Community Aid & Resources in the Press

  • November 23, 2014 – Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter, Jessica York, writes about CARe


SANTA CRUZ >> Stormy Gard wiggled her toes, nails painted pink to match her hair, as UC Santa Cruz student Diane Choi eased them into a small bathtub filled with hot water, soap and soothing minerals.

Gard was one of a large crowd of people who quickly lined up in the Homeless Services Center parking lot Sunday morning to take advantage of a free healthcare clinic. The event was one of several large- and small-sized clinics organized by UC Santa Cruz student-run group, Community Aid and Resources or CARe, since 2011.

Although she was late for finding the right winter coat, Gard, a Hawaii native who moved to Santa Cruz in 1968, said she found a good pair of shoes that would suit her. She said she has not often had the time or opportunity relax in a foot bath in the 16 years she has been homeless.

“We don’t have any little tiny tubs that we can put by our bed area and then soak,” said Gard, a diabetic slowly recovering from double hip surgery and other ailments. “I think it’s all great. Because I’m on a fixed income, like a lot of people, and we just can’t do the things we want, money-wise, so this is really great.”

The CARe clinics rely on fundraisers, a school grant, and some donations from churches to continue offering supplies ranging from winter clothing accessories to hygiene products, from health consultations to hair cuts. Within the first hour, the line of supply tables was nearly laid bare, and some attendees said they were left looking for more.

Choi, prepared to begin working on a callous on Gard’s foot, said she joined CARe this year because of how the group is “really providing for the community” in a way not many others are.

“I thought it would be nice to give back to the community and get to know more people,” said the third-year UC Santa Cruz student studying biology. “You have to have the right heart.”

Across the parking lot, Christian Cruz sat in his electric wheel chair in front of a dental hygiene display. Nearby, his blond twin 4-year-old twin daughters, Chloe and Ella Cruz, were gripping new toothbrushes and discussing their teeth brushing habits with volunteers.

Cruz said he was grateful for Sunday’s health clinic. He added that connecting homeless attendees with long-term services, like Social Security benefits, would be even better.

For now, Cruz said has secured temporary shelter for himself and his daughters, but fears he will have to move out of the county when his time is up, due to Santa Cruz’s lack of available affordable housing vouchers. He has lived in Santa Cruz for the past 40 years.

“All the different stories around here, they’re working people. These are the working poor,” Cruz said. “They want to live in Santa Cruz — it’s their home. But it’s not a popular time to be poor in Santa Cruz right now.”

CARe co-directors Yasmin Peled, Lauren Crowther and Gergana Mishkova, said their involvement with the clinics has had a life-changing impact on each in the several years they have been involved. The three, each considering future careers in the medical field, said they have each modified their future plans to include volunteering or working with low-income and needier patients. They said they are more compassionate to the homeless, and people in general, since they began with CARe.

“Before, I think I wanted to do something bad-ass, something that would make me some money, like be a surgeon,” said Crowther, a bio-chemistry and molecular biology major. “But now I feel like I want to go work in a low-income community, be a general practitioner. Now I feel like it’s more about helping people. The payoff may not be as monetarily as great, but your day will be so much more worthwhile.”



Contact: Yasmin Peled, < 334.9686

(April 10, 2013) Santa Cruz, CA – Yesterday afternoon, several CARe members volunteered as foot washers at Project Homeless Connect, Santa Cruz (Jimmy and Sean featured in the photo attached). It was a wonderful first time for our organization to collaborate in providing services at this huge annual event, and we look forward to doing this again in the future.

Yesterday the Winter 2013 CARe End-Of-Quarter Report was published and is viewable here (see below). This is a detailed account of our activity last quarter, and ought to serve as a good resource for people who want to learn more about what we do.

This Monday, April 15, CARe will assemble its first Small-Scale Clinic of Spring 2013 at the Red Church (formally known as the Calvary Episcopal Church). The clinic will feature hair cuts, foot washes (with socks), and distribution of hygiene products. CARe volunteers will also participate in the Kresge Day Of Service on Saturday, April 13, which will entail cleaning of Del Mar Elementary School in Live Oak from bottom to top.

We are in the process of organizing a campus-wide clothes drive, a canned food drive at local grocery stores, and a benefit dinner at a local restaurant. We will be assembling a full-scale clinic (as we do every quarter) in which we offer additional services like doctor and dental consultations in late May, as well as additional small-scale clinics before then.

Yesterday evening was also the first meeting of this quarter’s CARe Seminar, a 3-credit, student-led independent study sponsored by Kresge College at UCSC. We will be doing community projects while inquiring into such themes as Homelessness/Poverty, Health Disparities and Health Care in the United States and Santa Cruz, Mental Health, and What We Can Do. It is not too late to sign up for this course, please direct interested students or possible guest speakers to Matt Musselman <>.

Special THANKS to our existing partnerships with UCSC Student Volunteer Center, Kresge College, Kresge Service Learning, Global Bridges Foundation, the Homeless Services Center, Project Homeless Connect Santa Cruz, and all other supportive individuals and groups. We seek collaborative support from the community. Please do contact us if you would like to work together to help the underserved of Santa Cruz County better address their health needs.

ABOUT COMMUNITY AID & RESOURCES: CARe is a group of students devoted to providing free health services and advocacy for the underserved people of Santa Cruz County. Our action-oriented team assembles free health clinics throughout Santa Cruz county, co-immersing the UCSC community with a variety of the county communities, gathering around individual empowerment and solving social problems like homelessness, unemployment, and health disparities.

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Jimmy and Sean washing feet at Project Homeless Connect on April 9, 2013 outside the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

Campus Voice: CARe
Student organization operates health clinics for people who are economically disadvantaged

By Phil Garbrecht
Published February 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm
Courtesy of Brandon TabulaWe all believe in being healthy and having access to the things that will make you healthier,” said Community Aid and Resources public health coordinator Vanessa Kies. “It’s just a human right.”Community Aid and Resources (CARe) is a SOAR-registered organization in which UC Santa Cruz students research, plan and operate health clinics for people who are economically disadvantaged in Santa Cruz County. The organization is currently rallying its resources in preparation for a full-scale clinic coming up March 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz.CARe was formed in January of 2011 by UCSC alumna Sophia Petraki and other collaborators. Since spring quarter of 2012, CARe has been led by student and director Matthew Musselman.Petraki modeled the organization to resemble a 23-year-old UC Berkeley organization, The Suitcase Clinic. For the past two years, CARe has picked up the mission laid out by the Suitcase Clinic: to provide free foot washing, haircuts, warm clothes, hygiene kits, doctor consultations and many more services.

CARe provides small-scale services like those offered by the Suitcase Clinic. In addition, some full-scale CARe clinics have also offered produce and consultations with dentists.

Each of the 40 current volunteers and members in CARe goes into a clinic with the same game plan.

“With the foot washing and the haircuts,” said CARe public health coordinator Vanessa Kies, “you’re giving the client real human-to-human contact. You’re having a conversation with them and not treating them like dirt on the street.”

Members of CARe notice that seemingly basic services protect against many health ailments. Foot washing aims to prevent fungus and legions.

“We saw a guy at the last clinic who had lots of cuts all over his feet,” said fundraising coordinator Yasmin Peled. “We were able to clean them out so his feet didn’t get infected and he doesn’t end up with something really serious.”

According to the Watsonville newspaper Register-Pajaronian, Eddie Tate, who was staying at the Salvation Army in November of 2011, said of CARe at the time, “I’m staying here right now with 30 other guys. They kick us out at 6 a.m. and then I don’t have anywhere to go, but I’ve been blessed right now, getting my nails clipped.”

CARe director Matthew Musselman said people who are economically disadvantaged need rejuvenation in emotional form just as much as physical form. Musselman first introduced a “pre-registration” structure at the full-scale clinic on Dec. 1. Now implemented at all full-scale clinics, it gives the clients a plan — a relatively small plan but one that translates into goals for the future.

“We have people sign their name and tell us which services they are looking forward to doing,” Musselman said. “We recognize a lot of clients don’t follow through with their plans, because they do not have a really predictable lifestyle. But when they do, they’re following through with a commitment, demonstrating that they want to seek help and want to improve their lives.”

CARe volunteers said they often form close bonds with their clients.

“You can see the gratification,” said training coordinator Patrick Huynh. “You know it’s real. During the clinic last quarter, there were times when people would come up and talk to me. I said, ‘Hey, let’s just sit down and talk.’”

CARe both conducts its own research and draws from professional insight in order to maximize its benefit for the underserved population.

Doctors from the Student Health Center communicate often with CARe members, to help the organization know which ailments most threaten people. Doctors have contacts with other public health workers and a beat on healthcare research — CARe applies both in the application of its scarce resources.

Musselman analyzes data from surveys that the organization asks its clients to complete at every clinic. Data has shown foot washing and haircuts are the most favored of currently offered services. As CARe grows, it plans to focus more energy on researching a population and specific area in depth, in an attempt to know which services will best suit that clinic even before said event happens.

In the fall of 2012, CARe had a seminar course held in Kresge College aimed at giving students tools to research health disparities in Santa Cruz and the rest of the United States. CARe is thankful Kresge College has worked to bring this class back in fall 2013 as an official class in the course catalog.

“We’re an action based organization,” Musselman said. “But in order to do that effectively you have to think critically about what you’re doing. So having an academic focus dedicated to improving the process of what we do helps us improve.”

In the move to open its umbrella of aid to a wider area of people who are economically disadvantaged, CARe hopes to begin collaborating with several graduate students at the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. CARe hopes to extend its services outside of Santa Cruz and to a broader base — possibly to veterans and recently released prisoners.

In light of the organization’s growth over two years, Kies reflected on what it really means to “care.”

“We’re there to ease [and to] do what we can,” Kies said.


UC Santa Cruz group provides haircuts, hygiene supplies to community’s neediest
By Jessica M. Pasko
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted:   02/15/2013 05:30:24 PM PSTSANTA CRUZ — Living on the streets can make it difficult to get access to the basic hygiene needs so many people take for granted, and a student-run group at UC Santa Cruz is working hard to help fill the void.Community Aid and Resources, also known as CARe, was established at the university as a way for students to help out those who need it most, and to bridge some of the gap between the school and the community.Throughout the school year, the organization holds various clinics throughout the area to provide items such as toothbrushes and tampons, clean socks and deodorant. Students provide services such as haircuts and foot washing, and at larger clinics, a local doctor pitches in to offer basic services.Sophomore Yasmin Peled handed out hand sanitizer, tissues, dental floss and other supplies to people at the St. Francis Soup Kitchen on Mora Street on Friday. Nearby, her fellow students helped wash a pair of men’s feet, scrubbing them and soaking them in hot water and bath salts.

“We provide small things that make a really big difference in life,” Peled said.

Sometimes a new haircut or a clean pair of socks can really have an impact on someone, members explained.

One man, who wouldn’t give his real name, smiled as he checked out his freshly buzzed hair in a handheld mirror. He said he was happy with the results, and that it had been more than two months since he’d last had a cut.

“People love it (the clinics,)” Peled said. “I was talking earlier to a man who said he’d been at one of our other clinics a couple of weeks ago.”

Senior Matthew Musselman, a neuroscience major and director of CARe, said the group has about 35 members. He got involved about two years. He had spent a summer training as an emergency medical technician and he was looking for a way to use those skills.

“It ended up being these continuous community events,” he said. “That totally falls into place with what I want to do in my life.”

The group relies on fundraising and grants as well as donations of money and supplies to keep their efforts going.

This year, the group is trying to expand their reach outside the city of Santa Cruz to hold clinics elsewhere in the county, Musselman said. So far, they’ve held clinics at the soup kitchen, the Homeless Services Center and the Calvary Episcopal church downtown. On March 2, it will host a larger clinic at the Homeless Services Center that will include clothing donations.

“Compassion is sustainable,” Musselman said.


UC Santa Cruz student Yasmin Peled helps a homeless man named Jedidiah clean and treat his feet during a hygiene clinic sponsored and staffed by CARe volunteers from UCSC at the St. Francis Soup Kitchen Friday.


UC Santa Cruz psychology and neuroscience major Adam Whitlatch volunteers to provide haircuts to the homeless at St. Francis Soup Kitchen on Friday.


UC Santa Cruz sophomore Lauren Crowther gives back to the community as she sets out hygiene supplies, including toothbrushes, floss and sterile wipes for distribution to the homeless at the St. Francis Soup Kitchen Friday.


Free clinic helps low-income families
Posted: Monday, Nov 14th, 2011
BY: CARMEN JOHNSONMatt Musselman (right), who trained last summer as an EMT and a recent member of the CARe project, clips Eddie Tate’s nails at the Community Aids and Resources Project free clinic Saturday. (Photo by Carmen Johnson)The Community Aids and Resources Project held a free clinic Saturday at the Watsonville Salvation Army, offering health exams, haircuts, food, hygiene care packages, foot washing and help with resumes.Organizers for the event, which was the first in the area for the CARe Project, expected to see between 80 to 120 people come through its various services. One of those people was Eddie Tate, who is currently staying at the Salvation Army.“I’m staying here right now with 30 other guys,” Tate said with a big smile. “They kick us out at 6 a.m. and then I don’t have anywhere to go, but I’ve been blessed right now, getting my nails clipped.”

At 300 pounds, Tate said he has trouble cutting his nails because he’s unable to bend over enough to reach them. The last time he had them trimmed was five months ago he said.

For the complete article see the 11-15-2011 issue


Matt Musselman (right), who trained last summer as an EMT and a recent member of the CARe project, clips Eddie Tate’s nails at the Community Aids and Resources Project free clinic Saturday. (Photo by Carmen Johnson)



New Mobile Clinic for Local Homeless
Student volunteers work toward building a healthy community
By City on a Hill Press
City on a Hill Press
Published February 24, 2011 at 3:16 am
Illustration by Kristin Talley.UC Santa Cruz third-year Sophia Petraki is at the forefront of a mission to bring a mobile clinic to Santa Cruz. The clinic would provide medical and hygienic services for Santa Cruz residents who are homeless, uninsured or financially unstable.The clinic is mobile because there is no set location for its services yet. Petraki and her team of students plan to hold the clinic at different venues for each event. The first event will be held March 19 on Evergreen Street.

“We’re just students trying to do what we can to bring a little more compassion into this world,” said Iman Barre, a second-year health sciences major who is part of the Care project. “We’re taking small steps to hopefully bring about some significant, lasting change.”The project was inspired by a Berkeley mobile clinic called the Suitcase, Petraki said. The Suitcase was started 20 years ago by a medical student and a pre-medical student from UC Berkeley. They went to the homeless people of Berkeley equipped with nothing but a suitcase full of basic medical supplies and offered their services.“I came across Berkeley’s Suitcase clinic online and felt that there was a similar need here,” Petraki said. “[The Suitcase] has three clinics: the women’s clinic, youth clinic and general clinic. We are hoping to make the Santa Cruz chapter.”To raise funds for the cause, the students applied for the Community Service Project grant at the Student Volunteer Center. The organization’s community aid and resources project is all done through the Student Organizations Advising and Resources office at UCSC.The project is being sponsored by the Homeless Health Project and the Homeless Service Center of Santa Cruz.

“We will provide locations for the clinic,” said Megan Carlson, volunteer coordinator for the Homeless Services Center. “I will be working with Sophia to give help and support to the homeless population of Santa Cruz.”

About 2,260 people — 1 percent of the total population — are homeless in Santa Cruz, according to the 2009 Santa Cruz County Homeless and Census Survey.

Petraki, who is a molecular cell development biology major, wants to be a doctor but would also like to be a medical research scientist. The 34 students she has enlisted to work at the mobile clinic are of all grades and majors, though most study science.

Petraki plans to use the mobile clinic to offer a variety of free services like haircuts, job fairs and foot washes.

“A nurse at Dominican hospital said that a big issue for homeless people is being able to take care of their feet,” Petraki said. “Not having shoes and the difficulty of maintaining hygiene are big causes of illnesses that can befall [homeless people].”

The homeless center in downtown Santa Cruz has places for people to bathe, but no products with which to wash. One of the goals of the Care project is to fundraise and provide people with those products.

“By giving our basic services and being mobile we can find out what is needed,” Petraki said. “Our goal is to fill in the gaps of what other clinics aren’t providing, like the free services.”

Another philanthropic endeavor in Santa Cruz is the Project Homeless Connect, a fair held once a year.

The event makes available booths that offer opportunities for people to get a doctor’s appointment, a dentist’s appointment, a birth certificate, a driver’s license or prescription eyeglasses. Petraki’s goal for the Care Project is to have this kind of event, but more frequently than once a year.

The project already has two medical assistants, an emergency medical technician and a doctor lined up, all working free of charge.

Petraki and her team held a fundraiser for the project at Woodstock’s Pizza on Feb. 17, and they plan to hold more fundraisers in the future. They also want to hold a dinner somewhere downtown as a way to draw homeless people in and get them talking about their health.

“[The Care project] shines a light on the issues of healthcare and employment for homeless people,” Petraki said. “It brings awareness, which is the only way these issues will be solved.”