GCC President Robert Pura – photo by Gerald Martins
We find the most hope for change at the local level
On January 8, 1964, in his first State of the Union Address as President, Lyndon B. Johnson, said “Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope.” He was talking of course about the large number of Americans living in poverty. He then declared “unconditional war on poverty.” Fifty years later poverty remains a national problem.
Poverty is the most violent force in our world today. It is the cause of more death, destruction and disease than any war or act of nature.
In that same State of the Union speech, LBJ went on to say “Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.” That is what we do every day at GCC by opening the doors to higher education for all who seek to create a better life for themselves and their families. Our faculty and staff replace despair with hope.
We do not do that alone. GCC’s ability to keep our doors open to all is made possible by each and every member of this community. GCC is but a fiber in the tapestry of this collaborative and caring community.
Over this past year, 3154 students enrolled in one of GCC’s credit programs and another 3363 students were enrolled in one of our community education/workforce programs; 405 students graduated with a degree or certificate; 359 transferred; and over 1700 incumbent workers received the training and education needed to get or keep good jobs at family sustainable wages. Of the 3154 students in our credit programs, over 53% receive financial aid and the GCC Foundation provided 298 scholarships totaling $281,978. Let there be no doubt that lives have changed for the better as a result, families have then grown stronger and so too our community. Not one of those outcomes would have been possible were it not for your support.
Nelson Mandela wrote that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” You might not feel that we can do anything about the level of poverty in the world, nation or even in this state. But we can make a difference here in our community. It is in fact at the local level where we can find the most hope for change. Access to a quality education for all who seek a better life for themselves and their families will reverse that dark downward spiral of poverty to one of light, hope and that of a widening gyre. You have made, and can continue to make, a significant difference in the lives of many, right here in our community—at its college; Greenfield COMMUNITY College. Together, we are changing the world.