Saint Rose alums are using an arsenal of tools to help those suffering health, financial, or emotional effects of the coronavirus. Their contributions are as varied as the degrees they earned.
There are medical professionals on the front line of the COVID-19 fight, a lawyer supporting COVID-19 patients in nursing homes, a musician trying to spread joy, and a sheriff’s deputy mapping cases so none are missed.
Would you like to share your own experience? Please contact Fran Vorsky, director of alumni engagement, at email@example.com.
Here, they describe how the pandemic has shaped their work, and how they are easing the burden on others:
Kali Bradford ’12, music industry
Label manager, Lovers Music, London
I’ve been working with a few friends from the U.K. to create a new initiative called #MyHappySong, where people share the song that is keeping them going through this crazy time. Participants can choose to submit a cover, a short video explainer, or just a post. It’s completely up to you. Those who post should remember the hashtag #MyHappySong and tag @LifeMentalHealth, @Loversmusic and @AltDisco_ – and tag the original artist of the song they are covering.
Jessica Butterbrodt ’12, early childhood education, Golden Knights softball
Nurse, Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, New York
Vito Caselnova IV ’20, business management
Deputy, Rutland County Sheriff’s Office, Rutland, Vermont
Volunteer ambulance driver, Bay Ridge Rescue Squad, Queensbury, New York
Last summer, following my lifelong goal to become a law enforcement officer, I went through training at the Vermont Police Academy and achieved my certification. Since then, I have been working part-time as a deputy for the Rutland County Sheriff’s office. Making the commute between home, work, and college has not been easy, but it has all surely been worth it (I’ve learned there’s great value in time management). Before the pandemic our country is currently facing, I spent my time on the job conducting various duties in accordance with my field training, such as working as a district court officer, running inmate transports for our prison system, and patrolling the towns within the county. In our current state of emergency, I have been assigned to a new detail, providing security for an off-site medical facility that was set up in preparedness of possible hospital overflow, due to COVID-19 patients.
To the Saint Rose community, I would like to say that these are certainly trying times, and I share your grief for being blindly stripped of our college experience. It is especially tough for my fellow senior class of 2020, considering we all did many things on campus, and saw so many people, all for the last time, and didn’t even know it in those moments; but keep in mind that we are still blessed in so many ways. The worst-case scenario, in any situation really, would be leaving this world too soon, so as long as you are alive then you can deal with your problems head-on. I appreciate the College taking what they believed to be the appropriate actions in order to keep us all safe. I hope you all continue to stay healthy, and I look forward to seeing many of you again in September, when we return for our formal commencement ceremony!
Karen Codd ’03 BFA sculpture; MPS, art therapy and creative development
Pratt Institute Creative Arts Therapist, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, Queens, New York, and art therapy doctoral student at Mount Mary University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
During the pandemic, my usual role as an art psychotherapist in adult inpatient psychiatry was shifted because my unit had to close temporarily. When this happened I created a new (temporary) role for myself and have since been working in palliative care and hospice, facilitating video call sessions between COVID-19 patients and their loved ones. I’m also providing therapeutic support onsite for hospital staff and trainees. It’s all very soul-satisfying work that I am extremely grateful to be able to do.
Eric Conde ’16, criminal justice
Deputy, Albany County Sheriff’s Department, Albany, New York
Before COVID-19, I worked at just about every station in our department, from patrol, prisoner transport, airport security, and court security. Since then, many station members have been redeployed to help combat the spread of the virus and to give additional aid to the community.
I volunteered to help at the dispatch station, where I was assigned to keep track of the information from the health department on COVID-19. I use said information to create maps of the county and update our internal system on addresses of those in quarantine due to exposure or testing positive. I also keep track of the houses that our EMS/fire/law enforcement first responders respond to, and inform them if there is a possible exposure issue.
Every day, things change. That is probably the biggest stress; the unknowns. My girlfriend is a nurse in the ICU and step-down unit at St. Peter’s Hospital. Both of us have experienced stress and mental breakdowns, but we have always had each other for support. The community has shown nothing but support for first-responders and nurses working day in and day out, and my heart goes out to all those affected by the pandemic.
Lindsey David ’13, childhood education/special education, Golden Knights softball
Mount Sinai fire department and ambulance team member, Mount Sinai, New York
Sandy DenBesten ’04, business administration
Vice President, employee benefits, Brown & Brown, Albany, New York
My company, Brown & Brown, has opened up a relief center to the community. Financial wellness, behavioral health, pet care, food, and food-delivery service discounts are some of the resources included. In addition, we have extensive, thorough relevant information that anyone can access regardless of client status.
Questions I can assist with include: Benefits management tools to assist employees working from home; return-to-work policies; exclusive savings with national payroll partners; vendor partners providing leave management services; COBRA questions; behavioral health; testing—EEOC protocol; furloughs and layoffs; paid leave laws; well-being. For details contact:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christopher Donlin ’05 English; Quinnipiac School of Law
Attorney, Hamden, Connecticut
Connecticut has been hard hit by COVID-19. I have had 10 clients pass away due to COVID-19 and currently have 30 in the community and nursing homes that have tested positive. My role is to make end-of-life decisions, when necessary, and work with family and loved ones. I interact directly with medical professionals and advocate for people found to lack capacity to make their own decisions. For others who have not been diagnosed, I am working to ensure services remain in place, people comply with quarantine directives, and essential services remain in place. In a typical week, we place countless Instacart orders, making sure that each client has essential items. I am also responsible for paying all the bills for these individuals, with in excess of $100,000 going out on a monthly basis.
In addition, I have been featured on a number of local news stations for my charitable work related to COVID-19. One project is my work with Continuum Distillery, a distillery I am a part-owner in. Continuum has partnered with local breweries that have been shut due to COVID-19 to use beer that would otherwise be wasted to create “Relief Drops” which are being sold, with $10 of the proceeds of the sale of each bottle going to help brewery workers.
I have also partnered with a local restaurant, Olmo, to provide sandwiches for workers at the Walmart, Stop and Shop, and ShopRite locations in Hamden, Connecticut. Last week, we donated 120 sandwiches to the workers over the course of three days to acknowledge their hard work and dedication. More information at www.donlinlaw.com
Tay Fisher G’16, education
Retired Harlem Globetrotter, owner of Tay Fisher’s Fundamental Basketball Camp
I started virtual training, ball-handling, and strength training for kids ages 8 and up. It’s a great way to stay connected with kids in the community and around the world. This is a very difficult time for everyone, but especially kids. Schools are closed, which means they can’t play sports. They can’t enjoy the time with their friends, teachers, and coaches. The virtual trainings give them something to do and a way to interact with other kids. Here is a chance for us all to improve on ourselves and appreciate small things we are able to do.
At the end, we do virtual fist pumps so they know we are in this together.
I also started women’s strength and conditioning to keep them moving and in shape. Without a gym, it’s hard, but I have always loved keeping myself in shape with bodyweight exercises at home. This training will help with cardio, endurance, and strength. My wife, Yasmin Fisher, helps me as well. The women love her, and it’s a great way for my wife and I to connect.
Melanie Gerace ’15, criminal justice, behavior, & law; Golden Knights softball
Officer, New York State Department of Corrections, Comstock, New York
Alethea Kelly ’99, G’01, MS CCC SLP communication sciences and disorders
Speech-language pathologist, St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam, New York
I am thankful to be able to apply my Saint Rose education, and work experiences, for a purpose greater than myself.
Doreen Kelly ’64, history and political science; M.S.Ed University of Massachusetts
Retired school principal, Sharon, Massachusetts
Since I retired in 2003, I have volunteered and served on the board for our local cat shelter, People for Cats, in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Right now, our weekly adoption sessions are discontinued due to the shutdown, but the work of caring for the cats continues. Ten years ago, my co-volunteer and I secured numerous grants for the shelter and established a hotline for community members who are having financial difficulty providing veterinary care for their cats. Today, the hotline is very busy, and the situations are more extreme than previously.
We continue to shelter cats when their owners are too ill to care for them, owners have been moved to facilities that do not accept cats, or if the cat is homeless. Much of our volunteer work involves daily feeding, cleaning, and providing TLC. But the very important work of providing veterinary care and locating vendors for food and cleaning supplies for the shelter is a daily effort.
I am grateful I can be part of this great organization. It is a work of love.
Tracie Killar ’86, public communications
Founder, director South End Children’s Cafe, Albany, New York
Ever since Tracie Killar founded it in 2015, the South End Children’s Cafe has functioned as an afterschool mini-restaurant, where local kids enjoy healthy meals, get help with homework, and have fun. The pandemic disrupted that business model, but not the demand for food. Killar was overwhelmed by the need to not feed not just the children but their families and dozens of people she had never met who came by the cafe. Many had lost their jobs.
Overnight, the cafe became a food delivery system. Killar, her small staff and a core of volunteers, initially cooked and distributed meals, then found an easier way: accept donated food and get packages out the door and into the community as quickly as possible. Food drives have brought traffic backups at the cafe, and filled the space to capacity. Killar also gets donations and help through word of mouth.
Alison McGrath ’12, sociology/criminal justice, Golden Knights women’s basketball
Nurse, Palomar Hospital, San Diego, California
Rebecca (Mroczka) Nicosia G’12, communication sciences and disorders
Speech-language pathologist, St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam, New York
Sean Organ ’00, social studies: adolescence education, Golden Knights men’s basketball
Social studies teacher and girl’s basketball head coach, Averill Park High School, Averill Park, New York
Volunteer firefighter, Boght Community Fire Department, Colonie, New York
Joe Pompo G’12, MBA, CPA
Director of finance and taxation, Fuccillo Automotive Group, Adams, New York
Fuccillo is offering first responders across the state free disinfecting services for their cars. The EPA-registered PermaSafe system normally costs around $250. Participants from a long list of police, public works, ambulance, fire, and emergency management departments can go to the Fuccillo dealership in their region to get free installation of the system, which eliminates surface and airborne germs viruses and bacteria. Fuccillo is offering PermaSafe for free with the purchase or lease of new or preowned cars. Read more here.
Ashley Rath ’12, biology, Golden Knights women’s basketball
Pharmacist, Rite Aid, Rochester, New York
John Schueler ’08, criminal justice, behavior, and law, Golden Knights baseball
Police officer, City of Albany, Albany, New York
Steve Scott ’94 music
Band Leader, Wellesley High School, Wellesley, Massachusetts During the confinement Steve and indie-pop band Air Traffic Controller founder Dave Munro arranged for the Wellesley High School band, orchestra, and chorus to get copies of one their pieces. The students were invited to practice, then record themselves playing their part and send to Steven. Their contributions were combined with Air Traffic Controller members playing their parts. The result is above.
Colin Sorber ’15, biology, Master in Physician Studies, Marist College
Physician Assistant, Emergency Department, St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany, New York
Job duties include diagnosing and treating a wide range of illnesses, and we are currently treating patients with COVID-19.
Rosalie Wade (Palmer) ’10, business administration
Manager of School Programs, Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas, Texas
Instead of our usual field trips and taking our programs to schools, we have a weekly newsletter with different activities every weekday. You can see our resources online. Drago the Dragon has been our museum spokesperson/dragon since we haven’t been there. He is pictured on the wing of our Frontier Flyer.
Chandra Wells G’12, communication sciences and disorders
Per-diem speech-language pathologist, St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam, New York, and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital, Schenectady, New York
Brian Xavier Willis ’15, criminal justice, behavior, and law
Police officer, Brookhaven Police Department, Brookhaven, Georgia
Laurabelle Zagada G’18, college student services administration
Assistant director, Center for Student Success, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
I’ve been posting snippets of song covers that I play on the ukulele, and some of them come with tutorial videos for anyone trying to learn the ukulele. Here is an example of one of my posts.
I also use my Apple Pencil and the Procreate app to create inspirational quotes that I share on Instagram.
By Jane Gottlieb and Irene Kim