Students painted the Salvation Army family bedrooms baby blue and rustic green. | DeArbea Walker

Paint to Remember

Upstate students spent their ‘Day of Service’ revamping three family bedrooms

For years, local medical students have honored the memories of men and women who died in the Twin Towers terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by engaging in a special “Day of Service” to Syracuse. The solemn 15th anniversary last month prompted students from State University of New York Upstate Medical University to help out at the Salvation Army, 749 S. Warren St.

They arrived with paint cans and brushes to spruce up and revamp the bedrooms of clients.

Mariah Gillum, a two-week resident of the Salvation Army, expressed pleasure. “This is the first time I’ve seen students come through here, so that’s good.”

Annually, the nonprofit Center for Civic Engagement arranges for 100 Upstate students to volunteer their time and effort around Syracuse.

A first-year medical student from SUNY Upstate Medical University paints a family bedroom baby blue at the Salvation Army during the university's annual “Day of Service” held Sept. 11. | DeArbea Walker
A first-year medical student from SUNY Upstate Medical University paints at the Salvation Army during the university’s annual “Day of Service” held Sept. 11. | DeArbea Walker

“We’re really hoping this will get students interested in seeking out ongoing opportunities to serve,” said Carol Recker-Hughes, a faculty representative for the SUNY College of Health Professions.

“They might not go to this specific place” arranged by the medical school, she said. “But we’re trying to say, ‘there are all different ways to serve, check them out.’”

She added that given that medical students may be in Syracuse for up to four years, they are encouraged to find something that has meaning to them and then “commit to it on a regular basis.”

On the Sept. 11 anniversary, medical students arrived at the Salvation Army on buses. Staff members assigned them to paint three family bedrooms. They painted the rooms rustic green and baby blue.

“I chose to do this, to be introduced to the Syracuse community, since I’m not from the area,” said Christina Marcellus, a first-year Upstate student. “It was an opportunity to be in the community, since I’m always in class.”

Ellen Aldrich, resident manager supervisor at the Salvation Army, said other volunteer groups in the Syracuse area want to make an impact on the South Side community.

Although the first-year medical students were new to their tasks, Upstate officials said the school has more than 40 community-service organizations affiliated with it. Some students will do an after-school program at the Southwest Community Center. They go every week for 12 weeks for three hours for an after-school exercise program. “Other students do after-school tutoring. There are opportunities that exist and have already been established,” Recker-Hughes said.

Recker-Hughes describes the two-fold mission. “We wanted to give them an opportunity to get to know each other and also to find out about the Syracuse community. What are the needs and opportunities? And how can we better connect with the community?”



— Article by DeArbea Walker, Urban Affairs reporter

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