SFCC’s spirit of giving felt throughout 2020

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More the 50,000 meals served. From left to right: SFCC Culinary Arts Lead Instructor Chef Jerry Dakan, Chef-Instructor Chloe Friedman, SFCC President Becky Rowley, Ph.D., Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber, SFCC Foundation Board President Carmen Gonzales, Ph.D., Robert Egger, World Central Kitchen Board Member and City of Santa Fe Food Security Liaison.

As SFCC reflects on this past year, while 2020 was one with many challenges it also offered opportunities for everyone to tap into their strengths and creativity to give back to our community. The words innovation and pivot became key over the course of the year. The campus pulled together with a spirit of giving that continues, not just for the holidays but every day. 

A COVID Task Force was formed to determine how and when it would be safe to return to campus.   They developed a COVID Readiness Plan that SFCC President Becky Rowley, Ph.D., submitted to the New Mexico Higher Education Department. Following federal and state guidance, during periods of slow virus transmission the Task Force allowed a small number of students in programs that require hands-on work to be on campus for limited periods and adhering to strict protocols. SFCC’s Facilities and Operations Department staff kept the campus sanitized, functioning and safe. To control spread of the virus, most classes moved online.

“Everyone quickly learned that a campus is far more than its buildings,” said SFCC President Rowley.  “The strength of our college lies in the people who make up the SFCC community.”

Finding ways to deliver remote services and classes in an equitable manner

In response to the need to continue teaching and keeping students engaged, faculty worked hard to move classes to the online environment. Behind the scenes, the Office of Online Teaching and Learning and of Information Technology and the SFCC Library provided guidance, resources and tools. The Library and the Office of Information Technology became resources for students to check out laptops and wi-fi hotspots. Since the beginning of the year, the SFCC Library has lent students 165 laptops and this fall loaned students 43 wi-fi hotspots. The Office of Information Technology was available to help those struggling with computer maintenance and software issues and responded to more than 1,000 requests for computer assistance. OIT also worked to check out equipment such as headsets and cameras to faculty and staff, as needed.

Cori Bergen, Interim CIO of OIT said, “I’d like to thank everyone in the Office of Information Technology for pulling together to go above and beyond for students, staff and faculty. It has been a challenging set of circumstances and I appreciate the amazing effort.” 

Staff members worked in concert with Associate Vice President of Student Success Thomasinia Ortiz-Gallegos to personally call students to see what assistance they needed. A list of resources for online learning was developed. Advisors, cashiers, financial aid staff, as well as the recruitment team began visiting with students via online platforms.  

SFCC’s librarian Val Nye and her team worked fast to make sure they could offer the best online resources possible to faculty, staff and students.  When the virus was circulating at a less aggressive rate, the staff provided library drive-up pick-up services for those who wanted actual books, CDs and DVDs for educational or relaxation purposes. 

Nye also saw SFCC library’s critical role in hosting important cross-campus and community conversations. The library has hosted a series of ongoing presentations online.  Not long after the death of George Floyd, many in the SFCC community longed to discuss issues such as how to be an anti-racist. This summer along with s.j. Miller, Ph.D., and President Becky K. Rowley the library hosted a “Critical Conversation,” which drew faculty, staff and students. 

SFCC’s library joined in a first-of-its kind partnership with Bibliu to provide broader access to digital resources and content. (Read more about that partnership.)

Library Director Val Nye spoke as a panelist for the national ACRL-Choice Webinar on Oct. 1. She spoke about the SFCC Library’s work during COVID for the panel titled Equity and Access in the Age of COVID-19: How Academic Libraries Can Build a Better Digital Content Strategy.”

“I’m really proud of how hard our staff worked to deliver these services that provided a vital connection to our campus community during the shutdown. Our library has always been here to serve the campus, but now everyone is becoming more aware of the role we can play in assisting with online learning.” Nye said. 

Students, faculty and staff step up to help campus and community

In addition to the goal of putting the education of SFCC’s students front and center, many felt the calling to serve the community in a variety of ways. 

Two SFCC nursing students launched Operation Bandana that coordinated the making and distribution of protective cloth face coverings around the state.  As of the first week of December, the group reported that more than 125,000 masks had been made. Today, Operation BandanaNM continues to the deliver masks and other resources via the Operation Bandana New Mexico Facebook page to remote communities, such as the Navajo Nation. 

Interim Director of the Santa Fe Higher Education Center Meghan McGarrity coordinated a team of faculty and staff to assist with Operation Protective Gowns to produce critical PPE for health care personnel at CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.  A total of 100 gowns were delivered to the hospital by Thanksgiving. The team received a commemorative thimble and thank you notes.  

McGarrity received a note from CHRISTUS CEO and president Lilian Montoya and Vice President (Mission and Community Health) Kathy Armijo Antre stating, “While there are no words to capture our fullest gratitude for your extraordinary leadership and the hundreds of hours of time you have dedicated to the Protective Gowns project (please know that) the partnership that you are personally responsible for forging between CHRISTUS St. Vincent and Santa Fe Community College will be sustaining for years ahead.  We are forever grateful!” 

Face shields were also in demand. Miguel Maestas, Engineering Technologies’ lead faculty, sought funding so students could produce shields while engaged in research last summer. Grant money coordinated through a collaboration with the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation at NMSUColorado University-Boulder and Growth Sector enabled SFCC to get two additional 3-D printers, stipends for the student research program and materials to produce the shields.  

The team produced more than 500 shields. The PPE was distributed in collaboration with Make Santa Fe and other partners to underserved communities. This fall NM AMP conference coordinators announced that the community college competition winners were first place: Jeremy Sanchez, SFCC; second place: Karina Ornelas, SFCC; and third place: Sara Lanctot, SFCC graduate who transferred to New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Amanda Barela and Yuliia Trujillo were also student researchers.

When SFCC read a story in the Santa Fe New Mexican about a community effort to build student desks and chairs to help kids learning from home, several people in the college’s woodworking program began participating in that effort. 

SFCC’s project co-leader Mick Simon (adjunct faculty) estimates that between 30 to 40 desk and chair sets were made. Twenty were made on campus and others were built at students’ home shops.  SFCC student Bill Garrett was the project co-leader. Others who participated included: SFCC Governing Board Member George Gamble, Instructor Alex Reinhart, Woodworking Interim Program Head Edward Ytuarte and students Elizabeth Martinez, Jon Morse, Brian Tracy, Fernando Blackgoat and Peter Calderon. 

SFCC Foundation responds to help students and community

 SFCC Foundation immediately recognized how challenging the pandemic was for our students. Many students and their families lost their jobs and had limited computer access. The Foundation’s Student Emergency Assistance Fund was established, and it continues to be a lifeline for students during this crisis. The fund assists in paying for essentials such as housing expenses, computer equipment and medical bills. Since April, almost $50,000 has been awarded to more than 200 students.

The Foundation’s partnership with Chef José Andrés World Central Kitchen provided our community with more than 50,000 fresh meals. As restaurants re-opened in June, the 10-week initiative ended. Food insecurity, however, continues and the Foundation supports the food distributed through Campus Cupboard the college’s student pantry. About 250 well-stocked boxes and about 100 bags of feminine hygiene products were distributed since March.

As many in the region face job loss, the Foundation is instrumental in the administration of vital scholarships that allow people to retrain for a better future. Donor generosity also provides resources for quality education through new and innovative programs that support talented faculty and staff.

“I’m proud of how quickly our community responded in supporting SFCC Foundation’s work in assisting our students and community during this crisis. The need is great and continues,” said Carmen Gonzales, Ph.D., SFCC Foundation board president. “Your support makes our college a force for social change and strengthens the community.” 

Find out ways to give by visiting the Ways to Give web page or by calling 505-428-1175.