This year, “Make a Difference Day” became a “make a difference weekend” where SUNY New Paltz students and other community members took part in the national service event around the local area.
On the weekend of Oct. 18, New Paltz held “Make a Difference Day” for the ninth consecutive year of volunteer work. This community service event at New Paltz was sponsored by the Office of Student Activities and Union Services at SUNY New Paltz, Campus Auxiliary Services and Sodexo.
Michael Patterson, director of Student Activities and Union Services, said there were 300 students who participated in 22 different service sites.
“I think the program is a great display of the care and concern of our students,” Patterson said. “I am awe-inspired by the attendance this year and the impact that these students made is incredible.”
The college kicked off “Make a Difference Day” on Friday, Oct. 18, with a school supplies drive in the Student Union Multipurpose Room and Humanities building on the New Paltz campus. All proceeds and donations went to the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, according to a press release about the event.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, New Paltz faculty, staff and students worked with local organizations including the New Paltz Child Care Center, Village of New Paltz, YMCA Kingston, Mohonk Preserve, Rosendale Theatre, Queen’s Gallery, Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, Youth Mission Outreach, Town of New Paltz, New Paltz Youth Program, NYSDEC, Kingston Adams and GLSEN, according to the press release.
“Our hope every year is to inspire students to engage in lifelong service,” Patterson said. “Our goal is that service connected with the reflection activities we do with participants is that every participant will understand the impact of their contribution.”
Vice President of the Recycling Club on campus James Accordino was one of the 300 students who volunteered their weekend to give back to the community.
“Along with Recycling Club and a group of ESL Program students, we helped beautify the New Paltz ReUse Center,” Accordino said. “The biggest thing we did was begin construction of a greenhouse to be made entirely out of materials reclaimed from the waste stream.”
With roughly 20 other students, Accordino said they were able to get a lot done. Normally, the ReUse Center only has a staff of approximately five employees, so the extra manpower helped them get such a big project started, he said.
“I like the concept of ‘Make a Difference day.’ I think its a great volunteer opportunity for students,” Accordino said. “The organizations hosting students can also get a lot done with all the extra help. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Recycling Coordinator of the Town of New Paltz, Laura Petit said the group that came to volunteer was “wonderful energetic and positive” with many different interests and fields of expertise.
Volunteers weeded flower beds, planted seven lilac trees, straightened up the ReUse center, rearranged building material and art supplies and organized, she said. Another group put in the posts and base for a greenhouse which they built from materials salvaged from the waste stream, Petit said.
“I was so impressed with the management skills of their group leader, Melissa Lachetta, who kept everyone focused and busy,” Petit said. “[Student] Rebecca Zedeck helped with social media so there were ‘press releases’ on Facebook and Twitter as the event unfolded and James Accordino, being the [Vice] President of the Recycling Club, understood what our mission was and took on the leadership role in the ReUse Center.”