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Dancing the Night Away for a Good Cause

February 9th, 2016

Amy_Demetri_Dance_picsAs part of her support for community causes, our own Amy DeMetri, First Source Vice President of Member Services, has been a big part of “Dancing the Night Away”, an annual fundraiser for The Good News Center in Utica. The photo above is Amy burning up the dance floor as a “celebrity” dancer five years ago. In the fall of 2009, she was invited by Mike Buckley, Executive Director of the Good News Center, to participate in the dance event. After that experience, she joined the board, and has been a board member since, helping promote the event and the Center’s work.

“When I read their mission statement, I saw the First Source mission all over it,” Amy says of her decision to join the board of The Good News Center. “We shared so many of the same values and goals for our community. It was a match!”

The Good News Center focuses on healing and strengthening marriages and families, providing support for those who have lost a loved one, and helping individuals who are separated or going through the pain of divorce.

“Like the Good News Center, at First Source it’s also our mission to improve the quality of life of people in the communities we serve,” Amy adds. “We do that by providing solutions to improve our Members’ financial lives, and the greatest support is often required because of the loss of a loved one, divorce, or similar circumstances.

“I’ve enjoyed my involvement with The Good News Center, the staff and volunteers, and being a part of the impact it has had on our community. It’s a great organization!”

In addition to Amy’s service on the board, First Source has sponsored The Good News Center for the last five years, and purchased tickets for each year’s event.

The 10th annual gala takes place Saturday, February 13th, and includes dinner, dancing, a Sweetheart raffle, and local celebrity dance contest as part of the festivities. All proceeds benefit the Center’s programs for marriage and relationship counseling, in addition to other support programs.

The Good News Center is a non-profit organization, offering their programs at low or no cost to participants. They provide a variety of peer mentoring programs, including a number of programs at no charge, including Grief Survivors, The Third Option, and Separated and Divorce Support. The proceeds from events like Dancing the Night Away allow them to defray the costs of these programs for those who need or want to make use of them. The Center also offers marriage and relationship retreats to strengthen marriages and families.

The Good News Foundation, the funding arm of the organization, was honored as Business of the Year for Non-profits (under 50 employees) by the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce in 2014. The Foundation was honored for its commitment to the community, longevity, and involvement with the Chamber.

Through her support for the organization, Amy has helped raise the profile of the Center and its activities, and spread the word among the First Source staff and membership families. We join her in wishing good luck to all of this year’s dancers and participants!

Want to support their work? Learn more on their website at thegoodnewscenter.org.

Go Red: Making Heart Health a Priority

February 4th, 2016

GoRed_w200Join us to support Go Red for Women!

Each of us knows at least one person whose life has been affected by heart disease. Go Red for Women is a campaign with a simple goal: to help everyone, especially women, build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. How? By paying attention to your body, and learning to recognize the warning signs of disease before the worst occurs. What great goals!

Learning the signs and risks of heart disease is the first step to living healthier, but it also affects how you care for your family, as you learn how to make healthier decisions for them, too.

Learn the warning signs

Heart Attack Symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Uncomfortable pressure squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back
  • Pain/discomfort in one/both arms
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
  • Lightheadedness

Stroke Symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Chest tightening as though your heart were in a vice
  • Trouble seeing, blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Unable to lift your arm
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Give yourself a quick screening with the easy web-based health tool, My Life Check.

Impress your friends with more statistics and progress on the movement.

Remember these important dates and plan to join us:

February 5th – National Wear Red Day; Rome Go Red for Women Luncheon at the Beeches

March 4th – Heart Run and Walk Expo

March 5th – America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk Event

May 4th – Utica Go Red for Women Luncheon at Daniele’s Banquet Specialists

What else can you do? Start by helping yourself today with:

  • Exercise
  • Good diet
  • Stress management
  • Work-life balance
  • Regular check-ups: Know your numbers.
  • Pay attention to your body: Know the warning signs

In addition to financial support, we help support this cause with education and community awareness efforts, and our staff and Members are proud volunteers in their many programs. Money raised at events like the Go Red For Women Luncheon goes toward lifesaving research, advocacy, and education programs.

Please join us over the next several months by wearing red on February 5th (National Wear Red Day), attending the Rome Go Red for Women Luncheon, also on February 5th, and supporting upcoming awareness and fundraising events.

Learn more at the Go Red for Women website.

Thanks for doing your part to stay healthy!

First Source and Utica College: A Growing Partnership

February 2nd, 2016

First Source Utica College Trading Room

Utica College is a first-class institution, and its continuing initiatives are putting the college, and Utica, on the national map. Since our credit union roots are also based in education—we started as Utica Teachers Federal Credit Union in 1938—much of our community outreach efforts include educating our Members and community on how to improve their lives financially. We also give special love to organizations that use education for the same goal.

We support programs and facilities there that align with our mission, and with our Members’ interests, including:

  • UC Athletics partnership – Our financial support provides benefits to the whole department, most importantly the student-athletes. With these funds, they have purchased new sound equipment for their sports dome, put new lighting in the gymnasium, upgraded fields and scoreboards, purchased new video equipment so home games for all sports teams can be streamed in HD, purchased new software for sports information to quickly assemble non-video highlight packages on student-athletes directly following a game, put a new parking area at the dome (so students can now drive and park at the dome instead of walk), and purchased senior blankets for graduating student-athletes (of whom there are 128 this year).
  • Trading Room naming – First Source helped pay for the Utica College Trading Room (see our photos above). The trading room is a state-of-the-art learning center featuring curved-glass floor-to-ceiling exterior walls, dual-screen computer workstations with specialized financial and investment software, video walls, and smart boards for professors to display real-time stock data, videos, and other financial information. Surrounding the perimeter is a 65-foot long, real-time stock ticker that runs up-to-minute stock data in full color. Located on the first floor of Hubbard Hall, the First Source FCU Trading Room will host business, economics, and investment classes.
  • First Source staff participate in UC’s annual fundraising golf tournament, proceeds from which go to the UC campus, and athletics program.
  • UC Young Scholars Program – We are currently sponsoring the Young Scholars Grow Big Dreams Celebration Dinner, and are working to increase our involvement with the organization in the future, through job shadowing and financial literacy assistance. See our earlier blog post for more details on this wonderful program.
  • First Source management hold 2 board seats at UC. Mike Parsons is a trustee on the UC board, and Kristy Nole is a board member of the UC Athletic Association.

All of our partnerships with Utica College have been rewarding and beneficial to our community and the college’s students. We look forward to sharing stories about more of their great work, and our continuing involvement, in the future!


How does our community change lives?

January 20th, 2016

YoungScholarsChanging young lives requires a dedicated investment of time, energy, hard work, and persistence. And a big dose of faith in the ability of our community’s young people to overcome the challenges life often puts in their way.

One local not-for-profit organization is doing that hard work, and making an enormous difference in the lives of our local youth, and by translation, in our community. That organization: the Young Scholars Liberty Partnership Program.

A multi-year collaborative project established in 1993 with Utica College and the City of Utica School District, the program was designed by education professionals to motivate diverse and talented students to stay in school, earn a NYS Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, and be college- and career-ready.

The Young Scholars Program services more than 350 students from the Utica City School District. Teachers identify and nominate at-risk youth when they are still young (sixth grade). Students who have the potential for success in secondary and post-secondary school, but who are underachieving because of various social and economic risk factors, are recommended for this program free of charge. They move into the program when they are ready, from seventh through twelfth grades.

Program goals include:

  • Maintaining an A or B average
  • Earning a NYS Regents diploma with Advanced designation
  • Completing at least 150 hours of community service
  • Enrolling in post-secondary education

First Source first became involved in this wonderful program by taking the role of Executive Dream Sponsor of the Young Scholars Grow Big Dreams Celebration Dinner, an inaugural event to celebrate the staff, students, and families involved.

Why did we decide to become involved?

  • Education is a key component of our children’s success, and the success of our community.
  • First Source is an educational financial institution at our core. Our roots are based in education (we started as the Utica Teachers Federal Credit Union in 1938).
  • Education is a big part of the value we provide to our Members and community! For example, we don’t just lend money; we explain why a particular loan is the best fit, and what you can do to help keep your credit in good standing.
  • We love that the program is run through a college, but is actually helping high school students. It touches on both secondary and higher education, and focuses on local kids, nurturing their potential, and helping them to achieve success.
  • Our involvement will only keep growing over time, as the success of this investment in our children is paying off in big ways for them, their families, and Central New York.

Do you want to make a concrete difference in the lives of others? Then please join us in contributing whatever you can to this wonderful program. To donate now, please go to the donation page on the Young Scholars website. Your assistance helps raise awareness of the program, and funds its important work (the average cost is $1,500/student). Thank you!

LMV Day 6: Stay Healthy

January 14th, 2016

After a nice holiday break, we jumped into Healthcare/Health & Wellness Day. I enjoyed this day quite a bit. It held my attention, and had a nice mix of presentation and interaction.

From a healthcare standpoint, we learned about the changing landscape, where primary and specialty care has been, and where our healthcare leaders see them progressing: really looking at a full continuity of care versus single silos, all to help alleviate repeat visits and streamline care. It was interesting to see all the moving parts of hospitals, providers, and of course, insurance, and how all of these will have to work and grow together while still providing service. A good way to describe it is the old adage, “trying to fix the plane while flying it.”

This was an interesting parallel, and offered some insight to me personally with initiatives I’m involved in at work. I like it when the day’s content is personally relevant. We’re in the midst of implementing some new technology and processes, but we can’t stop serving our Members today as we make changes for tomorrow.

Our Leadership module was, “Challenging the Process”. The focus was on how to be a critical thinker. How do you create change while being sensitive to all involved? How do you stay open-minded and willing to try that new path? There’s always a better way. The decision that worked best the last time may not be the best decision to carry you forward. Circumstances are always changing, and you have to be willing to try new ideas and stay agile. This hit home for me, as I am being challenged more with planning and designing the future, questioning what we offer, and discussing better ways to deliver our services. I have the opportunity to put these ideas and skills to use, while not losing my pragmatism, and striving to maintain balance as changes are made.

In the Wellness section, we learned about small things we could do in the workplace to help with well-being; even our posture, or the time we spend standing versus sitting. We ended up having a wonderful dialog with one presenter, completely moving away from the presentation, but with everyone participating in the discussion, which I really enjoyed.

We also had a great lesson regarding generational psychology. It was very interesting to see what past generations have experienced, why they parented the way they did, and how that in turn affects each subsequent generation. It shed some light on why some people are more independent, some are more collaborative, how people like or don’t like to solve problems, etc. It’s good knowledge to have when working with others.

As for our project, my team’s next step is a visit to the Ithaca Children’s Garden. I’m looking forward to seeing how they utilize their space, and what we can learn from them for our project.

– Brenda Rogowski, Loan and Deposit Operations Manager, LMV Participant

LMV Day 5: Be a Visionary

December 16th, 2015

Brenda December LMVToday was “Government Day”, where we met with and heard from local elected officials, as well as those involved in political support roles. Before we began that part of our day, we worked through a leadership training module about engaging people in your vision, to compel them to become involved and fully invested. We learned the importance of being articulate, gaining support and momentum, speaking to others’ passions and values, and finding that connection. I found this topic to be a turning point for me in the LMV program!

Leadership books cite many attributes of a strong leader, but they state that the most important leadership quality is being a “visionary”. As I assessed my own leadership skills, I realized being a visionary isn’t an attribute I have developed or used heavily in my work roles. I have focused more on doing my very best within the existing framework, and helping my team to streamline and build efficiencies within those boundaries. I haven’t always pushed to say, what if we could do this or that instead? This discussion within LMV prompted me to perform some self-assessment. Is “being a visionary” lacking in my skillset, or is it something I haven’t devoted focus and energy to previously? Can I build and develop this skill so I can be someone who helps define a strategic vision, and not just support it from within? I plan to carry this self-discovery forward into the remaining months of my LMV class, and especially in my work.

Back to Government Day…it was an interesting day! I enjoyed being engaged in local politics, and not just dealing with federal changes to credit union regulations and compliance. We learned about political advertising, about shared resources for different municipalities, about creating change, and how to please as many people as you can while knowing that some may not be satisfied. I learned that people mostly vote with their hearts. An emotional connection for your vision is a big component of every decision, across the board and throughout life. I saw how hard these people work to bring a vision to life, with and without crucial support. I am very thankful for those who are passionate and serve as government officials.

As part of our session, my classmates and I were challenged by Sean “S-Dot” Morelle (LMV ’15) to top last year’s donation of 82 toys to the “Stuff the Bus” campaign, and we rose to the challenge with 91 toys!

Lastly, a quick update on our team project: The Children’s Museum outdoor space. We broke into subgroups to better tackle pieces of the bigger project. We have to consider the space itself, what it will look like in all four seasons, codes, budget, presentation, etc. I will be part of the creative group charged with actually designing the space, and I am looking forward to engaging in the creative process!

– Brenda Rogowski, Loan and Deposit Operations Manager, LMV Participant

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