FunDay, UM’s longest-standing service day, returns for its 38th year

Each special citizen visiting UM's campus is paired with a volunteer. They spend the day doing different events such as arts and crafts and games. Photo source: Facebook

About 400 South Floridians with specials needs will visit the University of Miami campus for a day full of events and activities as part of FunDay. As UM’s longest-standing service day, this will be FunDay’s 38th year.

“The purpose [of FunDay] is to connect students with people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. We take them around to different activities,” said senior Marc Levine, chair of FunDay. “It’s a fun day for them, and they look forward to it all year.”

Each special citizen visiting UM's campus is paired with a volunteer. They spend the day doing different events such as arts and crafts and games. Photo source: Facebook

Each guest, ranging from 18 to 40 years old, will be partnered with a student volunteer, creating a buddy system for the day.

This year, FunDay has a winter wonderland theme and will be held on Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The schedule includes karaoke, winter-themed arts and craft and a movie.

“A lot of students haven’t dealt with people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and I think this is a really good way for people to get exposure to that,” Levine said. “They’re people just like us. I think that this just does a great job of getting them in the same place and getting that different perspective.”

There will also be a FunFair, where student organizations can host activities for volunteers and their buddies to participate in.

This is Levine’s fourth year participating in FunDay. He was a volunteer before becoming a staff leader, vice president and now, president.

“Seeing how happy they were during the event made me want to get involved in the organization,” Levine said.

Marc Levine, chair of FunDay, and Michael Antonietti, vice chair, are in charge of the overall execution of the event. Photo source: Facebook

Marshall Arons, a junior majoring in immunology and microbiology, volunteered at FunDay last year and said that the event did a successful job at bringing awareness to the prevalence of mental disability in the community. He also said it was a good way of bringing students together.

“I thought it was really cool to see an entire university population on a Saturday community service project come out and give their support to disabled individuals,” Arons said.

Esther Alexandre, a freshman majoring in computer engineering, learned about FunDay through Butler Connection, the Butler Center for Service & Leadership’s e-newsletter. She said she is planning on signing up to volunteer.

Alexandre grew up with her pastor’s son, who had a disability. This gave her first-hand insight on the struggles of someone living with a disability.

“It’s a great volunteer opportunity,” Alexandre said. “It gives a lot of people the chance to have a good day.”

For students interested in becoming volunteers or staff leaders and organizations that want to participate in FunFair, visit the FunDay page on Engage and fill out the respective application. Staff leader and FunFair applications are due Feb. 9, and volunteer applications, Feb. 10.

Anna Timmons and Amir Mahmoud contributed to the reporting of this story.