July 02, 2008
College of Professional Studies students recently prepared a
“goodwill” dinner for families of sick children at the Ronald McDonald House of Long
Island in New Hyde Park. The students, from the Health Service
Administration or Human Services programs, were led by April
Merenda, Assistant to the Dean/External Affairs for the College of
Professional Studies and organizer of the event. Each had been an
intern at Ronald McDonald House during the spring semester.
Several members of Merenda’s family also assisted in the
The New Hyde Park Ronald McDonald House is one of the many sites
around the New York metropolitan area where internship
opportunities are available to CPS students. Located on the campus
of Long Island Jewish Medical Center and adjacent to its Schneider
Children’s Hospital, the House is a “home away from home” for
families of seriously ill children who are being treated at the
Merenda, an alumna of St John’s University, sponsored the
goodwill dinner for the 90 family members who were in residence at
the New Hyde Park House on June 7. According to various attendees,
it was a welcome treat to return after spending a day at the
hospital to have a home-cooked meal prepared and served to them.
The meal included country ribs, hamburgers and hot dogs, chicken
fingers, baked beans, cold slaw, macaroni and garden greens salads,
fresh baked corn bread and a dessert tray that included éclairs,
cream puffs, home-baked cookies and fresh fruits and cheeses.
“Helping out with dinner for the families was simply an honor,”
explains Health Service Administration Major Afreen Sultana. “At
the end of the day when the families came back from the hospital
for dinner, they were really happy to see us there. We saw a smile
on each of the parents’ faces; it was truly a pleasant
Other students who interned this past year at Ronald McDonald
House in New Hyde Park are Hospitality/Event Management Major
Ericka Conklin ’08CPS, and Health and Human Services Majors
Odalis Puchela ‘08CPS and Mica Javier ‘08CPS.
According to Kathy Bihn, Director of the Long Island Ronald
McDonald House and a St. John’s alumna herself, “April, her family
and the CPS students experienced an evening with an unprecedented
number of family members in attendance—more than 90 were
in-house—during a record heat wave in which temperatures rose to
100 degrees. But they pulled it off! It was a great dinner with
such style and grace and we are forever indebted to their kindness
Dean Kathleen Voute MacDonald says she is “thrilled” with this
opportunity for students enrolled in CPS to become more involved in
the University’s Vincentian mission.”
Merenda notes that the CPS Internship Program is taking on this
new dimension, not only offering students internships in real-world
jobs for academic credit but also providing them with the
opportunity to give back to those in need of their services.
Similar projects are in the works with Madison Square Garden and their
of Dreams Foundation and other internship sites.