UB volunteers give back at Day of Caring

serving food

By Michael Andrei republished from UBNow

Published August 17, 2017

“Working with our neighbors, we are focused on improving the quality of life in our community. That is our mission.”
Satish K. Tripathi, President
University at Buffalo

Faculty, staff and administrators from UB’s three campuses were among several thousand volunteers fanning out across the Buffalo area Wednesday, lending a hand to local not-for-profit organizations for the 2017 Day of Caring.

Organized by the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Day of Caring is Western New York’s largest annual community service event.

UB volunteers took part in projects ranging from making interior building repairs, washing windows, painting and cleaning, to weeding, cleaning up neighborhood and assisting at the Buffalo City Mission.

Volunteers gathered at 8 a.m. at KeyBank Center before traveling by bus to their work sites.

UB volunteers who spent the morning inside the Gloria J. Parks Community Center on Main Street near the South Campus worked together trimming and installing new ceiling tile, painting and performing repairs.

“UB has been part of Day of Caring for 25 years,” President Satish K. Tripathi told UB volunteers at the center.

“It means a lot when we work in the community where we live. Our students come and volunteer here — not just today but other times as well — and many of our faculty and staff live in this community,” Tripathi said.

“Working with our neighbors, we are focused on improving the quality of life in our community. That is our mission.”

Robert Mayer Jr., director of government relations, was participating in his third Day of Caring.

“Being involved in government and public service has provided me with many opportunities to assist others,” said Mayer, a UB graduate who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology. “One of the benefits of being a part of Day of Caring, however, is that you can make a more immediate impact in your community.”

Charles F. Zukoski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, noted that UB’s faculty, staff and students “are deeply embedded in and committed to building our community. Participation in the Day of Caring provides a visible means for expressing this commitment.”

“The education and scholarship undertaken at UB are informed by the collaboration and partnerships we build with the community,” Zukoski said, citing as an example the automatic watering system developed by the Tyler Street Community Garden. “Participants in this project bring together neighborhood residents and our students to experience all the Heights can offer,” he said.

Emmy Passer, a student in the higher education program in the Graduate School of Education, was one of a number of UB volunteers in the kitchen at the Buffalo City Mission.

“I came here to donate my time and to learn more about the Buffalo City Mission,” Passer said. I had volunteered here before, with my sorority, so it was good to come back.”

Christopher Keough, who was also part of the UB volunteer team at the City Mission, said it is a sense of giving back to the community that brings him back to Day of Caring each year.

“This is my sixth or seventh year doing this. I enjoy seeing the different areas where the community is giving back, and seeing the different areas of need,” said Keough, manager of the UB Libraries’ annex who volunteered at the Gloria Parks center last year and at a community garden at Sycamore and Jefferson the year before.

Graham Hammill, chair of UB’s 2017 Campaign for the Community, said Day of Caring offers the opportunity to give back to the community “in meaningful and tangible ways.”

“The UB students, faculty and staff who participate in the Day of Caring are truly special. They represent the spirit of generosity that we as a campus demonstrate throughout the Campaign for the Community,” said Hammill, vice provost for graduate education, dean of the Graduate School and interim dean of undergraduate education.

At Gloria Parks, Michael J. Tritto, associate director of human services and operations for the University District Community Development Association, told Tripathi that maintenance projects at the center tend to get put off, so association resources can directly benefit members.                         

“Day of Caring, bringing so many volunteers, is a shot of adrenaline for us,” Tritto said.

“UB is one of our neighbors, and this is a significant partnership that we want to grow. Our clients feel that they matter when they come into the center and it is well-cared for and well-maintained.

“UB volunteers performed repairs, painted and made the center look more welcoming today,” he said, adding that UB students also volunteer at the center throughout the year. “They make a big difference,” Tritto said.                 

UB regularly has one of the largest volunteer teams at Day of Caring, said Amy Myszka, UB’s director of Wellness and Work/Life Balance and coordinator of the university’s Day of Caring effort.

And faculty and staff are also generous supporters of the annual campaign, Hammill added.

“For many UB volunteers, Day of Caring is an experience they won’t soon forget,” he said. “These are lasting memories. The benefits of this — giving back to others — go well beyond what we are doing here today.”