Selkirk College students struggling financially through the COVID-19 pandemic have been wrapped in kindness by the greater community.
In early-April, Selkirk College Foundation started the COVID-19 Student Relief Campaign to raise funds for those learners facing emergency financial situations. Donations poured in from community members, retirees, Selkirk College staff, unions, local business and students themselves with an extraordinary $93,235 raised over a four-week period.
Community response to the Selkirk College COVID-19 Student Relief Campaign has been tremendous with $93,235 raised in four weeks for emergency financial support. Thanking the community on behalf of Selkirk College are (L-R): President Angus Graeme, Manager of Advancement & Community Relations Stephanie Gobin, Vice President of Students & Advancement John Kincaid and Advancement Coordinator Kelsey Baerg.
“The generosity on display is heartwarming,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme. “The crisis we are all facing has brought out the best in people in so many ways, and this is a perfect example. Students who choose to study and train at Selkirk College can clearly see that the community has their back both now and into the future. We are deeply grateful to all who donated to the campaign.”
Helping Students Through Difficult Challenges
The aim of the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund is to provide short-term emergency funds to assist those students who have explored all other government supports and still fall short when it comes to paying for food, rent and school-related technology required to complete studies.
Donations to the COVID-19 Student Relief Campaign have come from a wide variety of individuals, businesses and organizations. Lead gifts have been provided by the Selkirk College Students’ Union and Local 26 of the Public & Private Workers of Canada (PPWC) Union. Selkirk College Foundation provided matching funds and collectively the total reached well over the initial $60,000 goal.
Selkirk College’s Financial Aid Office has been dispersing funds to students since the first week of the campaign in order to provide immediate relief to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. More than 700 students have applied for the emergency bursary with collective need in excess of $600,000.
In early-April, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training announced a one-time investment of $3.5 million in emergency financial assistance for students at all 25 public post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. Selkirk College’s allotment of that fund totals $140,000, which has been used to bolster donor-raised funds to deliver $208,200 in emergency funding to 418 students to date. The Financial Aid team continues to rapidly adjudicate and deliver funding to students as needed.
Gratitude Runs Deep
A single mom in the Social Service Worker Program, Ruth Currie was hit hard by the interruption and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March. With a four-year-old daughter at home and the Winter Semester to complete via distance learning, normal financial stress was elevated. Currie applied for the emergency funding and in late-April received confirmation of her bursary.
“I was elated and breathless when I received the email, all the stress was immediately lifted,” says the 33-year-old Castlegar resident. “I was falling into a trap of having no income, so having the financial help to fall back on at this particular time was such a huge relief.”
Social Service Worker Program student Ruth Currie was hit hard by the interruption and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March. A bursary from the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund has helped Currie and her four-year-old daughter Sephora weather the financial storm.
Currie used the funds to buy groceries and pay vital bills that threatened her ability to complete the term. Now planning for her second year of study at the Castlegar Campus, Currie forges ahead on an education she hopes will lead to career in social work and counselling. When she reaches her goal, Currie will not forget the kindness of donors.
“Being part of a community is really what matters when something like this happens, it’s appreciated and gives me more strength to pursue my education,” she says. “It warms my heart to be in a community that is so thoughtful, caring and supportive. That people care so much about the individual and the success of the individual, I will carry that into my career wholeheartedly. I can’t wait to help other people.”
The Federal Government has recently announced financial assistance for post-secondary students having a difficult time accessing summer employment to provide a bridge between school terms. Looking towards the Fall 2020 semester, Selkirk College expects students will continue to face financial barriers to their education. Regional funders, including Columbia Basin Trust, have come forward to provide critical funds to assist learners who continue to fall through the cracks.
“We have really come together as a community to help students now,” says John Kincaid, Selkirk College’s Vice President of Students & Advancement. “We expect financial challenges will continue throughout the year. Selkirk College Foundation will continue to monitor the situation moving forward and continue to work with the community and direct support where it is needed to ensure students are supported on an ongoing basis.”