Home > Blog > A Student Resource Coordinator, Ellen DeGeneres and a Heart for Others
by Nyla on March 28, 2012 · 4:58 pm
It was the first time I searched for my interviewee on YouTube. Maybe it should be done more often.
Reneisha Wilkes, one of SJVC’s own, has quite a few hits on YouTube. Maybe it’s because she’s put in more community service hours in Southern California than anyone else. Or maybe it’s because Ellen DeGeneres gave her a new car and $10,000. Or maybe both.
Either way, this is one student resource coordinator you need to know more about.
Wilkes started her own non-profit organization when she was 14, and almost by accident. The daughter of a single mom, Wilkes noticed her mom’s efforts to make ends meet and wanted to do as much as she could to help.
“I started looking for free resources and I saw lots of things I didn’t necessarily need but I knew other people could use,” said Wilkes.
Reneisha started making flyers listing these resources and gave them to friends – “…and it blew up from there!” said Wilkes. “I had parents waiting for me after school for the resources I had.”
Aside from being philanthropic, Wilkes also laughingly describes herself as being “environmentally friendly” – and with her quickly expanding following, she found flyers were no longer her best choice. She brought the seedling non-profit of her teenage years into the 21st century by creating a website in response to the demand, now called someonehelpme.com.
With a current count of over 72 volunteers through the US and 10-20 thousand website hits a week, Wilkes’ natural response to need has reached national proportions.
“The volunteers that help with the non-profit are from all around the US and I get connected with them as they come across the website or by word of mouth…”
And word of mouth is what brought Reneisha to the Ellen DeGeneres show early last year. It was Ellen who inspired Wilkes to do what she could to help those around her and it was Ellen in turn who helped Reneisha do so.
“I was catching four to five busses to get to my contacts and projects…I got a phone call inviting me to the show and I won Ellen’s first ‘volunteer of the month’ award…” But Wilkes never expected to also be given a brand new car and $10,000.
“She [Ellen] was always trying to give back and help people,” said Wilkes. “I come from a family who was always looking to give, no matter what our situation is, we’re looking to better someone else’s situation.” And now that’s what Wilkes does not only through her non-profit organization, but also through her position as Student Resource Coordinator for SJVC’s Rancho Cucamonga campus.
“I don’t get paid for the non-profit so it works out to get paid for what I do!” said Wilkes. Her job includes helping students with their personal life so they can focus on and do well in their education. Reneisha’s aid with services from legal assistance to childcare to laundry detergent and groceries help students stay in school and focused so they don’t have to stress.
“There was one particular student…her and her family were sleeping in the car. When I found out, I immediately got them placed in a low income apartment and was able to help them out weekly with food,” said Wilkes.
In the last year, students under Wilkes’ encouragement have completed over 21,000 scholarships submissions and have been awarded over 116 scholarships. 23 students have been successfully placed in low income housing and Wilkes’ connections have provided donations for dairy products, Top Ramen, Cup ‘o Noodles, general grocery and gas cards and child care through a low income program. In the last six months, students under Reneisha’s oversight have completed over 2,380 hours of community service.
SJVC couldn’t be more proud of Reneisha – both as a graduate of the CMA program at the Hesperia campus and now her position at Rancho Cucamonga.
“Do scholarships!” says Reneisha to all current students. “Motivation [to do scholarships] is the biggest struggle because it take a lot just to go back to school so the extra push for scholarships is a lot but if I could pay off my tuition with scholarships – and I didn’t have a special story or anything – they can do the same thing.”
To see Reneisha at the Ellen DeGeneres show, follow the link below:
Posted in Faculty Spotlights / Ontario