Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Piñatas and pasta Westfield State nursing department to host benefit dinner

Westfield State University’s nursing department will hold a piñatas and pasta dinner on Friday, March 4 to benefit their upcoming service trip to Guatemala where students and faculty will provide medical care and health promotion services. The dinner will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in Scanlon Banquet Hall. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 10 and under.

For the third year in a row, Westfield State nursing students will travel to La Antigua, Guatemala during spring break. Eighteen students and three faculty members will participate in the excursion, which counts as a clinical element for their nursing courses. Students pay out of pocket for travel expenses and all of the money from the dinner will go directly to support the community in Guatemala including purchasing water filters, wheelchairs, food for malnutrition centers, and materials to build a small house.

While in Guatemala, students and faculty members will care for children at two different orphanages. They will supply and teach Guatemalan families how to use water filters, provide health and dental care, provide wound care for the homeless, and offer feedings at malnutrition centers. Depending on how much money is raised, they may have the opportunity to build wheelchairs or a metal house with a stove, basic needs with associated costs that are beyond day-to-day budgets.

Dr. Marcia Scanlon, chair of the nursing department, will be traveling with students for the third consecutive year for the course, which she said is “life-changing” for them.

“It allows students to immerse themselves into a different culture and learn about another community,” Scanlon said. “These experiences provide our students with cross-cultural experiences, which are necessary in states like Massachusetts with large, diverse populations.”  

Student Casey Howe ’16 of Chelmsford, Mass. participated in the Guatemala course last spring and plans to return some day.

“My heart has been opened to level that I did not even know existed before this course,” Howe wrote in her course reflection paper. “Guatemala humbled me, made me appreciate everything that I have, and my heart will yearn to go back for years to come!”

Tickets must be purchased in advance.  Call Marcia Scanlon at (413) 572-8414 or email her at to purchase tickets.

The nursing department is also accepting monetary donations. Checks can be made out to WSU with “Guatemala” in the memo and can be mailed to Danielle Emerson, Westfield State University International Office, 577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA 01086.  Those who donate $50 will have water filters purchased in their honor and photos will be taken of the donated filters with stickers indicating who they were donated by as a memento.

They are also accepting supplies including, but not limited to: bug spray, school supplies, sun glasses, underwear, gloves, winter hats, band aids, and hygiene products including toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, and laundry soap. Donations can be dropped off at the Nursing Department in Juniper Park. To coordinate a drop off time, call Marcia Scanlon at (413) 572-8414. 

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