Help GCC help the people of Franklin County

Published: 4/24/2019 10:43:33 AM

It seems like everyone in Franklin County has either attended Greenfield Community College or knows someone who has. It is the common denominator in our area for upward mobility. Stop someone on the street and you’re apt to hear a personal story of success and empowerment, or a fond recollection of a GCC teacher or staff member who took an interest in them.

For example, a recent Recorder profile of DIAL/SELF executive director Phil Ringwood had its own GCC backstory. Ringwood was a couch-surfing 15-year-old with a dream of earning his GED. “I had just started Greenfield Community College as an unmatriculated student so I could later take the GED test and get into a degree program.” Two years later, Ringwood graduated from GCC with certificates in bookkeeping and computer systems and associate’s degrees in business management and administration. “That helped set me on this road that I’m on now,” said Ringwood, who landed a part-time job with DIAL/SELF, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Ringwood leads the organization that has a $1½ million-dollar operating budget and a mission to provide outreach, advocacy and residential services to at-risk teens in the North Quabbin and Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties, trying to provide just the right amount of help at the right time — like Ringwood found at GCC.

“GCC was an essential piece for me,” said Ringwood. “(Admissions Director) Herb Hentz was around when I was looking at GCC as an option and worked with me at trying to get me in as an unmatriculated student. I built up a lot of positive connections through GCC, its professors, staff and other students, and I was creating a network of people a generation or more above me, age-wise, that were in the same classes as I was. So it definitely helped create a broader community support base for me as a young person. I think GCC being willing to make all those accommodations made a big difference.”

Last week, the GCC Foundation kicked off its annual fund campaign with an inspiring breakfast event featuring new GCC success stories, like Hailee Galandak-Cochran, an environmental science major with a 4.0 GPA who is deeply involved in issues of sustainability for the planet and social justice. Because of the financial support she receives, Galandak-Cochran said she is able to spend less time worrying about meals, gas and housing and more time thinking about her studies.

Leading the campaign is Mesa Verde restaurant owner Amy McMahan and Amherst Assistant Fire Chief Lindsay Stromgren, a GCC alumna (’95).

McMahan noted how many lives are touched by the college. “GCC welcomes everyone and it welcomes back students who have had to take a break because of life circumstances,” she said. “The school is the foundation of so many careers and career changes. I’m honored by the opportunity to support this institution that is so pivotal to evolving our local workforce and community.”

For GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernández, this is her first campaign at a college that is renowned for the support it receives from the community. “It’s wonderful to see so many of our neighbors stepping forward to support the college,” she said.

GCC’s Executive Director of Resource Development Regina Curtis, who enrolled in GCC part-time as a nontraditional student and went on to earn an MBA degree, announced that this year’s campaign goal is $1 million, of which the foundation has already raised about 75 percent. That leaves about $250,000 to raise by May 31.

Employers throughout the Pioneer Valley rely on Greenfield Community College for an educated workforce. That includes the Greenfield Recorder and we hope readers will join us in making a donation to the GCC Foundation campaign by visiting www.gcc.mass.edu/foundation or calling 413-775-1600.




Greenfield Recorder

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Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
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