Meet Nicole and Vince Robertson – Cerritos College Food Drive
Nicole and Vince Robertson are always looking for new ways to serve their community. Their church, International Churches of Christ, encourages giving and helping others, particularly those less fortunate. As it happens, Nicole and Vince are in a perfect position to provide that kind of help to hundreds of people every month, via the Cerritos College Food Drive.
The couple lives just down the street from Cerritos, less than a five minute walk. Both of their sons attended the school. So when looking for ways to volunteer, the food drive made sense.
“There’s so much need in our community,” says Vince. “People who are lost and forgotten.” Those are exactly the people whom the food drive is designed to help.
Many people don’t realize how rampant homelessness is on college campuses. Many students go to class, and then sleep in their cars. They don’t have a place to stay, or enough to eat. Cerritos’s food drive was originally designed to help those students.
The program ran once a month on Wednesday afternoons. Trucks from the L.A. Food Bank would arrive to deliver food, which would be distributed to Cerritos students in need. Then when the pandemic hit, it became apparent that there were more than just students who were suffering. Homelessness in California continues to go up. Nearly every day, there are more tents by the side of the freeway, or lining the sidewalks, filled with people who don’t have a place to stay.
“There’s so much need out there that we sometimes get paralyzed,” says Nicole. “We want to do so much, but we can’t.” The key, they realize, is to start where they are, and do what they can. “Do for one what you would hope to do for many,” Nicole says.
Cerritos College is in a position to help many, though. To address the ever-increasing need, they decided to open up the food drive to the entire community. For COVID safety, it was also turned from a walk-up event to a contactless drive through.
The first time Nicole and Vince volunteered, there were around a thousand cars in the parking lot, waiting to be loaded up with food. And with the help of about 30 other volunteers, they were able to help everyone who came through. That was earlier this summer, and Nicole and Vince have been back nearly every month since.
This isn’t the only way that Cerritos seeks to help its students in need. Their Falcon’s Nest program is designed to provide resources such as food and hygiene kits to students who are struggling. They even take donations of professional clothing, to help students out in job interviews and similar situations.
Cerritos is even working to provide students without homes, with a place to stay. They’ve built subsidized town homes, right around the same area where Nicole and Vince live, where students can stay.
Cerritos has put a lot of resources into helping a community in need. However, as Nicole and Vince have proven, individual volunteers are what really make the difference. And for those who want to help, there will always be opportunities to do so.
“There will always be people in need,” says Vince. “It doesn’t take a lot of effort. Just show up and have the heart to want to do something for someone else.”
Nicole agrees. “Jesus said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,’” she says. “This would be so much of a better world, if we think of others before ourselves.”
ABOUT THE CERRITOS FOOD DRIVE AND FALCON’S NEST
The Cerritos Food Drive is a monthly event to provide food and other resources to families in need, in partnership with the L.A. Food Bank. Before the pandemic, the food drive was held bimonthly, and served around 500 students. Since expanding to serve the entire community, the drive is now held monthly, and serves as many as 1,300 people. They recently celebrated helping their 30,000th family, and distributing their one millionth pound of food.
The Falcon’s Nest program is designed to help Cerritos students with basic needs. That includes food, shower and laundry facilities, physical and mental healthcare, and more. They also have seven recently built townhouses within a few blocks of campus, which they provide to students free, or low rent.
To learn more about Cerritos College’s efforts to provide for the needs of its students and the community, go to https://www.cerritos.edu/