Empowering and Supporting Communities

Nikki Mazzarella, student, SUNY Empire State College

The following was written by Nikki Mazzarella, a member of the Student Leadership Institute at SUNY Empire. Part of the Student Leadership Institute involves students being put into groups and each group is given the task of coming up with a Social Action Project. This article is an account of that process…

When deciding what my group wanted to do our social action project on for the Student Leadership Institute, we knew we wanted to do something that would make a difference in each of our communities, as we are spread across New York, in each direction. The beauty of the mandatory group projects as one of the requirements to successfully complete the fellowship program, is that each group has the great opportunity to directly impact individuals, families, and communities.

We came up with an idea to give back to local charities who help the poor, the homeless, veterans, individuals and families who are subjected to domestic violence, and families who become the victim of house fires. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, in a report released in 2019, there were 92,091 homeless people in NYS (United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. 2020). The National Center for Children’s Poverty tells us that as of 2016, 22% of the children (900,940) in New York State live in poverty (National Center for Children’s Poverty. 2018), 2 % over the national average. The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence reports that as of 2018, there were 7,696 calls made to the assault hotline, reporting domestic and sexual abuse (NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. 2018). There were 42,407 structure fires as of 2016, according to NYS Fire and Prevention Control report summary (NYS Homeland Security and Emergency Services. 2016).  

This is not something the average person thinks about every day as we go about living our own busy lives.


Because these numbers don’t matter?

No, of course they matter.

It’s because we aren’t victims, and what we don’t know, doesn’t affect us.

Our goal as a group is to spread awareness and raise donations of goods and monetary contributions to organizations that do think about these statistics on a daily basis. They make it their lives’ purposes to help the people suffering because they aren’t just statistics, they are real people and they need all the help they can get. These organizations provide a no-questions-asked policy. They either have doors that are open indefinitely to come take things as needed, or they offer support to low-income children and families. These organizations need people like us, who have a strong community and an array of resources to come together to help them give back. Will you join our group and be a part of something greater, give altruistically of yourselves to help these phenomenal organizations help change the world one little donation at a time?

Please visit the website of the organization in your area if you would like more information and stay tuned for ways we will be asking for help over the upcoming months.

Organization information:

Capital Region:

Cheryl’s Lodge Outreach Center through CAPTAIN Community Health Services


New York City:

Community Solidarity


Western New York:

Twin Cities Community Outreach


-we are Team Empowering and Supporting Communities AKA: Team ESC