Published August 22, 2019
Faculty, staff and administrators from UB’s three campuses were among thousands of volunteers fanning out across the Buffalo area Wednesday to lend a hand to local not-for-profit organizations for the 27th annual Day of Caring.
Organized by the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Day of Caring is Western New York’s largest annual community service event.
UB’s volunteer team was composed of more than 100 university faculty and staff members, joined by 83 first-year MBA students from the School of Management. The UB volunteers worked throughout the community on projects such as painting, performing modest repairs, landscaping and gardening, as well as packing knapsacks with school supplies and assisting at a senior citizens center.
Day of Caring also serves as the launch of the university’s annual Campaign for the Community.
“UB is a really caring community,” said Nancy Smyth, professor and dean of the UB School of Social Work and chair of the UB campaign. “We see that across campus all the time.
“UB has a big impact across the region,” Smyth said. “The university’s strong participation in the Day of Caring each year symbolizes how important our Western New York community is to UB’s students, faculty and staff.”
“Service to the community is essential to UB’s mission — and core to our identity — as a premier public research university,” added President Satish K. Tripathi.
“We are dedicated to making a difference in Western New York through our research and scholarship, through collaborations with our regional partners and — as we have done for the past 27 years — by coming together as a university community, with our neighbors, to participate in this wonderful, impactful event.”
Nancy Smyth (left), chair of UB's Campaign for the Community, and Tess Morrissey, director of community relations, at the Gloria J. Parks Community Center.
From left: Michael J. Tritto Jr., associate director of human services and operations for the University District Community Development Association, and UB volunteers Jay Stockslater, Brad Montroy (on ladder), Nancy Smyth and Andrea Proper.
Ryan J. Taughrin, assistant director of graduate recruitment in the College of Arts and Sciences, led a large group of faculty and staff who were painting inside the Gloria J. Parks Community Center near the South Campus.
“We want to assist our neighbors in the University Heights community in getting projects and maintenance done that they might not otherwise have been able to accomplish on their own,” said Taughrin.
“Many, if not most, small, not-for-profit organizations have limited budgets, and the help they receive from volunteers can make a big difference,” he said. “And for volunteers, there is a great feeling of satisfaction that you get from giving something back.”
Rachel DiDomizio understands that feeling perfectly.
Assistant director for community and civic engagement in the Office of Student Engagement, DiDomizio was leading a group of first-year students on a Day of Caring project at the Gloria J. Parks Community Center as part of a high-impact, service-focused orientation program.
“Through this program, we provide an opportunity for first-year students to learn about Buffalo through service-focused community engagement,” said DiDomizio, who is also a 2006 UB graduate.
“I grew up on Heath Street, right around the corner from this center,” she said. “This is very familiar to me, and it is a place I have cared about all my life. So participating in volunteer work and giving back here means a bit more to me.
“Engagement in the community is an integral part of what it means to be a UB student or alumnus,” DiDomizio said.
Working on cartons of red markers are (left side, front to back) Nil Patel, Rebecca Serrano and Erika Domnitz, and (right side, front to back) Arita Chakroborty, Roli Nath and Eve Zheng.
From left: Rich Van, Malkijah Griffith, Robin Penberthy (The Teacher's Desk), Cynthia Shore and Cameron McLeod.
UB’s Day of Caring team regularly gets a boost from the School of Management. This year, 83 first-year MBA students, together with seven School of Management staff members, hit the ground running by contributing their energy and effort to The Teacher’s Desk, a not-for-profit where teachers shop free for students in need.
John Mika, owner and founder of The Teacher’s Desk, said the MBA students were performing a critical task: packing school supplies in the remaining backpacks of the 10,000 donated in memory of Bills superfan Pancho Billa. And all morning, Mika’s 15,000 square feet of warehouse space was a beehive of activity.
“We have already completed loading 5,500 backpacks, prior to today,” said Mika. “So we hoped to fill as many of the remaining 4,500 as possible with the help of our UB School of Management volunteers this morning.”
Jill Illenz, associate director of student services, Graduate Program Office Student Services, noted that volunteer and service projects are an important component of UB’s full-time MBA program. “These experiences prepare our students to work in corporate cultures that focus more and more on giving back,” Illenz said.
“Our first-year MBA students participate in a week-and-a-half long orientation, to help them get acclimated with and engaged in the full-time MBA program.”
Mika went on to say there are many UB volunteers among the 200 or so who regularly give their time and energy at The Teacher’s Desk. “UB volunteers are incredible,” he said. “They’re here re-stocking shelves, opening packing for back stock, or assisting with shipping, year-round.
“There are students in need throughout the Western New York community and our volunteers make a real difference to us and to those students.”