Posted by Joel Keefer on Mar 08, 2019
Pictured L-R: Cheri Krull, Linda DeJoseph, Beth Starks and Kirk Young
A very interesting presentation regarding the Single Parents Reaching Education to Employment, or SPREE program at Jamestown Community College was given this day. JCC Vice President Kirk Young introduced Linda DeJoseph and Beth Starks to the members. Linda is the SPREE Project Navigator, while Beth is an Asst. Professor at JCC and also Executive Director of the Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center. 
Beth gave a little history of SPREE. It began with funding from the WNY Women's Foundation and funding from ESPRI. JCC's SPREE program is modeled off of a similar program at Erie Community College. The SPREE program began as a way to help single parents get to college and stay in college. 61% of single parents in Jamestown live in poverty, according to Beth. So, helping them reach higher education means they can make more money, and help their families. 
Many of the situations SPREE deals with are students who can't complete their education because of work, transportation issues, housing issues, etc. SPREE uses a 2-generational approach where by helping the parent helps the family. 
Linda took over at this point, and said the goal of the ESPRI grant for SPREE is to help 50 individuals, men and women. The funding from the WNY Women's Foundation can only be used to help women, and that too has a goal of 50. 
SPREE gives single-parents access to soft-skills training, resume building, and more, and makes it available at times that are convenient to the students as they can't always be on campus at normal hours. 
Linda said they do a lot of community outreach, but have had mixed success due to so many barriers. They want to collaborate with the community, and not just JCC. They also take SNAP applications as well, which is very helpful for the single-parent students. Bottom line, SPREE is looking to serve parents!
The program has been running for a year now, and while they have served 54 students, they haven't reached their goal of 100. As word of mouth spreads about the program, they have noticed an increase of students taking advantage of SPREE. Linda did mention that 94 children have been helped through the program as well. 
An event for the families is held in the Spring and Fall at JCC as a way to show additional support. 
One of the biggest issue's students have faced is transportation. There are also issues with housing that they try to help with too, such as battling landlords who try to take advantage of the students and their families. They do have emergency funds available for certain cases, such as paying for a bus pass. 
In the end, the students who participate in SPREE are very proud. 
The grant ends this summer, and they are looking for other sources of money. They will continue to track this year's students through 2020.
For more information, please visit this website.
We thanked Beth and Linda for a wonderful presentation!