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Connecting the Brave

November 6, 2019

Gently used cell phones for donation.On a Mission to Keep Our Troops In Touch

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. Founded in 2004 by Brittany Bergquist and her brother Robbie, then 13 and 12 years old, Cell Phones For Soldiers relies on cash contributions and donations of gently used cell phones, to provide a lifeline for America’s bravest.


Cell Phones For Soldiers is divided into two separate programs:

Minutes That Matter - provides free calling cards to active-duty military members to connect with loved ones. Since 2004, they have provided U.S. troops with more than 300 million minutes of free talk time and distributed more than 5 million prepaid international calling cards.

Helping Heroes Homes - assists veterans with emergency funds to alleviate communication challenges as well as physical, emotional and assimilation hardships. Since July of 2012, Helping Heroes Home has assisted more than 3,100 veterans and their families with emergency funding.


How can you help?

Starting on November 8th and running through December 8th, our New Hartford, Rome and South Utica branches will be holding a donation drive in support of Cell Phones for Soldiers. All types of gently used cell phones and tablets, will be graciously accepted. There will be donation boxes near the Greeters stations at these 3 branches, where you can drop off any old phone that may be lying around your home.


What types of cell phones and mobile devices can be donated?

Gently used smartphones, are preferred; however, proceeds are generated from the recycling of broken and outdated mobile phones as well. Chargers and accessories are also welcomed to donate.


Interested in making a larger impact?

Visit the official Cell Phones for Soldiers website for other ways to get invlolved with this incredible organization and make a difference in the lives of our active and retired military members.

 

How to Lower Holiday Spending

October 18, 2019

Stay thrifty while keeping the holiday spirit

Holiday spending is often a budget-buster. The expenses can be numerous: presents, wrapping paper, cards, decorations, food, and travel, to name a few; and very few people have an unlimited holiday budget. If you don’t have the funds to buy everything you want, not to worry. A little bit of creativity and energy can get you through the holidays without draining your wallet.


Homemade Gifts

If you have the skills, making your own gifts is a great way to save, since supplies usually cost less than the finished product. Not only are homemade gifts cheaper, but many people appreciate them more than store-bought gifts because of the effort that goes into making them.

Not an experienced crafter? Write a letter or make a collage representing what the person means to you, or frame a memorable photo. If you can bake, standard cookies or brownies can be dressed up with sprinkles and ribbons in holiday colors. You can find great ideas on sites like YouTube or Pinterest. 

Offering your services is another great cost-saving gift, since it only costs time. Offer a free night of babysitting, or a month of lawn-mowing. Create a coupon the recipient can redeem at a later date.


Give the Gift of an Experience

Plan an outing with your family members or friends instead of a gift exchange. Everyone pays their own way, and you can keep the experience as simple and fun as the group’s budget can handle. Outdoor activities, or a local play or museum are a few examples. If you don’t want to strain anyone’s expenses, have a cozy potluck gathering at home. Remember to take fun photos, which can make great framed gifts in the future.


Gift-wrapping

People underestimate the cost of wrapping gifts. Skip the fancy wrapping paper and bows, and find alternatives. Newspaper (especially the comic section) can work, as can computer paper, or paper shopping bags. Use inexpensive craft supplies, such as glitter, paint, or pattern stamps, to add decorative touches.


Cards

Store-bought cards can cost $4 or more each. Sending them to 20 people would cost you $80, not including postage! Create your own cards using simple supplies, or create and send cards electronically to avoid additional costs. Make your own or use one of the many free services online. If you want to send physical cards, consider trimming your mailing list to save, or hand delivering them for a personal touch.  


Decorations

Save on store-bought decorations by seeing what you can use from around the house. Make a garland out of popcorn, and use local natural supplies like pine cones and acorns. To save on store-bought decorations, plan ahead for next year and only buy them after the holidays, when they’re at a deep discount. Garage or yard sales and thrift shops are also a great place to find discounted seasonal decorations throughout the year.


Food

If you host holiday dinners or parties, you may find yourself spending significant money on food. Potluck dinners are an easy way to shift some of the burden of buying all of the food yourself. If you don’t want to ask your guests to bring food, consider options like eliminating a full dinner and having only appetizers and desserts. Shop for less expensive food, available in some bulk-food stores.


Travel

Airfare is generally more expensive during the holidays, since that is when everyone flies. To save, consider having a “holiday” dinner during an off-peak time of the year, when airfare is cheaper. Whenever you do fly, being flexible can usually help you save; you probably won’t have to spend as much if you fly at night or have a layover.


You can have a great holiday season without spending a great deal of money. Be creative with your purchasing and avoid straining your finances, so you can celebrate during the holidays, and afterward as well. Still need some assistance with your seasonal finances? Start by learning about a Holiday Loan.
 

Learn More: Holiday Loan
 

Article adapted from BALANCE Financial Fitness

Posted in: Holiday Loan

5 Steps to Creating and Staying True to a Holiday Budget

October 18, 2019

Enjoy the holidays by planning ahead

The holidays are a time for seasonal cheer, catching up with family, and for some—financial panic.
If you recently looked at the calendar and realized gift-buying season is closer than you thought, don’t worry. You can organize your finances by making an effective budget. Follow these 5 steps to better avoid going into debt this season.


1. List All of Your Expenses

Are you buying presents for everyone? Hosting a party? Attending a holiday concert or event? Write a list of everything you intend to spend money on (and how much each costs), then prioritize. You don’t have to cross anything off just yet, but make a mental note of which items are more important.


2. Set a Limit

Next, review your income and any money you’ve set aside for holiday expenses. Your goal is to figure out what you can afford without going into debt. If you have to dip into your savings, make sure to keep a cushion for any emergency costs that might come up. Now you can decide which expenses are important, and which ones can be crossed off your list.


3. Research Seasonal Sales

Sales go hand in hand with the holidays. This is when many retailers make a large portion of their annual revenue, so they want to attract as much business as possible. Find the best deals by signing up for email alerts and following brands on social media. You’ll be among the first to find out about those special seasonal sales. Also watch for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.


4. Comparison Shop

Unless you’re searching for a unique gift, your desired item is probably available from multiple retailers. Fortunately, the Internet makes comparison shopping easy, especially during the holidays when every company is trying to compete for your business. Make sure you visit different websites and do some research to find the best deals.


5. Pros and Cons of Payment Methods

Shopping online can make it easier to track your purchases afterward, though spending cash gives you immediate feedback about how much (and how often) money is leaving your wallet. During the holidays, when you’re purchasing many items at once, the cash method helps you realize how much you’re spending, though online shopping gives you an easier way to see all your purchases at a glance. Try using cash for some of your shopping, and see how that affects your budget. You’ll have the chance to shop in person, support local businesses, and possibly reign in some of your impulse purchases.


Follow these simple rules, and keep your holiday spending in check. If you still need some assistance with your seasonal finances, start by learning about a Holiday Loan.
 

Learn More: Holiday Loan
 

Article adapted from BALANCE Financial Fitness

Posted in: Holiday Loan

Ryan Misencik honored with Genesis Volunteer Award

September 30, 2019

Ryan Misencik riding a bicycle and posing with Joe Griffo

First Source is pleased to announce that our very own Ryan Misencik received one of two Genesis Volunteer Awards given at the 19th Annual Genesis Group Meeting & Joseph R. Carucci Legacy Awards luncheon. We would also like to congratulate all of the 2019 honorees for their continued efforts and dedication to our community.


Class of 2019 Honorees

George Aney, Eqs.  |  Brian Bogan  |  John Calidonna  |  Jackie Romano
Rev. Dr. Mary Webster  |  Remsen Barn Festival


The Genesis Group is an organization that brings together business and community leaders who are working to improve economic, social and cultural interests, and to foster unity and cooperation within the Mohawk Valley. Their focus is to create a positive impact in our community, a mission that Ryan is certainly familiar with.


About Ryan

Ryan Misencik, a Project Analyst with First Source, is a devoted husband and father, and an avid runner and cyclist. He strives to be a good role model for his daughters by sharing his time and talents, volunteering in a variety of capacities throughout our community. His actions and attitude emphasize how important giving back truly is.


The Ride for Missing Children - Ryan has been a Ride volunteer for 10 years serving in several official positions, including Shepherd, Steering Committee and Leadership Team. Ryan also leads the group of cyclists throughout Ride Day as the Official Pace Shepherd.


The Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program - This year Ryan became a mentor for a student in need as part of the Young Scholars program. He enjoys having the ability to provide guidance and introduce his mentee to a world of new opportunities that otherwise they may never experience.

Read more about Ryan’s mentorship experience >


Genesis Group St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day and RCIL Holiday Parades - Ryan is also an integral part of the Parade Organization Committee for The Genesis Group. He assists with the planning and organization of the full parade event, plus day of coordination and parade line up.


Music for Genesis Events - As a radio and private DJ for over 25 years, Ryan has also donated his skills and services for many Genesis Group events, including Taste of the Mohawk Valley and their annual holiday party.  


Ryan truly enjoys making a difference in our community in any way he can and we are so proud to have him as part of our First Source family. Congratulations Ryan!

 

Think Pink: Together, We Make a Difference

September 26, 2019

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

First Source Federal Credit Union is a longtime supporter of the American Cancer Society. Throughout the month of October we will be "thinking pink" to raise awareness, and educate our employees, Members  and community about breast cancer. 

Efforts will include an employee Jeans dress-down fundraising day, a First Source team of employees, friends and family, participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and an awareness campaign with Roser Communications to bring you the stories of 4 breast cancer survivors throughout the month of October.


Meet the Survivors

Survivor #1 - Cathy Abel
Cathy Abel and her husband Scott are from Ilion. They have 3 children and 3 grandchildren. Cathy is a 3 year breast cancer survivor and credits her yearly mammogram for the early detection of her Stage 0 cancer. She says, “Don’t EVER put off your mammogram, because it can save your life." Cathy has a whole new outlook on life and appreciates each and every day that she is given. Learn more about Cathy's story and hear clips from her interview. >


Survivor #2 - Karyn Urtz
Karyn is from Rome and was diagnosed with Stage 1A breast cancer two years ago. Her mother, a four time breast cancer survivor, passed away in 2006. Because of her family history, Karyn scheduled regular mammograms and credits those tests and her doctor with the early detection. She says "Awareness is the key," and praises her mother's sense of humor as the reason she has been able to deal with her own cancer. Karyn is very thankful for the support she has received from her family and friends, and feels fantastic today! Learn more about Karyn's story and hear clips from her interview. >


Survivor #3 - Terry Decola
Terry is from Utica and was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer back in 2016. Thanks to her routine mammograms, her doctor was able to diagnose her cancer in the very early stages. She went through radiation and is still taking her chemotherapy pill to fight the disease. Despite being a private person, Terry decided to share her story to bring hope and awareness. She says the love, support and positive attitude of her family is what helped her get through it all, and be here today. Terry continues to live life to the fullest! Learn more about Terry's story and hear clips from her interview. >


Survivor #4 - Maryrose Tucker
Maryrose is from Utica and was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer after finding a lump during a breast self-exam. She went through 4 rounds of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation in her fight against breast cancer. Maryrose didn't have time to feel sorry for herself, because everything happened so quickly, but says she couldn't have made it through the ordeal without the love and support of her family. She feels wonderful now, and recommends regular breast self-exams and routine mammograms. Learn more about Maryrose's story and hear clips from her interview. >
 


How Can You Get Involved?

Donate: October 11th is a First Source fundraising Jeans Day for Breast Cancer, when many of our employees with be dressing down and donating to support the American Cancer Society (ACS). You can join our efforts and make a donation to the American Cancer Society in their fight, either directly, or to someone participating in the Walk. Your donation will help to fund groundbreaking research, raise awareness and provide support to those fighting this disease.


Wear Pink: It’s a simple way to show your support and solidarity for all who are at risk for breast cancer: mothers, wives, daughters, granddaughters, friends and loved ones. Friday, October 18th is National Mammography Day, so that’s a great day to wear your pink. Share your photo on social media and become a part of something so much bigger. #NationalMammographyDay


Walk: Register online, to take part in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at the Masonic Care Community on Sunday, October 20th. This is a powerful and inspiring opportunity to unite as a community to honor breast cancer survivors, raise awareness about how we can reduce the risk of getting breast cancer, and raise money to help the ACS. The ACS leads the fight against this disease with groundbreaking breast cancer research, information and support 24-7, and access to testing. Every step you take is personal, and together we’re helping the fight against breast cancer. Join us!

 

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