The WCC Foundation's Women's Council hosted a community conversation Tuesday focusing on how women and people of color have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moderated by council president Meredith Miller, the conversation featured guest speaker Deidre N. Hurse, Ph.D., lead analyst for systems integration and health equity at the University of Michigan Center for Health Research and Transformation.
The conversation also served as a fundraiser for the council's Women Helping Women program and the college's Student Emergency Fund – both designed to support WCC students in need of financial help to stay in school.
Opening remarks were given by WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca, who thanked the council for its tireless work to remove financial barriers for students.
"Over 80% of students who received financial assistance from the council were able to stay in school or complete their programs and graduate," said Bellanca. "These students then go on to become gainfully employed and able to improve their quality of life. We are so grateful for the council’s ongoing support."
Dr. Hurse's remarks focused on the disparity of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted women, people of color and those who are experiencing poverty. "We have a crisis of inequality," said Hurse. She cited the prevention protocols needed to combat the virus noting the impacts of poverty. “It can be challenging if there is no access to clean water, adequate living space to isolate, the ability to monitor one's health, or the inability to obtain disinfecting supplies. Women of color are bearing the brunt of this healthcare crisis and we must do everything we can to support them."
Dr. Hurse also addressed the need for community support for those who are struggling with child care responsibilities and stresses from isolation caused by the pandemic.
"It’s not often considered but loneliness is a pervasive and growing problem, particularly with Generation Z (18 to 24-year-olds),” she said. “We need to be sure we are reaching out to them with encouragement and letting them know someone is rooting for them.”
Miller closed the conversation by noting that the 57% of the WCC class of 2020 are women and many of them are single parents.
“No one is untouched by challenges, so it’s vital we continue to support each other and the incredible work being done at Washtenaw Community College,” said Miller. “It gives us great pride to know we have helped students pursue their academic dreams by eliminating some of the barriers they face.”
Started in 1996, the WCC Foundation's Women’s Council has raised approximately $650,000 dollars to financially support WCC students. In addition to supporting the Women Helping Women and Student Emergency Fund programs, the council has developed a variety of mentoring programs and endows a wide array of scholarships to support women who demonstrate leadership abilities and achieve academic excellence in their programs.
To make a contribution, text the word “WCCFoundation” to 56651 or visit the Foundation website and click the Make a Gift box.
For information about the WCC Foundation's Women’s Council, contact Tina Kashat Casoli, Director of Major Gifts & Development, at [email protected] or 734-973-3663.