There is a group of students on campus who all share the same passion, the same drive and the same ambition – to make a difference.
They call themselves the Human Service Student Association (HSSA). The HSSA is an organization comprised of a board of 14 students who partner with different non-profits and agencies in the community to do volunteer work, community service and serve at shelters.
One night a week, HSSA volunteers at the Mercy House Cold Weather Armory in Fullerton that provides up to 400 beds per night for the homeless and supplies them with a nutritious meal, a warm shower and a safe place to sleep during the winter months.
Last October, HSSA put on a Halloween party for children staying at a homeless shelter. They wore costumes, provided stations of arts and crafts and played games.
Jessica Camargo, 23, a human services major and HSSA community service coordinator says, â€œThe Halloween party was an awesome experience. The kids at the shelter were so grateful and appreciative. It was truly rewarding.â€
HSSA recently partnered with the Student Veterans Association to collect hygiene products and items of necessity for sending to the troops in Afghanistan. Their goal, which they thought was a bit of a stretch, was to pack and send 100 boxes – they sent over 130.
The Orange County Food Bank distributes 15 million pounds of food annually and serves 23,000 people each month. HSSA volunteers in its warehouse to help pack food boxes that are distributed to the less fortunate in Orange County and surrounding areas.
Karen Garrison, 44, president of HSSA and a human services major, says after her children graduated she decided to go back to school, and joining HSSA has been a life-changing experience.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t until I was 40 years old that I had my first experience of ever volunteering. It is such a rewarding experience. I regret that I didnâ€™t do it earlier,â€ said Garrison. â€œI want to inspire people to find the same thing I found in life, especially at a younger age so they donâ€™t feel remorseful like I do.â€
Jennifer Vu, 20, HSSAâ€™s event planner and a public relations major with a minor in human services, says being a member of HSSA has been a huge growing experience for her, and the satisfaction of knowing she made a difference is very rewarding.
â€œWe try to raise awareness and reach out to students outside of the human services major and emphasize how important it is to give back to the community,â€ said Vu.
Garrison believes becoming a part of HSSA has made her a better person and her positive contributions to the community have given her immense satisfaction she never knew existed.
â€œItâ€™s not about the resume; the members of HSSA are inherently humanistic. Itâ€™s about being empathetic and aware of those less fortunate around us,â€ Garrison said. â€œThe experience you get from volunteering is so much more than anything you can get in a classroom.â€
Although HSSA is based out of the Human Services Department, anyone can join. There is a one-time club due of $40 that grants you a lifetime membership.
For more information on HSSA visit their website at Hdcs.Fullerton.edu/husr/hssa or their Facebook page: CSUF HSSA Members, Friends & Alumni. For further inquires please e-mail [email protected]