Mount Sinai South Nassau celebrates Dr. King’s legacy


In a heartwarming celebration of the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital hosted a special event at which children from the nearby De La Salle School, in Freeport, showcased their creative talents.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration honored the civil rights leader with a contest that featured middle school students’ artwork.

The hospital’s Martin Luther King Jr. Committee was created 16 years ago, and has been chaired by Karine Austin, assistant vice president for oncology services, since 2011.

It focuses on widening awareness of King’s influence in the field of health care and giving back to the community.

Committee members believe in the power of younger generations, and for the past three years they have collaborated with students to incorporate their perspectives, through writing and visual art, into the annual celebration.

“The purpose of the committee is to give back to the community, but also to bring awareness to the organization of how much Dr. King influences us in the field of health care, and what we can do to give back not only to patients, but colleague to colleague,” Austin said. “We decided to involve the students because the students are the future. And if we don’t teach them now, how will they know to understand and have an appreciation for his message?”

This year, students from De La Salle submitted nearly 50 works of art, reflecting their interpretations of King’s message of hope, love, equality and peace.

The submissions encompassed a range of styles, from portraits to abstract art.

The celebration opened with a prayer by the Rev. James E. Steward, the hospital’s director of spiritual care, which was followed by a song by a rendition of Alexandra Burke’s version of “Hallelujah,” by MSSN staff members Stephanie Bradley and Allison Moloney, and a rendition on the flute of the theme song for Beauty & the Beast by Julissa Williams, the daughter of the hospital’s nurse manager Lisa Williams.

Then committee members recited the poem “The Hill We Climb,” by Amanda Gordon, before awards were presented to the students for their art.

The 12 judges, who included committee co-chair Amber Vitali, a nurse practitioner and nurse manager, and Damian Becker, MSSN’s manager of public relations, chose first- and second-place submissions for each grade.

The winners were Radcliffe Francis ,grade five; Anthony Zavala, grade six; Brandon Zelaya, grade seven; and Dylan Garcia, grade eight.

The second-place finishers were Hugo Melgar, Ethan Reyes, Daniel Amaya and Eddy Perez.

Vitali expressed her hope that through the contest, “The kids take away that it’s not just a holiday where you get the day off from school. I think them doing a project and using the theme that we chose for this year really has them reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King, and makes them understand the messages that he had for this country, and all the work that he’s done.”

The committee believes that instilling these values in children while they’re young fosters a sense of community and a commitment to promoting equality and love.

The celebration, showcasing students’ creativity and their takes on King’s legacy, serves as a reminder that, despite their differences, people can come together for a common cause and work toward creating a better future for all.