Cardinals Care plans to support student welfare through compassion in community

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PLC and Jewell flag. Photo by Catherine Dema.

Cardinals Care is a new student organization that has been in the making for three years and will ideally be implemented before the end of the 2020 fall semester. This organization is built to meet the needs of students on campus who may have inadequate access to transportation, resources and funds for hygiene and self-care products.

Alex Thiessen, senior political science, economics and Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry major, is the acting student leader for this project. He has been working on the project since its conception during his first year. 

Cardinals Care was created in response to campus issues that many students, not just those at Jewell, reported facing. These issues include lack of access to: 

  • Transportation: Jewell students, especially international students, may not have a vehicle – which makes transportation around Liberty and Kansas City nearly impossible.
  • Sufficient funding: Students without sufficient financial support do not have the ability to prioritize self-care.
  • Education: Students may not have a parent, guardian or mentor to whom they feel comfortable turning with questions or concerns regarding self-care.
  • Resources during campus breaks: Students who remain on campus during extended breaks experience reduced access to food sources, and the above issues are exacerbated during breaks.

Cardinals Care was originally intended to provide a food pantry for students without transportation, students lacking sufficient financial support and athletes lacking access to food between classes and practice.

Thiessen explained that the Jewell cafeteria already had an infrastructure to address these issues. Kiki Strecker worked to expand cafeteria hours – which has been slightly stalled by COVID-19 – and address the other food-access issues. 

Because the support from the Jewell cafeteria is still in the development stage, Cardinals Care will provide food until Fresh Ideas can do it more effectively.

In addition to addressing concerns about food access, Cardinals Care extended their objectives to focus on alleviating student needs regarding self-care, hygiene and educational resources, in addition to providing nonperishable food items. 

The Cupboard of Care, which will be located in Curry Hall near the library, will supply essentials including razors, toothbrushes, shampoo and nonperishable food items. By scanning a QR code, students will be able to anonymously suggest items that they may need. The Cupboard will initially be stocked with basic essential items, but products supplied may change in response to student requests.

As a supplement to the care items, Cardinals Care will consolidate educational information and resources for students. The organization will provide a QR code linking to an online drive containing YouTube videos and instructional information. 

The idea for Cardinals Care emerged during Thiessen’s first year – many of the original students also responsible for the project have graduated. 

“A lot of prior [student senate] cabinets and organizations have left, and I have kind of carried the torch,” said Thiessen. 

As Thiessen is graduating next semester, he intends for Cardinals Care to be a collaborative and sustainable organization that can serve students for as long as there is a need. 

Cardinals Care plans on funding the project from a variety of sources including through partnerships with the Liberty Square, Jewell bookstore, Jewell alumni and student organizations. They also plan to work with local nonprofits and grocery stores to lower the cost of purchasing items for the cabinet.

 “I think the diversity in them [funding options] is really what is going to let this be sustainable because if one dies down then we can balance our budget and expand in places that are being successful,” said Thiessen. 

Cardinals Care plans to be collaborative, without exclusive reliance on any one individual or student organization.

They will have representatives from Student Life and student organizations such as QUILTBAG, Gender Issues and Feminism, the Climate Assessment and Response Team, Nonprofit Leadership Association and the Student Athlete Advisory Community.

“This is a way to supplement [the] perspective of the student body. A lot of this project is intended to fill gaps, so if we get as many diverse perspectives as we can then this will happen faster,” said Thiessen.

In addition to the representatives from different groups, Cardinals Care will provide opportunities for other campus organizations to participate in community service. The emphasis on diverse involvement from the student body will also allow for the cupboard’s sustainability.

Cardinals Care will create a three-part stocking structure for the cupboard in which chairs, campus organizations and a student employee will rotate stocking on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. 

“We are hoping that they all supplement each other so that no one person has to do a whole lot, but everyone is involved so there is universal buy-in, but it is not crippling,” said Thiessen.

Thiessen explained that other colleges have created similar organizations and projects to meet student needs and Cardinals Care has been able to learn from them. 

“It’s not like we need to reinvent the wheel when we can take everyone’s best ideas and use them to create a better way forward,” said Thiessen. 

The motto for Cardinals Care is “Compassion in Community.” Thiessen explained the organization aims to have a foundation of understanding and community orientation. He said Cardinals Care is, above all, an organization created by students and for students. 

“There will be empathy, and I think a lot of people that are really working towards it will either have a background for trying to receive care or have a passion for it and I think this just helps become an outlet for that level of care,” said Thiessen.

While this organization is still a work in progress, the deliberate and substantive forethought and work that has been put into it by current and former Jewell students bodes well for its sustainability and future positive impact on the college.

Hannah Koehler

Hannah Koehler is the page editor for Arts & Culture on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in English and psychological science.

One thought on “Cardinals Care plans to support student welfare through compassion in community

  1. Nicki Thiessen

    This sounds like a fantastic program created by insightful and companionate peers to assist with every day struggles that may sometimes be overlooked. I hope this program generates momentum and can be a resource for students for many years to come! Good work to all the Jewell students who contributed to the vision and to those who are making the program a reality.

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