4th Annual NSSHLA Benefit Concert

Amanda Montigney, Reporter

Front row left to right: Lucy Olmsted, Isaac Olmsted, Jacob Olmsted.
Back row from left to right: Alexis D’Amico (NSSLHA Vice President), Samantha Olcott (treasurer), Megan Kieltyka (secretary), Jenna Reed (president), Nikki Nardell, Jason Olmsted, Mike Kane – director of Therpeatic Services for St. Joseph’s Center.

The university’s chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association held its fourth annual benefit concert in Lemmond Theater Sunday, April 8.

NSSLHA partnered with Saint Joseph’s Center to provide a six-year-old boy with Spina Bifida with an Amtryke Adapted Foot Tricycle. Members sold tickets in Banks Student Life Center before the event with student tickets at $3 and general admission $5 a ticket. All tickets sold at the door were $5.

In addition to performances by Beyond Harmony, Misericordia’s all female-led a capella group, and Dance Ensemble, there was a basket raffle, bake sale, and t-shirt sale. NSSLHA had over 15 baskets donated to the event filled with lottery tickets, Kate Spade and Vera Bradley products, and various gift cards, dorm essentials, Bloom Daily Planners and more.

NSSLHA presented the tricycle to  a six-year old boy from Dallas, Pa. during intermission. The boy was able to ride and show off his new tricycle on stage.

Samantha Olcott, sophomore speech-language pathology major and NSSLHA Treasurer, said the boy has been diagnosed with Spina Bifida, a birth defect that inhibits the spinal cord from developing properly, and limited leg function. He has been receiving therapy since he was an infant and started at St. Joseph’s Center about three years ago.

She said the boy had been using a hand-and-foot powered adapted tricycle, which he has outgrown because he has developed sufficient strength.

“We raised enough funds to purchase a new adapted tricycle that will allow him to enjoy biking with all his siblings and parents,” she said.

Members hope the partnership with St. Joseph’s Center will enable them to include a Motorized Scooter Board and Multi-Sensory Toy/Therapy Devices for the Speech-Language Pathology Department.

“NSSLHA members include all of the Speech-Language Pathology students at Misericordia. Our chapter advisors are Dr. Cari Tellis and Lori Cimino. Throughout the academic year, members will attend monthly meeting, volunteer in the community, and look to each other for support as we all progress though the five-year master’s degree program for speech-language pathology,” said Olcott.

The NSSLHA Benefit Concert is always the group’s biggest service project, and members were thankful to be able to continue the tradition. After collaborating with Michael Kane, a physical therapist at St. Joseph’s Center and Tracy Bannon,  NSSLHA decided to make them the object of their Benefit Concert.

Throughout the year, members and took trips to Scranton to serve the individuals at the Center. They cheered on runners at the Steamtown Marathon with the help of St. Joseph’s adult residents and a lot of noise makers in October, said Jenna Reed, sophomore speech-language pathology major and NSSLHA President.

“We also periodically volunteered at the Trinity Day Care Center throughout the fall and spring semesters and we all fell in love with the adorable infants and toddlers in the program and we all took something away from the experiences. As future Speech-Language Pathologists, the special needs population is one we all have a passion for,” Reed said.

The Benefit Concert is a way for the NSSLHA officers and members get to give back to the community, whether locally or nationally, and they get to show support for the special needs populations that they will work with in their future careers.

NSSLHA hopes students realize the importance of service and giving back to those in need.

“As students at Misericordia University and the Speech-Language Pathology Department, it is important that we combine our drive for service with our passion for assisting individuals with special needs through various therapy services. Not only is raising money important in making a difference in the community, but so is being involved with helping other with your time and generosity, ” Olcott said.

Julie Millhouse, a graduate occupational therapy major and member of Beyond Harmony, said service is always a goal.

“I think it is important to attend to support fellow students, including NSSHLA, Beyond Harmony, and the MU Dance Ensemble at the Benefit Concert. “

Olcott said students, friends, family and community members are integral in making the event a success for NSSHLA and St. Joseph’s Center.

“Just by purchasing a ticket you contribute to making a difference in the lives of local individuals with special needs. All the proceeds from the event will be used to purchase equipment and new technologies to be used in therapy at St. Joseph’s Center in Scranton. Ways to offer support to our goal of giving to as many individuals as possible in the local community with specials needs include purchasing event t-shirts, buying basket raffle tickets, supporting the bake sake, congratulating performers by purchasing flower grams, or making an additional monetary donation,”

Students, clubs, or individuals looking to volunteer with St. Joseph’s Center are in luck: Help is always needed, members said.

“If individuals, students, or other clubs on campus would like to volunteer at St. Joseph’s Center, they are always looking for volunteers at the Trinity Day Care Center. It is always a fun few hours filled with playing with small children with special medical needs,” said Olcott.

Contact Jenna Reed, NSSLHA president, at [email protected] to obtain volunteer coordinator’s contact information.