RESOURCE FAIR SEARK event gives students access to service providers


Southeast Arkansas College hosted a resource fair Wednesday that provided students with information about various services available to them both on campus and in the community.

As of 1 p.m. the fair had attracted nearly 200 students who were able to talk to representatives of approximately 35 agencies, organizations and businesses.

Nerva Copeland, an education career counselor with SEARK, organized the event with the assistance of students and staff. She said the event offered attendees a wealth of important and pertinent information.

“This resource fair is an important way to inform students about the economic and community resources available to them,” Copeland said. “Campus services including the TRIO student assistance program and financial aid are represented here today as well as veteran’s services and disability services. A lot of students don’t know what these agencies do and this event provides them with an opportunity to go up and talk to representatives of these groups and find out what they offer.”

Copeland said that groups including the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement took part in the resource fair to educate students on the services that they provide.

“We have had several students with active child support cases come by and ask question pertaining to their cases,” OCSE child support specialist Lillian Bonner said. “Once I get back to the office I will look into their cases and call them back. We have had some come by just to get a general question answered.”

Gina Hudson is an attorney with OCSE.

“We have had a really good turnout to the resource fair this year,” Hudson said. “Here in Jefferson County we run more than 300 child support cases a month with this county the largest for child support cases in the state.”

Both women said events like the SEARK resource fair are an important way for their agency to educate the public on the services that they provide and to help people understand how the process works.

Rachel Will is a SEARK student in the general studies program who was also volunteering to help with the fair.

“I am really enjoying this,” Will said. “This is a good thing for our campus to have because it gives us as students information that we can use to better our lives and it allows us to ask questions that we may have.”

Carl Propps is the Area 3 Recruiter for the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

“I’m giving the students information on job opportunities with DHS as well as with information on the various services that DHS offers,” Propps said.

Propps said DHS offers help with adoptions, child abuse, Medicaid, Medicare and adult protective services among others.

Deshawn Bennett is a student in the criminal justice program as well as Student Ambassador President.

“This is a good way for the students to understand the nuts and bolts of what services are out there in a friendly environment,” Bennett said. “We can get information on the resources available to us.”

Vendors

Participating vendors in addition to those already mentioned include the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service; the Air Force Reserve; United Family Services; Arkansas Department of Workforce Services; the Arkansas Department of Health; Bank of America; the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department; United Way of Southeast Arkansas; ACCESS Inc.; the National Alliance for Mental Illness; AT&T; Retired and Senior Volunteer Program; Simmons First National Bank; Hope Credit Union; Cricket; the Workforce Investment Act; the UAPB Adult Education Center; the Dollarway Resource Center; the Southeast Arkansas Area Agency on Aging; and the Economic Opportunity Commission.