PRSSN Gets Into the Spirit of Giving with the Adopt-a-Family Program

Christmas is traditionally perceived to be a time filled with family, love and joy. On Christmas morning, children everywhere wake up with wide eyes and excited hearts. They run out of their rooms, wake up their families, and rush downstairs to bountiful amounts of presents under a decorated Christmas tree. Parents joyously watch as their little ones unwrap their presents from Santa and then spend the day playing with their new toys. It’s a perfect Christmas day.

But unfortunately, not every family gets to experience a Christmas like that.

Census figures released in 2013 found that 46.5 million American families are currently living in poverty in the United States. These families struggle to pay for their bills and for their basic life necessities, and around the holidays they add presents to the list of things they struggle to pay for. The reality is that some parents have no way of affording gifts for their children, and some kids will wake up on Christmas morning to no presents under the tree and nothing in their stockings.

Luckily, Christmas is also a time filled with generosity and giving, and thanks to a special program in the Niagara Falls area, some families living in poverty will be able to have the Christmas that everyone deserves.

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A client poses with gifts received through the Adopt-a-Family Program. Photo: Summit Life

This special program is called the Adopt-A-Family program and PRSSN was more than willing to participate in it during this holiday season.  Adopt-A-Family is a program run by Summit Life Center, a non-profit organization located in Niagara Falls that dedicates themselves to educating and supporting women in the case of an unexpected pregnancy.

Here’s how the program works: all of the families involved in the Adopt-A-Family program are also enrolled in the Earn While You Learn program. This program rewards parents with gently used clothes, toys, and necessities for learning essential parenting lessons through educational videos and worksheets. The parents involved in the Adopt-A-Family program are often the victims of poverty and the program ensures that they have a happy holiday.

“It really is such a blessing to the families,” said Barb Bidak, the executive director of the summit life center. “We know these mothers. We know their struggles and we know what they need. This program makes it possible for them to provide their kids with a Christmas that they deserve.”

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Clothes donated by PRSSN to the Adopt-a-Family Program. Photo: Summit Life

The people that donate to the Adopt-A-Family program donate everything from brand new clothes and toys for the children to household supplies and necessities for the parents. They also typically donate wrapping paper so that the parents themselves can wrap the presents and put them under the tree for their children.

“It helps the parents to feel involved during the holiday season,” said Bidak.

The Summit Life Center has been running since 2005, but the Adopt-A-Family program is fairly new. The program started in 2013 and has helped a plethora of families since its opening, including over 40 families alone this holiday season.

The holiday season is a time for family, love, and joy. The Summit Life Center’s Adopt-A-Family program makes a special holiday possible for many families in the Niagara Falls area. Donating to the Adopt-A-Family program gives one more family the perfect Christmas that they deserve.

Alecia Lutrario, PRSSN 

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Niagara University Student Protest to Be Heard

NIAGARA FALLS, NY– “No Justice, No Peace! No Justice, No Peace!”

This is one of the chants that could be heard echoing across the campus of Niagara University from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16 when 58 students came together to protest racial inequality and discrimination.

Students peeked out of classrooms and dorm rooms to see the protestors clothed in all black, sporting signs declaring their need for equality and representation marching throughout campus.

“We feel like we have not had justice in the school and if we are not having justice we are not going to be peaceful,” said Isis Kay, a student of Niagara University. “We are going to make sure you hear us.”

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The student rally roused the entire campus from outside of Alumni Chapel to the Library to Dunleavy to Lower Level Gallagher, stopping at Clet, St. Vincent’s, Golisano, and Castellani, all prominent halls on their way. From the morning to the afternoon, the students walked through the halls holding classrooms full of students and teachers to demonstrate how passionate they are about this issue.

In Lower Level Gallagher, the most common place on campus for NU students to congregate in between classes, students belonging to the protest and non-protesters gathered to hear testimonials and statements on why the protest was happening.

“I’m tired of being 6’2’’, 220 pounds and feel the need to shrink myself down to the size I was when I was five, whenever I walk out of my varsity village house simply to make sure that I don’t make anyone uncomfortable whenever they walk past me,” Zaire James, a senior at Niagara, expressed into a megaphone.

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Other testimonials, such as proclaiming that the attendees and faculty of NU have an inability to give the time and patience to correctly say the names of their peers and students or racist comments that are said and covered up with “it was a joke” or “he was drunk”, still hurt feelings. As James had noted, “Drunken words are sober thoughts.”

Contrary to prior belief, the protest was not affiliated with the Black Student Union. It just happened that a prevalent number of students were members of the club. But although the demonstration was not associated with any clubs on campus, it was a student run movement.

The main goal of the protest was to bring attention to certain issues that needed to be brought to light. Kay explained in a hoarse voice after a long day of chanting and speaking that the purpose of the demonstration was to encourage the school to create a black studies program, be a part of the hiring process for the professor and to diversify the administration at Niagara.

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Photo/Catherine Moynihan

 

Eric Rigg, one of the spokesmen for the event, explicated that there is about one minority professor in each department and 1 out of 10 professors are of an ethnic descent.

Rigg also mentioned tha,t as they were walking by the student resident halls, someone threw water at them and as they were going through the halls, people and professors were yelling at them.

“It’s something that we receive on a daily basis,” admitted Rigg, “And it kind of showed the light that needed to be shown on these instances of hellish activity that is going around campus.”

Several faculty members and professors came to support or listen to the remonstration. One particular communications professor, Doug Tewksbury, cancelled class in support of the protesting students.

“This is about the students, not the faculty,” admitted Tewksbury. “This is a student run movement; we are supporters but we don’t belong to the movement.”

As a response to the demonstration, the NU administration scheduled a “NU Talks Back” as a more organized, calm way to sort out the issue at hand. Several members of the protest came to back up their demonstration from the previous day and explain misconceptions that anyone might have had.

The action items that students came up with to battle racism on campus are to have more awareness and implement awareness campaigns. These would have the goal to destroy the ignorance that some people may have about other races.

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The protestors also wanted to make sure that everyone knows that everyone is welcome, no race is excluded and if anyone feels discriminated against they are welcome to join the other students and help make a difference.

“Yes, this is a pro-black movement currently,” Rigg explained. “But all cultures are feeling the same way as well, that’s why they came and supported us, every color, every religion is more than welcome to help us in our cause.”

Changes are being made though. Father Maher has been having monthly meetings with students and faculty about getting more diverse faculty and implementing an African studies program. Another major point being covered is community engagement and how to utilize community service as a tool to teach students about other races and combat the ignorance that is being spread. Next semester they are planning to further discuss this matter and apply the changes that have been conferred.

Changes are being made and that encourages a bright future for the students of Niagara University.

-Article and featured photo by Jade King, photos by Dominic Hannon, PRSSN

College Students Give Gift of Life, And You Can Too

BUFFALO,N.Y.- The average person who works, eats, sleeps, and repeats, is able to save up to three lives in under an hour with no prior training. How is this possible you might ask? It’s simple- blood donation.

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Unyts is a Western New York blood center where all the blood that is donated locally stays in local hospitals to help patients. Unyts was established in 1981 and is headquartered in downtown Buffalo. Unyts is one of eight centers to house organ, eye, and tissue in one building. It is also the first organization of its kind to add community blood service to the list. Unyts provides blood and organs to eight counties of Western New York.

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“Our mission is to spread awareness about organ, eye, tissue, and blood donation,” Alexsandria Gullo, the blood drive coordinator, states about the Unyts mission. “We never want someone to not donate blood or donate their organ, eye, and tissue when the time comes because of a misconception.”

37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but only around 10 percent of our citizens donate annually. Encouraging people to donate and continue donating throughout their entire lives is a constant goal of Unyts. A pint of blood can last for as long as 42 days but considering that someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds it usually won’t last the allotted time.

Organ donors are able to save up to 50 lives and nearly 124,000 people are waiting for a transplant, with approximately 10 percent from Western New York. You are able to sign up to be a donor at any time.

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“Let your families know your wishes, speak to them so they know if it is something you are interested in or not,” says Gullo. “Let them know so if the time comes, they don’t have to make that challenging decision themselves and they are able to live out your wish.”

Blood Drives

A recruiter’s job is to talk to anyone and everyone. They are charged with the mission to explain the simple process to someone who hasn’t given blood before, someone that you can easily see the nervousness in their eyes but also the potential excitement to save lives and do a good act of kindness. One could also see the disappointment in several people’s faces when they found out they cannot donate due to lack of iron, blood pressure, or recently having a tattoo (which needs to be a year old). Everyone has some need, however deep inside, to give back. This recruiter could be found running around college campus’s encouraging people to come donate at the blood drive.

Niagara University Blood Drive

The blood drive at Niagara University, that occurrunyts4ed on November 16 and 17 in Lower Level Gallagher, is always backed with extreme support from all of the students on campus and off. The main
supporters of the blood drives on campus are the ROTC officers and the student athletes.

To bring a little competition to the field and to encourage more donations, the Unyts team decided to pin Niagara teams against teams from different sports and club sports to win a prize and bragging rights.

Gullo elucidated that they chose the donation time between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. because most students go to eat or start to do homework after 4 p.m. It is a nice chunk of time, usually between classes, and they have found that time works best in college settings, recounted Gullo.

“I donate to help save lives,” expressed Ashley Smith a first year grad student. “Being an EMT, I know what a patient looks like that needs a blood transfusion.”

People such as Smith are the type of generous people that donate their blood. There are always kind, trained professionals that are able to help you though the giving process and strike up interesting conversation.

“I was in the army,” mentions Jonathon Carey, a phlebotomist. “I learned that you could change a person’s blood type if you transfused a certain type long enough. So an A+ blood type could turn into an AB+ with enough transfusions, neat, right?”

Gullo explains how at NU, in addition to the sports competition, there is a community service component that not many colleges or universities offer. The chance for the students to gain the feeling of giving life and get rewarded with some community service hours, offers Gullo, is an incredible opportunity for the Unyts staff to up the pint numbers.

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“I don’t have a desirable blood type,” reported Madeline Sgarlata, a freshmen at Niagara University who gave blood during the drive. “But I know that someone out there needs it and it will help someone.”

Unyts has numerous blood drives all around Buffalo with the Buffalo Bills, local high schools, and drives to pit college rivals against each other for a battle of who can donate more (Canisius and Niagara, coming up in the Spring Semester).

Donating is an amazing experience that allows you to give life to another human by only sitting in a chair for 30 minutes. Go on down to Unyts, as they accept walk-ins, and Donate Life today!

-Jade King, PRSSN

PRSSN sends some holiday cheer

 

Members of PRSSN took the time out of their busy exam schedules to fulfill the Christmas wishes of an 8-year-old girl. In 2013, Safyre Terry was badly burned in a house fire that killed both her father and three siblings. Safyre’s aunt Liz Dodler, who now has custody of Safyre, said Safyre’s wish this year was to fill up a metal Christmas tree card holder that was purchased at a thrift store. Her wish was shared on Facebook by a family friend and according to the Today Show, has since been viewed and shared by thousands of people. PRSSN hopes our cards will continue to make Safyre’s Christmas merry and bright!

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NUCAP Facilitates Night Out For Local Lewiston Community

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.—The sound of Christmas carols fills the room in the lower level of Gallagher Center as a small group of Niagara University students discuss the plan for the night. The students have smiles on their faces as they listen intently to the instructions given by NU’s Learn and Serve Director, Fran Boltz. The night is meant to be one of enjoyment for Rivershore, a local Lewiston community unlike others.

Boltz explains to the students that Rivershore is a not-for-profit organization which provides services, and a safe community, for adults with various disabilities. Members of Niagara University Community Action Program (NUCAP)—a board that plans events in which NU students can volunteer for—decided it would be beneficial to reach out to them and provide a special night out to the Niagara University men’s basketball game.  

“Last year was my first year working with Rivershore … we usually plan a movie night and invite them,” says Emily Andrews, a sophomore accounting major and member of NUCAP board. The basketball night is a change of pace from previous events. According to Andrews, it’s nice to see members of the Rivershore community in a new, more lively setting. 

DSC_1130“It just came to my mind to do a different type of volunteer activity,” says Eman Alabdulmuhsin, an accounting major in her first year of NU’s graduate MBA program. “It is nice to provide some help, even if it is just sitting next to them, having a nice chat during the game break, or cheering with them during the game. It is so great to see them among the crowd enjoying their time.”

Joy was the mission set forth for the night and it is evident the mission is being executed. Sitting in the stands, ears are filled with the sound of Rivershore members yelling, “Go Niagara!”, and one man in particular exclaiming his love for basketball. With happiness manifesting itself on their faces, in the form of broad smiles, Andrews’ words are made inexplicably true—even “the littlest thing can make them so happy!”

For more information on Rivershore and ways to support, please visit http://www.rivershore.org/ or call 716-754-7272.

-Alanna Cedrone, PRSSN