Students at Niagara County Community College (NCCC) are still adjusting to a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual learning has replaced in-person instruction and plans for major milestones like commencement are being postponed in order to keep the community safe and healthy. The typical celebratory feeling surrounding the end of the college semester has a different vibe this year, but NCCC’s Class of 2020 is not letting this pandemic dampen their spirits. Graduates are finding new ways to come together and share joy with others through social media posts, virtual concerts, live cooking demonstrations, and most recently by way of a sweet offering to healthcare heroes, volunteers and first responders in the area.
In an effort coordinated by NCCC’s class of 2020, thousands of custom cookies are being made and packaged through a partnership with Tops Friendly Markets. The cookies will be distributed to local hospitals, nursing homes, firehouses, EMT services, the Niagara County Health Department and police stations in Niagara County as a small gesture of gratitude. Tayllor Clark, Student Senate President and member of NCCC’s Class of 2020 expressed her appreciation for those working to keep the community safe and healthy, “It is important for our students to honor their efforts because without these individuals, there would be countless more people suffering from this illness. These front line individuals are important to our life in society every day, but even more so today.”
Some of these cookies will be presented to former students and NCCC alumni, bringing the goodwill full circle. “NCCC has trained many healthcare professionals working in the region to combat COVID-19, including Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. Our graduates are using skills learned through classroom, lab, and clinical experiences to make a difference in our community daily, but the impact of their efforts is especially important now,” says Dr. Diane Pytlik-Flammia, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs for Nursing and Allied Health.
NCCC’s contribution of cookies is just one of many efforts to support healthcare workers by colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. This movement, #SUNYTOGETHER led by Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson is also raising funds for personal protective equipment and medical research to assist with the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to the encouragement received from SUNY, NCCC is also relying on local leaders for guidance through this pandemic. “Niagara County has been very supportive in providing leadership during this time. We are thankful to the Niagara County Health Department for providing assistance in identifying essential workers and the Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies who are going above and beyond the call of duty to distribute cookies as a token of our appreciation,” says NCCC President William J. Murabito.
“I think it is fantastic that the NCCC graduates are making the most of a difficult situation and thinking of the workers on the front line of this pandemic. As an NCCC alum, I wish them well as they move onto a new stage in their life,” says Acting Sheriff Michael J. Filicetti.
“Tops philosophy is Neighbors Helping Neighbors so we were honored and excited when we learned of the opportunity to partner with NCCC to provide the heroes of our community with a special treat and token of our appreciation for their service,” said Karri Zwirlein, director of bakery, deli & prepared foods for Tops Friendly Markets.
Over 18,000 cookies will be distributed to these essential employees over the course of the next couple of days. This extra boost of sugar and positive vibes is one small way to keep energy and spirits up for what may be the long road ahead.