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Foster Youth Awareness Month –REACH Events & Garden

REACH office in Equity Center

May 18, 2022 - 03:15 PM

students with REACH Interpretive signMay is Foster Youth Awareness Month, and REACH, Mt. SAC’s support program for its foster youth students, has planned events and a new community garden to share.

student with REACH Interpretive sign

For the first week of May, REACH turned the area between building 12 and 13 into an interpretive tour, with information panels on foster youth and associated audio for each, amidst their blue hearts decorations.

Jeze Lopez

“For REACH, May is about letting the campus community know about the services we provide our foster youth students,” said Jeze Lopez, Director of REACH. “We want people to understand that our students are not defined by being foster youth. They are Mt. SAC students and they take part in many other programs and organizations across campus.”

Reach hosted an Open House at their space in the Equity Center (Bldg. 16E) earlier this week. Their year-end celebration will be held on Monday, May 23 from 4 p.m to 6 p.m. at Founders Hall. That event will have a keynote speech from former President and CEO of National Public Radio (NPR), Jarl Mohn.    

Student gardening at REACH gardenPerhaps the best event to get acquainted with REACH will be the Friends and Family Day BBQ on Friday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the new REACH Community Garden, located at the Horticulture unit of campus. The event, open to everyone, will have food, lawn games and rock painting.

Speaking of the new community garden, REACH’s latest project was the idea of an alumni of the program.

“We had a Horticulture student who has since graduated and transferred to Cal Poly,” explained Lopez. “She had grown most of her own food during the pandemic to make ends meet. She thought this skill would be great for other foster youth to know, so she offered to help build the garden.”

Professor instructs at REACH garden openingREACH received a private donation through the Mt. SAC Foundation to the pay for the garden. The garden is open to the entire campus community. There will be both planting and harvesting days upcoming. The best way to take home fruits, vegetables and herbs grown in the garden is to come out on harvest day, said Lopez.  

At the opening of the garden, an Adult Education Gardening class attended and the instructor gave tips on planting. Other faculty and staff who helped with the garden were recognized, including Biology Professor Maura Palacios Mejia, Horticulture Operations Specialist Jesus Ramirez and Tyler Flisik, a Biology Professor who helps run the college’s Wildlife Sanctuary.

About REACH

REACH staff and students outside Equity CenterConsidered one of the most impacted student populations on campus, foster youth lack any traditional family support structure, said Lopez. “It is up to REACH to provide the educational, emotional, social, and many times, the economic support that a student needs to succeed. They don’t have parents who can help feed them, or siblings that can help guide them. They rely on our program, and each other, for the support that most people just assume will always be there for them.”

Find out more about REACH here.