Staff members and students associated with the campus’s Anne Frank Project (AFP), which maintains social responsibility and connection as its core tenets, are reaching out to students in need and the community during the coronavirus crisis.
First, AFP is spearheading a food drive for Buffalo State’s Milligan’s Food Pantry, which helps food-insecure students year-round.
“This population also includes our international and commuter students,” said Drew Kahn, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and founding director of AFP. “It is common for these students to skip meals or go without food, which is why the food pantry is crucial. Many Buffalo State students have remained in the residence halls, as the campus is their only home.”
Kahn noted that Milligan’s is currently understocked. Thus, he’s asking members of the community to drop off nonperishable food items in the driveway of 128 Fordham Drive, Buffalo, 14216. AFP volunteers will deliver the food directly to Milligan’s. Already, individuals and organizations have made contributions.
Rock Doyle, assistant vice president for health and wellness with the Weigel Wellness Center, was able to secure a large donation from General Mills, with more than 15 cases of cereal, said Kristen Helling, Buffalo State’s student resource coordinator, who oversees the food pantry.
“His leadership also led us to a partnership with the Food Gnomes Pantry [a mobile food pantry that is a joint effort among the Jewish and Hindu communities and Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ], and they donated the entire contents of their pantry to Milligan’s, as they are suspending operations through May,” Helling said. “Chartwells manager Glenn Bucello, who has been a huge supporter of Milligan’s, led the charge for Chartwells to provide a sizable donation this week. Additionally, the Gerstner Family Foundation and the Heckscher Foundation allowed a $1,000 transfer of funds from the Emergency Relief grant to Milligan's.”
Second, AFP is working toward raising emergency funds for students.
“Most of our students do not come from affluent families,” Kahn said. “The present crisis has hit our students’ financial lives hard. This has and will continue to impact our students’ ability to stay in college, pay for basic needs, and complete their degrees.”
Kahn is encouraging Buffalo State faculty and staff members to contribute directly to the Buffalo Student Emergency Fund.
Third, AFP staff is helping teachers in K–12 schools augment their remote lessons. For several years, AFP staff and students have shared its story-based learning (SBL) model with teachers in more than 50 Western New York schools. SBL highlights socioemotional learning, conflict management, community-building, and identity exploration.
“As teachers scramble to adapt their instruction to online platforms, the end result will be a diluted version of traditional lesson plans,” Kahn said. “These efforts may satisfy basic standard requirements, but they will not address the very real enhanced emotional needs of the children. We’re working to adapt our SBL models to fit the remote-learning needs of local students throughout this crisis.”
Kahn, Eve Everette, assistant director of AFP, and about 30 students in three courses, as well as a few Buffalo State alumni and SBL-certified teachers AFP has worked with in the past, will complete these learning modules. They will then share them directly with the roughly 20 SBL-certified teachers, to begin, as well as with community and homeschool organizations, where parents have become newly ordained “teachers.” These modules will incorporate SBL lesson plans, exercises, and philosophies adapted for in-home and online group work applications.
Finally, AFP is in the process of gathering inspiring stories of Buffalo State students, faculty, staff, and community partners throughout this crisis.
“Our project’s namesake reminds us of the power of sharing stories stifled by oppression,” Kahn said. “While we’re not hiding from the Nazis during the Holocaust, we are indeed hiding from an oppressive virus and the multitude of uncertainties and insecurities that accompany it. Where would our understanding of the depths of oppression be without the diary of Anne Frank? Where will our understanding of this event be in the future without its stories? AFP will shine a bright light on Buffalo State’s multiple important, positive stories throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”
Pictured: Members of Chartwells with recent donations to Milligan's Food Pantry.