Published September 20, 2019
It wasn’t exactly a secret. The invitation was illustrated with a perky propeller plane and the caption: “2019 UB Employees Campaign for the Community Takes Off!”
And when the 100 or so UB employees sat down to the hearty SEFA kickoff breakfast on Friday in the Center for the Arts atrium, they found little foam airplanes, appropriately UB-branded, at each place setting.
When the talented students of the UB Choir, led by Claudia Brown, clinical assistant professor of voice and choral music, serenaded the group, the selection was Stephen Paulus’ “The Road Home,” which features the refrain “Rise up, follow me.”
And campaign chair Nancy Smyth, dean of the School of Social Work, referred (wink wink) to the fact that she knew the 2019 campaign was “going to be a soaring success!”
But it took more than a few people by surprise when the drone entered the air space high above their heads in the atrium, hovered in place for several dramatic seconds, then advanced, then hovered again, before heading straight to the back of the atrium to gracefully drop its payload, a bunch of blue confetti and the note bearing the 2019 campaign goal: $850,000.
The drone was provided courtesy of two UB alumni, Jacob Albright and Will Schulmeister, who ably piloted and safely landed their aircraft.
UB community members meet representatives of some of the agencies — Danceability (foreground) and RAHAMA (Resources and Help Against Marital Abuse) that benefit from the Campaign for the Community.
A. Scott Weber, vice president for student life, serves as emcee for the event. The campaign goal is displayed to his right.
Campaign chair Nancy Smyth, dean of the School of Social Work, says she knows the 2019 campaign is “going to be a soaring success!”
In keeping with the flight theme, one of the six United Way agencies represented at the event was Wings Flights of Hope, which provides free transportation for medical and humanitarian purposes.
Other United Way agencies represented were Operation PETS: The Spay/Neuter Clinic of WNY Inc., which provides education and targeted sterilization of pets; RAHAMA (Resources and Help Against Marital Abuse), an organization founded on Islamic principles for women and children who are victims of domestic violence; Danceability, which promotes dance, fitness and movement for the special needs community; Planned Parenthood of Western New York; and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.
Smyth said that while employees are encouraged to give to the organizations of their choice, employees can also consider giving to the United Way itself, which does in-depth research on community needs, and how to help agencies and measure outcomes.
Vice President for Student Life A. Scott Weber was emcee for the event, and he and President Satish K. Tripathi thanked Smyth and James O’Donnell, dean of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences who is serving as vice chair for this year’s campaign. They also thanked UB faculty and staff and campaign volunteers who make the employees campaign such a success each year.
“As a public research university, service is central to our identity,” Tripathi said, noting that the employees campaign is one of the most meaningful ways that UB faculty and staff can support the community.
Sometimes community support is right on campus. Max Glazowski, an undergraduate accounting major from Poughkeepsie, shared his powerful story.
He described his first year at UB as extremely successful “on paper,” with not only great grades but participation as a successful member of UB’s Division 1 track and field team. “You’d think everything was going great, but I’m here to tell you I was miserable,” he said.
In his sophomore year, he decided he would just work even harder, do more and sleep less. Then his grades started to slip and so did his performance on the track team.
He became involved with an organization on campus that promoted positive mental health practices and through that, learned about UB Counseling Services.
“Through them, I learned that I had OCD, (obsessive compulsive disorder),” he said. “It was daunting, but I learned I was struggling with an illness and I needed help. People need help. And that’s what this campaign is about.”
Faculty and staff can visit the Campaign for the Community website for more information and to donate to the campaign.