Dr. Michael Frumkin is the Dean of the College of Health and Public Affairs at University of Central Florida, member of the United Way Board and has been a United Way advocate for over seven years. Dr. Frumkin serves as Chair of the Alleviating Hunger & Homelessness Cabinet, working towards finding solutions for pressing issues facing Central Florida. Dedicated to studying new, and more effective, ways of creating life opportunities for all members of our community, education is a passion that he shares with United Way.
We recently spoke to Dr. Frumkin about what motivates his volunteerism:
What causes you to volunteer?
I believe volunteerism is an essential part of how you live your life. It’s a demonstration of your values and your commitments. For over 50 years now, I’ve been volunteering to improve lives and strengthen communities.
What is the greatest community need in your opinion?
With my work with the Alleviating Hunger & Homelessness Cabinet, I’ve come to understand that how we invest in our children is the single biggest influence in improving our society. It starts before a baby is even born; it begins with educating the mother about health and proper nutrition to give her child the best start. It’s continuous education from cradle to career to set that child on a path to success. We’ve seen significant impact with programs that address the holistic needs of our students; one example is at Evans Community School in Pine Hills, where students are introduced to college as a real possibility. For first-generation and low-income students, this is a major breakthrough.
What do you think the business community can do?
It’s all about collective impact. We cannot make progress by working in siloes. Key business leaders, school officials and organizations like United Way need to come together to make systemic shifts in education to make a difference for all students, regardless of race, gender or income.
What is one word you would use to sum up Heart of Florida United Way’s work?
Essential. Without United Way, there wouldn’t be a defined sector that alerts the community to key issues, who convenes leaders and experts and brings together individuals to create change.
What is one thing you want to see United Way tackle next?
I want to see United Way continue to focus on child wellness versus child welfare. All children have different levels of need—some may need help getting access to food, others may simply need extra help with reading or math. By addressing the needs of all children, we can empower them to become successful adults.