Molloy Nursing Student Association Provide Critical Community Support

By Briana Bonfiglio

Molloy College alumni

Molloy College alumni battling the coronavirus pandemic received thank-you letters from the Molloy Nursing Student Association, which has been working on several community projects since the outbreak began.
Photo Courtesy Molloy Nursing Student Association

Members of the Molloy Nursing Student Association (MNSA) have been "working tirelessly, nonstop, to see what they can do" for others during the coronavirus pandemic, said Geraldine Moore, a Molloy College nursing professor and one of the club's faculty advisers.

From writing letters to seniors at a local nursing home to sending food to health care workers in hospitals, the student-run organization has taken on a number of projects intended to lift the spirits of vulnerable people as well as those working on the front lines of the ongoing emergency.

MNSA Co-presidents Gina Roy and Brianna Gerbasio, seniors at Molloy, spoke about the club's mission to help others. In a normal school year, it provides support to the college's 1,400 nursing students, offering mentorships and organizing fundraisers and other volunteer efforts, which are not only service opportunities but also bonding experiences for the future nurses. The group has donated to Bethany House, a local shelter for women and children, and Camp ANCHOR, which offers programming for people with special needs.

When the coronavirus became a public health crisis in New York, forcing the college to close and to shift to online instruction, "we didn't take that as a break," Gerbasio, a Merrick resident, said. "As nursing students, this is really close to home for us, and we wanted to help out."

MNSA's 12-member board and several other nursing students are taking part in pandemic-related outreach. Hundreds of nursing students are on the club's email list and are encouraged to participate, Moore said.

The group began by writing letters to senior citizens living at Oceanside Care Center, a nursing home, hoping to allay some of their loneliness while they cannot have visitors. Then MNSA bought food from EGP Oceanside, Antonio's Deli in Malverne and Boswell's Deli in Merrick and had it delivered to 21 hospital units across Long Island, including North Shore University Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center, Cohen Children's Medical Center, Mount Sinai South Nassau and NYU Winthrop Hospital.

"As soon as one project is done," Moore said with evident pride, "they're on to the next."

Next, MNSA sent notes of encouragement to Molloy alumni working in the medical field. Roy is a patient care associate at North Shore, so she sees how helpful outside support can be in a hospital. "It makes the job so much better for essential workers in general," she said. "Even if you had a bad day, if someone brought food and said thank you just to tell you you're making a difference, it helps. I love that the nursing club is playing a role in that support."

The club has also expanded its newsletter, The Pulse. There is usually one issue per semester, but a communications team has been producing it weekly to highlight the efforts of those working in health care, crisis intervention and food service as well as first responders. People from the Molloy community who write about their experiences and send photos of themselves are featured in the newsletter.

Going forward, MNSA members hope to send supplies to Bethany House, an emergency homeless shelter for women and children based in Roosevelt, and put together care packages for first responders. Roy and Gerbasio encourage anyone in the community who has ideas for service projects to email them at mnsa@lions.molloy.edu.

"Even though we can't be together physically, we can be together emotionally," Gerbasio said. "We saw Hurricane Sandy, 9/11, all of these horrible times, and we know coming together is what gets us through."

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