Giving back for South Carolina
By Liz McCarthy, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-2848
Natalie Cruz is quick not to take credit for the community service she does. Her work mentoring kids, in soup kitchens or at local animal shelters isn’t done for acclaim.
For Cruz, the program coordinator for USC’s Capstone Scholars Program, community service comes naturally. It was a part of her childhood, her college years and now her professional life.
“I’ve always had a passion for this,” she says. “I think a lot of it is an innate desire to help others that was fostered by my community and family.”
In college Cruz became involved with the local United Way through her service sorority when she mentored a middle school student. That experience has kept Cruz connected with United Way.
“It was a really cool experience being there as a positive role model,” she says. “It’s serendipitous looking back how all the pieces fit together. I stayed with United Way because I got to know people there -- their passion and their heart.”
At Carolina, Cruz advises the Student United Way and continues working in the community as often as she can. She also teaches University 101 and a service learning class in Capstone and serves as community service chair for the Administrative Employees Club.
“One of my favorite things is to go out there and get my hands dirty and serve alongside the students so they see it’s something we’re not just telling them to do, but we’re out there doing it with them,” she says.
This week when the university kicks off its annual United Way Campaign for faculty and staff members, Cruz will be advocating for more Carolinians to get involved.
“The United Way stands for the betterment of the community and really stands for helping each other,” Cruz says. “Being the flagship university for South Carolina and the largest higher education institution in Columbia and the state, I think that it’s important for us to walk the talk. We say we are here for state of South Carolina and that means showing we are here for all S.C. citizens. We’re here to give back and make our community stronger.”
The university will begin its annual United Way Campaign April 1, continuing through April 12 for faculty and staff members to donate to the organization. Donations can be made through a payroll deduction. More information can be found here.
Here’s what university President Harris Pastides has to say about the campaign.
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