In 2019, you, your friends, neighbors and community partners donated more than $1 million to the Walla Walla Community College Foundation. Your strong investment in our collective future makes our community more successful, more productive and more prosperous.

As a retired WWCC staff member and now resident of the WWCC Foundation Board of Governors, I have had the privilege of meeting dozens of students who have overcome significant personal challenges to enroll at WWCC. Many balance the responsibility of classes and exams with full-time jobs. Many are parents who have come back to school to give their children better opportunities.

More than a few students are battling their way back from the worst imaginable — addiction, homelessness, abuse. I am inspired by resilient students like Carlie, who feared she would spend her life as a drug addict. Today, with your support, she is at the top of her classes in WWCC’s Energy Systems Technology program and, most importantly, proud to be a strong role model for her children.

In 2019, this generous community provided $600,000 in scholarships to 514 WWCC students like Carlie. Your generosity means scholarships are available to all WWCC students in all areas of study. New recipients will be announced this spring.

Your gifts also made it possible for WWCC to distribute more than $100,000 in emergency assistance to students facing critical, short-term financial distress. Something as simple as car trouble or an overdue bill can push students over the edge. When you help overcome short-term need, students remain focused on their long-term goals.

When people have the opportunity to attend college, we all benefit. Students open to new skills and ideas; they learn the power of critical thinking and the value of contributing to the community. Most WWCC students find careers here. Their success touches our entire region: better wages, better health outcomes, less crime, and healthier, happier children in more stable homes.

It is important for us all to recognize that Walla Walla Community College is uniquely positioned to provide the most affordable, accessible education for all in our community. Your support is essential, now more than ever, as WWCC works hard to serve students with fewer resources.

The impact you have as friends, mentors and supporters of WWCC is truly transformational in the lives of our students, the college and our community. We thank you and appreciate your continuing support.

Sandi Madsen is president of the Walla Walla Community College Foundation Board of Governors.