Giving back to the community: students volunteer for UB Pride and Service Day


One hundred and eighty-five students spent their Saturday morning cleaning up churches, gardening, building homes and mentoring children in the City of Buffalo for UB Pride and Service Day.

UB Pride and Service Day – the final of four annual community service events organized by the Office of Student Engagement throughout the year – was held on Saturday and students from various on-campus organizations volunteered in the effort. Buses transported students to various sites throughout the City of Buffalo, including University Heights, St. Luke’s Church, Native American Community Services, the Buffalo Zoo and the Barakah Community Garden.

Rachel DiDomizio, the community engagement coordinator in the Office of Student Engagement, planned the events for the day.

“UB Pride and Service day is an opportunity for UB students and community members to merge to give back to the local community and reflect on what they want to give back as members of society and the community,” DiDomizio said. “Students were outside gardening, doing neighborhood cleanups, working with Habitat for Humanity doing house demolition and constructions, also mentoring refugee children in the community.”

Thirty-one students, including those from Leadership House, a living and learning community for first-year students based in Dewey Hall in Governors Complex, and Sigma Pi fraternity volunteered at St. Andrew’s Church in the University Heights. Some students cleaned the inside of the church, while others began work on the University Heights Arts Association’s sculpture garden on the grounds of the church.

William Coates, a freshman economics and business major and member of Leadership House, helped clean the inside of the church while another group did landscaping outside.

“This wasn’t an obligation for us, but we like to work together as a group,” Coates said.

After volunteering in the community, students returned to campus for a lunch and the UB Pride and Service Award presentation in the Student Union. Kailey Mahar, a senior sociology major, was awarded the Pride and Service Award, which is given to the student who demonstrates making UB a better community for all students. Mahar has been involved in a wide variety of organizations on campus, including the Office of Student Engagement, Leadership House and Late Night UB. She’s also volunteered on an alternative break trip.

“I am honored to be this year’s recipient of the Pride and Service Award. I am so thankful for the amazing opportunities, mentors and friends that have made my time at UB so incredible,” Mahar said.

Jenn Jerussi, a graduate student in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department an intern for the Office of Student Engagement, helped organize what sites students volunteered at for the day and recruited students to participate.

“For me, the main things I’ve gotten out of the job is an appreciation of giving back to the community and letting students really reflect on service learning and what they really can get out of it,” Jerussi said. “What they really can get out of their personal growth and development.”