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Bengals Share What Dare to Care Day Means to Them

Bengals Share What Dare to Care Day Means to Them

Posted: September 25, 2019

There is one day each year that reminds us that Bengal Pride isn’t just about wearing orange and black; it’s also about putting school spirit into action.

This year marked the fifth annual Bengals Dare to Care Day on September 21, a campus-driven initiative that brings the Buffalo State community together to collaborate on making a difference across the city.

Groups of students, faculty, and staff members could easily be recognized in vibrant orange and purple T-shirts, not only working within the local community but also being part of it.

For some students, participating means more than adding to their extracurricular portfolio; the day represents the spirit of selflessness, compassion, and hard work that gives rise to the most profound change within a community.

Tai Johnston, vice president of Buffalo State’s NAACP student chapter, was on site with other members of the organization at Artspace Buffalo to help beautify the grounds of the establishment.

This was the second Bengals Dare to Care Day Johnston participated in, and though he has done other kinds of volunteering with the campus NAACP, including community service and outreach to local schools, he said this event was meaningful to him because of the potential it offered for lasting productivity, specifically within the city of Buffalo.

“A lot of times things here are unanswered, and this is one way to handle problems here,” he said.

Sharing a similar view was fellow volunteering Bengal Maleek McKenzie, who participated in the event for the third time this year by harvesting vegetables and maintaining the grounds at City Honors’ Pelion Community Garden.

Having done other volunteer work on campus, including helping with voter registration, sleep-outs for homelessness, and food drives hosted by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), McKenzie explained why he valued the collaborative efforts brought on by Bengals Dare to Care Day.

“I feel like volunteering is a good way for a community to come together, and I think that’s what’s really important right now,” McKenzie said.

Although many students were returning volunteers, others on hand participated for the first time this year.

“It was fun,” said new participant Kyshira Cummings, who worked on campus grounds with other students. “I got to interact with my classmates that I never talked to before.”

Before signing up for Bengals Dare to Care Day, Cummings said, her previous volunteer experience had been primarily with helping children. She explained how this new experience allowed her to gratefully reflect on her own life when considering the circumstances of others.

“Some people aren’t as fortunate as you or me, so it’s helpful to help them out in some different way,” Cummings said. “They don’t take it for granted.

“When we were working, the people walking past were saying, ‘Thank you.’ They appreciated us. They didn’t just walk past without saying anything.”

Another Dare to Care newcomer was Michelle Colangelo, who dedicated time to building gardens at Northwest Community Mental Health Center on Elmwood. Like Cummings, Colangelo was also inspired by the impact she was able to have on others.

“It was just a humbling experience because I got to help someone else,” she said.

Colangelo also volunteers to help homeless people and individuals with special needs within her community. In describing the importance of volunteering, she again emphasized the importance of considering others.

“It means being selfless and helping others that are maybe in more need than you,” she said.

Students also shared the impact they hoped to make with the work they did. For some, it was about leaving noticeably positive changes at their work sites.

“I hope that I helped the patients here feel comforted, at home, and welcomed,” Colangelo said of her work at the health center.

Johnston said he aimed to make Artspace Buffalo a more presentable and lively place for guests.

“Hopefully we can renovate enough so more people can come by and actually use and enjoy the aesthetics of the place,” he said.

For other students, the impact they hoped to make was to inspire others to “Dare to Care” in the future.

“I hope that other people will volunteer and help us out next year or the other years after that,” Cummings said. “Even if we’re not doing it, I hope that they’ll just go out and do it for themselves to help the community.”

“The lasting impact I hope to have is to inspire others to do the same,” McKenzie said. “This is a community effort, and there are a lot of people here, but there could always be more.

“If we can come together as a community, I think a lot of problems in the world would be solved.”


BSCene: Bengals Dare to Care Day 2019

View the full gallery of photos from Dare to Care Day 2019 on the Buffalo State Photography Services website.

Photos by Bruce Fox, college photographer

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