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2010 Greater Rochester Awards

 

Thirteen individuals and four organizations will be honored at the 2010 Greater Rochester Awards on Oct. 22 for their contributions in the non-profit human services sector.

The event is presented by the Rochester Business Journal and the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc. and sponsored by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Bank of America Corp., Mutual of America and Nixon Peabody LLP.

Nominations were received in eight categories, including a new one, Outstanding Corporate Volunteer Group.

Board Leadership Award: presented to non-profit board chairmen and chairwomen who have enhanced the mission and reputation of their agencies through effective leadership, fundraising, strategic planning, community collaboration and problem solving. The award will be given this year to Steven Modica, Modica & Associates, Attorneys, PLLC; Thomas Rogers, AM&M Financial Services Inc.; and David VanBlarcom, Kessler Restaurants.

Career Achievement: presented to staff members not in senior management who exhibit innovation, leadership and creativity to help deliver positive, measurable results. The award will be given to Eke Aiono, Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester Inc., and Eleanor Coleman, Southwest Area Neighborhood Association Inc.

Community Champion: given to individuals, volunteers or staffers whose efforts with local human service non-profits have made a significant positive impact on the community. The award will be given to Erica Dunton, Epilepsy Foundation of Rochester-Syracuse-Binghamton; and Jill Fantauzzo-Orologio, Mommies for Miracles Inc.

Executive of the Year: given to an executive with a record of innovative leadership in delivering services with a measurable positive impact. The award will be given to Robert Pieters, Heritage Christian Services Inc.

Impact Award: presented to a program that has demonstrated measurable, positive results. The award will be given to Medical Motor Service of Rochester and Monroe County Inc.

Outstanding Corporate Volunteer Group: presented to a group of co-workers or affinity group members who have come together over the past year to make a difference in Greater Rochester through their collective volunteerism. The award will be give to DeJoy, Knauf & Blood LLP; Paetec Holding Corp.; and Danisco USA Inc.

Rising Star: given to staff members who have demonstrated a fast-track record of accomplishment and growth of responsibilities in delivering agency services. The award will be given to Jennifer Cathy, Hillside Children’s Center; Eric Soublet, the Center for Youth Services Inc.; and Christine Peck, Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc./Eldersource.

Student Standout: presented to college students who exhibit a strong commitment to the local community through volunteer human service activities and the promotion of volunteerism among peers. The award will be given to Jennifer Bush, Keuka College, and Rebecca Cogan, SUNY College at Geneseo.

A ceremony in recognition of the honorees will be held Oct. 22 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. Tickets are $50 per person or $500 per table of 10 and can be reserved at www.uwrochester.org.

Steven Modica
Steven Modica’s involvement with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society began well before his election as chairman of the society’s Upstate New York Chapter board in 2009.

When his wife, Lorrie, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, his involvement with the MS organization deepened, Modica said.

"(But) I had worked with the MS Society as a citizen for a long time before that," he said.

Modica has been a volunteer since 1990 and a member of the society’s board since 2005.

The New York City native is a lawyer whose firm, Modica & Associates, Attorneys PLLC, concentrates on general disability, Social Security disability and general employment law. The Spencerport resident has been in private practice since 1980.

"I felt I could do some good educating people about the Americans with Disabilities Act," Modica said.

As chairman, Modica immediately began enhancing the chapter’s reputation and has worked tirelessly to further the group’s aims, said Stephanie Mincer, president and CEO.

The chairmanship has been demanding but personally rewarding, Modica said.

The upstate chapter serves 50 of New York’s 62 counties. Modica undertook a major reorganization of the chapter and oversaw the search for and hiring of a new president and CEO.

"It’s taken a lot of my time and energy," Modica said. "But I’ve looked at my work with the MS Society not just as fulfilling a responsibility to give something back to the community but as a privilege. It’s been a labor of love."

-Will Astor

Thomas Rogers
Thomas Rogers, president and CEO ofAM&M Financial Services Inc. in Perin-ton, is a board member for several non-profits in the Rochester area.

He is president of the board for Flower City Habitat for Humanity Inc. He serves as chairman of the pension committee for the Rochester Hearing & Speech Center. He also is chairman of the community investment division as a board member of the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.

With all that, Rogers’ role as a board member for the Center for Youth Services Inc. holds a special place for him.

"The Center for Youth Services is near and dear to my heart because that’s where I started," he said of his civic involvement.

Rogers worked his way up to president on the Center for Youth Services board before stepping down from that position in 2005. He remains on the board.

"Tom has enhanced the agency mission and reputation through effective leadership, fundraising, strategic planning, community collaboration and problem solving," said Donna Pritchard, the agency’s director of development.

Rogers led interviews and discussions with community stakeholders, helped the Center for Youth become the lead agency for the Project Safe Place as an initiative to assure youth safety, helped develop an out-of-school suspension program for thousands of students in Rochester schools, and was instrumental in the agency’s purchase of its main office building on Monroe Avenue, Pritchard said.

He also increased the focus of the agency to include elementary school students from poor neighborhoods, and through the expansion of the agency’s transitional living program, he pushed to provide support to older youths who are homeless or too old for foster care, Pritchard said.

-Thomas Adams

David VanBlarcom
David VanBlarcom has a personal connection to East House Corp., a Rochester agency that provides residential services to adults recovering from mental illness.

VanBlarcom, vice president of operations for Kessler Restaurants, is chairman of East House. His son, Bryan, suffers from schizophrenia.

Bryan was hospitalized in 2001. He dropped out of high school and entered a group home at East House, taking classes at the agency’s learning center to earn his GED diploma, and later graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology. He now works at the University of Rochester.

"East House has been helping the Rochester community for some 40 years," VanBlarcom said. "More than any organization I have ever been involved with, it has steadfastly been true to its mission. I’m truly proud of East House and honored to be part of it."

VanBlarcom does not shy away from talking about Bryan or his diagnosis, said Anne McKenna, director of development and community relations at East House.

"In fact, David lives our mission of enabling individuals recovering from mental illness to live healthy and fulfilling lives, and, with his openness, helps to remove the social stigma that often goes with it," McKenna said.

Even though his job with Kessler Restaurants requires extensive time and travel as he oversees some 70 restaurants, VanBlarcom serves on most East House committees, volunteers for events whenever needed and gives meaningful speeches or introductions on behalf of the agency, sometimes with little advance notice, McKenna said.

"Dave is a non-profit president’s dream volunteer," East House president Gregory Soehner said. "He is 100 percent committed to our mission, gives his time and money to the organization, and is an excellent spokesperson for us as he speaks from the heart. I trust Dave fully and rely on his support and counsel."

-Thomas Adams

Eke Aiono
To influence underserved populations, such as at-risk youths, Eke Aiono thinks beyond the boundaries of his role as director of fitness, wellness and recreation for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester Inc.

At the JCC, Aiono is known for his ability to motivate people and manage teams to accomplish results.

It was in Japan that he cultivated that ability, playing professional rugby for nine years.

Born in Samoa, in the South Pacific, Aiono went to boarding school and college in New Zealand before starting his athletic career. He traveled the world while playing rugby and eventually wound up in the United States.

Here in Rochester, where he raised his two children, Aiono has applied his passion for fitness. He has led fitness events to raise funds for causes such as natural disaster relief and AIDS research.

At the JCC, he has cultivated partnerships with community organizations to promote wellness and recreation among young people.

The obesity epidemic and increasing risk of diabetes among children are two of the reasons he is so passionate about his job.

"I truly believe that education is the key to success in this community and this country. We need to present the underserved population with opportunities, support, understanding and exposure. We need to show these kids that there is a better life," Aiono said.

"We need to break that cycle. If there is no help from the outside, some of these kids will never graduate high school-college-the cycle continues," he added. "We have to give back to the community."

-Mary Stone

Eleanor Coleman
Eleanor Coleman’s latest project with young people for the Southwest Area Neighborhood Association Inc. is assembling rain barrels to water flowerpots along Jefferson Avenue and Genesee Street.

"Eleanor intends to expand this service by having the youth train and assist community residents in the creation of community gardens on the city’s vacant lots," said Patricia Jackson, the association’s executive director.

Coleman has been with the neighborhood association for 13 years, starting as its community asset manager and now working as director of youth and family services.

Her reward, Coleman said, is "the ability to impact youth and families using holistic and creative strategies, which is directly linked to working for SWAN. Our executive director strongly supports the premise that staff should be engaged in work for which they have a passion."

Coleman demonstrates leadership in her work with youths, schools, families, community volunteers, funders and other service providers and donors in creating the association’s community greenhouse and gardens, Jackson said.

"Taking youth seriously as citizens has always been a passion of hers, and seeking entrepreneur opportunities for our youth and their participation in community events and projects has remained a priority," she said.

Coleman turned a small community garden into a tool for teaching the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in diets, Jackson said. The greenhouse project is an entrepreneur program for youths, who plant vegetable and flower seeds in boxes and sell the products at the Westside Farmers Market.

"She is strong in advocacy and brokering skills and has exceptional problem-solving abilities," Jackson said of Coleman. "She is quick to establish trust and rapport with everyone she meets."

-Thomas Adams

Erica Dunton
Erica Dunton, now 24, was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy at 22. Three months after her first tonic-clonic seizure, which affects the entire body and often includes the loss of consciousness, Dunton became an advocate for others like herself.

First, she got involved with the Al Sigl Community of Agencies through its WalkAbout event, where she since has helped raise more than $1,700.

At one of the Al Sigl Center agencies, the Epilepsy Foundation of Rochester-Syracuse-Binghamton, Dunton has committed herself to making a difference in the lives of children with epilepsy through her volunteer work and a book she has published.

Born in Middlesex, Dunton lives in Canandaigua and teaches sixth grade at Palmyra-Macedon Middle School. She

volunteers summers as a counselor at Camp EAGR-a one-week summer camp for children ages 8 to17 with epilepsy.

Dunton experienced firsthand the difference that Camp EAGR makes. A few months after camp, she decided to write a children’s book, "Seven Days at Camp EAGR."

For her book, released in June, Dunton found an illustrator and publisher and secured more than $3,000 in grants to cover the printing costs, so the book could become a fundraiser for the camp. The book has raised $4,000 to $5,000.

When asked what inspired her to volunteer so soon after her diagnosis, Dunton said the decision had a lot to do with her career.

"I had just begun my first year teaching at Palmyra-Macedon Middle School when I was diagnosed; it was actually the second day of school that I received the diagnosis," Dunton remembered. "I am so passionate about my job and the teaching profession that I decided that I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way of having a successful career.

"I also have many goals for myself-one being to write a children’s book-and I knew that having epilepsy was not going to stop me in reaching my goals."

-Mary Stone

Jill Fantauzzo-Orologio
Before Jill Fantauzzo-Orologio gave birth to her second child in December 2001, the baby already had been diagnosed with a life-threatening congenital condition.

When the baby, a girl named Breanna, was born, she underwent major surgery. Nine years later, Breanna is thriving and happy.

The experience drove Fantauzzo-Orologio and her husband, Vincent, to take action and create the non-profit organization Mommies for Miracles Inc. in 2003.

"Feeling nothing other than blessed, grateful and eternally humbled by our experience, we felt an overwhelming urge to put smiles on the faces of children in need of special services due to medical, emotional or physical challenges," said Fantauzzo-Orologio, the agency’s executive director.

To do that, the Fairport-based organization holds fundraising events to benefit children being treated or served by specialized agencies and facilities. More than $100,000 has been raised and used to purchase "wish list" items that improve children’s comfort as they are cared for by these other non-profits.

Fantauzzo-Orologio credits her family, a group of volunteers and corporate sponsors for helping the agency grow.

The best part of her job is the satisfaction of knowing she has given joy and comfort to children who face day-to-day challenges in their young, and often fragile, lives.

"As long as we continue to get the support from our families, sponsors and caring friends in our community, we will be able to continue our efforts in this way and on behalf of us all share in a child’s hope for a happy, healthy tomorrow; perhaps even a miracle," Fantauzzo-Orologio said.

-Andrea Deckert

Robert Pieters 
As president and CEO of Heritage Christian Services Inc., Robert Pieters has seen the agency become large enough so that it serves more than 1,500 children and adults with developmental disabilities in its residences and programs.

An important part of that growth has been the agency’s entrepreneurial spirit and Pieters’ attitude of taking on any challenge that comes his way.

"I love it when they say we can’t do something," Pieters said. "We can overcome anything with the right team."

Last year the non-profit organization opened another residence for people with developmental disabilities, naming it after Pieters, one of the founders of Heritage Christian Services. The residence, located in Chili, serves 12 people.

The agency also opened the Pieters Family Life Center, a large facility in Henrietta for fitness, therapy and recreation programs, in 2007.

"The ability of the agency to take every opportunity to provide more and better services to people we serve, we take," Pieters said.

Heritage Christian Services also has been successful in forging relationships with other community and government groups, he added. Springdale Farm, an agricultural education facility open to the public that serves as a day program site for adults with developmental disabilities, is operated by Heritage Christian Services and owned by Monroe County.

More program growth is planned in the future, Pieters said, with new residences planned and a child care center at the Pieters Family Life Center opening this fall.

Pieters said the Greater Rochester Award reflects the work that all of the agency’s employees have done in helping it grow and give its clients the best service possible.

"I look at this as an honor to all our employees," Pieters said. "It’s because of the people who work here that all this was able to happen."

-Nate Dougherty

Medical Motor Service
Medical Motor Service of Rochester and Monroe County Inc. is the only non-profit agency in Monroe County to provide transportation services for residents who cannot drive or take public transit.

With a fleet of 123 vehicles, it gets 1,000 phone calls a day requesting transportation to more than 30 local organizations.

The agency dates back to a flu epidemic in 1919. Public health nurses organized a service, staffed by volunteer drivers, to transport doctors and nurses to flu victims.

Donations allowed the organization to stay afloat and in 1931 to incorporate as Medical Motor Service. Its role expanded to include serving hospitals, clinics and social service agencies.

The number of trips initially provided was small by today’s standards-780. Over time the agency’s role changed to focus on adults and children with challeng-ing transportation needs, and trip counts soared to 3,094 in 1939; 14,155 in 1959; and 457,207 in 1999.

Today the service makes 485,000 trips annually for 9,300 people, despite challenges such as rising fuel costs.

William McDonald, executive director of the 175-person organization, said his team used a combination of methods to overcome the challenge. Efforts included renegotiating contracts where possible to include a fuel surcharge or adjustment to help cover the expense and procuring a grant from the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation.

The organization also instituted new technology to schedule and dispatch vehicles, which improved efficiency and lowered costs.

"Once the prices abated, we were able to use the ‘savings’ to invest in new vehicles and for higher health care costs," McDonald said.

Frequently, the organization is cited for its best practices. But beyond its innovative and flexible ways of securing funding and managing resources, McDonald said he is proudest of the personalized services that Medical Motor provides.

"We try to put people-our passengers and customers-first, because we are not transporting packages. We are providing access services for mothers, fathers, grandparents and children," he said.

-Mary Stone

Danisco USA Inc.
Employees at Danisco USA Inc. not only work hard at their jobs but also know it is important to take time to celebrate successes and give back to the community.

"The culture that we have at Danisco is something special," said Leigh Dangler, human resources manager.

The Rochester-based company works with Cameron Community Ministries, a non-profit agency in the city’s Lyell-Otis neighborhood that provides hot lunches, clothing and youth programs.

Danisco has helped the organization in numerous ways, including collecting new bathing suits and towels to give to the 40 children who participate in a six-week summer program.

During the holidays, Danisco employees have donated toys, household items and food while participating in the adopt-a-family program. Employees also serve food, tutor children, sort clothes and provide financial support.

Danisco also has been a sponsor for one of Cameron’s major fundraising events, its annual golf tournament.

Dangler said it is important that companies support these types of efforts because it gives employees from the various departments a chance to work together and bring that positive energy back to the office.

"Encouraging employees to reach out and participate in the many community projects available not only produces goodwill between organizations but also distinguishes your company as one that acknowledges the importance of good citizenship in and out of the office," Dangler said.

Volunteering also gives employees another way to work in teams outside of the workplace and learn more about each other, said Timothy Emerson, quality assurance manager at Danisco.

"When co-workers start asking about the programs weeks or months in advance, you know the connections are made," Emerson said.

-Andrea Deckert

DeJoy, Knauf & Blood LLP
For a relatively small firm, DeJoy, Knauf & Blood LLP has an outsize commitment to public service.

Virtually all of the 50-employee firm’s accounting professionals and support staffers volunteer at one time or another, said Stephanie Blood, volunteer coordinator and sales and marketing associate.

Twenty-five workers at DeJoy, Knauf took part in the Society for the Protection and Care of Children’s Teddy Bear Project, buying gifts for children of needy families last year. Twenty turned out to raise money for the Al Sigl Community of Agencies in Al Sigl’s Walk About event. The firm also helped support the Rochester School for the Deaf, contributing to the school’s Forrester Hall renovation project and its Adventures in Education program.

In the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.’s most recent annual Day of Caring event, DeJoy, Knauf workers turned out at a Rochester school to put together book bags for children. Firm employees also coach children’s sports teams. DeJoy, Knauf partner Timothy Thaney volunteers time to coach not only for the local Catholic Youth Organization but for two parochial school teams as well.

In addition to fundraising activities, Blood said, several firm partners serve on non-profit boards.

A few examples: David DeJoy is finance chairman of the Highland Hospital board; Mark Blood is chairman of Visiting Nurse Service of Rochester and Monroe County Inc.; and Thaney serves on the United Way Service Corp. board.

Coordinating the firm’s volunteer activities is not hard, Blood said.

"You really don’t have to do much to get people motivated," she said. "They want to serve."

-Will Astor

Paetec Holding Corp.
Founded in the Rochester area, Paetec Holding Corp. has grown into a coast-to-coast company but continues to take local corporate citizenship seriously.

In 2008, local employees of the company, which employs nearly 4,000 people nationally and some 900 in this area, formed a Rochester Community Service Committee. Software quality engineer Randi Rhinehart has headed the committee since its start.

"I felt that we should limit the committee size to 12," Rhinehart said. "So many people wanted to serve that we actually have a waiting list. There’s a few people whose jobs keep them from putting the time on they would like, so we’re able to accommodate a few new members every year."

In addition to working for local non-profits and charities as volunteers and encouraging co-workers to do so, the committee organized an extra dress-down day, allowing workers who contribute to a specified charity or non-profit to wear jeans on one Thursday a month as well as on Paetec’s usual dress-down Fridays.

On the last dress-down day, Rhinehart said, workers collected $1,045 to fight cystic fibrosis. Organizations benefiting from past dress-down Thursdays include Camp Good Days and Special Times. Amounts raised typically run from $600 to $1,000.

In other drives, Paetec workers have raised money for Habitat for Humanity, donated to a Haiti earthquake relief fund and donated supplies to an inner-city Rochester elementary school.

Paetec also encourages its employees to volunteer, allowing workers to donate four hours a month of their work time to a non-profit of their choice, Rhinehart said.

"I have a daughter with special needs, and I feel that I want to volunteer to give back some of what we’ve received," Rhinehart said. "Paetec is great in really encouraging that."

-Will Astor

Jennifer Cathy
The job she does connecting foster children with permanent families can be taxing, but Jennifer Cathy said the emotional return for the work she accomplishes is well worth the effort.

As association regional service leader for Hillside Children’s Center, Cathy said, her job is a step removed from direct work with these children and families, but she still carries a strong connection with them.

"It is challenging emotionally; you feel responsible for what happens," Cathy said. "But is also really rewarding."

Hillside Children’s Center has been involved in foster care services for more than 75 years and today serves 480 families across a 20-county area in therapeutic foster care, short-term care and family-based treatment. The agency also offers guidance and support for adoption services.

Cathy oversees budgeting and programming quality for community-based and foster care programs.

"I’m really proud of the work Hillside does every day," Cathy said. "The award feels good, but what feels better is that Hillside in its mission believes in kids, helps bring families together and finds success for them."

She credits much of her own success to the team she works with and the supervisors she has had at Hillside.

"I’ve been really fortunate that every supervisor I’ve had in the last 12 years really challenged me and held true to their beliefs and ethical values, creating a foundation for me to grow," she said. "This has been an experience I’m really grateful for, and I would never think of leaving here because we do what I think is right every day."

-Nate Dougherty

Christine Peck
Caring for the elderly can be a difficult and confusing process, Christine Peck says. Her job is to make it a little easier.

As clinical supervisor for Eldersource-a legal joint venture of the Catholic Family Center and Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc. that provides information, guidance and care management for older adults and their caregivers-she coordinates the organization’s efforts among all case managers.

Peck, who has been with the organization for eight years, only recently has taken on the supervisor role and said she enjoys being able to work directly with clients while also working on larger-scale efforts.

"What’s been fulfilling is not only can I still have access to working with clients, but also have the ability to impact policy and procedure to give the best care to cli-ents," Peck said. "Now that I can do both, it’s really rewarding."

Peck participated in developing a geriatric wellness screening that helps identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and any ways in which that person might need assistance. It also tests mental competence, determining whether the client might suffer from depression or anxiety.

The screening is available online, allowing care managers to use it with clients immediately, Peck said. Those who are identified through the screening can be referred to an in-home counseling program managed by Peck.

"Eldersource is a fantastic program because it’s the one stop for anyone with questions about elder-care issues," she says. "I’m really proud to be part of a program that is so needed in the community."

-Nate Dougherty

Eric Soublet
When Eric Soublet was looking for work, he came across a position he had never before heard of, but the description held a certain appeal for him.

The job was street outreach counselor with the Center for Youth Services. Landing the job could be a long shot, Soublet thought, given his bachelor’s degree in film and zero experience in human services.

"I actually remember reading it over and over again in disbelief," Soublet said. "I really wanted the job, and I applied even though I was almost certain that I didn’t have a chance."

Soublet did land the job in 2009.

"I guess I have been doing an OK job so far," he said.

Those who know Soublet have said his job performance has been more than OK. His ability to engage young people on the street, while also connecting them to resources and activities, helped him rise to lead street outreach counselor this year.

In his new role, Soublet continues to provide case management for homeless youths and to visit youths in correctional facilities to give them connections and support upon release. His new duties include coordinating employee schedules and overseeing program implementation.

During his first few months with the agency, Soublet worked with young people and local filmmakers to produce a commercial for the Center for Youth Services. He continues his work in this area by working on other youth-driven projects, including the WXXI Public Broadcasting Council’s documentary "Raising 100,000 Voices."

A challenge of the job is battling abject poverty, contending with forces and systems that are not easily navigated, he said. What he most enjoys is that no two days on the job are alike.

"I work with young people in the streets, so naturally my job is going to be very spontaneous and honest, and I love that about it."

-Andrea Deckert

Jennifer Bush
The importance of serving the community was instilled in Keuka College senior Jennifer Bush at an early age by parents who believed in giving back.

"As I got older I realized that giving back was one way that I could make a true difference in someone’s day or life, even if I do not see the end result," Bush said. "We all need to do our part to give back to the community. Without community service, how can we make the place we live in a better place to live?"

Bush, from Endwell in the Southern Tier, has spent her time at Keuka College volunteering in numerous ways. She has worked as a community service advocate in the college’s Community Service Resource Center, part of the Center for Experiential Learning. She has volunteered with the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross and the Humane Society, among other organizations.

Bush said volunteering makes her a better person.

"There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you helped someone out and made a difference," she added.

Bush’s motivation is twofold: the power in the words "thank you" and aspiring to be the best she can be.

"I am always working on making myself the best me every day, even if it’s something small such as taking the time to ask how someone’s day has been, or something bigger like working at a soup kitchen," she explained. "No matter how big or little a task is, you took someone else into consideration, you put someone’s needs above your own."

Bush encourages others to volunteer and give back to the community.

"Time is precious, but as a community, as Americans, we need to begin to look at how we can help make a difference, even if it is giving up two hours a week to visit the elderly or clean up parks," she said. "We need to pull together. We need to move away from asking what is in it for me, and asking what can I do to help."

-Velvet Spicer

Rebecca Cogan
As an intern with the Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County Inc., Rebecca Cogan found motivation in the people she worked with.

"One of the best aspects of volunteering at VLSP was the tremendous amount of client interaction," said Cogan, who graduated from SUNY College at Geneseo in May. "Talking with clients one-on-one made me realize that there are so many innocent and well-intentioned people that have been treated poorly and, because they lack financial means, have very limited resources at their disposal to assist them in navigating our incredibly complex legal system."

In addition to her work for the project, Cogan has worked in her college’s Amnesty International chapter, as well as various projects for the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Foundation. Cogan, from Ontario, Wayne County, also participated in volunteer activities for the KidStart preschool and Fairport Baptist Homes Caring Ministries.

"I think it’s crucial that people find time to help those in need," Cogan said. "It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all the negativity and challenges that we face in today’s world, but volunteerism reminds us of the goodness in people and restores my hope for a brighter future."

Choosing to get involved in community service can mean working outside one’s comfort zone, but the benefits are worth it, Cogan said. Volunteer activities do not have to be monumental to make an impact, she adds.

"Just a small act of kindness can have enormous implications," she explained. "Not only will you learn about the challenges that fellow Rochesterians face, but volunteering will also open your eyes to your own strengths and weaknesses and inspire personal growth."

-Velvet Spicer

10/15/10 (c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

 

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