Celebrating Service During National Volunteer Week
April 20, 2021
Building and serving our communities are at the heart of Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions core values and mission. One of the ways we, faculty, students and professional staff, are encouraged to do this is through civic engagement, and there are many of us that help advance health equity and social justice by volunteering.
In Pennsylvania, 3.5M volunteers annually contribute 341 million hours of service, according to a 2018 Volunteering in America report. These PA volunteers spread their time across religious organizations, cultural and arts events, educational and youth services, political, professional or international groups, and environmental or animal care endeavors. For National Volunteer Week, we are highlighting individuals at the college who dedicate their time and talent to causes that are important to them.
Annie Madden, MHS, Assistant Clinical Professor, Physician Assistant Department
What: Madden has been baking desserts for 70 Meals on Wheels recipients for the last year.
Why: I provide support to those in my community.
Benefit: I bake with my sons and husband, so it is a time to be together and give back on a monthly basis.
Michele Rattigan, MA, Clinical Associate Professor, Creative Arts Therapies and DHSc Student
What: Rattigan currently is the Gateway Region Officials coordinator for Odyssey of the Mind: NJ and has served as a board member for ten years.
Why: I have the opportunity to support children's creativity in STEM fields, or more appropriately, STEAM!
Benefit: I enjoy the comradery of like-minded individuals who believe, like me, that supporting children's creativity can lead to their future innovations and discoveries to make this world a better place.
Leon Vinci, DHA, Adjunct Faculty, Health Administration
What: Vinci is the vice president of the Virginia Environmental Health Association board of directors and oversee the statewide scholarship program and assist with the professional development of our membership and other environmental health practitioners across the Commonwealth. He is also the chair the scholarship committee and sits on the corporation board of Faculty for the Knights of Columbus in Roanoke, VA.
Why: I provide guidance and lend my expertise to this statewide professional organization's services and activities. My volunteering enhances the professionalism of our membership, provides scholarship opportunities for students studying in this field, and moves the agenda forward for statewide environmental health initiatives.
Benefit: Seeing students benefited by our scholarships move-on to their future careers in Public Health is very rewarding. Often, these emerging health professionals become leaders throughout the field. Giving my time and talent is a great way "to give back" and to assist the goals and services of our group: helping people and improving our community. Providing college scholarship funds to students helps them in many ways. Further, in emphasizing the importance of education, these efforts improve the quality of life and our community.
Roberta Perry, Assistant Director, Marketing and Communications
What: Perry serves at ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association’s as the newsletter editor, content writer and international conference presenter and mental health and provider/patient relationship advocate.
Why: My experience as a thyroid cancer patient was fraught with missteps, incomplete information and a false sense of security. I did not know about this organization early enough to make more informed decisions and to know that it's common for doctors to minimize our experiences by calling thyroid cancer the "good cancer." As a survivor, ThyCa has helped me so much in coping with the challenges I continue to face. I want to help others avoid the pitfalls I experienced and to be a sounding board for those who just need to talk to someone who has been in their shoes.
Benefit: I have met the most incredible people—strong, generous, intelligent and compassionate. It gives me the opportunity to create or strengthen relationships with care providers and learn about the disease and about resilience.
Joanne Serembus, EdD, Associate Clinical Professor, Advanced Role Nursing
What: Serembus is a volunteer for the Chester County Public Health Department dispensing COVID-19 vaccinations.
Why: We need to get as many vaccinations in arms as possible and I thought this was the least that I could do!
Benefit: Defeating this virus and helping all of us to be together again as a community.
Constance Perry, PhD, Associate Professor, Health Administration
What: Perry is a volunteer at Keystone State Boychoir (KSB)/Friends of High School Park (FHSP) and was elected as a board member January 2021. She is part of the wardrobe committee and fills in as a group manager as needed.
Why: I began volunteering with yard work at the park, pulling weeds, sawing fallen limbs, raking, etc. Now, as a board member, I also help organize fund raising events to preserve and manage the park's eco-system and support neighborhood programs. I believe in the mission of both organizations. My son successfully auditioned for KSB when he was eight years old; they support the development of boys through joyful music making. KSB even provides music opportunities for schools that have lost their arts programs. This organization warms my heart. FHSP is a chance for me to give back directly to my local community. The park provides so much to me as a place of solace, peace, neighborly fun during Arts in the Park, shade in the summer, etc. I walk the dog there to see flowers, birds, snakes, foxes, butterflies, etc. The park gives so much to me. I want to work to support it.
Benefit: When you volunteer, you become part of improving the world and meet other kindhearted people. You find joy in the oddest places, like sewing a button or weeding out invasive plants.
Ellen Giarelli, EdD, Associate Professor, Graduate Nursing and Nursing PhD
What: Giarelli has been volunteering at FEMA Medical Reserve Corps of Mercer County New Jersey administering COVID-19 vaccinations and preparing syringes for a year.
Why: To provide a service to my community. Caption for picture: Vaccination Clinic at Mercer County Community College. From left to right: Ellen Giarelli, EdD, Drexel University, Stephanie Mendelsonn, Medical Reserve Corps, Chris Sntoro, NJ Department of Health
Benefit: Camaraderie with other health care providers, supporting the emotional needs of vaccine recipients, facilitate distribution of the vaccine.
Tara Cherwony, BS `18, Recruitment Coordinator, Student Services Department
What: Cherwony’s volunteering is twofold. She serves on the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA) board of directors and chair their Leadership Academy Program. She also serves as a Yellow Capper and since the pandemic has been in the warehouse several times a month to sort, pack and deliver monthly food boxes to those who are facing food insecurity in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
Why: I volunteer because I want to be able to give back to the community. I know that regardless of what role I am doing, I am helping get an individual or family food that will take a huge burden off their shoulders every month. Food insecurity (especially since the pandemic) is on the rise, and you never know who may be struggling. With being so hands-on with JRA during the pandemic, I have been able to see the direct impact we make in our client lives.
Benefit: There are so many but being able to connect with our clients and know the difference we are making in their lives is the biggest reward. It has been so hard over the past year, but seeing the community come together although not physically (pre-pandemic we could have upwards of 1,200 volunteers in the warehouse for our monthly food distribution, but now we can only have 25 at a time) to support JRA’s work as we continue to add new clients each month goes to show just how important volunteering is. It feels great being part of a community of people who do so much good for others.
Julie Kinzel, MEd, Interim Department Chair and Program Director, Physician Assistant
What: For the last 20 years, Kinzel has lead Baptism classes, assisted minister, and done committee work, food donations, code blue homeless shelter work at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Why: It feels good to give of my time and talents to various endeavors that I care about and to help others.
Benefit: Volunteering, whether small or large, gives one a sense of pride and overall well-being.
Jessica Moschette, Student, Health Sciences
What: Moschette is a student representative for the Exercise is Medicine-On Campus (EIM-OC) program at Drexel University whose responsibilities include being the voice of the student population. This includes contributing her thoughts, ideas and current news as an undergraduate student during their meetings. She also runs EIM-OC’s social media platforms creating and posting content.
Why: I volunteer because this program is very important. I am proud to support and dedicate my time to a cause that I find to be a crucial element to foster/promote on Drexel’s campus. The initiative to encourage exercise and movement for the community is part of my values and goal in life. As I plan to become a physical therapist, I want to encourage the use of exercise as medicine.
Benefit: From volunteering, I can provide input from the perspective of a student and personal experiences at Drexel. This allows initiatives to reach more students or be more convenient for them. I am also able to make connections with members of Drexel University that are a part of EIM-OC. I get the opportunity to hear their ideas/ thoughts to help reach our goals to unite the different elements of exercise and health on our campus.
Anna Pohuly, Executive Assistant for the senior associate dean of Nursing & Student Affairs
What: Pohuly started volunteering in Drexel’s vaccination clinic this year. She directs people to their appointments and keeps the waiting lines orderly. Prior to working in the clinic, she assisted students with making their appointments.
Why: I enjoy helping people, and love seeing people happy. I have really missed human connection over the last year, so it was nice to see others.
Benefit: Everyone is so happy and grateful to be there, and I was fortunate to be part of it.