March 17, 2008
During the holy season of Lent, the Office
of Community Relations joins with students and with other
departments in the University in promoting awareness of a variety
of issues affecting the greater community.
As part of the Division of External Relations, the Office of
Community Relations partners with varied groups to support
activities that benefit neighbors and friends of the University
throughout the New York City and Long Island areas. Among these
community services are health-related initiatives that respond to
the needs of our society.
Recently, and at a women’s basketball game in Carnesecca Arena
during the recognition of several women for “Women’s Sports Day,”
Margaret Cashin, Community Relations Assistant, was presented with
the “Think Pink Award” by the Department of Athletics. She
was recognized as a result of her work on many programs related to
the American Cancer Society
and other women’s health issues.
In commenting about the award, Cashin said: “Working with the
American Cancer Society has been very rewarding. This is really a
personal tribute to my sister, Sr. Mary Jane Cashin and our
sister-in-law, Donna Cashin, both survivors of breast cancer, as we
all pray each day for people affected by cancer. It was
overwhelming and humbling to be invited with my family to the
Women’s Basketball team on ‘Think Pink’ game day and given such a
great honor.” Cashin continued: “And our women won the game, just
like someday we will all win the fight against cancer!”
The Office of Community Relations, has been fully immersed in
ACS “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk” for over nine
years. A wide and representative University group of volunteers has
been put together who share the huge amount of work that goes into
participating in the Walk. The students come out in large
numbers on the day of the Walk to support the cause, and St. John’s
is ever so well represented on Queens Boulevard. The St.
John’s Cheerleaders, Dance Team have shown great pride over the
years by revving up the crowd of some 7000 participants, and
evidencing true Vincentian spirit.
The Office of Community Relations in conjunction with the Women in
Science program and Office
of Health Services, helps to organize several seminars during
the course of the academic year, for example, the Heart Health
Month each February. Another major activity throughout
the year consists in the coordination of University wide drives for
needed blood in the New York area, which includes Long Island and
all five boroughs of the City of New York.
The University blood drives, spearheaded by Community Relations
Associate Kevin Ryan, have broken all previous records, earning a
New York Blood Services Diamond Award in 2007, and are on pace
for another recognition for 2008. Most recently, the Special Lenten
Blood Drive at the Queens Campus that was co-sponsored by students
in the Medical Technology Society collected a whopping 243 pints of
blood, one of the highest for a single drive in the recorded
history of the University. A February drive on the Staten Island
campus collected 46 pints. It is estimated that with that amount of
blood donation, some 1,000 persons will have been helped in the
greater community by St. John's University blood donations.
In addition to the recognition last year, the University was also
named a winner of the Long Island Blood Services 2007-08 Collegiate
Challenge, acknowledging St. John’s as one of the leading blood
donor sites on Long Island and Queens. Colleges in Nassau, Suffolk
and Queens were challenged to increase donations by 15% at their
Fall 2007 blood drives. St. John’s achieved a 24% increase and was
recognized in the education supplement of Long Island Business
A new initiative in winter of the academic year 2007-08 has been
the cooperation lent to the Office of Learning Support Services and
the Department of Athletics in donating hundreds of STJ seat
cushions to volunteers in the NYS Multiple Sclerosis consortium.
The Red Storm cushions have made the volunteers, who are themselves
afflicted with MS, more comfortable on their wheelchairs and also
show the University’s support in true Vincentian spirit. In
addition, the University has continued its support of the St.
Mary’s Hospital Walkathon annually, as well as the Walk for the
Queens Center for Progress.
In commenting about all these various initiatives Joseph Sciame,
Vice President for Community Relations, indicated that: “When one
reflects upon the Lenten season, one cannot help but realize all of
the needs of our society. In responding to those many needs,
the University is well represented in the area of health and
charities. Most of all, a feeling of satisfaction and pride
can be reflected upon, only knowing and realizing that there will
always be those in need, and much for us to do and contribute to
our greater society.”
As with most of the Office’s events, these community-related
programs are open to all in the community-at-large. Throughout the
year, the Office of Community Relations continues to be represented
at meetings, committees and functions with surrounding civic and
fraternal groups, chambers of commerce, symphony orchestras, arts
agencies, and other social organizations, all dedicated to
community enrichment. For more information, please visit www.stjohns.edu/community.