Dedicating their time and talents to improve a local public school, 42 volunteers from St. John’s University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences participated in the 19th Annual New York Cares Day Fall, on Saturday, October 19.
The group—which included undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and administrators from the College—painted murals, stairs and lockers; organized closets; and potted plants at PS 282-KAPPA VI in Far Rockaway, Queens.
“We are particularly proud of our volunteers and how they are living the mission of St. John’s University with their participation in this program,” said Russell DiGate, Ph.D., dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “To be able to give back to the community and make a real difference is a wonderful thing.”
New York Cares was founded by a group of friends who wanted to take action against serious social issues that faced New York City in the late 1980s. New York Cares Day is the organization’s annual effort to revitalize the city’s public schools.
Jacky Lu ‘15P, a toxicology major, hoped that his work would help inspire others. “I heard about this volunteer opportunity through the Toxicology club,” Lu said, while creating a poster for the event. “I decided to participate because I wanted to give back to the community and hopefully, give these kids something to aspire to.”
Like many of the participants from the University, site representatives from New York Cares expressed hope that PS 282 students would be inspired to continue this type of volunteer work within their own school. “One of the goals of New York Cares is to turn people who receive service into volunteers themselves,” said Raymond Ampil, education programs associate and site captain for New York Cares.
“We had a great time, but more importantly, we were able to help the administrators at the school gain access to the supplies they needed in the closet,” said Pulkit Khatri ‘15Ph.D. He and his team of volunteers spent the day organizing a storage space that had been in such disarray, it was barely accessible. “I would love to do more activities like this,” he said.
Sawanee Khongsawatwaja, associate dean of administration and fiscal affairs for the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, orchestrated the College’s involvement with New York Cares. She was pleased with the day’s results. “I’ve worked with New York Cares in the past and I knew this would be a great opportunity for our students to get involved,” she said. “We had a fantastic turn out and they all did a great job.”