Featured Story

Service Learning

 

Mount students strengthen college and community though volunteerism

Lending a hand at the local shelter, teaching young learners important lessons, raising thousands for cancer research, and more: It’s all in a day’s work for Mount Saint Mary College student volunteers.

Whether extracurricular or embedded in coursework, service is a core element of a Mount education. St. Dominic’s Order of Preachers embraces four pillars of life: prayer, study, community and service. Mount Saint Mary College is guided by these Dominican traditions and fosters a love of volunteerism in its students.

Lending a healing hand abroad

Instead of going on vacation for spring break, about a dozen Mount nursing students make a humanitarian journey to the Dominican Republic every year. The students, joined by dedicated faculty members, head to impoverished areas to assess residents’ health and provide care to individuals and families. During each trip, the group hands out hundreds of “health packs,” which contain soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a washcloth, over-the-counter pain relievers, and more. Read more...

In addition, along with medical professionals from the New York Blood Center, Mount nursing students also help spearhead blood drives at least twice a year. Each of the well-attended events garner donations of about 150 to 175 pints of blood. Read more...

Right: Jenna Bump, a Mount nursing student, donates at the college’s recent blood drive.

Literacy at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center

Weekly literacy programs, staffed by Mount faculty and students from across many disciplines, have long been a staple at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. One long-running program gives local children a chance to spend the summer writing and illustrating their own books before formally presenting excerpts to their friends and families. The course is overseen by Janine Bixler, professor and chair of the Mount’s Division of Education, Nancy Benfer ‘04, adjunct Mount professor and a fourth-grade teacher at Bishop Dunn Memorial School, and about 15 Mount education students. Read more...

Other programs include English as a second language, the multidisciplinary Family Literacy Night, and more. They are held in the Armory on Saturday mornings, weekday mornings in the summertime, and weekday afternoons during the fall and spring semesters. Read more...

Right: Proud elementary and middle school students read their self-published and illustrated books to their families at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center.

Making taxes less taxing for area residents

Year after year, Mount business students assist mid-to-low income families in tax preparation in Newburgh and beyond.

The assistance program is a partnership between the AARP TaxAide Foundation, the Mid-Hudson CASH Coalition, and the United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. Mount students train for at least 40 hours though classroom work with AARP certified instructors and self-study, then must pass an IRS certification exam before helping local families. In 2015, more than 7,100 returns were prepared through the program, leading to nearly $6 million returned in the form of tax credits and refunds. Read more...

Right: Regina Taylor '97 mentors Mount accounting student Christopher Sagan in tax preparation.

Above: Dedicated Mount students, faculty, and staff loaded more than 600 gifts for transport to Catholic Charities of Orange County. All gifts will be given to Newburgh families.

Community service through Campus Ministry

The Mount’s Campus Ministry is one of the college’s driving forces when it comes to service. Since 2001, Campus Ministry efforts have donated more than 2,400 holiday gifts for Newburgh families in need, and last year’s Thanksgiving food drive yielded 500 holiday food items for Latinos Unidos of the Hudson Valley. Read more...

The end of the semester brings an act of kindness from the students, who regularly donate hundreds of food and clothing items for the Newburgh Ministry charitable organization. Through a program spearheaded by Roger May, assistant director of Campus Ministry, and the college’s resident life directors, Mount students donated non-perishable food items and gently-used clothing as they packed up for the semester. Read more...

Knights in the Community

Through the Knights in the Community initiative, student-athletes have mentored local youth and served Newburgh since 2009.

Earlier this year, the Knights hosted more than 200 fans of the women’s lacrosse team to support the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FOJ) and the Knight’s “adopted” teammate, Brielle, a young cancer survivor. The game served as an awareness and fundraiser event for the FOJ. The foundation, which is based out of Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., helps improve the quality of life for children and teens battling cancer by pairing afflicted children, as well as their siblings, with local high school and college sports teams, campus clubs, and arts programs. Read more...

In addition, the men’s Lacrosse team ran one million yards for “Yards for Yardley” to help end relationship violence, and the lady’s softball team invited a 6-year-old cancer survivor to throw out the first pitch at a recent game. Read more...

Right: Six-year-old cancer survivor Joshua Winslow threw the first pitch at a Knights softball game.

Dominican Scholars of Hope

The Dominican Scholars of Hope is a group of highly motivated freshmen who engage in community service activities both on campus and in the local community. The service activities vary from semester to semester, and depend upon the interests of the students.

Rooted in the values of the Judeo-Christian and Dominican heritage of Mount Saint Mary College, the program seeks to cultivate the intellectual, spiritual, and moral capacities of students. The program is inspired by the four pillars of Dominican life: study, spirituality, community, and service.

Above: Mount student Amanda Pecorella discussed losing her mother to cancer and how it inspired her to move forward in her academics and her career.

Mount students make a difference

Mount students don’t have to belong to a club, organization, or sports team to make a difference. Hundreds of Mount students contribute to their community every semester though a variety of charitable events.

The Mount's Relay for Life has raised about $200,000 to fight cancer in the past five years, thanks to the efforts of students, faculty, staff, and volunteers from the community. In 2016, more than 400 members of 39 teams took turns walking laps from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to honor those who have or were lost to cancer and to raise money for a cure. Read more...

Through various programs on campus, Mount students have also donated hundreds of school supplies, visited the elderly and infirmed, gathered hundreds of prom dresses and sold them to community members in need for only $10 each, and more. Read more...

Other local companies and nonprofit organizations that Mount students have worked with recently include: Habitat for Humanity of Duchess County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, Sit.Stay.Forever pet products, Destinta Theaters, and Acadia Stairs.

Service that’s right for you

This is only a snapshot of the service Mount Saint Mary College students have become known for. If you’re a Mount student, or planning to attend, there are many opportunities to make a difference all over campus, or start your own service club.

That’s exactly what Kelsey O'Brien did in during her final semester at the college. The Mount’s 20-member Love Your Melon chapter has sold about 300 hats and raised nearly $10,000 since its inception in January 2016. O’Brien noted that the more the chapter raises, the more it can brighten the lives of young cancer patients though events like princess and superhero parties. Read more...

“You can change the world in a small way and it can have a big impact,” said O’Brien.

Right: Members of the Mount Saint Mary College chapter of Love Your Melon throw a princess party in honor of five-year-old Georgia, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy sessions.