Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with changes made for overall clarity and greater comprehension.
The annual Tulsa Area United Way (TAUW) campaign kicked off with fun activities for Tulsa Community College students. Cat Rockholt, human resources engagement coordinator, said the United Way campaign is a TCC tradition that goes back 50 years. Rockholt said that pre-planning began in late February of this year, but active planning began the last month and a half.
“We have one main college-wide committee comprised of 11 staff, faculty, and professional staff employees. Our chair is Paula Settoon, dean of Libraries and Knowledge Management. Additionally, we have three co-chairs: Sarah Wyatt, project coordinator; Tammy Upshaw, administrative assistant II; and me,” Rockholt said.
When asked what planning went into the event, Rockholt said, “Short answer – A lot of work in a very short amount of time from some very caring, compassionate employees who are committed to excellence and community collaboration.”
Rockholt stated that prior to 2020, the college-wide goal was divided between the campuses. She also said that there was one main committee that communicated with the campus committee chairs to streamline feedback.
All that changed with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. “After the fall semester started and it became clear that this blended remote/limited in-person work environment is going to be here for a while, the decision was made to reinstate the campaign, but we knew we were going to have to approach it differently,” Rockholt said. She reported that two months ago, Settoon met with Wyatt, Upshaw, and herself to discuss restarting the campaign.
They decided the event should be 100 percent virtual since so many students and employees are working at home. They believed the events should be coordinated as a one-college event so all TCC students and employees could participate safely.
When asked what events will be offered, Rockholt replied, “Amy Rubottom, assistant director of Student Life, coordinated a virtual 5-K where everyone signs up, completes the 5-K at a time and place of their choosing, and sends a picture back to her for verification.” Rockholt said that one of the college’s librarians, Adam Brennan, created the idea of an online Tetris gaming tournament which costs five dollars to play.
Rockholt also said that various staff members including Cami Contreras, project coordinator, have organized a silent auction where people can bid virtually on items donated from the Tulsa area. There will also be several master classes, which will be taught by TCC staff and faculty on everything from cooking dinner in an hour to making your own spa products.
On Oct. 26-27, TAUW partnered with Kendra Scott jewelry store at Utica Square to give back to the United Way. On these two selected days, 20 percent of purchases at Kendra Scott were donated to the United Way.
“We even have something called Porch Pictures where you can sign up to have two photographers come to your home and take your (or your family’s) pictures from your porch or yard all while adhering to social distancing protocols. The photographer will email a digital copy of your lightly edited photo once it is ready.
We are hoping that the TCC family chooses to participate in whatever level they feel most comfortable with as we really think we have a great selection of activities to appeal to a wide variety of interests,” Rockholt said. “Also, by converting the campaign to a virtual environment we have made it completely safe as well as convenient, which we are hoping will help us achieve our goal of $45,000.”
Rockholt believes that this year is important for all of us and the community, United Way needs everyone’s help and compassion more than ever. She exclaimed that one of the reasons why TCC has partnered with the United Way for so many years is that the organization focuses the donations to make the most impact on the community in education, financial stability, health and safety, which aligns with the college’s values of a Quality Education is Affordable, Everyone Can Learn, and Community of Our Middle Name.
Rockholt stated that all events are open to anyone but were created for TCC employees and students in mind. People can participate and support via the TCC United Way website at https://tcc.tauw.org.