407-823-3094 LiveUnited@ucf.edu

October 2015 |

The annual United Way Day of Caring event at UCF is an opportunity to encourage local Boys and Girls Club youth to attend college and visualize a successful future. The Boys and Girls Club inspires and supports all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens.

Seventy five students participated in this year’s Day of Caring at UCF. They were greeted on arrival by Knightro and the UCF Spirit Team Cheerleaders. They also had a photo booth where they dressed up as UCF Graduates and posed with each other, Knightro, and the cheerleaders. The photo booth, part of WUCF TV’s partnership with the national American Graduate Program, generated a lot of positive energy. The American Graduate Program focuses on improving high school graduation rates; this mission aligns directly with the goal of this event.

The students heard from speakers and participated in round-table discussions followed by a Four Rivers lunch sponsored by Kavaliro Law Offices. After lunch, everyone embarked on a walking tour of some interesting behind-the-scenes locations on campus. This year’s tour included the CFE Arena, Career Services, and one of UCF’s technology classrooms, each stop with a short presentation and Q&A. After the tour, each student received a gift bag at the wrap-up session in the afternoon – after which we hope everyone left UCF with the message that they CAN return as students and move toward a successful career.

Local and university leaders invested time to speak with the students:

  • Matthew Melendez, a UCF senior, president of the UCF Best Buddies chapter, and student assistant for the university’s United Way Campaign, welcomed the students and served as the Master of Ceremonies.
  • Aimmee Hitchner, an estate and business planning attorney, spoke of never giving up even while struggling through the first year of law school.
  • Delise O’Meally, the Executive Director of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, discussed the development of teamwork and leadership through sports.
  • Anthony Jenkins, an administrator here at UCF, told students how he was inspired at a young age to fight the odds and avoid becoming another statistic.
  • Melanie Fernandez, the Central Florida Assurance Managing Partner for Binder Dijker Otte (BDO) USA, expressed how experiences shaped her development as an accounting professional as well as how being active in the Boys and Girls club has impacted her.

The university’s United Way Campaign Team coordinates, hosts, and provides volunteers for this event. Volunteers have the opportunity spend time with the participants throughout the day. One volunteer, Matthew Melendez, commented that “As much as I truly appreciated the speakers and the tour, I could have spent the day just sitting down and speaking with the members of the Boys and Girls Club. I immediately connected with them. They reminded me of family, friends, myself! They were curious, insightful, intelligent, and determined. They spoke of their future plans and goals- many of which have changed for the better just from attending the event! While I was proud to be a part of an event that helped inspire them, I couldn’t help but be inspired myself.”