Homeless Students receive aid to attend Texarkana College

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Texarkana, Texas- “Many people have the impression that college students are doing great, when the reality is that some are hanging on by a thread,” said Bryan Bixler, Executive Director of the Texarkana Friendship Center.

Bixler, as well as other members of the Texarkana Homeless Coalition, know firsthand the struggles of the homeless in Texarkana. That is what inspired them to create and fund a scholarship for homeless individuals looking to go back to school.

The initiative just announced the first two students who will receive this $720 scholarship, which pays for one semester at Texarkana College to complete a workforce certificate.

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David Bailes, one of the scholarship recipients, has chosen Texarkana College’s welding program. The other recipient is in the cosmetology program. Both students spoke with their case workers about the scholarship and expressed a desire to go back to school.

The Texarkana Homeless Coalition Scholarship is intended as a way to get these individuals in the door and on a path to a higher education credential. Bailes and Douglas are the first two students to get their start with this scholarship, but the coalition is excited by the opportunity to grow their scholarship fund. Funded by donations as well as proceeds raised from the Bridge City Project, the coalition hopes to provide many more homeless individuals with the resources they need to challenge themselves and change their situations.

“TC’s workforce programs are such a good fit for the purpose of our scholarship,” Bixler said. “We want the recipients to gain education credentials, but combining that with the training and job placement help TC instructors provide…we know the scholarship students will be getting help to change their lives.”

Jennifer Laurent, Executive Director of the Randy Sams Shelter and former Board Chair of the Texarkana Homeless Coalition, said this year’s recipients are also committed to helping others.

“David wants to leave homelessness, both students want so badly to be self-sufficient, but what sets them apart is their equally strong desire to give back.” Laurent said. Giving back is a common theme among students at Texarkana College. There are many different community outreach efforts on campus, such as a yearly canned food drive, an on campus food pantry and the cosmetology department’s monthly Haircuts for Humanity.

The Texarkana Homeless Coalition consists of a number of organizations and individuals working together to end homelessness in Texarkana and Bowie County. The mission of the Texarkana Homeless Coalition is to heighten awareness and develop a community-wide commitment to the needs and issues surrounding individuals and families who are near or experiencing homelessness.

For additional information or to make a donation, please contact Katie Andrus at (903) 823-3125 katie.andrus@texarkanacollege.edu or Kayla Fleming at (903) 823-3059 kayla.fleming@texarkanacollege.edu.

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