407-823-3094 LiveUnited@ucf.edu

October 3, 2018, By Danielle Benghiat

Thank you to the advocates and leadership donors who joined together for fun, food, and informational festivities at the UCF & United Way kick-off breakfast. Held in the Student Union on Monday, October 1, 2018, the official launch day of the campaign, UCF and United Way leaders came together to speak on the collective impact we all have when working together.

UCF partners with the Heart of Central Florida United Way every October to help dozens of agencies support the people in the Central Florida area fulfill their most basic needs. When you give, your money supports organizations that help our neighbors. Whether you give directly to the United Way or to a charity of your choice, you have the potential to make a difference in your own home, in your own community. In his 2018 President’s Statement for the campaign, Dr. Whittaker shared: “I am proud that every October, UCF’s faculty and staff join with the Heart of Florida United Way to make a difference in our community. Since 2011, we have raised more than $1 million to support local agencies that drive change, respond to emergencies and provide hope on a daily basis for a better life.”

Ron Piccolo, UCF’s Executive Champion for the campaign, opened the event by thanking everyone for being part of the campaign.  He shared that he is personally involved in the United Way, having served not only on their Board of Directors but also having served on the committees that work to distribute the Investing in Results funding to programs in our community.

Jeff Hayward, CEO of the Heart of Florida United Way, talked about the impact of our dollars.  He shared that while some charities focus on one need or outcome, the United Way impacts many areas of our lives.  For example, there are young people struggling to make it through school. Their situations at home impact their academics, leading them to perform poorly in school and ultimately increasing their chances of dropping out, addiction, and even suicide. The United Way works to ensure children are born healthy, provide programs to help children be equally prepared for their educational journey, provide support to build strong families, and they provide emergency response not only for individuals but for entire communities.

Tom Hope, UCF Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Initiatives, shared his passion for the work of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.  One in six Central Floridians struggle with food insecurity.  As a partner agency of the United Way, Second Harvest address the core issues of hunger and provides 550 local nonprofit feeding programs with food.  One of those partner organizations is our own Knights Pantry.  Knights Pantry served 4,176 from August to September 2018.

We really tested our knowledge when Tee Rogers, Campaign Manager, and Ron Piccolo shared a Jeopardy game designed for our campaign.  How would YOU do?  To play, visit https://jeopardylabs.com/play/ucf-united-way-campaign.

Click for an album of thank-yous from the Boys & Girls Club

On our tables were thank you notes drawn by kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs.  The notes let our team know how our dollars are making a difference for real people.  You can view these and other thank you cards from clients, volunteers, and employees of local agencies on our Flickr album.


The campaign runs all the way through the month of October, if you would like to give to the United Way, go to https://liveunited.ucf.edu/ and click the “Pledge Now” button.

Every speaker expressed gratitude for the impact we make through this campaign.  Thank you to everyone for standing together and joining the fight to address serious challenges facing our community.

Special thanks to our sponsor, UCF Business Services, for providing the food for this breakfast every year.  Business Services supports education by taking care of business.  Learn more at https://businessservices.ucf.edu.