Project T.K.E., (Transforming Kids’ Environments) brought smiles to many children’s faces this past weekend when 50 organizations, from all three St. John’s campuses, decorated the rooms at several hospitals in NYC.
“The smiles and happy faces on our children spoke for themselves,” said Cheryl Tice, vice president for Business Development and Coorperate Strategy at St. Mary’s Hospital. “St. Mary’s hospital is extremely appreciative of the time and effort spent at our facility by the St. John’s Students.”
On March 20, seven brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, went to the Staten Island University Hospital North -Pediatric Unit. The local chapter joined other TKE’s from Wagner College and St. John’s students from the Staten Island Campus, and decorated the doors and hallways for 20 kids. They brought a variety of posters they made for the children and they also made some door hangers.
“We put them up and the children were involved in doing something new and they were very excited to have things on their door. It made their rooms feel more like home and their parents were very happy as well. It made the floor very attractive,” said Vivian Olestra, child life specialist at Staten Island University Hospital. “It was a very nice for them to do. It was a pleasure to have them. The students had such a nice manner about them,” she added.
The following day, 18 organizations from St. John’s Queens Campus went to St. Mary’s Hospital in Queens and put up decorations for 36 patients in the Toddler Unit, Traumatic Brain Injury Unit and the general Children’s Unit. The themes included SpongeBob Squarepants, Rugrats, Winnie the Pooh, Spiderman and many more. “Any time that an organization relates to disadvantaged, underprivileged or terminally ill children I think that it is a success,” said Mary Pelkowski, director of Student Activities. “A couple of the TKE brothers have been in and out of my office in the last few weeks talking about the plans to decorate the children’s room, just to make the child’s life better. These young men live the life that St. Vincent de Paul would have lived himself.”
These organizations include fraternities and sororities, academic and honor societies, religious, cultural, political, special interest and media organizations, St. John’s sports teams and various administrative offices.
Joshua Fifer is the founder of Project T.K.E and Philanthropy Chairman for the TKE fraternity. Fifer has been working hard for the past few months to ensure the success of Project T.K.E.
“This event was very special for everybody involved. So many St. John’s organizations and TKE chapters from all over the country contributed artwork and it all made a world of a difference for the kids that have to be in the hospital,” said Fifer.
Fifer organized this event with the help of Tom Locascio, an executive board member of TKE and also Inter-Fraternal Council (IFC).
“We have such a variety of great organizations here at St. John’s and we (TKE) wanted to get as many of them involved as possible. In the future we are looking to get even more involved because there are so many kids at hospitals in our community that could use this kind of cheering up,” said Locascio.
Due to the success of Project T.K.E., Fifer has arranged more hospital visits next month.
“Josh is an amazing individual,” said Pelkowski. “He came to SJU as a transfer, and he figured out how to make the SJU community a better place. He is a man with a mission and a vision.”