RCC veterans seek to be mentors in the community

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By Javier Cabrera / Editor in Chief

A helping hand (Luis Solis / Staff Photographer)

By Javier Cabrera / Editor in Chief

Assisting and tutoring are common actions taken by Riverside City College students to get through their classes, but the Veterans Club at RCC is taking those two actions to another level.

The Veterans Club has joined a Homeless Veterans Coalition group in Riverside to help guide homeless veterans back to the right path.

“The Homeless Veterans Coalition program is just to streamline a one stop center for homeless veterans to get them from the streets to basically a working-class citizen,” said Jose Villasenor, president of the RCC Veterans Club.

The club got its break to participate with the coalition through an invitation from the club’s former president, Marquis Palmer, who is a homeless outreach specialist for Riverside.

“He’s reaching back out to us and wants RCC specifically to be the first educational group to help out,” Villasenor said.

Villasenor said the club has come a long way since it first started in a broom closet in the cafeteria at RCC and being a group of Veterans.

“We’re actually trying to become something more tangible than just a group of people, who are veterans, we’re actually trying to help each other out in more than just one way,” he said.

Villasenor said Palmer figured the club can be an arm in the coalition because they can help veterans figure out if they want to return to college and earn an education, and the club can help the veterans with anything they might want to know about college.

“As student veterans, we can’t tell them exactly how to go about their business, but we can point them in the right direction,” Villasenor said.

Villasenor said the club was welcoming to the idea of being a part of the coalition when he pitched the idea to them.

“(Each member) comes from different backgrounds and each one of them has their own difficult issues and each one of us can feed off each other with different information and help,” he said.

Abdul Romero-Green, an RCC veteran student, said he can relate to the other homeless veterans because he was homeless once.

“I was homeless for a week and I got the information from a cop, who was a fellow veteran, to go to Loma Linda, where they do check-ups on you to make sure you don’t have any issues,” he said.

Romero-Green said the check-ups are needed to clear a veteran to stay at the U.S. Vets Riverside on the March Air force base.

“I’ve been staying there for like a year now and through that program it helps veterans get back on their feet,” he said. “(My) life took a toll and they helped me get my paperwork together, like my permanent residence card and work force, then helped me get back to school.”

Romero-Green said he is always willing to help someone in need.

He said he does not feel great about what he has when he sees someone else struggling at the time he is being blessed.

“If I see someone walk through the door for the first time I just say ‘you need something?’ and point them in the right direction,” Romero-Green said. “I joined this (coalition) because it helps me network and helps my social skills.” 

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