Officials at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) are now accepting applications for the Student Services Host Family Program.
Implemented in fall 2021, the friendship program helps students become acquainted with the community, supports their experience at MSU-WP and encourages them to take advantage of a wide array of opportunities available in the area by pairing them with host families who can provide a “home away from home.”
The initiative is open to all students who would like to connect with members of the community while they are in West Plains attending college, university officials said.
“Feedback from participants in the Host Family Program last year were incredibly positive,” said Dr. Angela Totty, dean of student services. “There were so many great opportunities for students to create lasting connections with the West Plains community and build connections that will sustain them for the coming year.”
Families play an important role
Host families can play an important role in helping students adjust to college and to the community by including them in family activities, providing a safe place to relax and enjoy a home-cooked meal, and offering them a place to stay when residence halls are closed, Totty said.
“Host families have the freedom to provide these opportunities to students, but they are not obligated to do so,” she said. “Host families are not financially responsible for the students and are not expected to provide support beyond the comfort level of their personal or family circumstances.”
Kickoff event Aug. 30
Individuals and families who participate in the program are expected to attend a kickoff event at 6 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Carol Silvey Student Union in Hass-Darr Hall, 201 Garfield Ave., in West Plains. Students will meet their assigned host family and participants will receive training about the program and allowable activities.
Due to NJCAA requirements, Totty noted there will be some restrictions that apply for those families who serve as hosts for student athletes.
Area residents interested in the program should fill out an online application at WP.MissouriState.edu/HostFamilyProgram. Applicants will be paired with students by student services staff, who will oversee the program.
“We believe this initiative will serve to improve retention of our students because it provides additional support for students who may be living far from family and friends,” Totty said. “Our vision is this friendship program will introduce our students to the great opportunities that can be found in the West Plains and surrounding areas.”