Despite the school’s closure, Pierce’s Brahma Pantry still strives to provide services to students who may need help during the pandemic.
The Brahma Pantry is a program that provides services designed to help students succeed by addressing their physical, emotional and mental needs.
Crystal Kiekel, faculty chair for the Student Success Committee, said in a Zoom interview that a student’s ability to do well in school has many factors. Although it may heavily rely on academic preparation, Kiekel also believes that it can be affected by whether a student is meeting their basic needs.
“Our ability to be successful in schools is affected by many things,” Kiekel said. “Students need to feel safe and secure. So the Brahma Pantry quickly expanded beyond simply delivering food, to being connections to these many services.”
D’arcy Corwin, who operates the Brahma Pantry, said in a Zoom interview that the program continues to be a helpful resource despite it being online.
“We really want to address students with food, housing support, health and wellness and financial support resources,” Corwin said. “We really want to support them with any resources during this time, as we know life can be very stressful as a student.”
Corwin said that many students may need the pantry’s resources, but restrictions on campus have made it more difficult for her to engage with students.
“When I was on campus, I saw so many students, just because that was the nature of the community we have,” Corwin said. “Now I feel like I’m not able to connect with everyone like I used to. But there is still a high need.”
Corwin said it’s important for students to reach out if they need help. She said education is critical and wants to ensure that there are no roadblocks to derail a student from achievements.
“If you don’t have a full stomach, and you can’t concentrate, or you’re worried about how you’re going to pay rent, those are all really stressful things,” Corwin said. “I want students to know that they have a space where they can talk through all of those challenges.”
Michelle Reyes Leal, an intern who works with Corwin at the pantry, said in a Zoom interview that students come from a variety of social-economic backgrounds. She said that the pantry helps level out the playing field so that students don’t have any barriers holding them down.
“If you need job training, or if you need healthcare for lower-income families, the pantry can help you with that,” Leal said. “I feel like that helps equal out everything. You may have school, you may have families, and the pantry can help lessen out your stress.”
Leal also said the pandemic has brought many conflicts among Pierce students.
“A lot of what we are working through is cash assistance,” Leal said. “Many people are laid off, so that’s a big resource that many people have been needing. A lot of people just don’t have jobs.”
Students can schedule one-on-one virtual appointments at the Brahma Pantry website for more information and assistance.