Volunteers make a difference through civic engagement trips

Printer-friendly version Posted Date: Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 11:30

For Alfred State College Pioneers, making a positive impact in people’s lives is not something that only includes the local community. Indeed, the generosity and helpfulness of ASC students, faculty, and staff extend beyond the borders of the Greater Alfred area and into communities throughout the United States and even the world.

For example, some Alfred State College (ASC) faculty and staff members recently led dozens of students on service trips to Myrtle Beach, SC; New Orleans, LA; and Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.

In Myrtle Beach, a group of 14 students were led by Brittany Richards, ASC coordinator of student activities. The students who participated were Jill Anderson (business administration, Campbell Hall), Samuel Armenia (construction management, Tonawanda), Cory Farley (electrical construction and maintenance electrician, Cold Brook), Joe Farley (electrical construction and maintenance electrician, Akron), Felicia Fiacco (architecture, Elbridge), Dalton Fries (architectural technology, Olean), Matthew Landis (heavy equipment operations, Richmondville), Cassidy McCourt (sport management, Buffalo), Matthew Murphy (electrical construction and maintenance electrician, Buffalo), Elisabeth Rebmann (biological science, Attica), Chris Smith (electrical construction and maintenance electrician, Interlaken), Sierra Topolski (human services management, Cuba), Janaye Torres (nursing, Salisbury Mills), and Olivia Zydel (accounting, Elma).

dozens of students
A group from Alfred State recently joined a team of volunteers in helping to build affordable houses for local families
in Myrtle Beach, SC. 

During the trip, the group worked on two different construction sites alongside Habitat for Humanity of Horry County to build affordable houses for local families. Volunteer Matthew Landis said, “I think I can speak for all the volunteers on the trip when I say this was a life-changing experience, and I can’t wait to go back next year.”

On another trip, Nursing Department Assistant Professor KathyAnn Sager, MSN, RN, COI, led seven nursing students in community outreach at St. Anna’s Episcopal Church in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, LA. The students applied their knowledge from ASC to their interactions with a diverse population in the economically challenged community.

Specifically, the group worked with a mobile health clinical to provide blood pressure screenings and blood sugar checks. In addition, the students assisted with health education to adults and an after-school program for students between ages 5 and 14.

“The students learned to adapt to different circumstances, which will be important in their careers as nurses to adjust to changing daily activities and patient situations,” said Sager.

seven female nursing students
Pictured are nursing students who recently volunteered on a service trip
to New Orleans. In the front row, from left to right, are Amanda Rose
Fini, Sonia Nunez, and Emily Frentz. In the second row, from left to right,
are Dorothy Nicoll, Annaliese Corrao, Samantha Smith, and Jenna Towner.

The nursing students who traveled to New Orleans were: Annaliese Corrao, RN (Grand Island); Amanda Rose Fini (Campbell Hall); Emily Frentz (Cattaraugus); Dorothy Nicoll (LeRoy); Sonia Nunez (Apalachin); Samantha Smith (Eldred, PA); and Jenna Towner (Bath).

The group in Yabucoa worked with All Hands and Hearts, an organization with which ASC has maintained a strong relationship for over a decade. Nine ASC students were led by Physical and Life Sciences Professor Mark Amman in providing much-needed hurricane relief to the devastated community.

Altogether, this group included Amman and his wife, Carol Amman, an adjunct instructor in the English and Humanities Department; Krystal Perlman, help desk coordinator; Debra Mayes, staff assistant, Technology Services; Rawle Crawford, computer technician, Technology Services; and students Sophie Gonzalez (interior design, Kings Park), Esthefany Gordillo (financial planning, Woodhaven) Jermaine Dyer (construction management, Elmont), Daiki Kawakami (biological science, Otsu, Japan), Kevin Gordon (electrical engineering technology, Brooklyn), Keila Peralta (construction management, Bronx), Brooke Tillinghast (graphic and media design, Chaffee), Julia Wesche (individual studies, Angelica), and Robert Sturtz (construction management, Marion).

As students explained, Yabucoa was where Hurricane Maria made landfall. The hurricane brought winds that reached 150 mph at the beach, but 220 mph in the valley of Yabucoa, resulting in substantial wind shear damage.

“When I first arrived, I was in shock to see these people going this long without power and water. It really humbled me,” said Dyer, a construction management major from Elmont. In spite of all destruction around, the community members were extremely upbeat and appreciative.

Volunteers were split into teams for different types of work: sanitation, roofing, chain-sawing, and minor repair. Some students had experience with these areas and shared their knowledge with others.

Peralta, a construction management major from Bronx, noted how valuable civic engagement trips, such as the one she was a part of, can be, saying, “I would recommend this experience to everybody.” The wonder of being involved in another culture unlike your own was life-changing.

several students, faculty, and staff members wearing purple shirts
The Alfred State College volunteer group in Puerto Rico poses for a photo after a long day of work. Pictured in the front row, from left to right, are Sophie Gonzalez, Carol Amman, Esthefany Gordillo, and Jermaine Dyer. In the back row, from left to right, are Daiki Kawakami, Deb Mayes, Kevin Gordon, Keila Peralta, Brooke Tillinghast, Mark Amman, Julia Wesche, Krystal Perlman, Rawle Crawford, and Robert Sturtz.