COVID-19 has affected many people in some of the hardest ways, one being unemployment. Churches, businesses, organizations and schools have set up certain programs to help the community. Orange Coast College has expanded OCC Cares for students.

OCC Cares began assisting students right after Governor Gavin Newsom declared California on lockdown. Tuan Vo, OCC’s Pirates’ Cove Pantry and Cares associate, said that this journey in helping students has been a roller coaster for him and the staff there. “It was hard trying to reach students online while also trying to remember to be online ourselves,” Vo said.

Conni Oh, OCC student equity specialist, acknowledged that their program had its own struggle, not being able to start helping students virtually until late March. “The Student Equity office did not have access to the offices and other important equipment,” Oh said. 

The biggest challenge for both departments was figuring out how they would serve their students online. 

“The hardest part is not being able to serve students in person,” Vo said. 

Both teams now are a part of the team that helps run OCC Cares.

Student Equity keeps its focus on the students in its program and undocumented students. The program mainly provides school equipment lending, tutoring, transportation support, and textbook stipends. 

For Pirates’ Cove, they give a list of food banks to visit across Orange County. They also distribute food boxes every week in a system where a student fills out a form about the food they need and can pick it up in the Adams parking lot.

Vo and Oh say that the program is uncertain of the future, but has prepared for both online and possibly in person support for the spring semester 2020. 

“We are always here, whether it’s physically or online. We are only a phone call or email away. We are here and we care,” Vo said. 

Both Vo and Oh encourage students in need to reach out to the OCC Cares department through email or phone. 

For more information or to apply for help, visit OCC Cares on the Orange Coast College website

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