Counselors Reaching to Students, Employees Affected by Hurricane

PCC counselors Mecca Waller, left, and Olivia Sutton place food and various toiletries into boxes that can be given to students in need through their department's Student Assistance Program.

WINTERVILLE—As eastern North Carolina recovers from Hurricane Florence, the Pitt Community College Counseling Services Department is doing its part to help students and employees affected by the storm get back on their feet.

Through its Student Assistance Program (SAP), PCC Lead Counselor Olivia Sutton says the counseling department has provided food, gas cards, hygiene products and other necessities to students, faculty and staff adversely affected by the storm. She added that they are still accepting donations of those items, in addition to toiletries, diapers, wipes and gift cards.

“We realize that the storm is far from over, as some faculty, staff and students have been affected in devastating ways and are working to rebuild their homes and their lives,” Sutton said. “We want them to know that counselors from the college are here and ready to support the entire campus community. We want to help.”

Prior to the start of fall semester, counselors set up a table during Convocation to collect canned goods and non-perishable items for their food pantry. Along with personal counseling and referrals to community agencies (when extensive therapeutic care is needed), the pantry is part of SAP, which was created to help students in need continue making progress toward completion of their educational goals.

“Many college students face academic pressures, financial struggles, family difficulties, and mental health challenges,” Sutton said. “A number of them need options for support outside of the classroom in order to achieve success in higher education.”

Sutton said PCC counselors saw an increase in the number of students utilizing SAP services after Hurricane Matthew caused widespread devastation in the area in 2016.

“Students who lost their homes due to the flooding were in need of resources to relocate, as well as food, clothing and other supplies,” she said. “Our counseling staff understands that student success in the classroom depends greatly on the how their basic needs are being met.”

Now that Hurricane Florence has passed, Sutton said counselors are reaching out across campus to once again offer resources and support. She said currently-enrolled students can receive confidential assistance from a professional SAP counselor by visiting their department in the Craig F. Goess Student Center (Room 120), through email (pcccounseling@email.pittcc.edu), or by calling (252) 493-7245.

For individuals wanting to contribute items to the counseling department’s hurricane relief effort, Sutton says donations can be taken to the counseling office in the Goess Student Center. Monetary donations, she said, can be made by contacting the PCC Foundation at (252) 493-7210 and requesting that the funds go toward the college’s SAP Food Scholarship.

Donations to the counseling department’s food pantry will be accepted throughout the academic year, Sutton said, adding that individuals can contact PCC Counseling Services for more information.