Published September 28, 2017
Lights. Camera. Action.
UB launched its 2017 Campaign for the Community with a Hollywood theme, as campus liaisons, administrators and members of United Way agencies gathered yesterday morning in the Center for the Arts Mainstage theater to hear how UB employees make an impact on the Western New York community through their generosity.
Participants walked a red carpet as they arrived to take their seats at tables — featuring Hollywood-themed centerpieces — that were set up on the stage for the kickoff breakfast. Nine United Way agencies set up tables on one side of the stage, offering information on the services they provide.
As part of the program, six UB students on a side stage performed two skits presented as if the students were filming the movie “Office Space Part II: The Big SEFA Ask.” The scenarios featured common things that happen to UB employees when asking others to support the campaign.
Paul Peck, the voice of the UB Bulls, served as emcee of the “full-scale production” and interviewed four “cast members” about the campaign.
President Satish K. Tripathi opened the conversation by praising not only the liaisons in attendance, but the entire UB community — faculty, staff and students — “who donate their money, as well as their time, to make sure our campaign is successful.”
Tripathi pointed out that UB is one of the most successful universities nationwide in terms of employee campaigns. And this year will be no exception, he said. “I expect a successful campaign, thanks to your help.”
Campaign Chair Graham Hammill, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School, told audience members this year’s goal of $850,000, as well as a pledge to increase the numbers of donors by 3 percent, is challenging, but achievable. “I’m optimistic and feel very confident we have the ability to reach our goals,” he said, noting that UB’s reputation for achieving its campaign goals is “an expression of the spirit of generosity that infuses this campus community.”
Hammill said he strongly believes that as members of a university like UB, “we are in really privileged positions,” with job security and the opportunity to do work that “truly advances the public good.” Whether through research, academics, academic support, teaching or working with students, “we all contribute to the public good. We’re all in really privileged positions. The campaign lets us give as a community and lets us share our good fortune with the rest of the larger Buffalo-Niagara community,” he said.
He challenged everyone in attendance to “make a personal commitment” to talk with at least two colleagues in their workplace “and make that personal connection” that helps make UB’s campaigns a success.
UB alumnus Dennis Elsenbeck, president of the board of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, said he frequently is asked why employees should support campaigns like UB’s and if individuals really do make an impact.
“I walk around with faces, success stories of the individuals that are touched by individuals such as yourself that you probably will never meet,” Elsenbeck said. “If you did, they would come to you … and say thank you because you made an impact.
“I worry sometimes that you don’t understand the depth of that. This community couldn’t succeed without you as an individual and everything that you do to support this community,” he said.
“I hope that someday someone walks up to you — out of the blue — shakes your hand and just says thanks.
“You made an impact. Let’s all make an impact together.”
Jay Bonefede, chief communications officer for the Western and Central New York chapters of the American Red Cross, talked about the Red Cross’ response to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, noting that 5,000 people from the agency — mostly volunteers — are on site offering assistance.
These voluteers, including more than 40 from Western New York, are providing food, shelter and water — “basic things we all take for granted,” Bonefede said.
He said he had visited a shelter in Houston during Hurricane Harvey, where 8,000 people had stayed during the storm and its aftermath, and wondered “where would those people be without the Red Cross and our volunteers.”
Locally, he said, the Red Cross provides numerous services, including responding to an average of one house fire a day and providing victims with food, shelter and clothing. The Red Cross also offers such programs as Sound the Alarm, which installs smoke alarms and fire safety information.
Faculty and staff can visit the Campaign for the Community website for more information and to donate to the campaign.