HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. – The Suffolk County Legislature’s Pages are wrapping up their remote summer internships by launching service-oriented projects to help communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the 10-week program, the 29 interns were tasked with developing projects that address one of the many issues presented by the coronavirus threat.
“These projects have helped students gain first-hand experience on what it’s like to be involved in local government, responding to emergencies and identifying the needs of residents,” said Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco. “We have been so impressed with the ideas they have come up with and their overall dedication to the program.”
One group of Pages volunteered with Island Harvest to help deliver 100 meals to families in need. The group wanted to help address food insecurity on Long Island, an issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“What was great about this event was that we were able to help fight that epidemic in our own backyards — literally a 5-minute drive from my house,” said Page Joe VanGostein, a Fordham University student from Huntington Station. “That being said, there is still a long way to go in the fight against hunger, and I encourage everyone who is able to find ways to address food insecurity in their own communities.”
“Throughout the process, we were able to see the impact that nonprofits have on the community and were able to be a part of a rewarding experience,” added Page Jordan Zaia, a Pennsylvania State University student from Massapequa.
Another group of Pages hosted a virtual conversation for students ages 14-21 to provide young people with the opportunity to interact with others their own age and discuss the impacts COVID-19 is having on their personal and academic lives.
Some Pages launched a social media effort to educate the community about COVID-19 resources and safety guidance. The group has been using the Page Program’s Facebook and Instagram accounts to share resources and spread the word about safety guidelines such as social distancing and mask wearing.
Other Page projects included organizing a T-shirt fundraising campaign with the Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk County and writing letters thanking essential workers.
The 2020 Suffolk County Legislature Page Program has given college and high school students the unique opportunity to intern at a time when half of the internships in the U.S. were cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to job website Glassdoor. This year’s Page Program went fully remote, offering students the ability to intern in county government without leaving their homes.
In addition to their COVID-related projects, the summer Pages have connected with legislators, elected officials and policy makers from throughout Suffolk County and attended weekly workshops on leadership and personal development over Zoom. Students also have participated in online mock legislative meetings during which they played the roles of county legislators, formed their own caucuses, and debated and voted on mock legislation.
The Pages are graduating from the program in a virtual ceremony being held Monday, Aug. 10, with a drive-up certificate presentation on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Caption for above photo: Suffolk County Legislature Pages help Island Harvest deliver meals to families in need as part of their summer internship, which included developing projects that address one of the many issues presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.