Gratis is a group of volunteers possessing expertise from varying backgrounds to assist MiraCosta College's disabled students in obtaining monetary support for myriad needs. Students with disabilities are able to apply for funds that will help them in achieving their educational goals.
Gratis was formed in 2000 when a small group of women came together to serve their community. They chose to call their group Gratis. The women of Gratis are not professional fundraisers or marketing specialists. Initially, there were four founders. Since that time, others have joined the group. The common thread is the intrinsic desire to assist others. There is no monetary benefit to the volunteers of Gratis. The service group's efforts are in accordance with the MiraCosta College Foundation's guidelines.
In 2000, I met Maggie at MiraCosta College. She was receiving services from the offices of DSPS and EOPS. As an EOPS counselor, I got to know Maggie well and offered to become her tutor for a remedial math course. As I worked with Maggie on her basic skills, I noticed a pattern of resilience in that she could handle most of what life dished out to her. She had survived an accident that left her paralyzed at the age of 18; she had survived living in poverty after her father became disabled with diabetes; she had survived her brother being murdered. However, frequent occurrences of her old, unreliable van breaking down and leaving her stranded caused her great dismay.
I decided I wanted to help. I wanted to buy Maggie a converted van that she could drive. A new vehicle could give her freedom to reach her goals. I networked at my children's school and asked others to join in the noble effort. Fortunately, a few gracious moms stepped forward, and we formed the non-profit group, Gratis. Our goal: Obtain funds through grant writing, community outreach, and fundraisers.
It has been a fabulous experience! Our efforts enabled us to provide Maggie with the van she needs, meet the $15,000 endowment requirements of MiraCosta College, and have over $10,000 as extra funds available for distribution.
I plan to continue my work as the founder of Gratis. I recently heard of a need to buy a converted van for the MiraCosta College community in order for all of our students to have access to transportation no matter what their special needs may be. I am planning to bring this idea to the attention of the group for consideration as our next goal.
Maggie Roman, 2002, Van Conversion System