CSU Voices and Views

A Call to Serve

By Andre L. Wilson,
Student at CSU East Bay and Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Scholar

CSU East Bay student Andre Wilson and his wife Tracy Wilson both participate in Midnight Ministry, a program to bring food and clothing to the homeless.

CSU East Bay student Andre Wilson and his wife Tracy Wilson both participate in Midnight Ministry, a program to bring food and clothing to the homeless.

I was on a dark path–a homeless high school dropout addicted to alcohol and drugs. I fought through those bleak days until I could find my footing on the road to recovery. Recovery wasn’t easy, it required faith and perseverance along with the strength, aid, love and comfort of others.

Along the path to better myself I saw a billboard that read, “Education can transform your life.” How true that is. The message inspired me to get back to school, starting with an associate’s degree from Berkeley City College. I’m now a student at CSU East Bay, who understands that education is the means to freedom–economically and socially.

Education is also a means to serve and better the conditions of those around you. For eleven years now, my wife and I have participated in a Midnight Ministry. To people on the edge of desperation, we bring food, clothing, comfort and the tools to get out of the vicious cycle of homelessness. We are not always successful in getting people out of bad situations, but one or two lives changed makes it all worth it.

My CSU degree has been instrumental in serving the homeless. As a human development major with a focus in gerontology, I have been able to identify services to get people (especially the elderly) off of the street. My wife plans to go to a CSU next year to pursue becoming a licensed clinical social worker.

I have met so many of my fellow CSU and community college students who bring the attitude that, “we can’t fix everything, but we will do everything we can.” In fact, I call on my fellow students to reply to this blog and tell us about your service, and how others can get involved in building better communities.

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  • Miles Nevin

    This is a great piece. There are many students experiencing homelessness throughout colleges across the country, and identifying this reality will help campuses and communities understand their backgrounds and particular needs.

  • Daniel Cole

    To carry this message is to inspire others. I want to thank you for sharing.

  • Angelina

    Hey Andre & Traci!

    Hope all is well in the East Bay! You truly are beautiful people :) Do you remember my son Marty? Welp, he is officially attending community college now and on a path to success. He remembers your wife and speaks of her often. You both a truly inspiring. Take care and keep on, we got your back here in San Jose :)

    Angelina & Marty

  • Ramon Gabriel Figueroa (Gabriel)

    Hi Andre and Tracy!

    Great to hear from you. Your message is beautiful and inspiring. Great work serving the homeless!


  • Tracy and Andre

    Mrs. Angelina!!! So great to hear from you and the magnificent work that is happening in Marty’s life. God is truely good. Tell Him that his winning and triumphant spirit was evident when we met him. Wow!!! Tell him to keep up the good work and we are constantly praying for you all.Thanks be to God that you are an outstanding role model for your wonderful and intelligent son. Midnight Ministry is still alive and well and are joyfully serving the Bay Area with much gratitude. We love You and your family. HEARST SCHOLARS ARE STILL ON THE MOVE!

  • Tanisha

    Andre, you and your beautiful wife are so awesome, and I feel lucky to have been able to meet you two in person! The work that you do is incredible and is making a huge difference in the lives that you touch.

    I was homeless once too, so I don’t have to imagine what its like, I know. And I don’t have to imagine the appreciation the people you are helping feel, I know. I felt that immense and undying appreciation when complete strangers cared enough to come in the cold night and give me a warm coat; when volunteers came to serve food; and on Christmas when someone gave me a book. These things meant the world to me — and still do.

    So in reply to your question, after meeting you and Tracy, I’ve decided to follow your lead. At every turn and every chance I get, I try to be that helping hand. Donating books, volunteering to work in soup kitchens and clothing banks, and getting others involved are ways in which I’ve done my small part to help.

    GO Andre and Tracy! And GO Hearst Scholars and world –let us all do what we can to support those in need!

  • Linnea Hoffmann

    All it takes is a little time out of your life to give back to others.

    This past Winter break, I was at a soup kitchen with a man who had recently been in the line to be served, now he is behind the counter serving others.

    He shared the extreme impact it was to receive a warm meal from a kind, smiling face. All it took was one meal to change his life, so that he could gain the strength to take charge of his well being again. He was so truly thankful.

    We need more students, like Andre, to be a comforting light to those in need.

    How much of a burden is it to serve hot meals for one day? Is it worth it to make one human’s life better? I think it is… Changing the world one meal at a time…

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