Get a first look Nov. 28

Jackson College wants to step up to the plate to help students feel more secure when it comes to having access to the basics.

The United Way of Michigan says more than 1.5 million or 39 percent of households in Michigan are below the Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (ALICE) threshold of financial survival.

This prompted a group of Jackson College employees called the Harriet Myer Group to ponder over these statistics – including seeing 1 in 8 children facing hunger – and then take some of our systems in place such as our Harriet Myer Emergency Fund to enhance what we can do to be there for those in need who are on our campus.

Harriet’s Legacy

Harriet Myer was a professor at JC who cared deeply about her students and all students on campus. She was a voice and advocate for making sure that students could complete their education and have the support they needed throughout the process. An emergency fund was established in her name. Myer worked at JC from 1961 until her untimely death in 1974.

Holistic Approach

Here are some of Harriet’s Hub’s goals:

  • Provide free, nutritious food to those in need
  • Offer a welcoming and inclusive space for all
  • Have a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach by also including Jackets for Jets, hygiene products and referral to additional state and local resources

“We have the Hunger Free Campus initiative,” Assistant Dean of Instruction Jamie Vandenburgh said. “However, we weren’t serving the deeper needs of the student so it was an opportunity to kind of self-evaluate and see where we could go forward.”

Community Collaboration

Plans call for a snack pantry that can be accessed as well as the relocation of Jackets for Jets.  Right now, Harriet’s Hub is in Phase 2 of 3 in their proposed timeline.

Some organizations have stepped up to help including Compassionate Ministries of Jackson who have already donated more than 2,000 snack items to the Center for Student Success. Donations have come in from Aunt Millie’s Bread through a snack pantry that is accessible through CSS.

Outside of food, Michigan Works is interested in helping JC students find success.

“Michigan Works included us in an upcoming grant that will provide additional wraparound support and some additional funding for our students,” Vandenburgh said. “Just anything you could think of that a student might need to be a success, that’s what the dollars from Michigan Works will go towards. So, they’re pretty excited about this space. They’re looking to have somebody out on campus here so a student could stop in and meet with Michigan Works.”

Officials are also working with the Jackson Preparatory & Early College.

“Students have a plot in the community gardens at the Dahlem Center, so they do some gardening and composting,” Vandenburgh said. “When we get to the opportunity where we have fresh produce and need an outlet if it goes bad, we’re going to work with the JPEC class to compost that material and to serve some volunteer hours in that space.”

A Pitstop for Growth

They are looking for volunteers to help.

“We’re going to have a great leadership opportunity for student workers who want to maybe take charge and be able to create some fun content around the hub, create some recipe cards, that type of thing,” Vandenburgh said. “It’s run by staff and students, and it’s really funded by staff and students too.”

Ariel Maturine is the student resource coordinator. She has seen our students every day at the Center for Student Success so she knows how important the Hub can be in helping them.

“I see things from as far as ‘I really just need a meal to get me through the day,’ or ‘I’m losing my housing, my car. I don’t know what I’m going to do to be able to stay in education,’” she said. “Just a wide array of different things. A lot of people just need that growth for somebody to say, ‘hey, what can I do for you? I’m here for you. Let’s figure it out together.”

Ariel wants Harriet’s Hub to be a pitstop on their journey.

“Whatever they need and no matter where they’re at in their journey, I want this to be a place for them to come by and say, ‘hi,’” Maturine said.

Save the Date

The Jackson College Foundation is hosting Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, Nov. 28, a 24-hour campaign. Funds will support Harriet’s Hub and the Student Emergency Fund. It coincides with Harriet’s Hub’s soft launch. That will be taking place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Join us for coffee and doughnuts.

You can also drop off in-kind donations.

They are looking to partner with other local organizations. If interested e-mail

Harriet’s Hub is located in William Atkinson Hall, Room 118.