Senate siblings seek volunteers for community service project

Tyler McNeil

Managing Editor

Erika Pelletier hopes to have Minions, toys and community service from the Student Senate brought to the Saint Catherine’s Center for Children Copson House.

“These children who have such a troubled pasts have such life to them and it really makes you think, ‘If life’s hard for me now, imagine what these children feel’,” said Pelletier.

Later this month, the Student Senate Community Service Committee will renovate a room at the Copson House, a treatment center for children from difficult situations in Albany. The Student Senate passed a budget over $200 for the project’s paints, and the rest of the funds came from fundraising (bake sale: $119; coin drop: $67).

“Anything [the Senate is] doing to help children in any way, shape or form is a great thing. It’s creative, it’s original and I think it’s great to get kids involved in anything that helps the community,” said Jessica Gilbert, one of two chaperones who will oversee the room’s renovation on Nov. 21 and 22.

The room will be unveiled after the project’s expected day of completion with an appearance from President Drew Matonak. “The Community Service Committee’s Minion bedroom is just one example of their leadership and compassion, and it’s sure to bring great joy to the children at St. Catherine’s Copson House in Albany. I am looking forward to seeing all of the smiles during the room’s revealing later this month,” said Matonak in an email.

Two years ago, Erika’s brother Stephen volunteered with the Copson House through an Eagle Scout project. Stephen raised $1,300 to put sports memorabilia in a child’s room at the facility. “The look you get to see on a child’s face when they get to see the room after the unveiling realistically makes all the work that you put into it instantly pay off,” he said.

Along with her brother’s support in the Community Service Committee, Erika’s mother and uncle will be involved in helping volunteer for the project. “Everyone’s happy. Everyone’s proud. Everyone’s excited,” said Erika.

Her current goal is to have a minimum of four student volunteers every hour during the renovation.  If the project lacks enough volunteers from the Student Senate, the committee has considered recruiting volunteers from the Black and Latino Student Union (BLSU) and the Cheerleading Club. “I love when students want to get involved and give back to the community,” said Larry Ellis, the current advisor for the BLSU.

“We’re hoping to get more people to help out because it’s really just life changing to be a part of the project,” said Stephen. The Community Service Committee was largely inactive on campus last year. When Erika was reappointed as a senator earlier in the semester, she decided to resurrect the committee.

This will be Erika’s last project with the Student Senate as she hopes to transfer to Russell Sage next semester. She is currently the longest standing senator in the Student Senate, working with the organization since Fall 2013. “I don’t know what people are going to remember me for when I leave Hudson Valley but, if they remember I helped a child and I did community service projects as much as I could then, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” she said.

After Erika leaves, Stephen has considered leading the committee. “I believe in service to others and I believe that’s one of the most important things you can give to people,” said Stephen.

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