Story and photo by Jerick E. Leblanc/Staff writer/@jerickjake
After 46 years as an educator, executive director of the LBCC Foundation Ginny Baxter is retiring June 30 for the second time.
“The first time I retired was in 2011 and the main reason I retired was that the college was facing serious financial trouble and at that time I was partly paid for by the college and partly paid for by the Foundation,” Baxter said. “So my retiring that allowed the college to not pay my salary and the Foundation pays my money and I was also getting a pension.”
The Foundation raises money to support LBCC students with book grants and scholarships and assists teachers through department grants providing college funds for various needs.
Baxter said her biggest project while in the position the second time around was helping homeless students.
“What we mean by homeless is that students may be couch-surfing, living in their car, one young lady lived in the garage, another one sleeps under the dining room table in somebody’s home and she’s not allowed in until 10 p.m. because they don’t want her hanging around,” she said. “They’re treating her like a charity case.”
The Foundation has been able to find permanent housing for five students. Baxter said the objective is to be able to provide them with a stable living environment so they can go to school.
Baxter said, “We also help them with bus passes, books and we have a food pantry here at the Foundation where students can come once a week and ‘shop’ for supplies.”
The Foundation provides necessities from toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, cereal, canned food, toilet paper and clothing as well as ramen noodles that Baxter said “seems to be the favorite because it’s easy. Just add water and they can heat it up at the Cafeteria.”
Philosophy major Luisa Juarez, 24, a scholarship recipient from Fall 2015, wasn’t aware that such services were offered at LBCC. “I knew that the Foundation helped with the scholarships, but I didn’t know that they do other services as well like provide for our homeless students,” she said. “It’s good to know that Ginny Baxter is really passionate about this and that she is staying on after retirement to continue her work.”
Baxter added she’s going to use her retirement party June 16 as a fundraiser by asking people to donate money for the homeless.
“They’re coming free so they might as well do something. So far we’ve received over $1,000 and we’ve invited the Foundation board,” she said.
After retirement, Baxter will continue to be involved with the homeless board because “that’s very important to me and it’s not going to go away just because I retire.”
Baxter said part of her job as Foundation director is to lead tours and she will continue to do that after retirement.
“I am taking a group to Washington, D.C. in June, going to the Mississippi River in September, heading to Cuba in October, India in February and Italy in April,” she said. “Don’t you feel sorry for me? I got my full plans after my retirement.”