BELLE GLADE -- Volunteers across Palm Beach County, including instructors and alumni from the Cosmetology and Barbering programs and Student Government Association members at Palm Beach State College’s Belle Glade campus, helped get K-12 students ready for the new school year.
For the third year, the campus served as one of four locations for the invitation-only Back to School PBC! event presented July 30 by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners and the Office of Community Revitalization in partnership with the Spirit of Giving Network, the Children’s Services Council, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and other community partners. Back to School PBC! provided free backpacks, school supplies, books, shoes, socks, haircuts, health screenings and other community resources to students from low-income, homeless, and foster families to help prepare them for the new school year. Participation was by invitation only and students had to preregister to participate.
At the Belle Glade location, which drew more than 1,000 K-12 students, Cosmetology and Barbering instructor Deborah Goldman and adjunct instructor Beth Guarino provided manicures and hairstyles to those who registered in advance for the service, as well as walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis. Five professional barbers, including three PBSC graduates, Daniel Roman, Jose Sanchez and Josue Vital, provided haircuts. The SGA helped with check-in.
“It’s important to give back to the community,’’ said Guarino, who has been teaching in PBSC’s program for two years and who took a day off her second job to volunteer. “It’s for the kids.”
“I’m so proud that in all the years I have been teaching at Palm Beach State College, I was able to instill in my students giving back to the community, and several of them have come back to do just that,’’ Goldman said.
PBSC became a partner in the initiative in 2020 to provide an accessible location to serve those in the Glades, but this is the first time that the Cosmetology and Barbering programs provided services. As in past years, dozens of volunteers were on hand, including elected officials.
Dr. LaTanya McNeal, executive dean of the Belle Glade campus, said she is pleased the Belle Glade campus remains a site. Security, facilities, theater and Student Activities staff all helped with making the event a success. The other locations for Back to School PBC! were the Palm Beach County Convention Center, Village Academy in Delray Beach and the Edna W. Runner Tutorial Center in Jupiter.
“We continue to support the Glades residents and families as they prepare for youth to return to school,” McNeal said. “We’re happy to be a part of this event and a staple in the community. We continue to expand and broaden our services and enhance it each year.”
Houston Tate, director of the Office of Community Revitalization, which targets residents of 84 unincorporated communities in the county, said the event could not be a success without the sponsors and partners like PBSC.
“You want these kids to be in school on the first day of class. That’s why this event is so important. It’s not the backpack. It is getting the physical. It’s getting all of the services we provide,’’ Tate said. “It’s a big village.”