Social work students form drop-in center for post-Sandy interactions
by Brett H. Spielberg
Members of Adelphi University’s Social Work
Social work students thrive on connecting with others. But you wouldn’t know that from looking at the former student lounge in the Social Work Building, where you would be more likely to find teachers making photocopies than students exchanging ideas.
“This used to be a dull space, harshly lit with mismatched furniture, and it really was just a spot for students to come in to quickly finish a paper before class,” Nancy Burke ’08, M.S.W. ’11, said.
Members of the new Adelphi University undergraduate group, Social Work Action Gateway (SWAG) put their social work skills into practice by advocating on their own behalf. And through a combination of ingenuity and a sense of community between students, faculty and staff, this fall they made their new lounge a reality.
There were some twists and turns along the way. After the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy, students, alumni and faculty were dealing with lives turned upside down from the hurricane and subsequent nor’easter.
Plans for a lounge renovation quickly morphed into something more meaningful: a drop-in center where anyone in need could come to interact, hear stories and share experiences.
With its calming atmosphere, the lounge also
Comfortable sofas, topped with yellow, red and blue throws and pillows, line the walls.Bright overhead lighting was replaced with table lamps and electric candles that emit a gentle glow. A tabletop Zen garden and bowls of rocks bring in a touch of nature.
“We tried to incorporate all five senses to create a calming, comforting space with dim lighting, aromatic scents, new age music and comfort food,” such as coffee and cookies, Ms. Burke described. Alumni took serving the community a step further by providing free counseling and tutoring.
As the fall semester winded down, it became clear that the drop-in center had a permanent place at Adelphi, as it was bringing together the student body and providing much-needed comfort.
“We want to commend SWAG for advocating to the dean to ensure a student lounge would be fully developed and student friendly,” said Schanica Pickens, student affairs coordinator. “Now it’s a place of comfort that helps students relax.”
On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in the Social Work Building, and the new lounge officially opened. Ms. Burke and her fellow SWAG members Sarah Gellman, Tira Skags, Stephanie Blackboard, Brogen Olsen, Amanda Cruz, Alannah Comer, Lindsay Vosilo, along with Ms. Pickens and Lois Stein, M.S.W. ’78, D.S.W. ’05, assistant dean for academic affairs and director of the M.S.W program, cut the ribbon and ushered in the start of a new chapter of “building a sense of community and continuing a legacy we’re all part of,” Dr. Stein said.
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