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Harry's House Officially Opens

Posted on Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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Joining in the ribbon-cutting for Harry’s House was, front, from left, Harry the Highlander; Student Ambassador Mya Wilkerson; GSC President Kirk A. Nooks; Student Ambassador Courtney Vaughn; Harry’s House Project Chair Erica Madoni; faculty member Ryran Traylor; back row, from left, Rhonda Toon, Vice President for Advancement; faculty member Jessica Traylor; John Head, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs; Career Services Director, Tonya Moore; Counselor, Shirley Chambers; Special Assistant to the President, LaSha Sanders; Director of Student Activities, Sharon Lloyd.

Harry’s House, Gordon State’s food and necessities pantry, officially opened Tuesday with a shout of “Highlanders Forward” and the snip of a ribbon.

What was once a storage closet on the second floor of the Student Center has been converted into a pantry of shelves that contain easily prepared food, hygiene products, school supplies, and other items.

Harry’s House also contains a professional clothes closet supported by GSC Career Services for students in need of clothing appropriate for a job interview.

Since its soft opening in late August, Harry’s House has served 115 students. With its official opening and word spreading across campus, many more students are expected to seek assistance.

“I was amazed when a report revealed that nearly 40 percent of our students had experienced food insecurity during the previous year,” said Erica Madoni, a counselor and chair of the project.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

“Students should be thinking about their grades, their classes, not about where their next meal may be coming from,” said Madoni. “Or if they have the basic items to maintain proper hygiene.”

Members of the counseling department maintain the pantry. Students are required to submit a short application to assess their needs, what food preparation devices they have access to and necessary demographic information.

“We use this data only to determine the utilization of the pantry, distribution of items, and what items are needed,” Madoni said. “A student will have access to five food items and three toiletry items per week.”

Madoni noted that a monetary donation helped get Harry’s House started, and many others have contributed food and other items, but being able to meet the needs of students will require constant work.

“We want this to be a discrete, no judgment experience for all students – commuters and residents – so they can concentrate on their studies, not how hungry they are,” Madoni said.

Harry’s House is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

“I am proud of Erica Madoni, the staff in Counseling and Accessibility Services, and the entire committee that worked so hard to make Harry’s House a reality,” said John Head, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “This food pantry is a tangible sign of the commitment of Gordon State College to meet the needs of our students in order to help them be successful. We are so appreciative of the support we have received, but we know we will need ongoing contributions to meet the continuing needs of our students.  We are all grateful to the campus community for their support in launching Harry’s House and look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on the Gordon State community.”

A website is under construction to keep members of the campus community updated on the needs of Harry’s House.