans Student Council, veterans outreach, a venue for community building, and more. The VETS Program hosts events aimed at reintegration into civilian and college life. Call 949-582-4252 or visit the VETS Center on Saddleback’s campus for more information.
About Bank of America Support for Military
Bank of America has provided financial services to the U.S. military since 1920. We’re committed to connecting our nation’s military to the training, education and resources that put them on the path to financial stability. Since 2009, we’ve provided more than $18 million in financial support to military nonprofits, and have donated more than 2,000 properties to military and veteran support organizations since 2012. Our employees contributed nearly 50,000 volunteer hours at military events in 2016. We also employ thousands of veterans, Guard and Reservists and in 2014 made a commitment to hire 10,000 over the next several years, and have a number of programs and resources in place to help them succeed. Our Military Transition and Career web site, militarytransition.bankofamerica.com, is designed for veterans and their spouses as they look to make the transition to civilian life.
Originally published October 20, 2017.