The true meaning of community | Guest editorial

LWTech president Dr. Amy Morrison reflects on how the COVID-19 outbreak has brought the community together.

By Dr. Amy Morrison

Special to the Reporter

A lot has changed since the end of February, when Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) and the city of Kirkland found ourselves in the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. We are certainly navigating in uncharted territory in many ways, but while we are all adjusting to our new normal, some things remain unchanged, like the resolve, strength, perseverance and collaborative nature that is at the core of our Kirkland community, and who we are as a college.

Going into this crisis, I knew that the college had strong community support, but I didn’t know just how strong, until we faced this crisis, together.

After our initial emergency of supporting 17 students and faculty who were exposed at Life Care Center during their clinical training, I’ve thought a lot about our community, where my family and I live and work, along with many of our faculty, staff, and students — some of whom don’t live here, but choose to go to school and work here — and what our community means to them.

For more than 70 years, LWTech has trained students to be successful and thrive in their careers. We’ve done this with the unwavering support of local community members, business leaders, and organizations like EvergreenHealth, Ford of Kirkland, and Microsoft, who work with our students, and the college, to ensure our workforce stays strong.

More than 400 community members serve on our advisory committees, mentor and hire our students, provide internships and clinical opportunities for future nurses, physical therapist assistants, welders, game designers, auto repair technicians and computer software developers.

Over the years, you’ve supported our students by generously donating to the LWTech Foundation, providing scholarships, and program support, for our students. You’ve attended our annual spring plant sale, eaten in our student-run restaurant, picked-up baked goods from our bakery and visited our dental clinic.

When we asked for help supporting our students during this COVID-19 crisis, we had donors like James Kinsella and Robert McNeal offer to provide a challenge grant of $25,000 to set up a special student emergency fund to support students. Because of the generosity of many, we have matched their grant, and then some, raising thousands of dollars for our students. Our community rallied when our students needed help, the most.

And, when we found ourselves in the middle of this crisis, right alongside the city of Kirkland, our elected and professional city leaders were right there with us, providing incredible support. They have been the epitome of thoughtful, calm, and dependable leadership.

Like most businesses, we’ve had to pivot during this crisis. We took our college online to ensure our students stay the course and meet their educational goals. This has made us even stronger, and better positioned, to serve our community. We are now firmly in our new normal and we are already responding and retraining those who may not be able to return to work in the same capacity as before.

During this crisis, you, our community, stood up and supported us in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I want you to know that we are here to support you, in the days, weeks and months ahead. This is the true meaning of community.

Through this, we have all been challenged and I truly believe we will be stronger for it. We are filled with gratitude and ready to serve you and yours in the challenging weeks and months ahead. You are our community and we are YOUR LWTech.

Dr. Amy Morrison is the president of Lake Washington Institute of Technology.