Book Club Addresses Cultural Differences

Written by Madalyn Alfonso
Published in the New Paltz Oracle

A town-wide book club full of members of a variety of ages, backgrounds and ideologies may seem like a big idea, but with One Book One New Paltz, that idea comes to life every year.

As a diverse crowd shuffled into Lecture Center 100 on Monday, Oct. 2, author Imbolo Mbue, a native of Limbe, Cameroon and current New York City resident, prepared to speak about her debut novel, Behold the Dreamers in the first event of One Book One New Paltz (OBONP) this year. Faculty, students and fans of the novel settled in to hear Mbue read an excerpt and talk about her process.

“Mbue is a very honest writer,” said sophomore psychology major Ashley Rodriguez. “She spoke so openly about her personal life. I found the event very interesting and made a lot of connections with her personal life to mine.”

Behold the Dreamers is about an immigrant family from Cameroon trying to get by in America by working for a rich, white family in New York City. The book explores the ideas of class, race, immigration, family and the disillusionment of the American Dream.

Charlene V. Martoni, committee member of OBONP and the conversation moderator began the evening by introducing Mbue and her book, explaining the praise it has received in recent news publications, such as being chosen for Oprah’s book club, and then giving Mbue the floor to kickstart the four-day long series of programs.

“I was driven by inspiration,” Mbue said. “I was very observant of the class differences in New York City, and I did a lot of research. This book is a love song to many places for me; Cameroon, America, Harlem, and writing this book was a way of going home.”

One Book One New Paltz is a project that began in 2005 and was founded by Dr. Gerald Benjamin, Director of the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz, to promote reading as a way of connecting people in the College and neighborhood. Every year, the committee chooses a book that becomes the “community read,” which is meant to encourage people of all backgrounds to participate in and celebrate their community by having a shared reading experience.

Behold the Dreamers was chosen because it fits the criteria the committee uses in their selection process. The chosen book needs to incorporate many different issues that can open a conversation that is accessible to various groups of people. Mbue’s goal for the book was to focus on empathy and challenge people to think of their world differently and consider other perspectives.

“Everyone deserves empathy, even if we disagree,” Mbue said. “It was hard for me to empathize with rich white people for this book, but I needed to develop empathy for these characters, even if I didn’t understand the struggle of the one percent. I wanted to connect two drastically different worlds.”

Martoni interviewed Mbue and audience members were also invited to participate in the Q&A. Mbue spoke on her inspirations, her struggles in immigration and understanding America and where she hopes to head next from here.

“I dreamt that America was full of rich people and that everyone had a wonderful life. Coming to America I realized how rough it actually is.” she said. “While America is a wonderful country, it has many issues and flaws, and it is not wonderful for everyone.”

The final event of One Book One New Paltz 2017 will take place on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Elting Memorial Library in the Village of New Paltz, with the book discussion and wrap-up. Behold the Dreamers can be purchased as a paperback in local book stores Barner Books and Inquiring Minds Bookstore for $14.50.


Meet Our 2016 NYLA-Dewey Award Winner

Written by Daphne Jorgensen
Published by the UAlbany College of Engineering and Applied Sciences

University at Albany’s 2016 NYLA-Dewey Scholarship Award winner, Charlene Martoni, is no stranger to winning… and giving back to others.

Information Science student Charlene Martoni has been selected as a recipient of the NYLA-Dewey Scholarship. This award of $1,000 is sponsored by the Lake Placid Educational Foundation and the New York Library Association. It is awarded each year to students pursuing a master’s degree in a program in New York State that is accredited by the American Library Association. Successful candidates are selected based on evidence of strong scholarship, leadership, and a commitment to work in a library or library system in New York State for at least two years after graduation. References writing in support of Ms. Martoni’s application for the award praised her leadership and supervisory skills, one calling her “a bright, talented and motivated leader in her field.”“My main career aspiration is to support marginalized and struggling people through library and information science, education, and literature,” said Martoni.

Charlene is no stranger to triumph, and her desire to give back to her community extends far beyond her professional aspirations. Since recovering from cancer, she has participated in the annual Brooklyn TEAL Walk for Ovarian Cancer. She explains, “I do this because I feel that, as a survivor, it is my responsibility to spread awareness and support research about ovarian cancer so that other people have a higher chance of early diagnosis like I had.”

Charlene is currently enrolled in the dual master’s program in information science and English. Within the M.S.I.S. program, she is in the school library media specialist track. She works as the Evening and Weekend Circulation Supervisor, Social Media Manager, and Textbook Collection Manager for the Sojourner Truth Library at SUNY New Paltz, where she did her undergraduate work. Charlene also worked at the Sojourner Truth Library while an undergraduate. She serves as a volunteer on the One Book/One New Paltz committee as a library representative and was the committee chair in 2015 and 2016. Her hobbies include reading nonfiction books and memoirs. She says, “I’m always looking to learn something new and understand the world from others’ perspectives.”

Locally made snacks for your outdoor adventure

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in VISITvortex

Part of what makes the Hudson Valley such a beautiful place this time of year is its many destinations that have been taken over by autumn colors. Now is the time to plan some outdoor adventures like a hike up Overlook Mountain, a climb on the Shawangunk Ridge, or a bike along the Hudson Valley Rail Trail.

It’s always important to be prepared whenever you explore the outdoors by bringing maps, first aid kits, and some form of communication. You should also bring energy-packed snacks to keep you going until the end of your excursion.

Here are some healthy, locally made snacks to pack for your next Hudson Valley adventure:


This homegrown, non-gmo popcorn is popped by the sun and seasoned with all-natural, gluten-free, and vegan ingredients—no butter or cheese. The BjornQorn signature flavor is created with nutritional yeast, making it high in protein and B vitamins. Bjorn and Jamie, the duo behind BjornQorn, met at Bard College where Bjorn was known for his family’s popcorn recipe and Jamie for his wild ideas. Thus, BjornQorn was born. You can buy this snack at The Big Cheese in Rosendale, High Falls Food Co-op in High Falls, Kelder’s Farm Stand in Kerhonkson, and at other locations throughout the Hudson Valley. Visit bjornqorn. com for a full listing of locations.


Runners and bikers swear by the New Paltz Bakery’s energy bars, made with nuts, dates, apricots, seeds, sesame tahini, honey, and vanilla. They’re gluten-free, have no refined sugar, and are high in protein. Dave Santner has been making this recipe for his whole baking career, even before opening The Bakery in 1981. The bars have been featured in Runner’s World, and the recipe is included in Runner’s World Cookbook. 13a North Front Street, New Paltz. 845-255-8840.


A cross between an energy bar and a candy bar, the fruit bars sold at Comparetto’s Bakery in Marlboro were originally created to provide bursts of energy for a local football team. They’re packed with molasses, nuts, and raisins to keep you going—a reward during a big adventure. 20 Western Avenue, Marlboro. 845-236-4440.


Organic, vegan, and gluten-free, Ragi’s little energy balls are handmade in Woodstock with coconut, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and a hint of sea salt. They were created to provide energy without dropping blood sugar.

Try their cacao, cashew, strawberry, or mango varieties. You can pick them up at Mother Earth Storehouse in Kingston, Village Apothecary in Woodstock, and at many other locations throughout the Hudson Valley. Find more locations and varieties at


These delicious bites were inspired by creator Mark Reynolds’ childhood favorite—key lime pie. Mark’s energy bites are 100-percent raw, vegan, and organic, made with dates, coconut shreds, seeds, lime juice, lime zest, and Celtic sea salt.

With 2.4 grams of protein and 6.5 grams of fiber, these 290 calorie bites are loaded with vitamins E and B complex for eye, digestive, and muscle health. You can find them at the Tea Haus in Rosendale. For more information, visit


If you’re looking for a unique granola, this granola made at Raspberry Fields Farms in Marlboro is just the ticket.

Rolled oats combine with crisp rice, whole dried raspberries, sunflower seeds, coconut, and more to create a delicious granola perfect for an outdoor excursion. Check out other varieties at 601 Lattintown Road, Marlboro. 845-236-2551.


If you’re going to explore the Hudson Valley, Upstate Granola just makes sense. This Woodstock company offers unique varieties of granola, like praline pecan, sunflower, and blueberry granola or maple pecan and dried cherry granola. They also offer gluten-free and paleo options. For a full list of flavors, visit 65 Tinker Street, Woodstock. 845-532-1218.


Perfect for the fall, the chai granola sold at LaGusta’s Luscious in New Paltz will reinforce the autumn-ness of your fall hike or bike. Taste the flavors of the season as you trek into the golden Hudson Valley wilderness.

LaGusta’s Luscious also sells a pre-packaged Rock Scramble, made with corn flakes, pistachios, marshmallows, and organic fair-trade dark chocolate—perfect for the chocoholic hiker. 25 North Front Street, New Paltz. 845-255-8834.


Grok Bites appeared on the Hudson Valley scene in 2015 and have quickly gained popularity in the area. These snack-sized, packaged squares are handmade in New Paltz with raw, vegan ingredients like dates, cashew nuts, cacao powder, and coconut. Each package contains about 10 percent of your daily protein and 15 percent of your daily dietary fiber. Try the Nutty Expressor variety for a caffeine kick, or try the new flavor, Purple Rain, made with mulberries, pomegranate, and lavender.

Grok Bites can be found at many local businesses, like The Tea Haus in Rosendale, The Cheese Plate in New Paltz, and Monkey Joe’s in Kingston. Find other locations and flavors at 845-384-2264.


For a savory protein kick, try some venison snack sticks from Highland Farm in Germantown. At just two bucks a pop, these sticks are loaded with 8 grams of protein and come in smoked, teriyaki, pepper, hot, and cheddar varieties to satisfy any savory craving. Visit to discover even more snacks from Highland Farm. 283 County Route 6, Germantown. 518-537-6397.


The easiest food to pack for an outdoor adventure is a fresh, locally-grown apple—or other fruit—from a local farm or farmers market. Pick your favorite!


Add this elixir to tea or juice for an immune boost during your outdoor adventure. Packed with ginger and turmeric, it will aid in digestion and help to control inflammation in your body.

Visit the ImmuneSchein Tea Haus in Rosendale for some drinks with this elixir already mixed in. You can also buy bottles of it to make your own personalized drink! 446 Main Street, Rosendale. 828-319-1844.


If you’re bringing your dog along on your excursion, remember to pack some food and water for her too. Highland Farm in Germantown sells all-natural, raw pet food, made with no preservatives, chemicals, or additives.
Try some farm-raised venison and game blended with locally-grown produce. It’s flash-frozen and vacuum-sealed, so just pack it in your bag. You can also request made-to-order custom blends for your pooch. 283 County Route 6, Germantown. 518-537-6397.

Another great option for pets are the biscuits made by Gooddog Biscuit Company in Poughquag. They’re always made with natural and organic ingredients.
Try the peanut butter cookies or the sweet potato dehydrated chips! You can buy these snacks at many markets and festivals in the Hudson Valley. Visit to find out where they’ll be sold next. 845-243-0673.

Tiny Arts Day in tiny West Fulton

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in The Watershed Post

The town of West Fulton may be tiny, but it has a lot of heart—and art.

“West Fulton is a very interesting place, made up of extremely creative people,” said Cornelia McGiver, the artistic director of Panther Creek Arts, a new arts venue in the small Schoharie County town. “And what I find special about that place is that there is a willingness to exchange and complement ideas.”

Panther Creek Arts, which is located in a former grain and feed store from 1919, is all about inspiring this exchange through artistic, recreational and educational events. The building’s upper level, known as The Hall, includes a stage and long, natural-wood picnic tables that can seat 80 to 200 people. Meanwhile, the ground level houses BITE ME, a cafe that serves delicious foods like curried chicken salad over fresh greens, gluten-free sweets, kombucha and more.

“It’s been our mission to bring world-class music and arts to that venue,” McGiver said.

On Saturday, June 4, The Hall will turn into an art gallery for the second annual Tiny Arts Day in a Tiny Town, a mini-festival that, with the help of a community arts grant from the Greene County Council on the Arts, will showcase the work of five artists. Last year’s fest drew upwards of 150 people, and this year’s is expected to draw even more.

“You’ll have someone who is a curator of a museum in Manhattan talking to local farmers, and for me, I’m so warmed by that—so touched,” said McGiver. “There are people who would never see each other—would never meet—but here they are enjoying each other.”

If you go to Tiny Arts Day, you will have the chance to meet Elisa Jensen, an artist from Brooklyn. She is a 2015 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow and was a 2012 finalist for the foundation’s Basil Alkazzi Award for Painting. Jensen is also currently a faculty member at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture and is a visiting faculty member in the Foundation Drawing Department at Pratt Institute.

The other artist who will be featured in The Hall is Pamela Salisbury, who lives and works in Kinderhook. She completed her undergraduate studies in sculpture at Bennington College in Vermont and received her MFA in painting from the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.

Copper and stonework by West Fulton’s own Mark Swanberry, whose designs are inspired by nature, will be shown on the ground floor, and there will also be metal sculpture by Mario Bustamante of Brooklyn on display in the park, just a stone’s throw away from the center itself.

“A very big piece of artwork by David Wilson will also be on display across from the park. It’s a surprise,” said McGiver. “And when I say big, it’s big.”

But traditional artwork won’t be the only type of art at this festival. McGiver and Panther Creek’s advisory board and volunteers have also curated a fine list of local craft brewers, distillers and food vendors, including Green Wolf Brewing Company, 1857 Spirits, Kymar Farm Distillery and Sap Bush Hollow Food and Drink. Food and drinks will be available throughout the day.

The festival will start at 3 p.m. with an enchanting origami and handcrafted mask storytelling performance by Kuniko Yamamoto, featuring myths and fables from ancient and modern Japan made fresh. Then, the art gallery will open at 4 p.m., offering guests the opportunity to purchase their favorite pieces.

“I’m very interested in artists being paid for what they do,” said McGiver, “because I think our culture could benefit from understanding and valuing artists to a greater degree.”

The day will conclude with yet more art: a musical performance starting at 8 p.m. by Brooklyn’s Musette Explosion, featuring the accordion, tuba, and guitar.

McGiver is already looking to the future, considering bumping up the musical performances to two, incorporating theatre art and staged readings, and including more local vendors for next year’s festival.

“I do like the idea of incorporating more of the town into the project,” she said, “with people strolling through the town.”

Though Tiny Arts Day in a Tiny Town is only in its second year, it’s clear that it has an important influence.

“We all know what it’s like to be a part of the arts in an urban center like New York City, Albany, or Boston,” McGiver said, “so it’s exceptional for people coming to West Fulton to find that there is such a broad sense of community in such a small place and that they are welcomed into it.”

Volunteers are also welcome. If you would like to help out, contact McGiver at You can also contact her if you need ticket sponsorship. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, and tickets for the storytelling performance are an additional $5.

Tiny Arts Day in a Tiny Town. Saturday, June 4, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. The Hall at Panther Creek Arts, 1468 Sawyer Hollow Rd., West Fulton.

Care for our bees and butterflies: Plant a pollinator garden

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Illustrations by Teresa Hewitt
Published in VISITvortex

Honey bees are actually not native to North America, but neither are many of our crops and garden plants. Nevertheless, these little golden soldiers have become essential to our horticulture.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of our flower crops, which accounts for one-third of everything we eat. Nuts, alfalfa, apple, cantaloupe, cranberry, pumpkin, sunflower, and many other delicious and healthy foods depend on pollination by honeybees.

Yet the USDA also said that honey bees and other pollinators have had to face increasing obstacles in recent years, including deformed wing virus, nosema fungi, new parasites, nutrition problems, and possible effects of pesticides.Eric Stewart of Greenman Garden Design in Accord said that applying herbicides and pesticides to lawns and gardens not only harms beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies, but it also exposes people and animals to these same harsh chemicals.

Stewart also encouraged taking action against the use of chemicals by petitioning local governments to stop spraying herbicides and pesticides. He said that in 2015, local legislators and activists convinced the New York City Department of Environmental Conservation to stop spraying a controversial herbicide, glyphosate, along the Town of Olive’s roadways.





Blue fortune is a vigorous variety of anise hyssop that grows three to four feet tall on tough, semi-woody stems. It features colorful spikes of violet-blue flowers that readily attract bees and other pollinators. This plant is not picky about soil and thrives in most any sunny location. Plus, the fragrant green leaves can be made into a tasty tea, and it is resistant to grazing by deer and other garden pests. To brighten your garden, try golden jubilee, another variety of anise hyssop with yellow-green foliage.


This native species is commonly found growing in meadows throughout the area. Often reaching three to four feet tall, its clusters of bright golden-yellow flowers provide a bonanza of nectar for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. If you have a stand growing on your property, do Mother Nature a favor and leave it be. Or, transplant a few stems to a garden where it can spread vigorously.


Milkweed is the primary source of food for monarch butterfly caterpillars. It’s a tall, native perennial with large, smooth leaves that ooze white sap when cut or broken, and it produces large clusters of small mauve flowers that transform into silky parachutes in the fall. You can usually buy two variations of milkweed at your local garden store: butterfly weed and swamp milkweed.


As the name suggests, this attractive perennial is a magnet for many pollinators, including hummingbirds. A member of the mint family that flourishes in average to moist garden soil, it features showy clusters of claw-like flowers in scarlet or magenta as well as foliage that can be used to make a delicious bergamot-like tea.


These plants are food sources for both you and for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Dill, the familiar herb used in pickling and on fish dishes, is a delicious yellow-flowering annual. Fennel is a tender perennial that can grow four to five feet tall and boasts airy clusters of pale yellow flowers with tasty seeds. Purpureum is a particularly attractive variety of fennel with lovely bronze coloring.


According to Victoria Coyne of Victoria Gardens, “One of the best ways people can help honey bees is by planting plants and flowers that help to feed them.”



Earlier blooms are literally a lifeline for bees to sustain their hive in March and April. Some favorites are valley valentine and brouwers beauty, which are floriferous and provide bees with much needed pollen and nectar. Also, hellebores perennials bloom in March, sometimes pushing blooms up from under a layer of snow.


In May, a great option for bees and other pollinators are annuals. Two favorites are lantana and sweet alyssum. These beauties will bloom all season long, providing sustenance for bees, butterflies, and humming birds.


Bees excitedly buzz from bloom to bloom once we enter the full swing of summer. Two of their summer favorites are lavender and pincushion flowers.


As other perennials fade, these flowers will extend your garden’s food supply for busy bees getting ready for winter: lion’s tail, red hot poker, salvia, and butterfly weed.


Autumn can provide boisterous color in your garden, even as the leaves change. Blanket flower, coneflower, yarrow, and sedum provide bees (and you) with continuous blooms right up to the first sub-freezing frost.


Stewart said an additional species to plant in your garden is the lovely butterfly bush, a shrub that acts as a butterfly magnet with its large panicles of fragrant pink, white, blue, or purple blooms.

HERBS like lemon balm and lavender are excellent for honey bees, and currants and blueberries are also great at attracting pollinators.

FLOWERING TREES, such as crabapples, dogwoods, and hawthorns also make wonderful additions to pollinator gardens. Other bee-friendly trees include willows, maples, sweet gum, and sumac.




1 Cottekill Road, Rosendale


PERFECT Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

Recipe by Charlene V. Martoni, inspired by a recipe from Mom on Time Out

Aunt Dot (my boyfriend’s aunt) hosts a cookie exchange party for the holidays, and I look forward to it each year. However, December is always a busy month for me, with school, family gatherings, and work. These sweet but tangy cookies are perfect because they are easy to make; you just slice them up when you want them!

Cranberry Orange Cookies

~2 dozen cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), very cold and cubed
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla extract if you don’t like the almond flavor)
1 heaping tablespoon orange zest (I use Penzey’s dehydrated peel and rehydrate it with a tablespoon of water.)
1 cup craisins
Continue reading “PERFECT Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies”

Apple Butternut Squash Soup

Recipe by Charlene V. Martoni

This is a warm but bright soup that I love to make during those cold months of winter and early spring. The apples add a touch of sweetness to the silky butternut squash base, but the spices keep it savory. It’s completely vegan, too!


~4-5 12-ounce servings

1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or other healthy cooking oil
2 garlic cloves
1 cup chopped celery
3 teaspoons Better than Bouillon vegetable base
4 tablespoons white wine
2 cups roasted butternut squash
3 small apples, peeled and chopped
1-3 cups of water, depending on how thick you like your soup
Salt, turmeric, and cumin to your taste. Continue reading “Apple Butternut Squash Soup”

Orange Is The New Paltz: Miss Rosa Visits New Paltz

Written by Amanda Copkov
Published in the New Paltz Oracle

Having made her great escape from Litchfield Penitentiary, Miss Rosa of “Orange Is the New Black” made a pitstop at SUNY New Paltz.

Actress Barbara Rosenblat, referred to as “the Meryl Streep of audiobooks,” plays the role of Miss Rosa in the critically acclaimed, top-rated Netflix series and came to the College as part of the One Book/One New Paltz (OB/ONP) program. The goals of this program are to foster community, encourage reading and support literacy by making one read accessible to everyone in the community, according to OB/ONP Committee Chair and Webmaster Charlene Martoni.

“The goal is to get people thinking so that they can go forth and make a difference in the world,” she said.

Martoni said she pushed for “Orange Is the New Black” by Piper Kerman to be read among those in the program because of all of the prevalent themes within the book, such as the issues of transgender people and sexual violence in prisons.

“These are issues college students can really make a difference about if they learn about them,” she said.

Martoni said she felt that this novel would be an important read in the community as more of these types of injustices are coming to light in the media.

“It’s important for people to realize that these communities, these institutions, have their own [injustices] going on inside of them,” she said. “The only way that they can be fixed, really, is if people outside of them are aware of them. Because the people inside of these institutions do have rights, but their rights aren’t easy to protect, so they need help from other people.”

During Rosenblat’s Nov. 21 presentation, she held a Q+A session and read an excerpt from “Out of Orange” by Cleary Wolters, the ex-lover of Piper Kerman, whose pseudonym in the “Orange Is the New Black” book is Nora, and who is portrayed in the Netflix series as Alex Vause, played by actress Laura Prepon.

Rosenblat, the narrator for the audiobook version of “Out of Orange” read from “Prologue: Karma,” where Wolters expresses her initial reaction to reading Kerman’s “Orange Is the New Black.”

The author wrote of her first experience watching “Orange Is the New Black” — unbeknownst to her. At first, she admitted, she thought the opening scene of the first episode was a shampoo commercial, nearly ready to turn off the television with her finger on the power button. There was a “soft, tinkling piano” playing in the background and an attractive blonde woman taking a bath, drinking a glass of red wine.

Then all of a sudden — a “loud-sounding alarm interrupted the piano and the haunting sound of a heavy, metal door slamming shut” gave her chills. The camera zooms out of the happy, showering blonde woman to reveal that she is now in prison. In the next scene, the same woman is dressed in an orange jumpsuit and says, “My name is Piper Chapman.”

“And I dropped the remote,” Wolters wrote. She heard “lesbian lover” and “drug smuggling” and instantly caught on to what she was watching — an on-screen adaption of the experience of her ex-lover.

Rosenblat said she was thrilled at the prospect of being in a show that took place in a women’s prison and had initially auditioned for the role as Russian character Red.

She was told she wouldn’t be cast as Red but was instead offered the role as Miss Rosa, a fictional character only found in the “Orange Is the New Black” Netflix series. To her agent she said, “Great, who is she?”

“A prisoner.”

“Oh, what’s she done?”

“We don’t know.”

“Where’s she from?”

“No idea.”

“Okay …”

“And by the way, she’s got cancer. Will you shave your head?” Rosenblat was asked.

Rosenblat said she initially walked away from the role, but decided otherwise days later when the producers of “Orange Is the New Black” employed three-time Emmy award-winning special effects makeup artist Josh Turi, known for his special effects makeup in movies such as “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014), “Men in Black 3” (2012) and “Ted 2” (2015). She kept her hair and endured a three-hour-long makeup process during each day of filming.

She said that the challenge of being cast as Miss Rosa was finding out who the character was, as she did not have much help.

“As an actor, you have to bring your A-game and you try to build something from whole cloth,” she said. “You have to invest what you get with blood, plasma, guts, a soul, an attitude and you have to make a choice and hopefully the director sees that and says, ‘Yeah, we can work with her.’ They like that.”

Rosenblat said she learned a lot about the life of women in prison as she played the role of one.

“The thing to understand is that they are people,” Rosenblat said. “They are mothers. They are sisters. They are daughters. And they have lives.”

Martoni said that the OB/ONP program is a great opportunity for people in the New Paltz community to learn more and empower themselves.

“This program and the books we choose get people inspired,” she said. “We have a very diverse age range, from the elderly to those in high school, and I think that the benefit of being empowered affects them all.”

OB/ONP chooses a book each February. Book suggestions for the upcoming year can be emailed to

Michael K. Buckland’s Liberation of the Information Sciences

Essay by Charlene V. Martoni

Kudu_antelopeInformation is pertinent in any discipline, which is why so many meanings for it exist. In his 1991 article, entitled “Information as Thing,” Michael K. Buckland, a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information, identifies three variant definitions for “information” in relation to the information sciences: information-as-process, information-as-knowledge, and information-as-thing. He then elaborates on the final of these definitions, information-as-thing, in his 1997 article, entitled “What is a ‘Document’?” Buckland shows, in these pieces, why it is necessary for information professionals to widen the parameters for what should be considered an informative document. In presenting his ideas, Buckland opens the information sciences to new possibilities, and so he opens the world to them as well. Continue reading “Michael K. Buckland’s Liberation of the Information Sciences”

Hot Chokola

Recipe by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in VISITvortex “What we love about winter”

Yield: 4 cups

“Here’s a simple hot cocoa recipe, a variation on the traditional Hatian Chokola Peyi, which you’ll love.” —Charlene

Image from

2 cups of milk*
1 four-ounce bar of 100%
unsweetened cacao
2 anise stars
1 cinnamon stick
1 fourteen-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk* 1 twelve-ounce can of evaporated milk* Continue reading “Hot Chokola”

Ways to help this holiday season

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in VISITvortex

The holidays have a way of inspiring the best in people, and whether it is helping to shovel a neighbor’s driveway or helping to take care of a friend’s dog, volunteering your time to make another person’s life better is really a noble thing—and it can be fun. Here are some suggestions to help you get into the holiday spirit and get involved with your community:

Volunteering at a soup kitchen, like the Caring Hands Soup Kitchen in Kingston, is a popular activity around this time of year because it involves helping to feed hungry bellies while meeting exciting new people. Volunteers may find themselves preparing and serving meals or assisting with an emergency food pantry and food deliveries. In doing these activities, there is always the hidden opportunity to learn something new.

The Caring Hands Soup Kitchen is a nonprofit organization partnered with the Clinton Avenue United Methodist Church, which serves meals Monday through Friday at noon. On average, the kitchen receives between 60 and 120 hungry people per day. That means there are a lot of occasions to help out.

To volunteer at the Caring Hands Soup Kitchen, located at 122 Clinton Avenue in Kingston, contact Stephen Crawford, office manager, at 845-331-7188. Walk-in volunteers are welcome, but some notice is appreciated so the regular kitchen staff can plan accordingly.

Image from VISITvortex.comAnother popular activity around this time of the year is helping those who do not have places to call home, and making care packages is a great way to do so. Put snacks and supplies into a waterproof container like a large zip-lock bag, and keep these packages in your car to hand out to people asking for help.

Try hosting a party to encourage your friends to keep some of these care packages in their car too. Go to the grocery store together, bring everything home, and assemble the packages while drinking some wine and watching holiday movies.

Some food supplies to pack include crackers, nuts, granola bars, fruit snacks, and pull-tab canned or pouched goods. Remember to only include items that can be easily opened. Keeping some water bottles in your trunk is a good idea too, and it is also important to pack things like socks, gloves, and air-activated hand warmers during these cold months.

For hygienic supplies, pack some individually wrapped toothbrushes and travel-sized toothpaste, 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, tissues, lotion, and hand sanitizer. Of course, some first aid items like Band-Aids, lip balm, and Neosporin packets are always helpful, and a few gift cards to local food venues and a letter with some words of encouragement would be nice additions as well.

Can’t find anyone to give the packages to on the road? Try dropping them off at local family support service locations like Family of Ellenville or Family of Woodstock.

Image from VISITvortex.comOne additional, and beloved, tradition during the holidays is participating in toy drives, like the CSEA Local 610 sponsored Annual Holiday Toy Drive, which benefits Family of New Paltz, a nonprofit walk-in crisis center that provides counseling and case management and also houses a food pantry and clothing store.

Anthony Adamo, New Paltz local president for the CSEA, passionately said the mission of the toy drive is to “make sure no child goes without a toy during the holidays.”

To make this happen, toy drive volunteers may find themselves requesting that community members donate toys by soliciting outside local businesses, communicating with Family of New Paltz in order to provide more personalized gifts to the children, and publicizing for the toy drive throughout town.

And of-course there is the opportunity to donate some toys yourself, which should be unopened and unused for safety reasons.

To volunteer for the toy drive or to donate, contact Anthony Adamo at 845-399-7426.

For additional volunteer opportunities during the holidays and throughout the rest of the year, visit, a non-partisan, countywide resource dedicated to fostering a community of volunteerism.

One Book/One New Paltz initiative takes on the prison system with this year’s community read “Orange is the New Black”

Written by Sharyn Flanagan
Published in the New Paltz Times

Pictured are some of the members of the One Book/One New Paltz Committee (L-R): Linda Welles, Abby Chance, Darlene Davis, Charlene Martoni, Shelley Sherman, John Giralico, Sue Books and Myra Sorin. This year's book is “Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Book clubs are a great way for people to get together to talk about ideas. But usually the clubs are made up of people who are already friends, or at least already know one another, and therefore probably have somewhat similar backgrounds. But what if a book club could encompass an entire community; a diverse range of people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and economic levels who could stimulate each other’s ideas through the common ground of a shared reading experience?

That’s the premise behind the “One Book, One City” concept that began in 1998 when Nancy Pearl, executive director of the Washington Center for the Book in the Seattle Public Library, initiated a project called, “If All Seattle Read the Same Book.” She obtained funding to bring an author to the area and invited members of the public to read his book and discuss it in a series of free public programs.

Since then, “One Book, One City” projects have been adopted nationwide. People in New Paltz have had the opportunity to participate in One Book/One New Paltz since 2005, when Dr. Gerald Benjamin, director of The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz, founded a committee to organize the annual project as a way to build community between the college and the greater New Paltz population.

The initiative also promotes reading and literacy, says Charlene Martoni, who recently became chairperson of the One Book/One New Paltz Committee. “It’s really all about bringing people together and getting them talking and getting them thinking, so that we can start a conversation about current ideas going on in the world,” she says. “We present these ideas without any bias on our part, through the book, and through program speakers who offer their own take on the book.”

With minor exception, the programs are free of charge to attend. With 15 offered this year during the week of November 15-22, there are ample opportunities for people to attend one or more of the book discussions, film screenings and presentations that will be offered at different locations throughout the town. “The whole point of having so many programs is to give everybody the opportunity to be a part of the experience,” explains Martoni. “We encourage people from all backgrounds to participate; the more diverse, the better.”

The book selected by the One Book/One New Paltz Committee for this year’s community read is Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, a memoir by Piper Kerman. (It should be noted that the discussions in New Paltz will concentrate on the book by Kerman and not the Netflix TV series that it inspired, which changes names and takes creative license with the facts.)

In her memoir, the author recounts how her decision to help a woman she was romantically involved with led to her indictment years later on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. Despite the fact she’d left that period of her life behind and moved on to graduate from Smith College and live an upright life, Kerman was convicted and spent 13 months in the federal correctional facility in Danbury, Conn. She later wrote Orange is the New Black about that period in her life. Kerman now serves on the board of the Women’s Prison Association and frequently speaks to students and judicial groups about prison reform. The One Book/One New Paltz program will use Kerman’s story as a jumping off point to look at issues relating to our nation’s flawed criminal justice system.

The book was selected for the community read because it fits the criteria the committee uses each year in its selection process. The book chosen needs to encompass many different issues that can be talked about in the various programs and has to be relatable to different parts of the population, says Martoni. Suggestions are taken during the first months of each year and after books are read by several members of the committee, a final five are voted on with one selected by spring.

In addition to editing VISITVortex Hudson Valley magazine and doing graduate studies on library and information science, Martoni works at the Sojourner Truth Library on the SUNY New Paltz campus as the evening and weekend circulation supervisor. One of her goals for One Book/One New Paltz, she says, is to increase the student turnout for the programs and the college’s involvement with the project, noting that a student panel discussion will take place in the Student Union Room 62/63 on Monday, November 16 at 2 p.m. — in which SUNY New Paltz students and professor of sociology Alexandra Cox will speak about their work with inmates in educational and advocacy contexts — and an academic panel led by Dr. Gerald Benjamin will follow at the same location at 4:30 p.m.

Benjamin still serves on the One Book/One New Paltz Committee he founded a decade ago.

In addition to chair Charlene Martoni, who also serves as webmaster, the group includes Mick Adams, professor emeritus of mathematics at SUNY New Paltz; Joanna Arkans, New Paltz High School librarian; Gerald Benjamin, committee founder and director of The Benjamin Center at the college; Sue Books, secondary education for SUNY New Paltz; Abby Chance, Barner Books; Mark Colvson, Sojourner Truth Library; Jacqueline Denu, SUNY New Paltz; John Giralico, director of Elting Memorial Library; Robin Jacobowitz, The Benjamin Center; Linda Welles, Elting Memorial Library trustee; and New Paltz residents Darlene Davis, Shaylene Meyers, Shelley Sherman and Myra Sorin.

More information is available at

Field trip: The Rail Trail Cafe

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in The Watershed Post

Above: The Rail Trail Cafe. Photo by Charlene V. Martoni.

A nook off the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, a 24-mile hiking and biking path through Ulster County, is the last place you’d expect to find a food truck. But that’s just where to look for the Rail Trail Cafe, a non-motorized food cart with a decidedly rustic take on mobile dining.

The kitchen is housed inside a 96-square-foot cabin made of reclaimed wood; a hand-built clay oven sits nearby, and the dining area opens to the lush green canopy overhead.

Husband-and-wife proprietors Brian Farmer and Tara Johannessen have been serving freshly made pizzas, dumplings and baked goods out of the cafe since May. Most of their menu items are made using local products, including microgreens sourced from their own farm, the Farmer’s Table, located a quarter of a mile away. Farmer, who has experience as a professional chef, says that using produce that they grow themselves makes the distance from farm to table even smaller.

Plus, according to Johannessen, it’s just good business practice.

“It’s important to buy and eat local not only because it supports local economy, but also because interfacing with farmers and business owners creates stronger communities,” she said.

Open Friday through Sunday in the warmer months, the cafe serves up hearty items like smoky wood-fired pizza topped with farm-grown zucchini, and steamed dumplings with sesame-ginger-shoyu dipping sauce. Snacks on offer include oat-buckwheat-cranberry scones and Cosmic Nectar Balls, made with raw cacao, pecans, coconuts and dates.

The couple had considered opening a food truck for some time. They stumbled upon the perfect place when they were working their farmland near the rail trail one day, and noticed the amount of foot traffic passing through. Realizing the potential of the spot as a pit stop for hungry hikers, they launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 to raise funds. Soon, they had almost $7,000 in startup capital to fund the construction of the cafe’s mobile kitchen, parked on a small plot of land leased from nearby Stone Mountain Farm.

“We wanted to provide a service that relies on the beauty and simplicity of enjoying a meal in the woods,” said Johannessen.

Farmer designed and built the structure himself—with help from Johannessen—out of donated leftover lumber donated by friends and investors. He equipped the 96-square-foot kitchen with refurbished kitchen appliances from Green Demolition and items from Craigslist.

Most of the baking goes down outside the kitchen, however, in the alfresco wood-burning oven, built by Farmer’s friend, Shawn DeRyder, out of a mixture of sand, clay and straw.

Above: Brian Farmer feeding wood into the clay wood-burning oven at the Rail Trail Cafe. Photo by Charlene Martoni.

The Rail Trail Cafe is an eco-friendly operation from stem to stern. The eatery’s seating area is comprised of found tables and chairs that have been upcycled and decorated using leftover paints. Farmer and Johannessen reduce waste by composting food scraps and using biodegradable cups.

The cafe hosts performances by local musicians on Saturday nights, and the owners are hoping to host a speaker series and poetry readings going forward.

“We want the cafe to create a closer community, one that knows itself,” said Johannessen.

The cafe will stay open until Columbus Day weekend, and Farmer and Johannessen plan to return for business next May. Another Kickstarter campaign is in the works to raise funds for improvements like a sheltered seating area and the hiring of additional staff.

The restaurant’s success so far is due mainly to word-of-mouth from customers like Stone Ridge resident Alex Kahan, who stopped for a bite one Saturday afternoon with his girlfriend.

Continue reading “Field trip: The Rail Trail Cafe”

In the loop

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in The New Paltz Times

For the Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT), SUNY New Paltz students are 7,767 opportunities to gain ridership, and Village of New Paltz residents are an additional 6,000.

Over the past few months, UCAT has focused on encouraging more students to ride its countywide bus system, recognizing that SUNY New Paltz and the surrounding village comprise the second largest population center in the county.

Improvements that have been made in New Paltz so far are expected to work with additional effort.

According to UCAT Director of Transportation Bob Di Bella, Ulster County students used public transportation about 30,000 times in 2012, and about 13,000 of those rides were by SUNY New Paltz students.

Guiding Out of the Darkness

Written by John Tappen
Published in the New Paltz Oracle

Photo from oracle.newpaltz.eduCharlene Martoni’s best friend lost  someone to suicide.

“I saw how one person’s suicide can have an affect on others — a ripple effect,” Martoni said.

For three years, Martoni, a fifth-year journalism and education major, has been the chairperson for the SUNY New Paltz Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention.

Martoni said the walk is an event where people can feel safe speaking about suicide — a subject that continues to be stigmatized.

“No one wants to talk about it,” Martoni said.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, following car accidents and addressing this fact is important because “suicide is preventable,” Martoni said.

During her time coordinating the Out of the Darkness Walk, Martoni said she has met neighbors, classmates and co-workers who are suicide survivors and felt comfortable talking about their experience.

The term “suicide survivor” encompasses anyone who has attempted suicide or has had a close friend or relative attempt or commit suicide, Martoni said.

“The biggest problem is getting people to talk about it,” Maria Idoni, Hudson Valley and Westchester chapter area director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said.

Idoni said the goal is to make people comfortable speaking about suicide — much in the same way that in the past it was taboo to talk about drunk driving or child abuse.

The Out of The Darkness Walk will raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Idoni estimates that in its first year, the event amassed $6,000.

Martoni said through working with the area AFSP, she “feels a part of a family,” and each year organizing the walk has gotten easier. Martoni said she’s been able to do more with this walk because of her experience from previous years.

At this year’s walk there will be three musical performances, a raffle and guest speakers from the school and from AFSP, Martoni said.

The walk, which will take place on Saturday, April 6 at 1:30 p.m., will begin on Parker Quad.

Martoni said the walk is “slow-paced and calming” and will culminate in a closing ceremony that involves announcing raffle winners, and a reading of names of lost loved ones given by participants at the beginning of the event.

Biodegradable balloons will be released at the end to honor the victims of suicide, Martoni said.

The Hudson Valley and Westchester chapters of the AFSP will host another Out of the Darkness Walk on Sunday, May 19 at Clarkstown High School North, Idoni said.

Maple syrup season gets underway in New Paltz

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in The Watershed Post

Six-year-old Lucas Lemos gets a taste of fresh maple sap at Brook Farm in New Paltz.

New Paltz—Three bundled-up boys huddled in the morning mist to catch drops of sap as it trickled out of a freshly drilled 1-inch deep hole in the bark of an old maple tree. Lucas, 6, licked the sap from his finger and looked up at his father, 39-year-old Luciano Lemos of Riverdale, in shock.

“It tastes a little like syrup,” he said, smiling. “Like watered down syrup.”

A handful of folks from all over New York State traveled to Brook Farm on Saturday, February 23 to take part in a maple sugaring prep-work party. The volunteers scrubbed metal buckets for sap collecting and piled up firewood to be used later for distilling the sap. They also set up maple tree taps on the 20-acre property.

The Brook Farm Project is a nonprofit sustainable farm just west of the village of New Paltz. The farm runs on a community supported agriculture (CSA) model, where members purchase shares of the season’s produce and pick up fresh crops each week from June through November.

But Saturday’s gathering was all about harvesting maple syrup, and it proved to be an opportunity for experiential learning. Creek Iversen, a 46-year-old farmer who recently took over as Brook Farm’s new manager, explained that it takes a lot of maple sap to make just a little bit of syrup.

“From each tree you tap,” Iversen said, “you could get about 10 gallons of sap, which will boil down to just about a quart of syrup.”

Iversen told an old Native American legend that explains why it takes so much effort to make maple syrup. A long time ago, Iversen said, people could lick sap right out of the tree and it would be as sweet and tasty as syrup.

“Since it was so easy,” he continued, “people would sit around all day drinking syrup from the maple trees.”

Legend has it that this behavior angered a spirit, who decided to pour water into the trees to weaken the sap.

Stephen Gilman, 44 of Stone Ridge, said he and his son, 6-year-old Ben, enjoy volunteer activities like this that involve some educational aspect. Gilman is the board president of UlsterCorps, a local nonprofit organization that works to connect people with volunteer opportunities.

Gilman said he and his son have a lot of maple trees on their property, so they were interested in learning something about them.

“We got several great things in one morning,” said Gilman. “We got to learn something, support a CSA farm and do something fun.”

The volunteers were encouraged to sing fun work songs, which Iversen explained were traditional on farms to keep workers’ spirits up and to keep them in rhythm when sawing wood or pulling ropes. He also said that some of the songs were meant to help lumberjacks learn the alphabet.

“A is for axe,” he sang, and he soon came to the chorus. “So merry, so merry are we. There’s no one on earth who’s as merry as we,” he belted.

Below: Creek Iversen teaches a group of Brook Farm volunteers a lumberjack alphabet song. Video by Charlene V. Martoni.

Lily Bergstein, a 16-year-old from New Paltz, has been volunteering at Brook Farm since she was 11 years old. She said she enjoys volunteering at the farm because she likes singing, and she is interested in studying sustainable agriculture when she goes to college.

When it came time to tap the trees, Bergstein grabbed the drill and tried it for herself before returning inside to enjoy fresh homemade applesauce and a potluck lunch with the rest of the volunteers.

Iversen’s partner, 31-year-old Lisa Mitten of New Paltz, said that yesterday’s event is one of many to come. On the second Saturday of each month, the Brook Farm Project will host a volunteer workshop. Upcoming workshops will include a seeding party and a how-to on making natural cleaning supplies. The farm’s calendar can be found at

The maple sugar taps that were installed Saturday will be collected, and the sap will be distilled into syrup on March 10 at a workshop where volunteers will learn how to make maple syrup at home.

Across the Catskills and New York State, syrupmakers are getting ready for Maple Weekend, an annual celebration of the harvest featuring events, syrup-making demonstrations and pancake breakfasts. This year, Maple Weekend will span two weekends: March 16-17 and 23-24. More than 110 New York State maple producers will host open houses similar to the ones at Brook Farm. For more information and a schedule of events, visit

New Paltz students reduce stress by practicing yoga

Video by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in The Little Rebellion

This piece is part of a series that examines how SUNY New Paltz students spend their free time.

Yoga is a popular extracurricular activity at the State University of New York at New Paltz.  The Athletic and Wellness Center on campus offers students free weekly yoga classes, and many students also attend meetings of the school’s Yoga Club.  Whether they are beginners or advanced yogis, SUNY New Paltz students cultivate their yoga interests by joining together to exercise.

The Meaning of Freedom for the Press

Essay by Charlene V. Martoni

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states that no government shall make a law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.  A free press is essential to a democratic society because it provides a platform for the discussion of ideas and the exchange of information.  However, there have been circumstances throughout history where attempts to limit freedom of the press were made in order to protect other basic rights or to prevent certain harms.  Continue reading “The Meaning of Freedom for the Press”

A Light out of the Darkness

Written by Katie Kocijanski
Published in the New Paltz Oracle

The overall goal of the Out of the Darkness campus walk held last Saturday, May 1 was to bring suicide out of the Darkness and into the light. The money raised will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students and the third among adolescents between the ages of 17 and 24, said first-year visual arts and graphic design major Lynda Hartley.

“The more that people are aware of such a devastating epidemic the more they can help and prevent,” said Hartley.

Hartley said he believes that the walk has a greater impact then people really think.

“When students see a big procession through campus they are naturally curious as to what is going on,” said Hartley. “Even if we don’t get them all to come to the walk, we can still impact and make them think.”

The Out of the Darkness walks are just a small part of the grand picture. The money they raise goes into research to help the future, said Hartley.

According the AFSP website, the foundation, which was founded in 1987, is one of the leading national, non-profit organizations that uses research, education and advocacy to understand and prevent suicide. The founders of this organization were shocked by the rise in numbers of suicide and felt that it was necessary to take action.

AFSP is working to educate the public through workshops, website, and videos . The website has numerous resources for the general public, schools, colleges and health institutes. The AFSP also plays a large part in the aftermath of suicide. They have support groups for families and friends who have lost loved ones to suicide and workshops on coping with the pain. There are also groups for those who have survived the pain of suicide.

Third-year graphic design major Dennis Yu also participated in the walk. He alone raised around $250. Yu hopes that this walk shows people and locals that there are people who care about those dealing with depression.

“I hope the walk raised awareness for suicide victims and I wish people would take hints of suicide seriously,” said Yu. “If I do not see the signs of a suicidal victim, I want to make myself available for those who are on the verge of taking their life.”

Yu became involved with the cause after speaking with many friends who had become depressed. He believes that by becoming involved with the AFSP, he is able to show people he is here if they need him.

“I believe that you are able to prevent suicide if you see the signs of depression before suicide,” said Yu. “I want to show that anyone can be a victim of suicide and people should care because you cannot gain a life once it’s gone.”

According to the captain of the team for the walk, Charlene Martoni, a total of $1,462 was raised. The people who participated walked in honor of lost loved ones, or were survivors of suicide; there were also people there who were “touched by the ripple-effect that suicide often creates.” Between 20 to 30 walkers participated.

Walkers and volunteers met outside of the Athletic & Wellness Center where registration took place. Food was offered and informational pamphlets were handed out as music played.

Martoni and Nicole Giordano of the Psychological Counseling Center spoke about signs and causes of suicide. Jackie Northaker, who lost her best friend to suicide, shared her experiences as well.

Professionals from OASIS/Haven set up a table to speak with anybody who needed to talk. Participants walked around campus. Upon returning, a raffle took place. Donations came from Barner Books, Manny’s Art Supplies, The Gilded Otter, and Rhineback Artist’s Shoppe. Finally, biodegradable balloons were let go and bubbles were blown in memory of those lost.

For more information or to volunteer visit or or contact Martoni via e-mail.

Not Your Average Spring Break

Written by Kathy Kim
Published in The Little Rebellion

Photo from thelittlerebellion.comFor 10 SUNY New Paltz students, this past spring break didn’t involve basking in the sun and sipping fruity alcoholic beverages. It instead was a different kind of break, an ‘Alternative Spring Break.’

“This program was for students to stay here in New Paltz to do volunteer work during their spring break,” said Erica Wagner, service-learning coordinator of the Career Resource Center.  “Instead of going to a sunny beach to party or to just go home and having nothing else to do, students had this opportunity to benefit their community.”

During this one week, students developed team building and leadership skills as well as volunteering with New Paltz Youth ProgramRondout Valley Animals for AdoptionHabitat for Humanity and Queen’s Galley Soup Kitchen.

“I think it was important for students to ‘give where you live’,” said Alexandra Saba, second year psychobiology major. “Sometimes people in the community have negative feelings about college students and this was an opportunity to show we aren’t always on our cell phones and that we really do care.”

Students first participated in interactive team building and leadership activities. One game was called the ‘Game of Life,’ where people from the Student Affairs division on campus showed students how stereotyping could keep people down in the working world. Students were given a certain race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and had to deal with the stereotypes involved.

“We normally don’t experience this because we are in college and not really trying to get a job,” said Kara McDermott, fourth year English major.  “It was interesting to see what people could go through, especially if you are dealing with people that are rude and racist.”

Another was, an online game that simulated the life of those in poverty and students had to learn how to distribute money and get through a month of living at the poverty level.

“You lost your house, your job and had only $1000 to make it through the month,” said Pamela Alverez, fourth year production major. “It simulated the feeling really well of trying to survive with all the difficult and different things coming up in life.”

After the interactive games, students cleaned up, swept and painted rooms in the New Paltz Youth Program center. At the Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption, students played with dogs and puppies. Students also demolished and did some restoring construction work for the facility of the Ulster County Habitat for Humanity. They also helped cook and serve lunch/dinner at the Queens Galley Soup Kitchen as well as a collection of goods and money at Shop Rite. They extraordinarily collected $409 and 333 items totaling 399 lbs of food, which was donated to the Queens Galley Soup Kitchen.

Charlene Martoni, third year journalism and secondary education major,walked away with a strong bond with her 10 new friends. They all plan to keep volunteering together in the future.

“The most memorable part was the last day where we reflected on all of the volunteer work we did and how close the group had gotten,” said Martoni. “It was amazing to see how genuine all of our relationships were because they were formed through a challenging experience of volunteer work.”

Martoni believes that volunteering was difficult at times, yet productive, inspirational and memorable. She encourages other students to get out and do the same.

“I think it’s important for students to specifically volunteer because it helps them grow as people while positively affecting their community,” said Martoni. “It’s always good to try new things and what you give will come back to you in some other way.”

Students can learn more about volunteering by making an appointment at the Career Resource Center with Erica M. Wagner. For more information email at or call the Career Resource Center at (845) 257-3265.