ELYRIA, Ohio, April 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- When Lorain County Community College moved to online class delivery last month in response to the coronavirus pandemic, many students weren't sure what to do, as many do not have access to technology at home and rely on the college's computer labs to complete their work.
But LCCC faculty had anticipated this need and was already gathering donated and refurbished computers through the college's Computer Recycling program to give to students in need. "I anticipated a great need for computers as we moved to online delivery of classes," said LCCC Professor Hikmat Chedid.
Hikmat Chedid teaches courses in computer maintenance and networking, applied electronics and digital forensics and has coordinated the Computer Recycling program for 20 years. So far, 35 computers have been distributed to students in need and said he receives about six new applications a day.
"We are supplying students with the computer in real time," Chedid said. "Once I receive their application, I evaluate it within an hour. This goes on around the clock." He anticipates that this need will continue for the next several weeks.
Supplying free computers is just one of the ways in which LCCC is helping its students succeed during the pandemic. But for LCCC, this type of support is nothing new—it's part of the college's culture. But it's even greater since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our nation and our local community.
"While the pandemic has certainly challenged our institution to adjust the ways we serve our students and our community, I am so proud that our faculty and staff continue to demonstrate compassion, care and innovation. Our culture of care has been a steadfast component of our culture for years, and during these times the value if having that as our guiding principal has encouraged some remarkable results," said LCCC President Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D.
"The need for assistance with things like food, rent, utilities, computers and personal counseling for students doesn't go away in these times," said Tracey Maxwell, director of LCCC's Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC). "It's intensified."
One of the biggest needs for students and the community is food. As many people have been displaced from work and all but essential businesses have closed, the need has risen.
"In the past we would see about 45 people a day," said Charlene Dellipoala, coordinator of the Commodore Cupboard, LCCC's food pantry. "But we've been averaging about 125 people a day now. The longer the shutdown continues the more need we'll see."
One of the students Dellipoala sees is Victoria Gildone of North Ridgeville. "It's just me and my mom and we don't make a whole lot of money between us, so things like the food pantry at the ARC have really helped me keep up with having food on the table," said Gildone, 20. "I'm incredibly grateful to LCCC for all that it's done for me."
Commodore Cupboard is funded and supplied in part by Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio and other donations from organizations and individuals in the community. "We are always happy to accept donations as we generally run out of high demand products before we get our delivery from Second Harvest," Dellipoala said.
The LCCC bookstore, Commodore Books and More, has been busy as well developing creative solutions to help students continue their academic progress.
"We have processed over 150 orders online during the past few weeks," said bookstore Manager Patty Clark. "We send out books and technology devices that the students need to succeed while taking classes online – and we are even waiving all shipping charges."
Some bookstore staff are working in store to handle student requests and questions. "So many students call the bookstore with questions regarding all areas of the college so we're happy we can be there to help," Clark said.
And their help has been invaluable to students like Lynn Pedraza, 48, of Sheffield Lake. Pedraza said she needed an activation code for one of her nursing courses that she forgot to purchase back in January.
"It was my oversight that I didn't confirm I had it back in January," Pedraza said. "Of course, I needed it to complete an assignment in two days, and everything was already shut down because of the coronavirus. John (Bailey), at the bookstore, helped me and shipped it out the same day."
She was able to complete her assignment without missing a beat. "The peace of mind for me was priceless," Pedraza said.
LCCC serves nearly 15,000 students each year and plans to continue to adapt to the changing needs of the community as the pandemic impacts our nation and our local residents. "Our culture of care remains the driving force behind our decisions and our innovations – and that will continue even beyond COVID-19," said Ballinger.