Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

‘Case of Hope’ needs donations

Leaders for Change, is an up and coming club that has begun this year. Although they are a new club, their goals have taken off and they are making a change. This is the first year the RHC has a club having its primary mission being to support the welfare of foster youth. President Erika Murillo and Inter Club Council Representative (ICC Rep.) Marcy Marse chartered the club this fall. So far these leaders have been creating change with their Case of Hope, suitcase drive, which ends Dec. 1.

According to Erika Murillo, the Leaders for Change President, the purpose of Leaders for Change is to, “raise awareness and to advocate for current and former foster youth in achieving higher education by creating an environment where students can support, encourage, motivate, mentor one another, and develop life-long relationships with the purpose of meeting the academic, emotional, and social needs of all students.”

Although Leaders for Change is promoted through RHC’s foster program, the club is open to any and all students; especially those with an interest to learn more about foster care.

RHC does its best to support, embrace, and celebrate adversity achievements. It is important for RHC to have support programs and clubs to ensure a quality experience for all students.

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According to Murillo, “It is important to establish a safe environment where foster youth can share their thoughts with others who have been through similar situations”.

Already making a difference, Leaders for Change strive to achieve their goals of community. President Murillo explains, “We hope that this club will help students network into the world of Child Welfare and Social Services and benefit their future. Finally, our goal is to raise the rate of graduating foster youth from college.”

Leaders for Change meet on Thursdays, however during the spring semester the club might move their meeting dates to Mondays or Wednesdays. During meetings, the club discusses current events or issues plaguing members within the foster care system, along with brainstorm ideas to help support those youth.

Marisela Saenz is the head of the Foster Care department and the advisor of Leaders for Change. Club President Murillo encourages students to visit the Foster Care Office in A 207 for, “one-to-one guidance and assistance with priority registration, admissions process, as well as referrals for additional services/resources available. The Foster Care department, through the YESS (Youth Empowerment Strategies for Success) grant, also offers a snack pantry, computer/printer access and a peer mentee, Marcy Valenzuela (Leaders for Change I.C.C. Rep.), who is there to support youth with their classes and personal matters as well as help them connect with faculty and staff members”.

Quickly becoming one of the most influential clubs on campus, the Leaders for Change have created the “Case of Hope.” The “Case of Hope” is a suitcase drive that began on Tuesday, Nov. 4, and will run to Monday, Dec. 1.

The concept of having a suitcase drive was thought up as Rachel Chavez, a member of Leaders for Change voiced the issue during a meeting. Murillo states that Chavez “indicated that she was interested in holding a suitcase drive for foster youth that are in need of bags to aid their movement from home to home”.

The purpose of this suitcase drive is to help foster youth transitioning from their homes. In most cases, foster youth carry all of their belongings in trash bags. Many that come to age and are forced out of their foster home, aren’t provided with a suitcase to carry their belongings. According to Murillo, “Unfortunately, many foster youth who are transferring from home to home often have nothing but a trash bag to carry their belonging in. In addition, youth at age out of care are also aren’t provided with this necessity. This can have some negative effects on their self-esteem and so we will be distributing the backpacks/suitcases/bags to those youth that are in need of them”.

Leaders for Change are asking for lightly used or new backpacks and suitcases to distribute among foster youth students, children/youth who are or were in foster care.

They are working in collaboration with RHC’s Foster/Kinship Care Education and Independent Living Programs, Concept 7 Family Support & Treatment Centers, the Student Life & Leadership Department, and the Associated Students of Rio Hondo College (ASRHC).

Anyone is able to retrieve a slip to confirm their need for a suitcase, backpack or both, which needs to be given to the Foster Care Office at RHC by Dec. 1.

Leaders for Change will also be having a luncheon to distribute the donations on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 11-1 p.m. at RHC.



The following locations are drop off sites to drop off any donations:


  • Rio Hondo College Main Campus

3600 Workman Mill Rd. Whittier, Ca 90601

  • Foster Care Office: Administration Building 2nd Floor Room A 207 A

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

  • Student Life & Leadership: Student Union (SU 201)

Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

  • Rio Hondo El Monte Education Center (EMEC) Administration Office

3017 Tyler Ave. El Monte, Ca 91731

Administration Office (626) 443-8932

Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.


The club serves as a safe haven where current and former foster youth can come and, “feel comfortable sharing or talking with people who have been through the same struggles” explained Murillo.

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