Across Virginia, through food banks, public health events and other initiatives, our colleges have reached out to help their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many colleges have held multiple events. This story doesn’t claim to capture them all, but offers a sampling of their acts of kindness across during a time of need.
Danville Community College nursing instructor Jennifer Goodman put it well for all of our nursing faculty: “Nursing is not just a job or just a career, but also a passion for me. I cannot explain the sense of reward that I feel from helping others. When the Covid-19 vaccine became available for clinic distribution to our community I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and ‘literally’ the chance to save lives while providing invaluable clinical experience to the DCC nursing students.”
Over the course of a three-day clinic in January at Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill, Southside Virginia Community College nursing students helped administer Covid-19 vaccinations to 1,500 people. “I’ve never been more proud of our students than I am today,” said Dr. Michelle Edmonds, SVCC’s dean of nursing, health and science.
Rappahannock Community College nursing students helped to vaccinate 460 police, fire and EMS responders during a Three Rivers Health District clinic in Warsaw.
Also on the front lines in the coronavirus battle: respiratory therapists who work face to face with Covid patients who need their help to breathe. Tidewater Community College Respiratory Therapy grad Justin Seemueller (below right) helped to design adapters to enable healthcare workers to use existing facemasks when N95 masks were in short supply.
Early in the pandemic, we heard from several colleges who donated personal protective equipment and other sanitizing supplies to local medical clinics.
And colleges with 3D printers started producing masks and other PPE gear.
From Lord Fairfax Community College, we heard that LFCC IT specialist Arash Rohanimanesh (left) has been using his own 3D printers to fabricate face shields for healthcare workers. “My nurse friends said face shields are something they would love to have,” he explained. “Ever since I began, the 3D printer has been literally working all day and night.”
Recognizing that many of our students struggle to make ends meet even in normal times, most of our colleges established food pantries or other emergency food programs in the pre-Covid era to help students or others in their communities who face food insecurity.
Many turned to drive-through food distribution events when the pandemic hit. Eastern Shore Community College (right) was able to keep up a regular food distribution in collaboration with their local food bank, serving one of the poorest areas of the commonwealth.
Food distribution events began at our colleges soon after the coronavirus shut down most campus activities last March.
In one of the most recent, Danville Community College partnered with Feeding Southwest VA for a major food drive February 5. The event (left) served hundreds of families with fresh produce, dry goods, pet food, and information about community resources.
New River Community College organized a pair of food drive events in December to help students in need, collecting donations and providing non-perishable supplies at its locations in Christiansburg and Dublin.
Collaborating with other agencies has enabled our colleges to serve more people in need. In the event on the right, Germanna Community College partnered with the region’s food bank to help students and their family members.
Generous funding from TowneBank has enabled Tidewater Community College to plan for emergency food relief services for the long haul. TCC also set up a storefront food pantry, The Community Feed, in a shopping mall near campus to serve students and members of the community. In its first six months, more than 20,000 meals were distributed there.
With the majority of our courses now offered virtually because of pandemic campus restrictions, colleges have stepped up to increase the availability of wi-fi access to help students without good Internet service.
Numerous colleges also have found ways to provide computers to students to help them keep up with their studies.
Thanks to federal CARES Act funding from the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County, Danville Community College and the DCC Educational Foundation provided 500 free laptop computers recently to students to mitigate the hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic. “This is going to be game-changer for a lot of families because now they have what they need and they can continue their education,” said Danville Community College Jackie Gill Powell.