By Joe Arruda
On Monday night, Springfield College’s Dana Gymnasium was home to a charity volleyball tournament highlighting mental health awareness. Hosted by the Springfield College Physician Assistant Student Organization, the proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Mental Health Association (MHA) in Springfield, and its new Bestlife Emotional Health and Wellness Center.
Students filled Dana Gym, teams identified by the color of their shirts. Smiles were stretched across the faces of everyone in attendance. Each team donated a minimum of $30 to play, averaging out to be about $5 per person on a team of six to eight.
In spirit of the Springfield College philosophy, taking the chance to give back, students Maura Fennessey and Dajia Angell had the idea to contact the Mental Health Association. The MHA serves more than 350 participants annually, operating 21 residential sites and extensive outreach and supported living programs.
Fennessey, President of the Student Organization, said, “Every year we hold some type of charity fundraiser, so this year we decided to do something that has to do with mental health, because we’ve actually had a couple people drop out of our program due to some mental health problems, and we just really wanted to raise awareness for that.”
When looking for something to do with mental health, students didn’t have to look far for something right in the community. In choosing the Mental Health Association located directly in Springfield, the Physician Assistant majors were not only supporting mental health awareness, but also a positive local organization.
Using a volleyball tournament as an outlet to raise money broadens the event from being a charity fundraiser, as well as something students and faculty alike can have fun with and support a cause they’re passionate about.
“It’s a great experience to be able to participate in this event. Mental health is such a vital issue that can go unnoticed, and I’m honored to be able to play the sport I love in order to raise money and awareness,” said Hannah Dellecave, a third year PA student.
The Physician Assistant Student Organization decided to change its fundraising tactics with this year being the first time it held a volleyball tournament. Most of the students involved were a part of the Physician Assistant program, but the event was open to all members of the community.
“In the past they’ve actually done a 5k and in the spring, it’s been a little bit wishy-washy with the weather and the rain. I just think volleyball is a lot of fun, it’s a big team sport to get everyone to actually hang out outside of the classroom,” Fennessey said.
“We have a team of teachers, our faculty was really excited about it, and we got about 30 people from my grade, and probably about 30 other undergrads.”
For its first year holding this tournament, the program did very well. It raised $335 for the organization voted “Best Non-Profit” by Reader Reads in 2019, and the numbers can be expected to increase even more in the years to come.
“This is actually our first year ever doing it, and we have about 70 or 80 people coming out and donating to the charity, so it’s a pretty big turn out and I hope it gets bigger in the future,” said Fennessey.