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Small Acts, Big Impact

November 21, 2014

As the baby-boomer generation transitions out of the workforce and millennials are launching their careers, our demographic landscape is changing fast.  With United Way of Northeast Florida’s commitment to recruiting people with passion, resources and expertise to get things done, we engaged local universities to facilitate Student United Way programs, and we look forward to the active involvement of one of the most progressive generations yet.

University of North Florida Student United Way volunteers team up to paint murals for the Sandalwood Family Resource Center.
University of North Florida Student United Way Volunteers team up to paint murals for the Sandalwood Family Resource Center.

We asked Manuel Tolentino, International Business and Economics double major (and French minor!) at the University of North Florida, and treasurer of UNF’s Student United Way, to give us a millennial perspective on why it’s important to volunteer and LIVE UNITED. Read his thoughts below.

As millennials, we’re constantly being bombarded with tales of our avarice and selfishness. In my experience, however, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Our generation is one of compassion. I’m constantly amazed not just by the tales of extraordinary philanthropy of several of my friends, but by the small acts of kindness I encounter daily: paying it forward at Starbucks, holding doors open for others, giving up their last dollar to help someone with incorrect change. It’s this compassion that illustrates the importance of volunteerism for not just our generation, but our future.

While the academic advantages and resume lines that come with volunteering are evident, it’s the more subtle improvements of our privileged worldview that belie the true importance of giving back. Sure—ours is a life of great privilege in relation to times past: wireless internet, ease of access to health care, widespread transportation. Still, there are those in need who cannot afford to take our everyday conveniences for granted. Something as simple as a warm meal for children is hard to come by for some even though they work two jobs to try and make ends meet.

It doesn’t even take you needing to take time out of your schedule; something as simple as a pair of shoes that you no longer have use for can help someone else get about easier. It’s up to us to make our world a better place, rather than waiting for it to become one.”

The next 20 years will inevitably tell the millennial story and the impact the “social generation” will make in education, income and health. If recognizing the impact of small acts of generosity and volunteerism in our everyday lives is any indication of how aware tomorrow’s leaders are of the influence they can have, it seems we have much to look forward to as we make positive, lasting change together.