In celebration of the 125th anniversary of United Way Worldwide, the 2nd Annual Community Leaders Conference was held in Nashville, Tennessee. There, UCR Student United Way (SUW) gained national recognition for extensive community involvement. Over 63 United Way organizations in the country competed for nine awards. Against those odds, UCR Student United Way won the award for “Volunteer of the Year” and the “People’s Choice Award” in social media.

The conference consisted of 1800 United Way organizations, and it honored prominent individuals and organizations alike.
As a campus extension of United Way of the Inland Valleys, Student United Way at UCR is recognized for being the first in the state of California. “UCR is an institution of philanthropy and because of our local United Way of the Inland Valleys, we were able to network with all of the local nonprofits throughout riverside county,” expressed Caasi Algazi, UCR student and former SUW president. Algazi flew to Nashville along with the current SUW president, Hoa Bui, in order to accept the awards on behalf of their organization. Bui expressed gratitude for gaining a “greater sense of meaning and purpose,” which enabled him to take pride in the community of Riverside.

During the conference, the overwhelming message to give, advocate and volunteer echoed among the thousands of United Way organizations who gathered that day. Together, the groups honored individuals such as Dr. Thomas F. Frist who established the first chapter of the United Way Tocqueville Society in Nashville, Tennessee back in 1948.  It has grown now to include 25,000 members in 500 societies, and has raised a total of $7 billion. The conference introduced topics for future projects, such as developing a competitive market economy, empowering women and tackling issues such as poverty through sustainable means of improving the well-being for all.

By creating connections with over 80 different organizations throughout the country, UCR Student United Way has exemplified the commitment to advancing social mobility among communities and has therefore lived up to the mission of United Way in emphasizing academic success, economic stability and sustainable means of healthy living for all. Overwhelming gratitude and conviction was expressed by the returning representatives who observed the significance of building relationships and developing a global education as a result of the conference.

Algazi spoke of the ability to create structure, transparency and hands-on experience as the factors for their success as an organization. The result of strong level of commitment among members within the community and organization has also largely been attributed to the award. “It is because of United Way of the Inland Valleys that our student members have been given a renewed sense of purpose in the value of humanitarian work in our local community, and for this we are forever grateful,” said Algazi.

This month, UCR Student United Way will celebrate its one year anniversary.