SBU’s Week of Service, held during the week of March 27 to March 31, engaged more than 370 undergraduate and graduate students across the West, East and Southampton campuses in service activities to support the local community. This initiative, organized by the Stony Brook University Center for Service Learning and Community Service, marked the start of a new annual tradition and an increasing commitment to community service.
Each day featured different community service events centered around various causes in partnership with nonprofit organizations and on-campus departments. Throughout the week, the Center for Service Learning and Community Service also partnered with the Center for Civic Justice Food Pantry to conduct a food drive across campus to support our Seawolves.
The week was kicked off with “Brighten the Brook,” an event featuring campus beautification projects at all three campus locations. “The Campus Operations & Maintenance (COM) team was honored to participate in this year’s SBU Week of Service by collaborating with approximately 20 students for a West Campus Beautification Project,” commented Alaina Claeson, Stony Brook’s horticulturist/landscape coordinator. Students were able to help the COM teams remove a significant amount of overgrown English ivy near the Psychology buildings. “We are incredibly thankful for the help of our students for this project and we look forward to partnering again soon for future campus beautification efforts,” added Claeson.
On East campus, students supported the Stony Brook Hospital Rooftop Garden by painting vegetable signs to prepare for spring planting. “I loved that it was a fun activity like painting, and I really liked that we would be able to see the fruits of our labor in the future by visiting the garden at the hospital and hopefully being able to see our painted signs we made,” said Prachi Swar, a junior studying information systems and business management.
SBU Week of Service also included opportunities for graduate students to get involved in community service. At the Southampton campus, doctorate and master’s students came together to clean up the yard and repurpose a beautiful outdoor chess/checker table in preparation for spring planting.
Tuesday’s event, “Don’t Walk By Homelessness,” featured an on-campus awareness walk in partnership with the LI Coalition for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization that focuses on alleviating the issues associated with homelessness and poverty on Long Island. Students, faculty and staff gathered in front of the Student Activities Center to learn about homelessness on Long Island and the services that the LI Coalition for the Homeless provides. The goal for this walk was to inform the campus community and reduce stigma so that “people on campus who may be experiencing the same thing can be inclined to go and ask for help,” commented Osatohanmwen Irowa, a master’s student studying biology and public health.
On Wednesday, the Center for Service Learning and Community Service hosted two Spring 2023 Volunteer Fairs, one in person and one virtually. The in-person Volunteer Fair featured more than 30 nonprofit organizations across Long Island and New York City with active volunteer opportunities for students. The virtual Volunteer Fair included another 25 nonprofit organizations that are located beyond New York State, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Opportunities for students included in-person, remote and hybrid options both during the semester and during the summer. More than 200 students participated in the fairs, leading to the development of valuable connections and a future increase in community engagement.
“I went to the in-person volunteer fair and I enjoyed the diverse amount of organizations that were there and being able to talk and engage with these organizations and learn more about how I can give back and help the community,” said Wendy Parra Cuzco, a graduating senior.
Thursday’s event allowed students the opportunity to support the Long Island State Veterans Home, located on Stony Brook’s East campus, which provides high-quality healthcare services for veterans and their families. Students had the option to choose between two projects that day. In the morning, students decorated the gazebo area in front of the Veterans Home with chalk messages and pictures for the residents and families to enjoy. In the afternoon, students supported an indoor baseball program for the veterans by assisting with the event.
SBU Week of Service closed on Friday with a DIY slantboard-making event in collaboration with the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s Ete Chan and the New York Chapter of Makers Making Change, which supports inclusivity for people with disabilities by creating and donating assistive technologies. Slantboards are simple yet effective tools for improving handwriting, drawing skills, and overall posture and can be easily created using just cardboard and creativity. More than 80 students, including student groups such as Project Sunshine and Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, came together to learn about assistive technologies and created more than 50 slantboards to be donated to children with disabilities.
“I liked how this project allowed me to get involved and meet other people passionate about helping their community,” said Elizabeth Argiro, a junior studying biology and the founder of the Stony Brook Origami Club.
To learn more about service opportunities, visit the Center for Service Learning and Community Service website.