Make an Appointment

Become a Young Scholars Mentor

January 21, 2021

Young Scholars group shot

Mentors Needed Now More Than Ever!

Are you looking for constructive ways to spend your spare time? Would you like to make a positive impact on a local student’s life? The Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program (YSLPP) would like to invite anyone interested in providing academic, social, and cultural enrichment to our young program participants to consider becoming a mentor. The application process is simple:

  1. Fill out the enrollment application form

  2. Complete an authorization background check

  3. Pass a Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) check

  4. All applicants must be at least 21 years old and have a valid NYS driver license

Serving as mentors to the amazing young people in the Young Scholars program is among the most rewarding experiences we participate in. For more information, contact Linda Stewart at 315-792-3237 or

The Young Scholars Program

The Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program is a multi-year collaborative project between Utica College and the Utica City School District (UCSD) to motivate diverse and talented students to stay in school, earn a New York State Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, and pursue post-secondary education.

Each year, Young Scholars serves approximately 350 students from grades 7 through 12. UCSD teachers nominate students in sixth grade who show promise, but who may not achieve their full potential due to social and/or economic factors. The finalists are selected by a volunteer panel of professionals from the area.

Chosen students receive year-round academic support including a summer program prepping them for the following school year, college and career exploration, social and emotional support provided by counselors and staff, community service, and enrichment activities. If the student is fortunate enough, they are also paired with a mentor.

The program has been quite successful, as the impressive results show in the YSLPP brochure. More than one hundred YSLPP students have served as summer interns in the local community, and the program’s partnership with Workforce Development has provided hundreds of its students with summer jobs.


An important part of the Young Scholars program is pairing adult mentors with program participants. Mentors are volunteers who serve as positive role models, give students guidance and advice, and provide fun social and cultural enrichment experiences. Many activities are free, so it doesn’t cost a lot, in money or time. In fact, the minimum commitment is only 2-4 hours a month. Some mentors have one student they provide support to, and many mentor multiple students, often participating in activities with several students together. Many mentors have kids of their own, and bring their mentees along during family events.

While mentoring means a very modest commitment of time, mentors can make a tremendous impact on the lives of these promising young people. Mentors say they get more from the experience than the students do, and often form lasting friendships with their mentees. With a small investment in time, mentors make a big difference in the community.

Becoming a Mentor

Although a number of First Source staff and Members have joined with other community members to serve as mentors, the program can use more. The commitment is just one year, though most stay for more. Once you are qualified, the program provides an orientation, and ongoing support to help you get started and continue to provide fulfilling experiences for your mentee.

Why First Source is Invested in the Program

We are very excited to continue to partner with this tremendous program to help fulfill the dreams of our youth here in the Mohawk Valley, as their goals align with our community mission. We provide financial support, fill leadership roles, offer job shadowing and internships to Young Scholars interested in banking and/or financing, donate tools to teach financial literacy in their summer program, team up with Young Scholars for community service, and encourage our staff and Members to volunteer as mentors. 

How Can Your Place of Work Get Involved?

To teach community members more about the program, Young Scholars offers 30-minute “Lunch & Learn” presentations and workshops for any sized group, organization, or business. Simply contact them to schedule a presentation for your workplace or organization. 

Individuals can learn more by contacting Linda Stewart, Mentor Coordinator, by email at, or phone at 315-792-3237. Join us in becoming a mentor, and help our students Grow Big Dreams. 

“The positive and empowering effects of being a mentor are immeasurable and I am both thrilled and proud to be part of the YSLPP mentoring experience.” 
- Kim Van Duren, Mentor

“Mentoring is something that has changed my life in the most positive way. I always find that mentoring has truly made me have a more profound understanding of today’s youth. I feel that no matter what, both of my mentees know that they have someone with whom to share a laugh or an important conversation. Mentoring is a never-ending gift, a mentoring situation that after graduation will hopefully turn into a lifelong friendship." 
- Dennis Hahn, Mentor

“We text frequently and do as many fun activities as we can together. She attends family functions with me because she truly is my second daughter. Watching her grow is incredible and I know there's much more that Young Scholars is going to see from Areiana in the future.” 
- Alicia Adamczyk, Mentor 


Making Miracles Happen

September 3, 2020

Supporting Our Local Children's Miracle Network Hospitals

At just 34 weeks into their pregnancy, Grayson's parents were stunned to learn that their unborn child was in serious jeopardy of losing his life. Immediate labor induction would be necessary to save their baby.

Born prematurely at 8 months, Grayson spent the first few weeks of his life in the Level II Special Care Nursery, located on the St. Luke’s Campus. Thanks to the generosity of those in our community, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) is able to provide the Special Care Nursery with much needed funding, allowing Grayson and his family to remain close to home during this critical time. 

Today, Grayson is a happy, healthy and vibrant little boy, who loves to play with his dogs, and spend time with his mom and dad. 

Grayson, and children like him, are why we support and raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. On September 9th, 2020, all First Source employees will be participating in the CMNH Miracle Jeans Day fundraiser. We encourage you to join us in our mission to help make miracles happen for all those facing childhood illness within our community. First Source has already donated $1,000 to this tremendous cause and we urge you make a contribution towards our fundraising goal. Every little bit helps, so please give. 

Donate Today

Better U Program Resources

May 19, 2020

Takeaways You Can Implement

As we’ve followed Lynne’s journey through the Better U Program, we’ve had the opportunity to gather resources that have helped her along the way. We’ve included links to many of these tools, so you can follow along.

Since we are still in the midst of COVID-19, we will begin with this short video about current safety tips from the American Heart Association. From no-touch greetings to sanitizing, here is a quick video lesson and reminder of how you can help keep yourself safe and those around you comfortable. 

Continuing along with direct health initiatives, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield offers MDLIVE. MDLIVE is a medical and behavioral health care service offering online or over-the-phone help from doctors, psychiatrists and therapists 24/7/365. This is a great resource for both adults and children and can help you manage anything from cold and flus to addiction and trauma.

Behaviorial Health: PDF

Medical Health: PDF

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” That old saying is based on the fundamental notion that eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins and complex carbohydrates will help you stay healthy. The Better U Program has recommended the Mayo Clinic Health System’s video “Grocery Shopping with Dr. Donald Hensrud”. This was Lynne’s virtual tour through the grocery store which can also help you shop better and healthier. Give it a quick watch here:

Watch the Video

Understanding the information on the Nutrition Facts label can help you make healthier eating choices and identify the best foods for a healthy diet. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your meals:

Reading Labels: PDF

Eating right and healthy doesn’t mean losing some of the treats you love but in fact can help you incorporate those treats in a more balanced manner. Here are some recipes we’ve included that are easy and delicious!

We understand that shopping healthier can be coupled with spending money and spending more money can feel daunting and stressful. Eliminating stress is all part of becoming a better you and while the stresses of finance can not be fully deleted, staying on top of your bills can help alleviate a large portion of that stress. We’ve included here our Budget Worksheet for you to use as a guide. This can help you incorporate your finances evenly across all of your expenses. Use this worksheet to keep track of your monthly income and outgoing expenditures:

Budget Worksheet

In addition, we’ve also included the document “My Disappearing Dollars.” This is an opportunity to list all of your monthly expenses and their positive OR negative impacts on your life. No one else ever needs to see this list so it provides a great opportunity to take an honest look at what you spend your money on and help you discover for yourself whether those expenses are truly worth it or not:

My Disappearing Dollars: PDF

It’s almost time for many of us to get back into the swing of things at the office. The Better U Program has provided 10 tips from Memic to help you keep a healthier (and therefore more productive) workspace. Does your chair make you slouch? Does your desk height make for awkward shoulder movements? Use this checklist to help you make your workspace more comfortable and physically therapeutic:

Perfect Office Fit: PDF

Speaking of being back in the office amongst your colleagues, this is the perfect time to learn a bit about effectively using CPR- just in case. The American Heart Association has provided this simple 4-step how-to that can help save yours, or someone else’s, life. This would be good to print or share among your coworkers. And remember, when performing CPR (as shown in Step 2), push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the popular song “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees. The rhythm of that song is the exact rhythm that can literally help one stay alive until professional help arrives.

Hands-Only CPR: PDF

While we consider all of the above information imperative to a healthier lifestyle, there is also an aspect to living balanced that is not as black and white as financial tracking or choosing fresh foods over packaged foods. It is called Reiki. It is in fact more spiritual yet is also totally within your control. Reiki is defined as “Universal Life Force Energy.” Included here are two enlightening documents to help you be present, meditative and grateful for being alive. They will help you understand how to open your chakras and promote healing throughout your body, mind and spirit.

Distant Reiki: PDF

The 7 chakras represent different points of your spinal column that are connected to various organs and glands. These terrific sources will explain how each one works within your body, within your energy, and help restore and maintain optimum health:

Chakra Information: PDF

We truly hope you find these resources as valuable as Lynne has. Understanding and accepting where you are and visualizing where you want to be are not that far apart. Like Lynne, you too can use this information to assist you in becoming the healthy, balanced person you know you can be!

Stay tuned for more takeaway tips from the Better U Program, compare how your path mirrors Lynnes path and continue to discover how to become the best YOU that you can be!

The Better U Program Wellness Session

May 6, 2020

Chapter #5 - A Financial and Spiritual Awakening

Lynne and the group recently had their first wellness session: a Mind, Body and Finance workshop. Chock full of terrific advice from the instructors, Lynne’s experience with the workshop has really helped open her eyes to saving herself from undo stress…and perhaps, one day, someone else’ life.

“It began with tips for financial wellness,” Lynne explained. “Cristina from First Source went over budgeting, interest rates, credit cards and student loans. We learned to look where we can lower spending and try to pay down debt. She talked about paying the smallest bills first to get those out of the way and off your plate, moving on to the next highest and so on as a way to make tackling debt more manageable. Setting small goals and achieving them. Once the smaller bills are paid down/off you can then use those funds to save. She gave us a budget worksheet and recommended to re-budget every 60 days as your finances change. She also had a really cool ‘Disappearing Dollars’ worksheet. It challenges you to see where you may be over or foolishly spending to see what you can put away instead for emergency funds. It was really relevant since we can see today just how important an emergency fund is. The other option was “Avalanche Debt” where you pay the highest bills first and  work your way down. Whatever works best for you. “I live and breathe managing finances as my career,” Lynne added, “but it was still great to hear and to know that all the program participants would now have this knowledge too.”

“Next Sarah from the American Heart Association gave us Hands-Only™ CPR training,” Lynne continued. “Demo dummies were sent to us at home to practice on. We learned the steps to check for a pulse first. Take charge and alert others around you giving them specific tasks. Have someone call 911 and leave it on speaker. We learned the steps for compression, where to place your hands and to not stop giving the compressions until help arrives. A hard, flat surface is best for performing CPR. Also if you sing "Stayin’ Alive” in your head as you give the CPR, it’s a good beat to give compressions to. It was also reassuring to learn there is a ‘No Sue’ law for helping. We got to keep the demo dummies to share what we learned with our family. It was very informative and could be live saving.”

Carrie, a Certified Nutritionist/Wellness Consultant went over reading food labels. She taught us to minimize intake of unhealthy oils/fats, fatty meats and dairy, to minimize sugar intake, and to eat breads, pasta and cereals made from whole grains that are high in fiber,” Lynne shared. “We learned it’s good to eat lean protein, drink lots of water, listen to your body, eat “feel good foods” that make you feel better. She talked about non-gmo, unsaturated fats, trans fats, food allergens….I  could have listened to her talk for hours. There was so much, really good information! I look at food very differently now.”

Sherri, a Certified Mindfulness Instructor then shared mediation yoga. “We went through breathing exercises, how to be mindful of our breath and help with our focus, to take 5 and pause,” Lynne described. “I would love to attend her actual classes some day. At the start of your day, take 3 minutes to clear your head then focus on your day. Try to start with no thoughts. Focus only on breathing. Draw a square in your mind. With each side breathe in, then out. Be fully present in that moment. Breathe from your belly. It’s very calming. Then think about 3 things you are grateful for. Start your day with gratitude. Lastly, think about your day. Be grateful for what you will accomplish. She taught us to ‘Take 5 and Pause’ whenever you need to throughout the day. Refocus and get centered. I have already successfully used this technique. This workshop was extremely Informative. I got a lot out of it and learned so much from everyone.”

Thanks to Lynne breaking it all down, you too can take the advice of the Certified experts to help you ease debt, relax your body and mind, and eat healthier food options.

Speaking of food, up next Lynne looks forward to a virtual healthy cooking class!

The Better U Program Dietary Recommendations

May 6, 2020

Chapter #4 - “Eat the Rainbow”

Becoming a better you isn’t just how you workout your body but also what you put into it. Overall health is boosted immensely with a strong diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Lynne was introduced to the what’s and why’s of a varied diet full of fresh produce, protein, healthy fats and more. You can hear the excitement in her voice from learning how to eat better thanks to the instructors of the Better U Program.

“We were able to take a virtual grocery tour and the information we received was awesome! I learned so much!  Things like, make sure to always eat before going shopping so you don’t shop when you’re hungry. (You tend to buy more and more unhealthy items). Start in the produce section first, and “eat the rainbow”. The more natural colors the better: peppers especially red peppers, broccoli, and carrots are all very good for you. The greener the vegetable the higher the nutrients.”

“We learned that fresh or frozen is the best for fruits and vegetables, however, tomatoes are actually better for you when cooked. They have more nutrients that way. Organic is better because there are less pesticides which makes it better for you and the environment. Nuts help fight heart disease, broccoli has anti-cancer properties, avocado has healthy fat, and garlic can lower cholesterol. They recommended 2 servings of fish weekly and reminded us that with meat, it’s quality not quantity. Really for all of this we learned that moderation is key.”

“With nuts and leafy vegetables the darker in color the better for you. We learned to stay away from processed foods and to read labels, that water is always best to drink. Food in its purest form is also the best. Instead of glass of orange juice, eat an actual orange. It’s better for you with more fiber and no added sugar. There are also so many different varieties of food. They suggested we don’t just stick with one apple type for example, try different varieties as they all have different sweetness or tartness and texture.”

The next time you’re making your shopping list, be sure to include items that allow you to “eat the rainbow.” Pick healthy looking fruits and vegetables ranging all from colors of the spectrum. Choose labeled foods wisely by reading their ingredients. Ingredients are listed in descending order so be sure to stay away from products that start with things like high fructose corn syrup. A good rule of thumb is that the longer the list of ingredients, the more unhealthy the item tends to be. Reading labels isn’t always about caloric intake either. It’s about the number of, and quality of, ingredients, healthy fats, fiber, sugars and sodium much more than overall calories.

Keep up with Lynne’s progress and learn how to become a better you with the next chapter of our Better U Program Series!





​charity “best “debt “savings 50/30/20 529 about account account” adults advice Amanda L. King Memorial Fund American Cancer Society American Heart Association American Red Cross Amy DeMetri animals atv financing atv loan Auto auto loan back bad credit bank Banzai Berowski Better U Program bike Blog Blog Posts Blogs Blue boat loans borrow Branch breach budget Budgeting business camper cancer Capitol Civic Center Car car loan Car Loans Card Cell Phones For Soldiers Challenge charity Check checking checks Child Tax Credit children Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Children's Museum Choice Investments Christmas Chuck club College Comets Community compounding consolidation” conventional Corporate Credit Credit Card credit cards credit union Dance the Night Away debt debt consolidation plan deposit destinations dividend donation down payment Dream earnings education Entrepreneurs Equifax equity expenses experienced investing experienced investor FDIC FHA FHA loan Fical Finance Financial financial literacy program financing Firley Moran First First Source Federal Credit Union for Games Genesis Genesis Group gifts giving Giving Tuesday Go Good Good News Center Goodison-Bick Greiner Group guide Halloween HCCC Health healthy pet loan Heart HELOC herkimer holiday Holiday loan holidays home home buying Home Equity Line of Credit Home Equity Loan Home Equity Loans Home Improvement Loan hot tub house House of the Good Shepherd Hug Indoor installation interest invest Investment investments IRA JD Arrante Jessie Joseph R. Carucci Legacy Awards Julie Keller KIDS Kid's Oneida kitchen remodel kristy learn lien lienhouse Lilli living smarter LMV loan Loans Local long-term savings manage management Marketing Maxam medical Mel member members mentoring Michael Mike missing money money management Money Market Money Market Account Mortgage Mortgages Motorcycle Financing Motorcycle Loan MVCC National Center for Missing & Exploited Children National Credit Union Youth Month NCMEC NCUA Neumann New New Hartford new investors nole North Utica of One Oneida online online safety Only order checks Orsomarso overdraft Pamela paperwork Paralympics Parsons patient pay bills payments personal loans pet care pet financing pet surgery Pete pets plan planning Posts Power presents President/CEO programs protection purchase QR Questions rates Recreational Loan recreational loans Red reduce relief renovation Requirements Resolutions resort resorts retirement rewards ride Rome Roth IRAs Run RV RV & Camper Loan Ryan Misencik Safety saving savings savings account savings” Schools Schumer security Sen. service settlement” Sherman Sinnott Education Center ski resort ski trips sled snowboard snowmobile snowmobile trails social media Source South South Utica spending spots SSHS Staff Stevens-Swan Humane Society students Sue Summer system Tammy Cieslak Tanya Taxes teachers Team teens Term Share Certificate testimonial the The American Cancer Society The Genesis Group Tiny's Grill Tips Tom Traditional IRAs travel treatment treats Tricia trip TV Union Unite United United Way Up Utica Utica Children’s Museum Utica Zoo VA vacation vacation financing vacation loan Valley Health Services Video Visa volunteer Waggle Walk Walk-A-Thon Way We Wear Wellness Wells Wendy Why wig Wiggle wild Winner winners Winter withdrawal women Women’s Employment & Resource Center Year's York You You’re Young Young Entrepreneurs Academy Young Scholars Program YWCA