(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College Chancellor Mike Reeser met with students affected by the Feb. 7 Bluebonnet Inn dorm fire on the Sweetwater campus at a 2 p.m. gathering today.
Chancellor Reeser reiterated his support for the students.
“When you enroll in TSTC, you become family,” he told the students. “When tragedy happens, a family gathers together. This meeting is to continue that opportunity for you to know that we care. We’re here for you.”
Reeser said the college will do whatever it can to help students stay on track.
“We’re going to make sure that we do everything in our power to make sure you reach the goal you set — to be a technician in a high-paying field,” he said. “We’re going to do all that we can to make sure this tragedy doesn’t deter you, and the way we’re going to do that is with our support for you.”
While no one was injured in the fire, the dorm and the students’ belongings inside were a total loss. TSTC provided books and tools to the students affected, and elected officials, TSTC supporters, area colleges, businesses, churches and community members from the region have generously offered assistance.
At the meeting, the students were presented with gift cards from Trinity Baptist Church, 4th & Elm Church of Christ and Goodwill-West Texas’ Grounds Division to help replace lost possessions. EMA Electromechanics also made a donation to help the students.
“The community really responded,” said TSTC Provost Rick Denbow. “In less than a week’s time, we’ve had a lot of people reach out. We’re still getting calls asking how they can help the students.”
Rep. Stan Lambert, District 71 (R-Abilene), also spoke to the students.
“We are concerned, and we’re trying to put ourselves in your shoes and understand what you’re going through right now — not just the loss of physical possessions, but some of the emotions and mental issues that you may be dealing with right now,” Lambert said. “The state of Texas is going to step up and do anything that we can to help you in this recovery effort.”
Lambert said he hopes to help ease the students’ hardship.
“I live in Abilene just east of here,” he said. “What I tell parents who send their children to colleges, and even the Dyess airmen, I tell them, ‘They’re ours now. We’ve adopted them.’ We’ve adopted you, because you’re part of the Big Country. You’re part of our family. I want you to know that we’re committed to do anything we possibly can to help you make this transition as soon as possible and ease your burden.”
Those interested in donating to the students can give to the Sweetwater Fire Emergency Relief Fund at foundation.tstc.edu.