By Marc Abizeid
UC Santa Cruz students now have the chance to tackle homelessness in Santa Cruz and earn credit while doing so.
Instructor Franklin Williams is a diversity consultant and board member for the Homeless Services Center (HSC) in Santa Cruz.
He brings his long history of grassroots community activism to a three-credit class offered through Kresge College.
The course will be the first of its kind at UCSC, and neither Williams nor the students found it easy to contain their excitement.
“We’re really going to be able to provide,” Williams said. “We’re ready to go forward and make history.”
Throughout the course, titled “Service Learning,” Williams asks students to complete eight hours of volunteering with HSC, where they will perform a broad range of small tasks to help maintain the facility.
He also stresses that the course is designed to accommodate the needs and desires of the students.
“Your priority is to be a good student, not to save the world,” Williams said. “You will not save the world!”
The class is partially based on a discontinued Social Justice course, which was offered last winter through Oakes College.
It is predominantly through Williams’ efforts that the course survived and found new direction.
Tom Bowles, a second-year Oakes student, told of how he and Williams worked to learn from what happened in the previous class and mimic its successes when Kresge gave them the green light to start the Service Learning Class.
“[Williams] made sure that I wasn’t discouraged,” Bowles said. “He turns everything into a challenge and just makes it happen.”
During a meet-and-greet reception at Kresge Town Hall on Sept. 28, Williams introduced Letitia Schwarz, director of the Rebele Family Shelter at HSC, and told of her involvement with the homeless community.
Schwarz addressed the crowd, emphasizing the importance of forging relationships with people in the community.
She spoke about her experiences of working on different projects in Santa Cruz that are aimed at improving the lives of the homeless.
Schwarz said, “We don’t always know the impact we’ll have, but if we touch one person, we’ve done a lot.”
For those interested in enrolling in the course, or who would like to help but are unable to attend the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday class, Williams will be leading students on the last Saturday and Sunday of every month to sanitize and help maintain the facilities open to the homeless.