Each year, the United Way of Greater Rochester helps more than 6,000 students by supporting afterschool, summer and mentoring programs.
One of the programs supported by the United Way is the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection.
Devren Purdie is one young man who can testify to the program’s success.
Purdie is a double major at RIT and working 40 hours a week, so he doesn’t get many quiet moments.
At 20 years old, he has already had ten jobs. Any free time in high school was spent at Hillside Family of Agencies.
“We talk about situations in life, how to handle a household without a father…and how to build dreams and make action plans to build towards it,” said one worker.
Along with his twin brother, Purdie was accepted into Hillside’s Work-Scholarship Program through donations to the United Way’s Community Fund. His program mentor, Nena, brought him to RIT.
“I wasn’t a bad student. It wasn’t that I had any bad intentions, I just didn’t know exactly how to get to where I wanted to be and with having Nena as a mentor and Hillside to show me the options of college and RIT it helped me to get a vision of what I maybe wanted to major in,” said Purdie.
Almost every weekday, right after class, he catches the bus to Wegmans. Purdie is in the Wegmans management program.
Through Hillside, a worker helped him with the application for the program.
In that role, he manages some of the other Hillside kids – a role he cherishes so much, it brought him to tears during our interview.
“It’s a good feeling to come into work and to see the students in the same situation I was in a few years back and see their potential in them and realize that I can help them get to the same place I am in now and it’s something I look forward to everyday when I go to work,” said Purdie.
Purdie believes so much in Hillside, and by extension, the United Way, that he is in RIT’s United Way video.
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