Group prioritizes efforts to help peers


Ryan Geller / The Advocate

Health and Human Service Club President Denise Mills (left) talks with club Vice President Kristin Lobos during HHS Club meeting in SA-107 on Aug. 31.

By Ryan Geller, Advocate Staff

Mental Health, substance abuse, disability and stress management are a few of the key issues that the Health and Human Services club strives to address.

The club recently initiated a proposal to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The Inter-Club Council met on Tuesday to discuss how to collaborate. Student Life Coordinator Joel Nickelson-Shanks said clubs are considering fundraiser events and donation drives and are leaning toward providing emergency supplies rather than cash.

On campus, the HHS club is planning to create a clothes closet to support homeless students.

Efforts to support homeless students, like making showers available and providing less expensive or free food options are underway.

The HHS club wants to add to this by offering a place on campus where homeless students and students on a tight budget can pick up clean, quality, warm clothing for free.

HHS president Denise Mills said that club members are working to secure a location on campus for the clothes closet now and they are seeking donations from local department stores, students, faculty and service organizations.

Stress management is another major focus of the HHS Club.

“Students get stressed out with their own personal workload and we lose that team mentality,” Mills said. “Many of us need help during the stressful times of the year and sometimes pulling together as a community can inspire us to push through our challenges.”

HHS members are always willing to talk about techniques and methods that they have found helpful in balancing work, school and family responsibilities.

Providing referrals and peer support is also a big part of the club’s work on campus.

“Many students don’t know about all the services that are offered or they can get so overwhelmed that they just need a little help setting up a plan and getting the right appointments,” Mills said.

Despite the value of the HHS Club’s role on campus the club often struggles to maintain its membership base. “Many students are so intertwined with their own lives that they don’t have extra time for the clubs. Maybe you have a family to take care of and you are taking six classes and you have a long commute. Communities often come together around times of crisis like the response to hurricane Harvey but it can be difficult to keep up support for the day to day work of caring for each other,” health and human services department Chairperson Aminta Mickles said.

Clubs like HHS offer students real world experience in their field.

“Students can develop socialization, leadership, and professionalism through participating in clubs. These skills can take students to another level where you begin to see results and the more they do the work the more they really enjoy it,” Mickles said.

Many of the members of the club have developed a passion for Health and Human Services because they have faced some of the challenges that the club focuses on. “We understand how important a supportive community can be because we have been there,” Mills said.

Self-care is a practice that the club emphasizes for its members. “If you don’t take the time to care for yourself first you will not be able to do your best in your studies and you will not be able to do your best in helping others either,” Mills said.

HHS often works with local service agencies on projects in the larger community. The club has worked with Richmond Police Activity League’s (PAL) youth mentorship program. Students can go to a movie with youth, help with homework, or just listen. The club participates in PAL’s pumpkin patch event by setting up the patch and offering face painting for children that attend.

The HHS club and the Health and Human Services department help with Bay Area Rescue Mission’s Thanksgiving and Christmas meals each year. Some members also wrap presents for the Rescue Mission’s toy drive.

The HHS club is not just for students in the HHS field. “Sociology, Psychology, and Nursing all fall under the umbrella of Health and Human Services, we are really just a community of caregivers and people who want to help each other succeed.” said Mills.

“Part of the nature of the HHS field is that you really get to know the people that you work with. You know the struggles that they have been through and you know their strengths and the areas where they need a little help. The club operates like that too. There is an element of trust and family support. We like to offer that to students who need help and to our members as well,” said Kristin Lobos, HHS club Vice President.

Students interested in helping with the hurricane relief or for information about the clothes closet can contact Denise Mills at [email protected].