University Employees Recognized for Their Service to the Community at 2008 Celebration of Community Spirit Volunteer Luncheon

March 21, 2008 — The employees of the University of Virginia are "heart-healthy," according to Ida Lee Wootten, U.Va.'s director of community relations. She was not referring to their fitness level or diet, but rather the amount of spirit and compassion they exhibited through their participation in the 2007 Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign, which concluded in December, and the United Way Thomas Jefferson Area's Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring last September. The University recognized their contributions to the two initiatives at last week's 2008 Celebration of Community Spirit Volunteer Luncheon.

"We are lucky to be living in a community with so many people who are committed to making a difference," Wootten said of the event, where awards were distributed to University units and individual employees.

Last September, 1,200 U.Va. employees worked at 100 nonprofit organizations and public schools as part of the United Way's communitywide Day of Caring. They made up half the workforce of local volunteers and set a University participation record.

Leonard Sandridge, U.Va. executive vice president and chief operating officer, called the employees' work "inspirational." He also gave the Volunteer Service Award for highest percentage of participants in the Day of Caring to the Office of the Vice President of Human Resources, and the Volunteer Spirit Award for the highest increase in participation to the Office of the President, which posted a 225 percent rise in involvement.

The Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign is a statewide workplace-giving vehicle for University and state employees. In the 2007 campaign, 3,807 University employees donated $888,888 (an employee in the Office of Community Relations wrote a last-minute check to create the numerically interesting total), setting a new University record. It was the largest contribution by a single agency in the commonwealth, where a total of $4.4 million was raised.

"The University of Virginia is No. 1, where it deserves to be in everything, always," Larry Sabato, University politics and Honorary Chair of the 2007 campaign, declared after a state representative presented the University with the award for highest dollar amount raised by a state agency.

"You helped CVC have the best campaign ever because you had the best campaign ever," Nicole Mason, assistant program manager for the state's Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign Office, told the audience.

The top five recipients of University employee giving were the Charlottesville Free Clinic, the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, the Thomas Jefferson Food Bank and Hospice of the Piedmont.

Erika Viciellio, executive director of the Charlottesville Free Clinic, reminded those in attendance that their monetary contributions translate into concrete improvements in the community.

"The CVC, and particularly U.Va., support provides the backbone to our annual fundraising," Viciellio said. "On behalf of the Free Clinic and all the charities, thank you for setting the example for our community."

Sabato distributed the Jean Holliday Awards for the highest participation in the giving campaign among vice presidential units to the Office of Diversity and Equity, in the smaller unit category, and the Office of Development and Public Affairs, in the larger unit category. He then bestowed the distinctly named "Wah-Hoo-Wah" Award for the greatest increase in participation to U.Va.'s Human Resources Office.

The School of Medicine also received Campaign Spirit Awards for the largest increase in both participation and amount of money raised. Research and Graduate Studies and the Medical Center shared the Hovey Dabney Award for longstanding track records of gains in giving.

Each year, the University's Heart and Soul Award goes to individuals nominated by their colleagues for unparalleled and long-term dedication to the University community and Charlottesville. Joyce Chewning, senior program support technician for Facilities Management, and Nancy Rivers, chief of staff for the President's Office, shared the award this year, the first time it was been awarded to two recipients.

After thanking U.Va. Community Relations employees Careen Waterman, Maria Synan, Jim Fitzgerald and Sadie Simmons for their efforts in organizing the two initiatives and the luncheon, Wootten closed the program with a quote from Bob Hope, "If you haven’t got charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble."

For more information, visit the U.Va. Community Relations Web site at

— By Catherine Conkle