Hundreds entered LaVell Edwards Stadium Thursday morning for a catered breakfast to kick off United Way’s annual Day of Caring. For some in attendance, it was a welcome return back to the campus that taught them the importance of serving their communities.
“The BYU community, both alumni and students, is remarkably involved in giving back,” said Bill Hulterstrom, president and CEO of the United Way of Utah County. “The Provo (and) Orem area is number one in volunteerism in America.”
Several local leaders also participated including Provo and Orem mayors John Curtis and James Evans, as well as BYU President Cecil L. Samuelson, who heated up the griddles to flip some pancakes.
Volunteers served at several school sites throughout the county, emphasizing the United Way’s current focus on reading, tutoring and mentoring.
“If we can help children read at grade level by third grade, we can change the world,” Hulterstrom said.
Employees from Intermountain Health Care worked at Independence High School, weeding the baseball field and volleyball court, laying gravel walkways and constructing new benches made of out of recycled telephone poles.
“We had some ‘true blue’ volunteers out here today,” said Independence High School Principal Rosanna Ungerman. “I can’t believe how much we got done.”
Ungerman also highlighted student mentoring programs available for BYU students and alumni.
“Kids spend 12 years in school then they become a senior and hit a cliff,” she said. A volunteer can help them bridge that gap, to leave high school and become a member of society and active in the community.”
The school is currently promoting a new program to pair seniors with a college student or graduate to coach, guide and encourage.
“Anytime an adult takes interest in a child it motivates them,” Ungerman said. It means so much to have someone not just to hold out a hand, but to walk with them.”
“It was great to see so many people coming together today,” Desi Baca, a BYU public relations graduate, said. “It makes such an impact in such a short amount of time. At BYU, I learned how to participate in events like this. Events that advance a common good like the Day of Caring.”
In keeping with its motto, “Enter to learn, go forth to serve,” BYU is a major sponsor of the United Way Day of Caring. Administrators and faculty hope being a BYU graduate will identify our students not only as academic scholars, but also as philanthropists and community leaders.