By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor
Veterans coming to Edmonds Community College often are looking for guidance, support and someone to lend a helping hand.
Thanks to the generous support of the community, former military personnel can find all of these services and more at the college’s new Veterans Resource Center.
On Friday, Edmonds Community College staff and the community came together to celebrate the opening of the center on the second floor of Lynnwood Hall and the progress already made in the Edmonds Community College Foundation’s Boots to Books and Beyond campaign to support veterans.
The center, which opened late last year, offers veterans many services to help ease their transition back into civilian life. Services currently offered or planned in the near future include peer mentoring and tutoring, career and academic advising, disability and counseling support, emergency and gap funding, mental health assistance and a lounge to meet and socialize with other veterans.
“We really want to serve those who have served our country,” said Edmonds Community College President Jean Hernandez. “That really was the vision.”
As part of that vision, the Edmonds Community College Foundation launched the Boots to Books and Beyond Campaign with the goal of raising $1 million to support veterans at Edmonds Community College.
Hernandez was pleased to announce that the campaign has raised $775,000 as of Friday.
“I don’t think we dreamed that this could happen so quickly,” Hernandez said. “This is just such a milestone for the campus, to be able to have a Veterans Resource Center.
Several organizations contributed to the campaign, including the Verdant Health Commission, Hazel Miller Foundation, Edmonds Community College Foundation Board and the Corvias Foundation. Carla and Dean Nichols also were recognized for providing a match for a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The Associated Students of Edmonds Community College also presented a symbolic check for $125,000 in support of the campaign.
“We really want to see our veterans, student veterans go on and achieve great things in our community and to be able to leave their own legacy for us,” Hernandez said.
Andrew Smolen, the college’s Student Veterans Association President, appreciated the support he felt when he came to Edmonds Community College a year ago.
“I needed to learn a new career, a new way of life and coming to Edmonds Community College I felt instantly like I was welcomed here,” said Smolen, who is studying engineering. “People were willing to help take me under their wings.
“The future is looking great for me here and I’m really looking forward to being a part of the campus, the college, the veterans program and doing anything I can do to help our veterans here at the school.”
For more information on Edmonds Community College’s Veterans Resource Center see www.edcc.edu/veterans or call 425-640-1175.