Tuesday, May 7, 2013 (Bronx, NY) – Monday, April 22, 2013, was Eugenio María de Hostos Community College’s official 45th anniversary, so students, faculty and staff members hit the streets of the Bronx for THE BIG EVENT to work with the people who put the “community” in the College’s name.
THE BIG EVENT involved approximately 450 volunteers and was organized by the President’s Office staff, including Diana Kiselyuk, Dolly Martínez, as well as Presidential Student Diplomats. An army in specially made bright orange Hostos T-shirts was hard to miss, as scores of people donated their services at various public institutions and nonprofit organizations, including Mill Pond Park, Lincoln Hospital, P.S. 18, La Finca del Sur and Friends of Brook Park. The College’s “birthday party” began with a breakfast in the Savoy Multipurpose Room, which was attended by Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. and U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano, both strong supporters of Hostos.
Borough President Díaz commended Hostos for the ongoing role it plays in revitalizing the region and presented Hostos President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez with a proclamation declaring April 22 “Hostos Community College Day.”
Congressman Serrano recalled the early days at Hostos when he was a member of the New York State Assembly. He urged the college community to remember those who fought for the College’s creation and survival, including many who have passed away. He also encouraged the roomful of volunteers to “never give up.”
President Matos Rodríguez said that he hoped the College’s first BIG EVENT would be the beginning of something even bigger that would nourish established relationships within the community and also build new ones. “By the end of the day, the teams will return to the campus, perhaps a little tired, but definitely with a warm sense of accomplishment for having made a difference,” Matos Rodríguez said.
Led by the President, one team of volunteers made their way to Mill Pond Park on the banks of the Harlem River. The park had been hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, so this team planted trees, raked leaves, mulched flower beds and performed other gardening chores for several hours.
The experience was also educational for the participants as scientists tested the river water, while others explained the massive green trail project that is under way at the park. Chauncy Young, Coordinator for the Harlem River Working Group, told the Hostos team that Mill Pond Park is only the second park on the Harlem River in the region, and the ultimate goal is to extend a bike and hike trail 10 miles to Roberto Clemente State Park. When completed, the Greenway will include parks, bike and pedestrian paths as well as new waterfront spaces for residents to enjoy. For more information, go to http://harlemriverworkinggroup.org/.
Liberal Arts student Nestor Saninocencio, 21, said he was proud to be involved with this project. “Making the Bronx more green—that’s what it is all about. You can beautify the area and change the perception of the Bronx, while building something everyone can use.
Several people also volunteered at La Finca del Sur (Farm of the South). Located on slightly more than an acre of land at 138th Street and the Grand Concourse, it perpetuates the Latino farming heritage and enables members of the community to raise their own fruits and vegetables. Incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, La Finca del Sur addresses issues of food access, environmental justice and community empowerment for women of color in the South Bronx, and ties these issues to broader systemic inequalities and global justice. For more information, go to http://bronxfarmers.blogspot.com/.
Another team of Hostos students read to kindergarten and first-grade students at nearby John Peter Zenger School (P.S. 18). Carmen Nieves, the school’s Parent Coordinator, said that the volunteers from Hostos served a greater purpose by introducing the “college reality” to students at an early age. The UFT representative and school’s liaison Sophy Aponte was thrilled to see the wonderful response of the kids to the students from the Hostos Education Department and the carefully planned lessons prepared by Professors Sonia Maldonado and Wanda Santiago on “Music and Movement” and “Foundations of Education.”
Dolly Martínez, Deputy to the President and Assistant Vice President for College Affairs at Hostos, said she was proud to watch Professor Tere Martínez and her students providing drama exercises through pantomimes and Professor Iris Mercado and some of her students give a health and nutrition education class to bilingual children at the school.
Hostos Professor and Counselor Lizette Colón was heavily involved with THE BIG EVENT and said the hard work has already yielded positive results. She said the Harlem River Working Group has requested that Hostos become a partner in their efforts. Colón added Hostos may also continue to send students and staff to P.S. 18 to continue bonding with its students.
THE BIG EVENT concluded in the Hostos Café with a birthday cake, greetings from longtime friends of the college, and music and dancing.
Hostos student Dario Peralta, 18, who helped to clean St. Luke’s Church – inside and out – addressed the crowd at the party: “I would just like to say I love community service, and I love that I was able to help the neighborhood along with so many great people from Hostos. When they told me about THE BIG EVENT, I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about. But after we all got together, it was very exciting, and it was something I will never forget.”
Colón agreed with Dario.
“Through my involvement in the planning committee, I felt very privileged as I had a chance to go out and help our neighbors,” Colón said. “I am very hopeful this past Monday was the beginning of our College’s reengagement and reconnection with that community that fought so hard for us to exist.”
THE BIG EVENT committee included: Diana Kiselyuk, Events Coordiantor, Dolly Martínez, Deputy to the President; Jason Libfeld, Student Leadership Coordinator; Soldanela Rivera, Communications Director; Elizabeth Wilson, Director of Hostos College Now, William Casari, Hostos Archivist and Instruction Librarian; and professors Tere Martínez and Lizette Colón.
“THE BIG EVENT was an amazing day for the Hostos family where students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to give back to the people who fought for us to be part of this dynamic, caring, and diverse community here in the South Bronx,” Dolly Martínez said. “But really, it was a continuation of what the College has been doing for 45 years and plans to continuing doing for many more years to come.”
The Hostos family was happy to volunteer at the following locations:
International Community High School
La Finca del Sur
St. Ann's Church of Morrisania
Women In Need: Casa Rita
Lincoln Hospital Volunteer Services Office
St. Luke's Food Pantry
Friends of Brook Park
P.S. 18 John Zenger School
Hostos Memorial Garden cleanup
Concourse cleanup on 149th and Grand Concourse. Lincoln Hospital
East Side House Senior Center/ Patterson Houses
Mill Pond Park
Franz Siegel Park/Bronx is Blooming
Healthcare information was also provided to community by nurse Alejandrina Peña and students
Flower planting in 161st Street BID’s garden
For more information about our 45th Anniversary, go to http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/45anniversary.
About Hostos Community College:
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of The City University of New York (CUNY) system, was founded in 1968. In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in 1970 to more than 7,000 students in 2012. The college also serves an additional 12,000 students through its Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. For more news and stories about Hostos Community College, visit www.hostos.cuny.edu.
Soldanela Rivera - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rich Pietras – email@example.com
Phone: 718-518-6872 or 917-627-9097 or 718-518-6513
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