Delivering Help To Those In Need

Nursing students and faculty members outside the hotel where they stayed in Guatemala.

Students enrolled in OCC’s Nursing program spent the holiday season giving to others. They traveled to Guatemala where they participated in service-learning over the semester break. “It was quite the adventure,” said Nursing major Troy Adams. “We were shocked by the poverty there but the people were so kind and appreciative.”

Students built six stoves for families.

Adam and nine classmates brought everything from valuable medical supplies, to everyday items like toothbrushes, band-aids and clothes, along with a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Once they landed in Guatemala the first few days were spent building wood burning stoves in homes. Stoves there are used for cooking and are burning all day long. The existing stoves were deteriorating and didn’t vent to the outside, leaving walls covered in dangerous creosote and families with significant health problems.

Students built new stoves in six homes, then left them to cure while they presented local citizens with health clinics and information sessions. “In rural Guatemala there isn’t a lot of access,” said student Sarah Kimmelman. “There aren’t a lot of supplies and there’s not a lot of funding.”

Students hosted free clinics where they checked things like blood pressure and blood glucose levels. They taught residents how to make shampoo and a substance similar to Vick’s Vapo Rub. Students worked with children and focused on teeth brushing, hand washing, burn prevention and general hygiene.

Students offered residents a free health clinic.

The service-learning trip was an eye-opening experience for students. “Those people literally didn’t have a floor under their feet and they were so happy to see us and so appreciative,” said student Theresa Ott. “You really learn how to not take for granted things we have because people who have so much less are so much more content in life.”

The students efforts were noticed in Washington, D.C. They were awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award at the “Silver Level.” This is the premier volunteer awards program, encouraging citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition.

The trip was made possible in large part thanks to the support of National Grid, M&T Bank and the entire campus community.

Award Winning Art in Whitney

Winning entries in the CNY Scholastic Art competition line the halls of the Whitney Applied Technology Center.

The halls of the Whitney Applied Technology Center have been turned into a massive art gallery. Over 1,800 winning works from the Central New York Scholastic Art Awards are on-display for community members to view.

Hundreds of student artists representing over 90 area schools submitted 5,560 pieces of art. The winners were announced during a ceremony held January 11 on the OCC campus. A slideshow featuring several of the winners can be seen at the bottom of this story.

The Whitney building Atrium and hallways on all three floors are filled with more than 1,800 winning entries. The first place (Gold Key), second place (Silver Key), honorable mentions and special award honorees will be showcased until March 2.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is the largest annual art competition in America. The participating Central New York awards program has been honoring the creative work of junior and senior high school students for over 70 years. The program is sponsored by M&T Bank.

The exhibit is free and is open to the campus community and the public. Group visits can be scheduled by emailing or calling (315) 498-2221.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bridge to Better Health

OCC Nursing students carry health supplies across a footbridge in the highlands of Guatemala.
OCC Nursing students carry health supplies across a footbridge in the highlands of Guatemala.

They left with a strong desire to help others. They returned with a sense of satisfaction and an appreciation for life here at home. Seven of the College’s Nursing students spent their semester break on an unforgettable service learning trip. They brought medical supplies, provided health care and shared knowledge with the people of Guatemala.

Assistant Professor Lee Berg coordinated the trip for the third year in a row. She planned fundraisers and oversaw the collection of medical supplies. One week before their scheduled departure Berg and the students gathered to pack up their supplies. They filled 16 suitcases as close to the 50 pound limit as possible. When they finished they still had supplies left over which have already been set aside for the next trip.

OCC’s contingent took off from Syracuse December 29. When they stepped off the plane in Guatemala and began making their way to the rural area where they would spend the next 10 days of their lives it was evident they weren’t in the United States any more. “There was a tremendous amount of pollution in the air,” said student Lindsy Coon (Central Square high school). “Everyone there burns there trash. Vehicle emissions are bad too. You would see a van going up a hill leaving a big, black cloud of smoke behind it.”

Once they arrived in the community of San Lucas Toliman the students went right to work. They spent two days in a rural mountain village building fuel-efficient stoves in homes which vented to the outside. Residents were used to cooking inside over an open fire without any ventilation, blackening walls and lungs with damaging smoke which would contribute to significant respiratory problems. Cooking over an open fire in the home also increases the risk of severe burns, especially for children.

OCC students also broke up into teams of two and worked on teaching projects including hygiene, injury prevention and overcoming diarrhea. “We did our best to tailor our donations to what we were teaching,” said Coon. “When we talked about hygiene we gave everyone toothpaste, tooth brushes, body wash and hair products.”

When the topic was injury prevention they gave children donated shoes. “A lot of the children are barefoot. Wearing shoes prevents parasites. We made bringing shoes a priority because it’s a direct health intervention,” said Coon.

Students found natives were actually surrounded by solutions to their health problems. “We used plants to make shampoos and a substance similar to Vicks Vapo Rub,” said Shaowen Chen (Baldwinsville high school). “For diarrhea we worked on rehydration with plants which grow there.”

On January 7 the students said good-bye, boarded a plane and returned to Central New York. “I was so happy to come home. I walked in our kitchen and couldn’t believe everything we have,” said Coon. “It was very rewarding to go there,” said Cheng. “I would definitely do it again.”

A slideshow can be found at the bottom of this story. The Nursing students who went on the service learning trip are:

  • Rita Brush, Henninger high school
  • Lindsy Coon, Central Square high school
  • Shaowen Cheng, Baldwinsville high school
  • Kaylee Hartley, Edward-Knox high school
  • Josh McGinley, Whitesboro high school
  • Hannah Rhodes, Binghamton high school
  • Kira Kelley, Lafayette Junior-Senior high school

Berg and the students would like to thank the following business and organizations whose generosity made this trip possible:

  • M&T Bank
  • Wegmans
  • OCC’s Whole Earth Club
  • The entire OCC Community which generously donated supplies and funds
  • Families and friends of the students who also contributed supplies and fund

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Scholastic Art Show on Campus

ART SHOW top of storyThe halls of the Whitney Applied Technology Center have come alive! They are lined with the impressive art work of local high school students. The photos and drawings are all part of the CNY Scholastic Art Awards. More than 2,200 student artists from nearly 100 local schools submitted nearly 6,000 works of art. Approximately 1,600 of those made it into the Whitney building where they are on display. The gallery includes Gold Key (1st place) winners, Silver Key (2nd place) winners, recognition for honorable mention and special award honorees.

The CNY Scholastic Art Awards began more than 70 years ago and are the largest annual art competition in the country. The show is sponsored by M&T Bank. The art work will be on display through February 27. The exhibit is free and is open to the public.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Delivering Healthy Habits to Guatemala

Students in OCC’s Nursing program spent the holiday season thousands of miles from home helping others. Nine students and two faculty members packed up suitcases filled with medical supplies and traveled to Guatemala. Their service learning adventure brought medical care and knowledge to people who desperately needed it. “This trip was the single most meaningful thing I’ve ever done,” said Nursing student Joshua McGinley (Whitesboro High School).

The green liquid is shampoo Nursing students made for residents of Guatemala.
The green liquid is shampoo Nursing students made for residents of Guatemala. Nursing student Marisa Canuso-Reiner (Jamesville-Dewitt H.S.) holds a bottle while student Amanda Pezzulo (Burnt Hills H.S.) pours shampoo into it.

While in Guatemala, McGinley and his fellow students held community health presentations on a variety of topics:

  • Oral hygiene for children
  • The importance of vaccinations
  • Breastfeeding
  • Prenatal Care
  • The importance of good nutrition while pregnant and breastfeeding

Students also went into homes and brought medical care to people. “The personal home visits and informational meetings we held were very rewarding. People were so thankful for what we were doing,” said Shelbie Pidkaminy (Solvay High School).

Students also helped build fuel-efficient stoves in homes which vented to the outside. Residents were used to cooking inside over an open flame without any ventilation, blackening walls and lungs with damaging particles which contribute to significant respiratory problems. “We worked with a mason who only spoke Spanish. Over time we were able to work through the language barrier. The families watched us work and were very thankful,” said Amanda Pezzulo (Burnt Hills High School).

The trip was coordinated by Assistant Professor Lee Berg. When she was a student she took a similar trip to Vietnam and found it to be invaluable. This was the second year in a row she brought students from OCC to Guatemala. “It was another wonderful experience. We believe generations from now people in Guatemala will be living healthier lives because of the lessons our students taught them,” Berg said.

Along with Berg’s leadership and the assistance of Assistant Professor Dianna Lewis Brewster who accompanied her, the trip would not have been possible without the generosity of numerous businesses and organizations:

  • Welch Allyn contributed lightweight medical equipment such as digital thermometers, otoscopes, headlamps, and blood pressure cuffs which were all very useful during home visits. They also donated two bags filled with beanie babies which the children of Guatemala loved.
  • M&T Bank donated $5,000 toward the trip and also brought our trip to the attention of Northern Safety which donated first-aid kits and replacement supplies for the kits. Students used several ice packs, antiseptic wipes and dressing change supplies on the trip.
  • Johnson & Johnson gave coloring books in Spanish for the children of Guatemala.
  • Wegmans contributed $1,000 which was used to purchase over the counter medicines, vitamins, first-aid supplies and toothpaste.
  • Salvation Army hosted the first fundraiser for the trip and also donated toys for the children of Guatemala.
  • The OCC Foundation, Nursing Department and entire Campus Community also contributed in various meaningful ways.