After the enormous devastation from Typhoon Haiyan became clear, organizations like the Red Cross immediately went into action. Students at American Career College (ACC) and West Coast University (WCU) saw news coverage about volunteer nurses and doctors who were headed to the devastated country to assist, and they were inspired to do something to help. For nursing student Joan Azagra, it was much more personal; a native of the Philippines, her entire family still lives there.
“I spoke to my family via Skype right before the storm hit and they were trying to prepare as best as they could. After it hit I saw the news coverage and I was devastated. I was able to get in contact with them after a day or so,” she said.
Thankfully, her family members are all safe and are managing the situation well, but one of her brothers lost his home and countless friends and extended family are struggling in the hardest-hit areas.
“It has been difficult for me being so far away because I feel so helpless,” she said. “That’s when I started talking to other students about collecting items for the victims and then faculty said they would support us in that. We asked the campus dean if we could do that and she told us to go for it.”
Azagra’s efforts were shared with college administrators, who soon discovered that students and faculty at other campuses throughout Southern California were organizing a drive to collect goods for the Philippines. They even found a way to get the items to the Philippines; freight company LBC Express has agreed to provide free shipping for all items collected.
Leaders at ACC and WCU administration were inspired by the students’ passionate desire to help, and decided to make a donation to American Red Cross International Services, which will provide immediate relief and long term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in most need. They made a donation in the amount of $50,000 to honor the efforts of students.
“In the days following the typhoon, we began hearing from faculty and staff at local campuses that there was an overwhelming desire from the student body to do something to support relief efforts in the Philippines. A number of students and faculty have extended family who were impacted,” said David Pyle, Founder & CEO of American Career College and Executive Chairman of the Board of West Coast University. “At the core of the curriculum in every health care program we offer is compassion for others – to serve the community with dedication, especially at times when people need help the most. It’s no surprise then, that our students were inspired by the medical professionals who jumped in quickly to assist in the Philippines. This donation is in honor of our students and their overwhelming desire to help.”
“When I heard about the donation the school was making, I was overwhelmed,” said Azagra. “What a wonderful thing to do – it makes me very proud.”
“We appreciate this very generous donation towards our efforts to assist those impacted by disasters around the world such as Typhoon Haiyan,” said Marlene Woodworth, board member, American Red Cross of Orange County.
“Southern California is home to the largest Filipino community in the United States, and American Career College has had a strong relationship with that community for a number of years,” said ACC President Tom McNamara. “A large percentage of our alumni and the current student body come from the Filipino community, and we would not be the institution we are today without them. The resounding call for support efforts among students is inspirational and we know this donation to the Red Cross will make a difference in the lives of people who have been impacted by disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.”
“West Coast University has a strong relationship with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and I am thrilled we are contributing to the relief fund in a big way,” said Dr. Barry Ryan, University President. “We have been working with IFRC to arrange internship projects for WCU students as part of our Global Public Health Initiative, which allow students to focus on global developments in health care while immersing themselves in diverse cultural experiences. We are committed to educating health care professionals who care about public health beyond the borders of our own community, and certainly this donation sets a strong example for students.”
Donated items are being collected at the ACC campuses in Los Angeles (4021 Rosewood Ave) and Ontario (3130 Sedona Ct) until November 25. Those items needed include clothing, toiletries, blankets, socks and canned goods. ACC has partnered with freight company LBC Express, which will provide free shipping to the Philippines.