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Become a Young Scholars Mentor

March 18, 2019

Young Scholars group shotHow You Can Help Our Community

Serving as mentors to the amazing young people in the Young Scholars program is among our most rewarding experiences. Join us by learning about the program here, and see why so many find this program so gratifying.


The Young Scholars Program

The Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program (YSLPP) 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.



Mentorship

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. Experiences are often as simple as a visit to the mall, a lunch out together, taking in a sporting event or movie, or going for a walk at the park. 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. Some 60 mentors serve now, and the program would like to grow that number to 100, so we are encouraging you to consider joining us as a mentor and making a difference in the life of a Young Scholar. If you have a friend or family member who you think would make a great mentor, encourage them to apply as well.

Becoming a mentor is a simple process with just a few qualifications. The first step is filling out an application and a Background Check authorization. You must have a valid NYS driver’s license, and be willing to commit to the program for one year. 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 lbstewart@utica.edu, 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 

 

Giving Back to Our Community

January 3, 2019

2018 A Year in Review  

At First Source we make it part of our mission to give back. In 2018, we helped support our community by giving approximately $300,000, and countless volunteer hours, to help a number of local organizations and thousands of individuals.

Our charitable work does more than simply give a handout; it gives a hand up. In addition to helping many local businesses grow, it provides for basic human needs, a better future, and education. It helps people live smarter, healthier, more independent lives.

It is important to give where we can, get involved, and make a difference to those who need it most. Thank you for helping to support community causes along with us throughout the year. You have truly made an impact.

 Some 2018 highlights include:

  • Started Financial Friday events at the Utica Children’s Museum, and provided financial education for 6,300 students in 77 schools

  • Participated in #GivingTuesday providing an additional $7,000 in funding to local, employee choice charities

  • Matched employee funding to the United Way of Greater Utica, giving over $6,000 to support vital community needs

  • Raised funds for and awareness of The American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery Program and the American Red Cross’s Sound the Alarm event fueling needed participation

  • Helped Kids Oneida provide Thanksgiving meals for 1,000 families and holiday needs for 10 families, including 30 children

  • Joined the NYS Mentoring program

  • Supported economic development in the greater Utica, Rome, Herkimer and surrounding areas

  • Fundraised and participated in multiple charitable walks

  • Supported our Veterans through Flags for Heroes

  • Worked with the Fibonacci Foundation to support STEAM learning for area youth

  • Supported multiple local humane societies

  • Purchased gym equipment for several local schools to help get and keep our kids healthy, in cooperation with the American Heart Association’s Get Moving campaign

  • Supported the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s educational outreach and prevention initiatives

  • Purchased iPads for the Tilton School at the House of the Good Shepherd, and donated blankets to children in need

  • Helped to finance and sponsor the Compassion Coalition’s new Bargain Grocery facility

  • Helped to send visually impaired children to a special ability summer camp

  • Supported many student and semi-professional athletic training programs

  • Aided in youth scholarship programs
     

Financial Friday at the Children’s Museum

August 17, 2018

Young boy learning the importance of a dollar

It’s Never Too Early to Start Your Child’s Financial Education

On Friday August 24th at the Utica Children’s Museum, we will be hosting a fun filled financial event, where we’ll be teaching kids about the value of a dollar. This interactive financial literacy program is a great way to show children the importance of money, where it comes from and the value it holds. 

Kids will have the opportunity to speak with First Source representatives, ask questions, earn their own “paycheck” and decide how best to save, spend, and even donate their money to community causes in the First Source Kid’s Branch, located on the first floor of the museum. Two separate sessions are available for families that are interested in signing their children up for the event. 

We are proud to be able to partner with the Children’s Museum in educating our children about the importance of developing good financial habits.

The ACS Wig Room

January 31, 2018

Attending the ribbon cutting on Friday, January 19th, pictured left to right: Stan Kocyba, First Source FCU Facilities Manager; Mike Parsons, First Source FCU Chief Executive Officer; Pamela Way, First Source FCU Community Relations Specialist; Ciara Parrish, American Cancer Society Coordinator of Community Support; Melanie Francis, Community Development Manager; Robert Elinskas, American Cancer Society Senior Community Manager.
 

Creating a Welcoming Space

As part of our community outreach and giving, we look to make a direct local impact. Recently we helped renovate a room at our local American Cancer Society. The Cancer Society has an area for those who have begun cancer treatment and are losing their hair, to try on wigs. We were pleased to be able to donate funds and volunteer our time and labor to give this room the attention it needed.

“The ‘wig room’, was in great need of a facelift,” said Ciara Parrish, Coordinator of Community Support for the American Cancer Society. “It’s really tough when reality sets in and you start losing your hair, and the area we had for wigs was not very inviting. This is a time that compassion and comfort is really needed. We are grateful to First Source Federal Credit Union for helping us make this a much warmer and inviting area.”

“Many are not aware of all of our services at the Cancer Society,” Parrish continued. “When patients come in for a wig appointment, we are able to give them one wig free of charge. This can not only be a big savings, it can also make the patient feel a little more like themselves again. Patients can call 1-800-227-2345 to schedule an appointment.”

“We’ve been involved with the American Cancer Society for many years,” said Pamela Way, First Source Community Relations Specialist. “We’ve had teams participate in their Relay for Life and Breast Cancer Walk fundraisers, but we wanted to change things up a bit, and really put our money and time into helping them right here at home, at the source. This renovation directly helps our community member diagnosed with cancer, at one of their most vulnerable times.”

Way added, “We’re fortunate to have a fantastic Facilities Manager at First Source who loves helping out on these kinds of projects. He has a great eye for renovations. We were really happy to be able to help them.”

Giving Smarter

Want to know more about how First Source gives back to our community? 

Helping Stevens-Swan Humane Society

October 20, 2017

First Source FCU staff members present a check to Stevens-Swan Humane Society employees.

Community Service 

We have donated more than $5,000 this year to the Stevens-Swan Humane Society (SSHS), through credit union employee and Member fundraising, and corporate sponsorship of the SSHS annual telethon. Along with many generous Members, our employees have donated physical items, such as pet food and blankets, volunteered for the Society’s annual telethon, and participated in the Wiggle-Waggle Walk-a-thon.

First Source has long supported the Stevens-Swan Humane Society and their many services. In addition to sheltering animals in need, they spay/neuter animals, nurse them back to health when needed, and help with pet adoption and burial services.

“We’ve been very involved with the Humane Society for well over a decade,” said Lynn Riley, First Source Member Care Center Manager. “Our staff really gets into fundraising and being a part of the costume contest for the Wiggle Waggle Walk-a-thon. We’re proud to help animals in need, and raise awareness for the shelter.”

Blanche, a dog at Stevens-Swan Humane Society, is shown with her new canine wheelchair.“The support we receive from the community and individuals is what sustains us,” said Nicole Curley, Shelter Services Coordinator for Stevens-Swan Humane Society. “We are not a government funded organization, so businesses like First Source are very important to us and the animals. On top of what they had already done this year, Lynn Riley from First Source was our top fundraiser, so she received a gift card as a thank you. She chose to donate that card back to us, and we were able to help offset costs for a much-needed dog wheelchair for our girl Blanche.”

Blanche is a great example of the many services SSHS provides that community members rarely hear about. She recently came to the shelter with a slipped disk in her back. She had very little feeling in her back legs, but was not in any pain. With no pain and her good spirits, she was a great candidate for a wheelchair. “We are happy to report that Blanche took well to her wheelchair,” added Curley, “and is ready for her forever home.”

Please consider supporting this organization’s efforts to provide comfort, care, and homes for area animals. 

Photo 1: First Source FCU staff members present a check to Stevens-Swan Humane Society.
Photo 2: Humane Society resident Blanche with her new wheelchair.

 

Posted in: animals, community, pets, service, SSHS

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