In a harmonious collaboration between the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) and Southern Connecticut State University, junior intern Sophia Coppola is orchestrating a unique initiative to strike a chord against food insecurity on campus.
As an Interdisciplinary Studies major with concentrations in Arts Administration/Cultural Advocacy, Creative Writing, and Public Relations, Coppola is spending her junior year delving into the behind-the-scenes workings of the NHSO. Although she doesn’t play in the orchestra, her role as an intern has proven to be transformative.
Coppola is immersed in the world of grant writing and public relations within the NHSO, gaining invaluable insights into these aspects of arts administration. Her experiences are shaping her aspirations for a future career in grant writing while nurturing her passion for music.
“It is extremely fulfilling to be a part of the NHSO because I get to learn about all that happens behind the scenes,” she said. “The NHSO team is this powerhouse of people that are so inspiring. Getting a firsthand experience at writing grants and learning the way they are developed is interesting as well.”
As part of this work, Coppola is also learning the value of connecting organizations with the spirit of giving, and in the partnership between NHSO and SCSU, she saw an opportunity for a food drive that would help support her peers. Thanks to her vision and hard work, on December 9, at the NHSO’s “Holiday Extravaganza” at Lyman Center, audience members are invited to bring along donations of nonperishable food items that will go directly to the campus food pantry.
Chris Piscitelli, associate dean of students at Southern, acknowledges the pivotal role Coppola played in establishing the collaboration.
“Sophia has done all of the marketing/outreach, and good deal of the planning. She is also working to collaborate with other events on campus to get the word out,” said Piscitelli.
Coppola’s vision for the event is simple yet powerful: encouraging every attendee to bring a nonperishable food item for donation to the SCSU Food Pantry. The goal is to create a joyful and nourishing holiday season for students facing food insecurity after a challenging semester.
“Having an intern that goes to SCSU helped the NHSO include other areas of campus in the concert immensely,” says Coppola. “Chris Piscitelli and I discussed the importance of bringing attention to areas on campus that deserve as much help as possible, aligning well with NHSO’s mission of accessible and educational performances.”
The SCSU Food Pantry, part of the Student Opportunity Center, aims to help students meet basic needs amid challenges like food or housing insecurity, childcare needs, and emotional struggles. Piscitelli, appreciative of NHSO’s support, emphasizes the impact such initiatives can have, especially during the holiday season.
“Holiday times are when most folks will want to help out their communities,” Piscitelli said. “As we embark on the holiday season, I can think of nothing better than attending the concert on December 9th… a great holiday show and an opportunity to take a small step in helping those in need.”
Coppola explains that her wish is to create a happy and healthy holiday season for students dealing with food insecurity this holiday season, “because we all deserve full stomachs and less stress after a semester where we all worked very hard.” She lists the following items that the pantry has specifically requested for donations: brown and white rice, cereal, pasta and sauce, soups, canned fruits, gluten-free options (pastas, crackers, etc.), cooking oils, and hygiene products.
The Crescent Players is also actively participating in the food drive by collecting food donations for the pantry and promoting their upcoming events.
In Coppola’s words, the concert on December 9 will be an afternoon “where the shared joy of music harmonizes with the spirit of giving, making it a concert to remember.”