Tag Archives: St Johns

Making Strides, raising funds, giving hope


| amanning@queenscourier.com


“Hey, Soul Sister,” the smash hit by Train, was blasting through speakers as walkers gathered in the field at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the American Cancer Society’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. The song was fitting as hundreds of survivors who had never met all became, in a way, “soul sisters,” rallying for a common cause that they knew all too well.

The survivors were, of course, not alone at the walk, which took place on Sunday, October 16. There were flocks of “striders” who came out because they knew someone who battled or is battling the disease, which affects about one in eight women in the United States.

The 106th Precinct Explorers were there, along with Community Affairs Officers Kenneth Zorn and Brenda Bratcher and Captain Thomas Pascale.

“It was nice of those kids taking the time,” said Zorn.

Even Assistant Chief James Secreto, Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Patrol Borough Queens South, walked for the cause, which is very close to his heart.

“I think it’s something important, it’s a good cause. It affects me personally because my mother and aunt both had it,” said Austin Phillips, a senior at St. John’s University who walked with his own team, the Pink Panthers. “My mother’s in her eighth year of remission; she’s doing well, she’s healthy.”

People of every age and background honored and celebrated breast cancer survivors, raised awareness – and raised more than $877,000

Some had been doing it for years, like Marge Cashin, who manned the St. John’s tent for the Office of Community Relations. Although this was her 13th year taking part with the school, which is a flagship sponsor, she originally walked with her sister-in-law, whom she lost to breast cancer two years ago.

Others were taking part for the first time, as Adrienne Pellegrino was. A four-time All-Star winner for Relay for Life, she decided to try her hand at fundraising for Making Strides, raising an impressive $5,070 by herself. With her birthday coming up and the American Cancer Society’s slogan being “Creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” Pellegrino donned a life-sized birthday cake costume, garnering her lots of compliments and second glances.

One survivor, Delma Rosario, a St. Albans resident, summed up her experience – “You’re grateful to be a survivor.” Rosario, who was diagnosed just 10 days before her 39th birthday, has now been in remission for 15 years.

St. John’s students makeover Astoria senior center


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens.

Students from St. John’s University did much more than revitalize the recreational space at Catholic Charities Peter J. Dellamonica Senior Center – they rejuvenated the spirits of the facility’s visitors.

Ten undergraduates visited the senior center, located at 23-56 Broadway in Astoria, on September 24 as part of St. John’s University’s 10th Annual University Service Day. In addition to cleaning and performing general tasks, the students added vibrancy to the facility by painting the computer lab and its adjacent hallway red and white.

“I’m happy with the paint job, because in this economic crisis, this is something that I wouldn’t have been able to afford,” said Ayana Rush, project director of older adult services for Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens. “It proved to be a successful project. We livened up the place by adding some color, and the room now has a contemporary, SoHo feel. As a project director, I got to see a space actually mirror the warmth and caring of the programs we provide.”

Along with invigorating the center, the students also interacted with the seniors, creating a unique dynamic between youthful exuberance and seasoned wisdom.

“This is an intergenerational opportunity for seniors to be around young people, and for young people to learn about older adults,” Rush said. “It is a learning opportunity for both generations, and it is nice that they got to come together. The energy the students brought was refreshing, and they definitely energized the seniors.”

St. John’s students also visited eight other Catholic Charities sites across Brooklyn and Queens on September 24, including the Pete McGuiness Senior Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

“It is important for us as a university to recognize those most in need,” said Angela Seegel, the service site coordinator for St. John’s University Service Day. “Our students recognize that those most in need are part of our community. It is our responsibility to serve them. The great thing about this day is that it happens at the beginning of our school year, so it becomes a spring board for the whole year. It tells the students that service to those most in need is a necessary and essential component of their education. Service day creates an environment that it is not us or them, it is we.”

The senior centers act as piazzas for older adults, and provide them with locations to participate in numerous multicultural activities, such as tai chi, yoga, salsa dancing and art classes.

Rush says that the collegians have already contacted her about volunteering additional time at the center, and she believes the experience proved mutually beneficial for the students and seniors.

“For my seniors, they got to see that older adults are not forgotten about, that people are concerned about them and more importantly, they got a makeover that’s well deserved,” she said. “Seniors also felt that the students were invested in their center, and that they cared about them enough to volunteer their time. The students reported feeling happy to provide the service, and they were happy to engage in conversations with the seniors. Overall it was a social investment for both my older adults and the students.”

St. John’s toy drive teaches life lessons


| amanning@queenscourier.com

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There was a local celebrity trotting around St. John’s University last week – one who has a golden complexion, lots of fur, and four legs.

It was Hooper, the beloved dog of Professor Jane Paley and the face of the annual Hooper’s Toy Drive, which is organized by Paley’s public relations campaign class.

Professor Jane Paley’s class goes above and beyond to practice the art of public relations. In 2008, she started the drive to help provide Christmas toys to inner-city children, while simultaneously teaching her students how to promote and fundraise.

Students are collecting unwrapped toys and monetary donations for the school’s Bread and Life organization, which provides food and a helping hand to the poor. Each group in the class has also picked an additional charity to donate to, one of which is St. Jude’s Children Hospital.

Last year’s campaign class collected 2,500 toys. Hooper’s Toy Troopers, as this year’s class has coined themselves, is hoping to outdo that number. It is this competitive spirit combined with a collective altruistic mindset that makes the drive work so well.

“This year I’m happy to be a part of it, and I’m looking forward to helping surpass last year’s amount,” says Ryen Mills, a senior, who added that there is no greater feeling than to see a child smile just as she and so many of her classmates did during the holiday season.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/hooperstoydrive. If you would like to donate, visit www.hooperstroopers.weebly.com.

Steve Lavin to undergo cancer surgery today


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of St. John's University

St. John’s Coach Steve Lavin will undergo surgery today to treat his prostate cancer which was diagnosed last fall.

Lavin, entering his second year on the Johnnies sideline, coached the Red Storm to their most successful season in a decade last year. It was only after the season that the school announced that the 47 year old had been diagnosed with an early stage of the disease during the season.

“The advantage of early detection is that we were afforded the time to research all options,” said Lavin. “After weighing treatment options with the experts at Sloan we have decided surgery is the best path to take for my particular prostate cancer condition.”

Lavin is expected to return to his coaching responsibilities after a short recovery period. The season kicks-off on October 15 with the team’s first practice following a tip-off event the prior night.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s chairman of the Department of Surgery, Peter T. Scardino, M.D. will perform the surgery. Scardino said that the coach should make a quick and full recovery. It is also highly likely that this treatment will eradicate the cancer, the doctor said

Lavin has involved himself with organizations promoting cancer research and awareness for the past decade, including Coaches vs. Cancer and The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

As part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers weekend, Lavin wore white Nike Air Force Ones during the Johnnies upset of Duke to help raise awareness and support the American Cancer Society. Claiming comfort and not superstition, Lavin continued to sport sneakers during games for the remainder of the season.

The Johnnies enter the season looking to build on their success of a year ago when a senior-laden team reached the NCAA tournament. The year’s team features just one returning player – junior guard Malik Stith – and includes seven freshmen.