Team RV Heads Upstate

On Saturday members of St. John’s Residence Village traveled upstate to Newburgh, to participate in one of the many activities offered by Campus Ministry’s Team Residence Village (Team RV) program, a series of community service opportunities for resident students.

The students of Team RV assisted a non-profit organization called Safe Harbors of the Hudson in remodeling the Newburgh Hotel, which will be renamed the Cornerstone Residence and used as low income housing.

Team RV, along with students from St. John’s Staten Island Campus, cleaned and painted the building’s walls, doors and ceilings.

Campus Minister Mary Reese was extremely proud of the event.

“There was a full crowd and a lot of energy from everyone,” Reese said. “There was a great response from everyone.”

Safe Harbors, founded in 2000, is dedicated to finding permanent solutions to homelessness in Newburgh.

The future Cornerstone Residence, a housing facility that will service 128 single adults who are victims of low incomes and special needs, will feature a computer lab, laundry facilities, arts and crafts rooms, a gym and a library when completed.

Encouraged by his Resident Assistant to attend, freshman Mike Rizik came to the project out of boredom but left with a feeling of accomplishment and goodwill.

“I enjoy helping the community, and will more than likely come next time,” Rizik said.

Besides undertaking the construction of a low income housing facility, Safe Harbors has also organized a theater board in hopes of restoring the building’s old play site, the Ritz Theater. Once the quarters of Lucille Ball’s early dramatic efforts, The Ritz is a spacious theater located in the rear of the building.

Upon the completion of the Cornerstone Residence, construction will begin on the restoration of the old theater as a new venue for live concerts, lectures, and other productions.

Ramona Monteverde and Tricia Haggarty are two of the many people of Safe Harbors who have organized this cause.

“We have been doing this for a long time,” Monteverde said. “If we turn this hotel around and rehab it, make it safe and affordable housing for the people of the city of Newburgh, the city has a chance to come back.”

According to Reese, there will be various events on Saturdays going on throughout the semester.

“We are already about 60 percent booked for these events,” Reese said. “The different service events include building rehab projects, and projects assisting the homeless in New York City.

For more information regarding Safe Harbors or future Team RV dates, students may contact Donovan Hall’s resident campus minister, Mary Reese at Ext. 6327.