URI partners with non-profit to encourage philanthropy

The University of Rhode Island partnered with United Way of Rhode Island to encourage student, faculty and staff volunteerism by partnering with clubs and Greek life specifically.

“The spirit of Rhode Island residents, they have big hearts and want to help out,” Janice Pothier Pac said, the senior program officer for volunteer engagement and volunteer center manager for United Way of Rhode Island.

Alicia Vignali Henry, the coordinator of community engagement here at the University, reached out to United Way of Rhode Island last semester. The general goal of this collaboration is to encourage student volunteerism and getting involved with the greater community while simultaneously showcasing local partners. Many students want to volunteer, and with United Way of Rhode Island offering many opportunities, it is a great partnership, according to Vignali Henry.

This is “…a win-win for everyone,” she said.

Greek life is known on campus for raising money for charities during their philanthropy week, as well as service being a core value of these organizations, according to the Greek life website, which is why United Way of Rhode Island has a focus on these organizations.

During December, students in Greek 101, a weekly program students in Greek life take, coordinated with Meals on Wheels, an organization dedicated to ending senior hunger and isolation by delivering meals to them, by making and delivering placemats to senior citizens for the holidays.

During the event, the students had conversations on elder care, food insecurity and the negative effects that isolation can have on a person.

Philanthropy also has many positive health effects, such as improving mental and physical health, providing a sense of purpose, offering an opportunity to learn valuable skills and nurturing relationships, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If these opportunities end up being fulfilling, students will be putting their energy into areas where it is needed, Vignali Henry said. This way it will be mutually beneficial for the students, United Way of Rhode Island and the university.

United Way has offered many forms of community impact since 2018. They have a human resources hotline for help with food pantries, child care and after care. The Point, a division of theirs, focuses on aging and disability resources such as Medicare assessments. Their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is a tax filing service, available for anyone earning less than $63,398 annually, which makes many students eligible.

In Rhode Island, they have over 140 community nonprofits and over 175 volunteer opportunities. United Way of Rhode Island connects students with volunteer work, both in person and online, allowing viewers to filter through opportunities by on or off campus or by their interests.

Online connections with work can be found on their website, https://volunteer.uwri.org , or on the Office of Civic Engagement and Action page on https://web.uri.edu/career/volunteering-civic-engagement/ . Potential volunteers can also talk with someone either in person at Vignali Henry’s office, or call (401) 519-0380. While it has not launched yet, events will eventually be listed on the URInvolved website.