The Wellington Community Foundation has donated $10,000 to the Palm Beach State College Foundation to help veterans who are Wellington residents toward their degree.
The presentation was made at the Veterans Success Center at the Palm Beach State College main campus. Proceeds were from the foundation’s Red, White & Blue Jeans “Salute To Our Heroes” event.
Wellington Community Foundation Chair Tom Wenham, a Korean War veteran, said this program is near and dear to his heart.
“We are pleased and proud to partner with Palm Beach State College and the college’s Veterans Success Center with Wellington Community Foundation funding for Wellington resident veterans to support their tuition and education-related expenses that will help prepare these veterans who served in our country to meet the needs of the 21st century,” he said.
The money will assist Wellington veterans who face hardship beyond what is available from other sources and help bridge the gap from where a veteran ends active duty and enters college life.
“About 60 percent of our students have a household income of $30,000 [or below],” Palm Beach State College Director of Partnerships Anna Thomas said. “You can imagine that in Palm Beach County, a lot of those families are working class and are service industry workers on some type of federal financial aid.”
She said that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented additional challenges to students who must pay for computers and internet service to attend classes virtually.
“We did get a federal deliverance package, and we were able to provide laptops to about 1,000 students. That has helped, but you’re looking at a huge population. The good news is that the foundation has stepped up to help one of our other programs.”
Thomas said that the college’s focus is getting veterans retooled from service industry jobs where many are employed, to professions and trades that people can be trained for in eight to 18 months.
The Veterans Success Center helps guide veterans through the process to avenues that will assure them a lucrative place in the work environment, Center for Success Manager Luis Torres explained. The Veterans Success Center is equipped with staff that confer with veterans in person or remotely, as well as a computer center for veterans’ use and a multipurpose room where veterans’ groups can meet.
“The veterans club is representative of our veterans’ student body,” Torres said. “A lot of the things we do, we want to get their feedback.”
Veterans’ needs are distinct from the general student population, he noted.
“They’re not the same as your regular students,” Torres said. “They’ve served in combat, and they’re adults.”
Thomas said that the Veterans Success Center is working on a plan to transition veterans from active duty to help them contribute to the economy in Palm Beach County.
Torres said the new format of the GI Bill is much different from the old GI Bill where veterans simply received a stipend for tuition.
“It pays them housing, that’s why it’s imperative that we certify our students in a proper and timely manner,” he said. “We want to make sure that they are processed, and they see a return on their investment.”
Thomas said the Wellington Community Foundation grant will help veteran students who are in the process of being certified.
“They have to get certified and also not delay the opportunity to start school,” she said. “This is why partners like the Wellington Community Foundation are so important, because it helps bridge that gap.”
Learn more about the PBSC Veterans Success Center initiative and the many other programs that the Wellington Community Foundation supports and the tremendous impact it has on Wellington residents in need by visiting www.wellingtoncommunityfoundation.org.