October 19, 2016 | By Scott Mauro
“Education is the single greatest changer of one’s circumstances.” Curt Sawyer, UCF’s Associate Vice President for University Services couldn’t have chosen better words as he engaged a captivated audience of students from at-risk communities all over Central Florida. Sawyer spoke to members of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida who before visiting UCF for the United Way Campaign’s Annual Day of Caring may not have given college a second thought. He shared a very personal story of how he rose from a rural community in Tennessee to having a successful higher education career. As he shared his story at the Morgridge International Reading Center on Friday, October 14, 2016 the impact of his words on the 90 tweens and teens intently listening became palpable. Sawyer encouraged them, many who have had tougher lives than most, to improve their circumstance through education.
Since 1944, the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida has provided opportunities for growth and development for thousands of children between the ages of six and 18 in at-risk communities. Volunteer Manager, Shannon Yohe, says the goal of the Boys & Girls Club is to help kids plan for the future. She says the Annual Day of Caring opens up a whole new world to the kids, “Some of (the students) have never been to college campuses before. A lot of times in the club environment, we try to take them on as many club tours as we can. But when they’re new, this might be their first opportunity to do so. So they might hear about it, but when you grow up in Pine Hills, Ivey Lane or Parramore, you might not necessarily get to this side of town.”
Yohe has worked for the Boys & Girls Club for five years and is passionate about education. She says the Live United campaign is making an impact that will benefit her kids for years to come, “I have heard from our club members that have attended this event in the past. (They tell me) how much a difference it has made. How it’s motivated them to go to college. How it’s motivated them to go to UCF.”
Providing an opportunity for better education is just one of the many ways the UCF Live United campaign is helping dozens of agencies like the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida in our community during the month October. Tammy Clelland, Account Executive for the Heart of Florida United Way, says this annual partnership with the students is all about access, “One of the biggest and most important aspect of this event is these children would otherwise never have stepped foot on a campus, or would have that opportunity to see what college really looks like. Having that opportunity to be here and listen to some of the speakers, and engage with the volunteers, they realize this is a possibility for them, a realistic possibility and the work it would take for them to get here.”
The students from the Boys & Girls Club spent the day learning about getting involved, what educational opportunities UCF provides, and discovery of UCF led programs that are making a difference globally. The full-day event included:
- Learning about civic engagement from Volunteer UCF staff members
- How to prepare a budget from the office of Financial Aid and Centsible Knights
- Exploring the exciting educational and career opportunities by pursuing a major within the UCF
School of Visual Art and Design
- Watching the impact of innovations like the prosthetic limbs created at Limbitless Solutions
- Healthy Lifestyle goal setting while touring the Recreation and Wellness Center
- Attending one of the greatest campus traditions in the nation, Spirit Splash
Students from the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida attended Spirit Splash while visiting UCF for the United Way Campaign Day of Caring.
UCF is America’s premiere partnership University and the annual United Way Day of Caring is a perfect example of that collaborative spirit. Kavaliro Recruiting Agency, UCF School of Visual Arts and Design, Centsible Knights, Limbitless Solutions, WUCF-TV, UCF Athletics Spirit Team, the Recreation and Wellness Center and Office of Student Involvement (Spirit Splash and Volunteer UCF) all partnered on the lineup of events. McAlister’s Deli provided lunch for the students and the dozen UCF Volunteers who made the event possible.
The United Way Day of Caring provided a glimpse of what the future holds for the students through what Sawyer told them in his keynote speech, be committed to making yourself better, “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win. Its hard work.” If you are interested in supporting the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida through our United Way campaign drive, you can designate your gift of $52 or more to go directly to that agency. If you would like to volunteer your time, please visit http://www.bgccf.org/ or contact Shannon Yohe email@example.com.