On the teacher’s window is a hand that appears to be smeared with blood but it is not a sign of horror but of hope. There are a number of these red hands smeared across faculty members windows here at LPC and any student in need of help can now just reach out for that red hand.
The Helping Hands program is run and created by Nico Portugal, student and Inter-Club Council Chair. What the program aims to do is create a campus-wide support system for students experiencing any number of personal issues. Students in need of someone to talk to can contact any teacher who is part of the program who will help counsel them or direct them in a positive direction.
Students looking for help can contact any teacher or staff member on campus who displays a red hand sticker on their office door or window. That person will either talk to the student directly or point them in the direction of someone on campus who can help them.
The program’s creator was deferential to the staff who participates in the program when describing its mission, which seems to serve a dual-purpose.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with a lot of staff members,” Portugal said, “and I didn’t want students to feel that staff doesn’t care about students on campus. In addition, I don’t want students to feel like they don’t have anywhere to go if they’re going through difficult times.”
Portugal said that the idea came from a program at Wells Middle School he described as “similar but not to the extent I wanted to see it done in college.”
He was drawn to the implementation of such a program by personal experience, after having seen the effect that counseling for students in difficult situations can accomplish.
“I’ve had a few friends who’ve suffered from depression, or were on 72-hour watch,” Portugal said. “I wanted to students give a source they can go to for help.”
The program is purely voluntary and the staff and faculty who participate in the program all do so on that basis.
In order to ensure proper care, many students are referred to the LPC’s Student Health Center, and its site administrator, Dayna Barbero.
“Particularly in this time of the year with the stresses of the holidays and finals,” Berbero said, “we’ve see more people in distress. The goal is to guide (students) to proper community resources.”
Currently, the school lists 22 teachers and campus staff that are part of the program. Any student interested in seeing who is involved can visit the school’s web page, the “Student Government” link and find the section labeled “Helping Hands” next to the red hand. Those involved has their name plus their office and phone numbers listed.
In addition to Helping Hands, the Health Center can counsel student’s on many different issues they may be experiencing. The Health Center’s section on LPC’s webpage features a variety of links for students with potential issues, such as stress, smoking, drugs, sexually-transmitted diseases and suicide-prevention.
When asked what she would say to any student who may be apprehensive, Barbero didn’t hesitate.
“There are people out there that truly care,” Barbero said, “and are going to be there in a non-judgemental way and to know that when you see that red hand, you can be assured that these are people that really care. You can know it’s a safe place to be.”
Both Barbero and Portugal stated that the program has been gaining steam as more people are beginning to utilize the services available through the Health Center.
According to Barbero, more people who’ve seen the red hand and know what it’s about have been coming in to seek help for a variety of issues.
The next step, Portugal said, is to keep the program running and begin to publicize it more.
In the end, Portugal stated that he wants to paint a good picture of the school and give assistance to people in need.
“I created the program because I think sometimes Las Positas has a bad reputation,” Portugal said. “I want to show the community that Las Positas is diverse and understanding to different types of people. I just want to help students in any way I can.”