407-823-3094 LiveUnited@ucf.edu

Day of Caring, September 2015

During the United Way Campaign our team hosts several opportunities for employees to volunteer with or tour local agencies. Here are stories from three Knights who volunteered during the campaign, impacted United Way agencies, and were inspired to continue their service.

Aida Salazar from Facilities and Safety shared that she attended a Day of Caring volunteer event at the BETA Center, where she joined other members of our campus community to mentor, read, and do activities with children. Learning about the services of this agency and having the opportunity to meet the clients and make a difference in their lives was so meaningful to her that she wanted to do more. Soon after the event, Aida had a birthday. She asked her family and friends to provide baby items rather than gifts for her, and she brought all of the items to the BETA Center as a donation.

Ron Tarpley of Parking and Transportation Services also had a great experience during this year’s United Way Campaign. At another Day of Caring project, employees from Administration and Finance University Support hosted a BINGO and activities day at the Osceola Council on Aging. Ron said of his service: :..there are massive amounts of individuals that are not in our presence, that truly depend on people like you and myself to uplift and inspire a portion of joy into their lives. I created and helped prepared literally 840 meals that supported the present event and outside families depending on these meals and it was very uplifting to my spirit. His most memorable moment was that he knew in his heart that the meals he prepared meant so very much to the people who would receive them, and he said he would like to spend more time “placing smiles on people”. Ron has committed to volunteering with that agency on Thanksgiving morning preparing food for the residents and the Meals on Wheels program.

Another inspiring story comes to us from a UCF Student. Chrystian Cepeda, an Engineering major, does a special project every year for a local domestic violence shelter. In 2013 when he started at UCF he made a decision: his birthday is on Halloween, but rather than receive presents he wanted to do something to make a difference for others. So he raised the funds to purchase Halloween costumes for the children at SafeHouse of Seminole. Again this year, Chrsystian and his friends raised more than $500 and hosted a costume shop so that every child at SafeHouse could participate in community Halloween activities. The shelter commented that have come to count on this annual costume shop and are so appreciative of this young man’s efforts. Chrystian has joined a fraternity that is adopting the project, so after he graduates this project will continue and he will have a lasting impact on SafeHouse of Seminole.

Special thanks to Aida, Ron, and Chrystian – and to all of our generous Knight Family members who dedicate time to making a difference in our community. Serving inspires service. Individuals who volunteer see first-hand the need for their time and how it impacts individuals. Volunteering also sets and example for others and encourages our friends, family, and colleagues to explore the experience of service.