The unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis has affected everyone in some way, but many already-vulnerable groups have been among the hardest hit. Local non-profit Angels Nest has stepped up to the plate to help one such group at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH)–with a generous $30,000 gift to the Toro Guardian Scholars (TGS) program, dedicated to helping Toro students who have been in the foster care system.
Originally, Angels Nest had planned to donate $25,000, specifically earmarked to pay for on-campus housing costs for TGS students. With the outbreak of COVID-19, it quickly became clear that those students would need even more help. That’s when Angels Nest stepped up with another $5,000 to help TGS students with emergency needs, as well.
“Emergency needs might be anything from food to diapers,” says Angels Nest co-founder and treasurer Jean Walker. She added that she hopes and expects the relationship between the two organizations will continue to grow and expand over time.
“Our mission is to provide housing and support for former foster youth who are endeavoring to attain their college degree. (As our relationship continues) we plan to provide housing, food, clothing, and any other substantive support that such students need to be successful at Cal State Dominguez Hills,” says Walker.
CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham is excited at the prospect of working with Angels Nest. “The challenge of affirming an individual’s human dignity is supported by efforts to provide accommodations for basic needs. One of those is housing and shelter,” says Parham. “We want to be authentic, strategic partners with Angels Nest as we endeavor to help our foster youth in this time of crisis.”
Angels Nest has been helping local foster youth since 2012, while the TGS program was established in 2014 to help CSUDH students who are transitioning from the foster care system. “Our goal is to provide support for former foster youth who are here on campus striving to get their degrees,” says TGS coordinator Joshua Williams. “That includes everything from providing housing to creating safe spaces where they feel they can connect with people from similar backgrounds to create a sense of community.”
When the board of Angels Nest found out about the TGS program on the CSUDH campus, they knew that it was a perfect fit. The two groups were devoted to serving the same student population, so it was natural for them to come together and unite their efforts.
Walker has an even more personal reason for wanting to connect with CSUDH. “I’m a Dominguez,” she relates. “My great-great-great-grandfather received the first land grant in California.” The land that CSUDH stands on today was donated to the university by her family in the 1960s.
“When we were looking at where we wanted to start off a new iteration of Angels Nest, we realized that there was a TGS program already in place at Cal State Dominguez Hills. You already have 100 students whom we can start helping right away, students who need this kind of support.”
Williams says that when the severity of the COVID-19 crisis became clear, Angels Nest was among the first groups to reach out. “They’ve been really proactive,” he says. “As soon as the campus started being affected by COVID-19, they called and asked, ‘What can we do? What is happening on campus, and how can we support you? They added an extra $5,000 because they really want to be supportive of our students and what they’re going thru right now.”
“(TGS) is a relatively new program at CSUDH,” says Walker. “Their budget is not huge. Anything we can do to support them and supplement what the university is already doing, that’s what we want to do.”
President Parham shares Walker’s enthusiasm for the project. “One of the greatest examples of our campus’ social justice mission is the care and concern we extend to others,” he says. “This gift will help us close the gap between our aspirations to help those in need and our ability to render that aid in times of crisis.”
“We are honored to be working with Angels Nest and feel blessed to receive their donation in support of our Guardian Scholars.”