Money from St. Clare’s grant will bring essentials and mindfulness center to QU

In Jan. 2023, Cassie Phillips, coordinator of student supportive services, won the St. Clare’s grant worth $50,000. The Illinois Board of Higher Education awarded this grant, which will go into building a site on the Quincy University campus with two functions, supplying essential resources and a mindfulness center. The site will be located on the first floor of Friar’s Hall, next to Sam Lathrop’s office.

The Friars' Hall, standing in the evening sun, will be the place for the essential needs and mindfulness center.
Friars’ Hall will be the home of the two new facilities to meet students’ needs. (Wes Shelor/QU Media)
The designated room in Friars' Hall has been painted, with a stepping stool, disposable blanket, and some plastic wrapping paper left behind.
The designated room is in the process of being painted and reorganized to better serve the needs of students in the future. (Wes Shelor/QU Media)

“We’re hoping to launch this summer, but we’re also hoping for a soft opening later this spring,” Phillips said. “It’ll have two new spaces for students, one being an essential needs pantry, with anything from hygiene products to food, blankets, sheets, anything that you may need. And we’ll have a mindfulness center, where you can escape the burdens of being a student and just be mindful, relax and improve mental health.”

Empty shelves in Friars' Hall with only paint cans and a tool, potential space for use in supplying students' needs.
Empty shelves in the designated room of Friars’ Hall, waiting to be filled with essential needs. (Wes Shelor/QU Media)

“The counseling room really wasn’t being used,” Sam Lathrop, security director of QU, said. “I mean, half of this was used for medical and the other half was used for a counseling center, but they’ve been counseling off campus. I think this is a great way to repurpose this space.”

“We’ve had students that have come from warmer climates and then come to Quincy, which is fine in Aug. and Sept., but then all of a sudden Oct., Nov., Dec. comes around and they haven’t made the right arrangements for clothing and maybe they don’t have the resources for that,” Lathrop said. “This will certainly be a help for students like that.”

Taryn Sargent, a senior at QU, recounted the exact scenario.

“A lot of my track team came from Jamaica,” Sargent said. “So when they got here, they did not have winter coats, because you don’t need a winter coat in Jamaica. So, I feel like that would definitely be necessary for our international student population.”

Sargent did express concerns that the repurposing of the counseling room, while serving the needs of the students, could be better utilized toward other issues.

“There are different things they need to think about,” Sargent said. “For example, earlier this year, students were stealing swipes, sneaking into the Cafeteria because they don’t have any more swipes, they can’t afford to get any, and they’re hungry. That’s a whole different issue that they need to look into.”

“I think it would be nice to focus on an issue that is reoccurring,” Sargent said. “Of course, counselors are using Zoom, but then there should be someone there for when someone is having a crisis, and they shouldn’t have to try to set up a Zoom meeting. I feel like there should probably be crisis counseling, I believe that’s more important. But as far as the essentials, I think that is necessary and needs to be geared towards items that students don’t have or, in combating the swipe stealing, something along the lines of a mini-food pantry, and maybe make it private where it wouldn’t be too noticeable for students to utilize that resource.”

Students can share that consideration going forward as they can participate in managing it.

“Christine Tracy will also be helping me and we’ll have, hopefully, a group of team members to help run it, so, eventually we will be looking for volunteer hours they can get there, but everything is still in the making,” Phillips said.

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