Oswego High School Student Creates United Way Video

OSWEGO, NY – For Lauren Daniels it truly was a beautiful day.

She had just premiered her very first video project to a room full of people who were moved at what they saw.

It was the climax of a project that started months before and put her on a journey of discovery and imagination.

When Lauren’s dad, Jonathan, mentioned that the United Way was in need of a video for the agency’s annual campaign kickoff she was eager to accept the challenge.

Executive director of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, Melanie Trexler (left) meets with Lauren Daniels to congratulate her for her work on the United Way’s annual campaign video.
Executive director of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, Melanie Trexler (left) meets with Lauren Daniels to congratulate her for her work on the United Way’s annual campaign video.

A freshman at Oswego High School, Lauren, who has a passion for media and the arts, realized that this project would provide her with the opportunity to put her knowledge of movie making software and creativity to good use.

After meeting with the United Way’s executive director Melanie Trexler and resource development director Lois Luber, Lauren was on her own to create and produce a video that would capture the essence of the United Way of Greater Oswego County and portray the tremendous impact that the United Way and its member agencies have on the quality of life of those they serve.

Having creative license of over the project was something that Lauren found exciting, yet challenging.

“I really didn’t know that much about the United Way and how it serves Oswego County so I had to learn about the agency, the programs it supports and how those programs benefit its consumers,” she said.  “When I discovered exactly what the United Way does I thought that was very cool. It’s great that they can help so many people. I was really impressed and told my friends about the United Way. Their work and the programs they support gave me the inspiration I needed to begin the video.”

At the suggestion of her dad, Lauren chose the song, Beautiful Day by U2 as the background music for the video.

“My dad’s a big ‘80s music fan so it didn’t surprise me that he suggested a song by U2, but when I heard the lyrics I thought it was perfect because the United Way really does make someone’s day beautiful. With that thought in mind, I concentrated on coordinating the photos that the United Way and its member agencies provided me with the lyrics to create a lasting impression of the difference these programs make in the lives of those they serve,” she said.

Using Windows Movie Maker software, which she mastered on her own, Lauren began creating the video, and while many aspects of the project went smoothly, she did face several challenges along the way.

“Once I determined the transitions and special effects that I wanted to use the real challenge was getting the lyrics, photos and graphics to be in synch and to be able to convey the United Way’s message as I envisioned while keeping the length of the video to no more than 4 to 5 minutes. Then, once I completed the video, there were some unexpected technical difficulties. The computer projector failed and the program crashed. Fortunately I was able to rescue the video and, with the help of my Dad, locate another projector so that I would be good to go at the United Way’s annual campaign kickoff,” she said.

At last fall’s event, following several heartfelt presentations from members of the United Way’s board of directors and other dignitaries, Lauren’s video proved to be the emotional high point of the event as silence filled the room and all eyes focused on the projection screen.

It was a moment that channeled the audience’s compassion and was very emotional for one proud father.

“Even though I had seen the video several times prior, I found it difficult to contain my emotions said Lauren’s father. “I was very proud of Lauren’s accomplishment and I couldn’t help getting choked up a bit when I watched it that day and saw the reactions it was receiving. Watching her work on this video over the past months and seeing how it came together was amazing. Lauren did a wonderful job of telling the story of the needs that exist in our county and celebrating what the United Way does and what the community does as a whole to meet those needs.”

With the video finished and the outcome successful, Lauren looked back at the project as a learning experience that was very rewarding.

“It was really fun. I was happy how it came together and it gave me a real sense of accomplishment when it was shown at the campaign kickoff. It was an opportunity to do something good for the United Way and give back to my community. I have always enjoyed doing volunteer work. When we lived in Bangor, Maine, I volunteered as a troop greeter and we welcomed our troops that were returning from Iraq and wished the best of luck to those troops who were leaving to go to Iraq. Next year I hope to be involved in community service as a member of our school’s Key Club. I would also like to serve as a volunteer for United Way’s community events,” she said.

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