If you have heard me speak in public, I typically visit about Labette Community College's outstanding faculty and staff, student achievements on the court, field or mat and in the classroom, and recently about the construction of our new health science building. I generally end with a statement very similar to, “Thank you for being a part of the greatest community college in the state of Kansas, and I truly believe that.” Staff like to tease with me that they hear this at every in-service, but last week this statement rang true, especially for some of our student-athletes.

It’s not often that LCC students face serious illness, injury, or natural disasters. When those events do arise, the outpouring of concern, help and generosity from this community is always amazing. Our students know and appreciate the kindness of so many in this community each day. They appreciate the monthly Laundry and Lattes at the laundromat, the monthly dinners offered by the churches, the part-time jobs to help cover the sometimes costly advantages of attending college, the attendance at a ball game or art exhibit, and the kind words offered after a long day of studying for an exam.

We have several student athletes who live on the renovated floors of the former Parsonsian Hotel in downtown Parsons. Recently, in the early afternoon, several of our student-residents were getting ready to come to campus for their afternoon athletic practices when someone saw smoke coming from a teammate’s room. When the smoke alarms went off, Parsons fire and police departments, along with EMS arrived. Our students evacuated safely, some shaken with concern. The local chapter of the American Red Cross, under the direction of Mindy Kimrey, was quickly aware of the situation with our displaced students. These students are from out of town, many states away. The Red Cross held a meeting with our coaching staff and student athletes at the Canterbury Inn. While the Parsonsian had some smoke and water damage, the students needed an immediate place to sleep. The Red Cross stepped in and placed our student-athletes in the Canterbury until they are able to return to their rooms in the Parsonian. Their quick response gave comfort to our students and coaches while the students were temporarily displaced from their housing.

We all joke about how college students love to eat, especially a home cooked meal while they are away from home. After the fire, the students were obviously shaken and hungry, so Pastor and Mrs. Steve Shultze of Parsons Foursquare Church eased their nerves and hungry stomachs by providing them with some home-cooked meals. The Shultzes have been long-time supporters of LCC athletic teams, but their generosity was greatly appreciated by hungry students.

I cannot say enough about the generosity of the Red Cross, the Shultzes and so many other individuals, and businesses helping our students in a time of need. The staff and student-athletes at Labette are grateful for a caring and responsive community.

This is only one story of generosity offered to our students by our own staff and this community. Our coaches continually offer to give rides or a home cooked meal to athletes. Numerous employees give a friendly ride to campus when they spot an LCC student walking on a cold morning. Local businesses give our students an opportunity to earn money when their financial aid just isn’t enough to get them through a semester. Our faculty sends and receives emails and phone calls during evening and weekend hours, just to ensure student success in the classroom.

So once again I am humbled by our community. The support given to us during our capital campaign, the good will toward our students make Parsons and Labette County a very special place to get your education. We will always embrace the word “community” in our name. You all have made us what we are and we can’t thank you enough. Labette Community College is a special place and all are welcome. Please come by for a visit and see just how special we are.

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