Students volunteer, visit Motion Picture Television Fund
February 1, 2015
Syracuse University Los Angeles (SULA) Semester program students volunteered their time to visit residents at the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF) Wasserman Campus on Jan. 31. The MPTF has been a huge support system for members of the entertainment business. As the industry’s main charity, the MPTF provides services such as healthcare, wellness, senior services, and residential retirement.
Students and senior citizens enjoyed an afternoon of bingo games, ice cream, and affable conversation. It was the type of afternoon that Robin Howard, the director of the SULA semester, hoped to see.
“I was thrilled by the feedback I got from some of the students as well as the residents. It was fun for everyone but most importantly there was an emotional connection made between the students and the residents and that is what I was hoping for,” said Howard. “I was so proud of our students, some of whom asked about other volunteer opportunities during the semester.”
In its sixth year of existence, the SULA Semester program has always made it a point to give back to the Los Angeles community.
“I think all the volunteer efforts we make each semester are important. Last semester we packed boxes for our military families with Operation Gratitude and helped to clean the Santa Monica Beach with Heal the Bay,” said Howard. “It’s so important to take a little time to give back to the community.”
Susan Becht, the activities coordinator at the MPTF Wasserman Campus, prepped the SULA students upon their arrival to the center. Shortly after, the students engaged the residents in conversations about the entertainment industry, an obvious connection between the two parties.
“Spending the afternoon at the MPTF was great because it felt like we were seeing Hollywood history in front of our eyes. My favorite part of the day was realizing that even though most of the residents had been retired for decades, the same passion for the entertainment business remained and they could share that love with each other,” said Naomi Pinkus, SULA Semester student and junior Television, Radio, Film major.
Howard has been a long-time proponent of the MPTF and has worked to maintain a relationship between the organization and the SULA Semester program.
“I think it’s important for the students to know about the Motion Picture Television Fund so they can support it throughout their careers. I also love the intergenerational aspect of it,” said Howard. “I believe the students and the senior residents can benefit from sharing this time together.”
The residents, including 102-year old Connie Sawyer, the oldest working actress in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and possibly the world, were full of inspiring stories from their jobs in the entertainment industry.
Pinkus was just one of the students that drew motivation from the residents’ anecdotes.
“Hearing all of their unique stories taught me that there’s no one way to make it in the business, but if you can just pinpoint your strengths and use them relentlessly, there’s no reason we can’t all retire feeling satisfied with the role we’ve played in the industry,” she said.
Written by Daniel Bayliss, a junior television, radio, and film major currently participating in the SULA Semester program.