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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Online campus organizes relief fund for students and staff impacted by recent hurricanes

October 12, 2017

SJVC’s Online campus had several students and employees in Florida and Texas – and (to a lesser degree) in Georgia and South Carolina – who were swept into emergency situations created by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

“We had 10 students and 8 employees who had to evacuate to shelters or hotels, lost trees and fences and power to their homes,” says Kathy Vickers, Administrative Assistant for the Online campus. “Without electricity, students and instructors couldn’t use the internet to do their coursework or participate in online classes.”

Online campus staff and faculty not affected by the powerful storms, along with on-ground California campuses, rallied to help those in distress.

Pat Fox, Corporate Director of eLearning Curriculum and Instruction, started the efforts by arranging for substitute instructors to cover for those without power. “Staff stepped up to take care of classes and others donated vacation days to instructors unable to work,” says Kathy.

A committee organized to start a fund to provide financial assistance to all SJVC staff and students who suffered material losses in storm areas. Contributions were steered into an Employment Support Fund to be distributed to those in need. More than $10,000 in collections came in from other SJVC campuses, as well as the Corporate office.

Distribution amounts were based on the level of damage and hardship experienced by affected students and faculty. A financial safety net to help offset losses was greatly appreciated by those struggling to reassume their lives.

“We went 8 days without power,” says Tammi C., Online student. “Pat (Fox) checked on us consistently through the storm, texting updates when we had no power. We were in the closet during the tornado warnings, and she was letting us know what was going on. Saying thank you to SJVC does not seem to convey enough of my gratitude for the caring and the support of the team during this very trying time.”

SJVC instructor Cyndra had a similar experience when Hurricane Irma hit her town located in a coastal region. “It took out all screens on my pool cage and part of the cage, itself. The pool overflowed and took out my back lawn, and I have sinkholes in the sea wall. My foliage and bushes were destroyed.”

Cyndra felt the support SJVC had organized to help her family through the storm. “It was hell to endure, and trash, trees and shrub are everywhere. The phone (cell) was my only point of contact with the world. I appreciate the school sending the money. My insurance only covered a small amount.”

An anonymous recipient shares how much the College’s support meant to her. “It was so good to know SJVC had my family’s back the whole time with their support. That’s all it took to have a peace of mind for us.”

SJVC has long perpetuated a culture of family among its students, staff and faculty. It was reassuring to hear that word come back so many times from those in a position to feel its embrace.