Mount students strengthen college and community though
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Knights in the Community
Through the Knights in the Community initiative,
student-athletes have mentored local youth and served Newburgh
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
“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.