This crisis is a different kind of disaster – one without a clear beginning or end. It takes resilience to traverse days of micro-decisions, managing the demands of the now, near and far. While this situation is new for all of us, such resilience is not new for WMCAT students and many others in our community. They have been juggling school, work and family; stretching budgets to unthinkable lengths; and reaching deep for the emotional fortitude to persevere since long before COVID-19.
We are seeing the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on certain communities. And while those inequities are illuminated now, they have been there persistently. Can we use this difficult time as a springboard for real, substantive change? I think we can.
Let’s continue to do the NOW work of responding to emergency needs and moving to remote learning. But let’s not lose sight of the importance of planning for the NEAR as it relates to success for our families, and pursuing new policies and systems for the FAR to ensure more equitable access to opportunity.
Below is a glimpse of how WMCAT is working now, near and far.
NOW: WMCAT Emergency Fund
“What do our families need to feel safe, well and connected?”
That is the driving question behind WMCAT’s work right now to engage our students in authentic, empathetic conversation, and leverage resources for emergency needs. With support from Kent County’s Coronavirus Response Fund, we will help families address immediate barriers and needs as a result of lost income, remote learning, and suspended work. If you are able to make a gift to WMCAT now, you can designate your support for our emergency fund. Thank you.
NEAR: Pharmacy Tech students interviewing with Meijer
We introduced you to Adult Career Training student Jolie last fall. A mother, wife, refugee and English as a Second Language student with the Literacy Center of West Michigan, Jolie has been working hard toward a career as a pharmacy technician. Her WMCAT class is only four days away from completing the program virtually and, thanks to employer partner Meijer, each student will be offered an interview for a pharmacy tech position.
For Jolie and her classmates, resilience is nothing new. What is new: a path to economic security.
FAR: WMCAT conference postponed, but renewed call to conversation
This pandemic has highlighted the inequities preventing prosperity, while revealing renewed commitment to the idea that our personal well-being is tied to that of our community. That is why – although we must postpone our June event, WMCAT 20/20: Exploring Conflicting Visions for the Future – our intention for this gathering will be more relevant than ever in the wake of this crisis.
WMCAT will continue to serve as a convener in our community: elevating innovative voices, making connections, and advancing conversation for a more equitable future. Read more.
These last few weeks I’ve asked for your support and friendship as we help families weather the storm, prepare for new challenges, and pivot for the future. Thank you for standing by us and supporting WMCAT students. Your friendship to WMCAT now will ensure we are here for the hard work of tomorrow.
President + CEO
West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology