Eight local organizations and individuals will be saluted Nov. 6 for their commitment and dedication to giving back. Marking National Philanthropy Day, the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals will recognize these individuals, companies and other organizations for their philanthropic efforts in the Rochester community.
National Philanthropy Day honors the spirit of generosity, placing the spotlight on people and organizations driven to contribute to various causes.
AFP’s local chapter will present its 2015 Philanthropy Award in eight categories at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center during a luncheon event.
Here is a look at this year’s winners:
Outstanding Youth Volunteer Fundraiser—Individual
Kyle Stein decided to make volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester for the weekend before Christmas 2011 part of his bar mitzvah.
After volunteering to assemble gift boxes for the families at the Ronald McDonald House and taking a tour of the Golisano Children’s Hospital, he decided to go on a fundraising journey to support both organizations. Stein set a fundraising goal of $20,000 for the Ronald McDonald House and an additional $5,000 for Golisano Children’s Hospital over the next two years.
“Kyle was particular about it. He wanted to understand a lot about not only what would be available and kinds of things he could do, but he was particular in wanting to do something that would help other children,” says Carol DeMoulin, president of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester. “He learned about organizations he could help and the impact they have in the community. He chose Ronald McDonald House.”
In his first year, Stein raised $10,000. While teenagers usually get help from their parents, Stein did this on his own. Through car washes, neighborhood carnivals, fundraising Web pages and asking family and friends to donate, Stein exceeded his fundraising goal.
“That particular year he learned a lot about us, he learned a lot about what we do for our families,” DeMoulin says. “He also decided, as part of his project, that he wanted to become a volunteer. When he was in town to meet family and friends, he would come to the Ronald McDonald House. He helped with cleaning. He kind of lived it.”
In addition to fundraising and knowing that providing financial resources was important, he also understood that his volunteer efforts would help the
RMHC be a place where families would feel comfortable.
“He took us or we found our way into his heart,” DeMoulin says. “This is his third year. He has committed to staying connected with us. He comes regularly, a couple of times a year, to volunteer. He has continued to raise $10,000 for the Rochester Ronald McDonald House.”
Although this success was remarkable, and his original goals were met, Stein extended his commitment to support RMHC as a platinum-level sponsor of the Red Tie Gala, pledging $10,000. To date, Stein has raised nearly $50,000 in support of Ronald McDonald House.
“He grew up with us; I mean he was 12 going on 13,” DeMoulin says. “He’s now a young man, and he has a gentle and genuine nature. He has a big heart and a wonderful sense of humor.”
She adds: “He is a philanthropist, and he has all the makings of continuing to be a great philanthropist as he gets older.”
Outstanding Youth Volunteer Fundraiser—Group
McQuaid Jesuit High School crew team
In an effort that raised more than $35,000 this year, the McQuaid Jesuit High School crew team rowed 40 to 50 miles daily for eight days to help people fighting cancer in the Rochester community. Their trip took them down the entire length of the Erie Canal.
The McQuaid crew team has been doing the Row for Hope event to benefit the American Cancer Society for the last three years, and this year the team reached a benchmark fundraising total of $100,000.
“It’s been unbelievable,” says Michael Crisona, senior market manager with the American Cancer Society. “It’s gone such a long way to support our local services, especially our Hope Lodge in Rochester, and then this year it benefited our Relay for Life program.
“We really tell everybody that every single dollar from the local community helps us push our mission forward. The fact that they’re raising over $30,000 a year for us, the impact is hard to measure because it’s so great.”
About three years ago the team reached out to the Cancer Society at its Rochester office with an idea to support the organization’s local efforts. From there it has grown, with rowers passing it down from team to team each year.
“It really started with them,” Crisona says. “It was their idea, it was their concept, and we’re just so thankful that they chose to have our organization be the one that they support. They’ve done a phenomenal job of passing the legacy down from team to team, and we hope that it continues forever.”
Money raised by the team goes to the Hope Lodge Hospitality House, where the rowers connected with those fighting cancer and their loved ones and shared a meal with one survivor who challenged them to “row strong, for all of us who can’t.”
Many of the students and families who are part of the Row for Hope team are connected to cancer and to losses from cancer at a very personal level.
“I think that connection that they have to the cause is really what drives them,” Crisona says.
Row for Hope has had a major influence on the team, says Brendon Evans, McQuaid’s head rowing coach.
“It has touched so many people and we’ve had so much support over the past three years that we can’t even begin to thank everyone enough for everything they’ve done,” he says.
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser
The nature of giving comes easily to Carlos Carballada, who was raised in a culture of hospitality and caring for those around him.
His father emigrated from Spain and his mother from Peru—both came on their own as teenagers to the United States.
“They were always giving back, probably giving back more to their children than their children deserved and always trying to help people who had need,” Carballada says. “My mother often took people into the house to stay with us for a few months while they were making a transition from overseas or South America into the United States. She was always doing little things for other people. I guess that’s part of what she gave us.”
Like many being honored this National Philanthropy Day, Carballada believes fundraising success comes from motivating others through action.
“If you’re blessed, as many of us are, you I think have a responsibility and obligation to give back to your community and help where it’s needed, where you hopefully have something that you can give them,” he says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be fundraising. It might be a skill that you have. It might be your ability to help them market their organization. It might be introducing the organization that you’re working with to others. There’s a whole variety of ways that you can be a contributor.”
“All you have to do is show what the organization does,” Carballada adds. “All of a sudden, you have a lot of volunteers. They have a sufficient number of volunteers, people who are continually trying to help them fulfill their mission.”
Carballada was chairman of Lifespan of Greater Rochester’s fundraising campaign back in 2000, raising $3.4 million—$500,000 over goal. Since becoming chair for Lifespan’s latest campaign, “Fulfilling the Promise,” Carballada has been closely involved in the process by participating in the feasibility study and environmental scan, advising on the fund-raising plan, assembling a cabinet of notable Rochestarians, soliciting major gifts from local banks and even making his own personal financial commitment to the campaign.
“He’s a friend of Lifespan, but also he is a true gentleman,” says Mary Rose McBride, vice president of marketing and communications at Lifespan. “He’s known throughout the community which credentialed the first campaign and this second one also. He’s really a pillar of the community and a wealth of wisdom.”
Robert A. Clinger Outstanding Fundraising Professional
Steven Smith officially began his fund-raising career in 1986 at the University of Rochester Medical Center and has been an active, motivated fundraiser ever since. But his passion for service goes even farther back.
“I’ve been involved in working for not-for-profits doing service work since I was a Cub Scout. It’s part of my life story,” Smith says. “In college I worked with Service Fraternity, and one of the things they did very well is they organize blood mobiles. When I got out of college looking for a job, the person who had been doing coordination for blood mobiles in that district moved up in the organization, and she called me and said, ‘You want a job?’ Hell yeah, I’ll take a job. It was doing something that I liked to do.”
When Smith saw the opportunity to work with St. Ann’s Community come up, he quickly realized it was a place that had a strong commitment to philanthropy, wanted to succeed, and had the resources to work at developing a program.
“For me, all of those assets plus the opportunity to work with seniors, to affect change and improving better care for seniors, it was a very attractive opportunity,” Smith says. “I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to join St. Ann’s team.”
As vice president and chief development officer for the last 12 years, Smith has been the driving force behind raising more than $26.8 million for St. Ann’s facilities project, including a $17.6 million New York State Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law grant.
“Working in philanthropy is a real blessing,” he says. “If you’ve got the ability to do it and do it well, you have great moments where you have people who love what you do and want to invest, and you can help them achieve that heartfelt dream that they have.
“Some folks look at fundraising and they think we’re in the negative sense, twisting arms or talking people into doing things,” Smith adds. “The truth is, the best of fundraising, the most successful of fundraising, is about igniting other people’s passion for the work you do and allowing them to fulfill their dreams by giving. We are just stewards of a process that starts with the donors and becomes investments in the organization. We just help that process along.”
As the number of people over the age of 65 continues to grow, St. Ann’s and places like it play increasingly important roles in serving the community. For Smith, being a fundraiser also means helping others into the profession and encouraging them to give back.
Constellation Brands Inc.
Constellation Brands has a 70-year-old tradition of giving back in the communities where employees live and work, focusing on health, art and education.
“One of the causes that’s most important to our employees is fighting hunger,” says Sarah Axelrod, director of community relations at Constellation Brands, which is marking its 70th anniversary. “That’s why we really formalized the global effort on fighting hunger in the communities where we live and work.”
Last year, the company named the fourth week in October “Nourishing Neighbors” week.
“We allowed our employees to donate their time, so employees across the globe are allowed to donate their time to give back at food pantries, Meals on Wheels, to help organizations that help fight hunger,” Axelrod says.
Employees already were getting together informally to bring in food or volunteer at food pantries, so the company decided to formalize a program to fight hunger. Staff also are asked to donate their time and have partnered with Blessings in a Backpack, which helps feed students.
For $100, the organization will give a backpack filled with items to a child, who will then have food to eat over the weekend. Constellation Brands has identified 700 needy children in schools where it has offices and has pledged food and a $70,000 donation during Nourishing Neighbors week. Employees and the company will donate dollars toward feeding kids with Blessings in a Backpack as well.
“Of course, probably the most traditional way is that we ask our employees to bring in products, and we’ve identified about five items that the food pantries are always in need of,” Axelrod says.
Tom Kane, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Constellation Brands, is a board member at Foodlink Inc. and has provided his experience and expertise in guiding Foodlink’s business department and human resources team. Kane has donated his time to help implement leadership training for all Foodlink managers.
Multiple Constellation Brands locations and departments hosted food drives during the Nourishing Neighbors initiative. This resulted in hundreds of pounds of food items for the food bank. Over the course of the last decade Constellation Brands has also provided in-kind donations of wine and other products for raffles and fundraising events.
Foodlink is one of many eligible charities that benefit from Constellation Brands’ Employee Match Program. Through this initiative, employee contributions are matched dollar for dollar. Since the program’s inception in 2011, Constellation has donated $1.5 million to charities worldwide. In addition, Constellation Brands has sponsored Foodlink events like the Festival of Food and the Forks and Skis charity ski event.
“… We really are committed as a company to rally our employees and work together to give back,” Axelrod says. “It’s not merely just writing a check and walking away. It’s really the Constellation way to get involved.”
B. Thomas Golisano Foundation
This year the Golisano Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary and $250 million donated by the foundation and founder Thomas Golisano’s personal giving. Of that, $19.5 million in grants has been given to non-profits in Rochester and surrounding areas that serve people with developmental disabilities.
The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the nation that is exclusively devoted to supporting programs for people with developmental disabilities. It provides funding, guidance and assistance to many local groups. For example, in the last year, in addition to funding, the foundation helped ABVI bring the 2015 World Series of Beep Baseball to Rochester and assisted in finding a coach for the Rochester team.
“Not only have they been financially supportive, but Ann Costello has been a great resource and a real advocate for our clients,” says Whitney Brice, director of development at Hochstein School of Music. “Helping us to serve them better, helping us to grow the program, helping us to understand the trends in the fields of developmental disabilities.”
Ann Costello, who has been the director of the Golisano Foundation since 1999, spreads her experience across multiple organizations in Rochester supported by the foundation.
“She’s introduced us to leaders in the office for people with developmental disabilities, which is a state office, and helped us to think about new niches of clientele,” Brice says. “When we do ask them for input or advice or information, they’re always available and so accessible for sure and responsive to the specific thing that we’re looking for.
“Ann, in particular, does put a lot of thought into our questions. You can tell she really wants to make it better for the clients that she’s serving through those donations.”
The Golisano Foundation led the cause in supporting the Humane Society at Lollypop Farm’s first capital campaign and in the construction of its new building. The foundation’s support has helped Lollypop expand their Pet Assisted Therapy program, which serves about 9,000 people a year.
Costello guides the Golisano Foundation as an advocate and participant in the advancement of Special Olympics and its global initiative to expand health services to people with disabilities. Under her leadership the foundation has supported many organizations and causes throughout the region, from Mary Cariola Children’s Center to Camp Abilities at SUNY College at Brockport to Foodlink and CP Rochester.
“I was impressed with her knowledge, her compassion and her efforts on behalf of special needs individuals,” says Virginia Molino, a volunteer consultant for Hochstein Express Community Classes. “Ann has a gentle heart and is not only a funder but also a strong advocate.”
Jurij and Marie Kushner
Jurij Kushner first got involved with the YMCA in the 1980s while working at Bausch & Lomb Inc. He and his wife, Marie, have been at the forefront of YMCA philanthropy through continued giving and support, including the YMCA of Greater Rochester Inc.’s largest-ever gift, which will endow the YMCA’s urban mission for the future.
“We’ve left a large endowment, and obviously we’d like to think that that’s going to continue to support the urban mission of the Y for many, many years after we’re gone,” Kushner says. “We just know that there’s a crying need in the inner city, and the Y has done a great job.”
Kushner believes in the YMCA’s mission and has firsthand knowledge of the organization’s work.
“I’ve had a kind of an inside look at this organization,” he says. “It’s very well-managed. You can see the good that it does. They look for results. They’re not looking just for programs, but they’re looking for programs that work. They’re looking to have high impact on real community needs.”
From third grade through high school, Kushner lived in the middle of the inner city and wishes he had gotten involved with the YMCA then.
“I could have probably used a lot of the services that they provide, and just didn’t realize that the YMCA existed, at least that it existed for someone like me back then at my age, and so forth,” Kushner says. “But it does, and that’s the beauty of the Y.”
Four years ago, when the YMCA expanded its focus on healthy living, Kushner suggested community gardens, starting with two at the Bay View and Maplewood YMCAs. Now there are five gardens.“It’s just become such a popular pro-gram within the Y. They’ve branched out to a lot more things than even we imag-ined they could,” Kushner says. “There are garden parties. There are sister city tours through the gardens. We’ve encouraged some competition among the gardens, not just for the yield and the beauty of the garden, but in terms of the involvement of members.”
At the Taste of the YMCA Gardens event this past year, people brought in food samples using produce from the gardens, which have yielded hundreds of pounds of fresh produce during the last couple of years. The event has renovated its approach to encouraging healthy living in the community.
“It’s just become a big, big event, with a lot of people involved throughout the year,” Kushner says. “So, we’ve been paid back tenfold from the money we put in to build these gardens.”
In addition to major gifts, Kushner serves on the YMCA honorary board and is a trustee for the national YMCA retirement fund. Marie Kushner works part time as a group exercise instructor.
Kushner encourages people to be proactive in their giving.
“Don’t wait until you die for the will to say you’re going to leave something for some organization. Let them know,” he says. “As a result, you can script how you want that money to be used. It’s just such a wonderful feeling to know that some of your own wishes in conjunction (with the organization’s) can be worked out, and you go forward feeling very good that maybe you’ve accomplished just a little bit of something.”
Over the span of decades, the Flaum family has made its mark across the Rochester landscape—all the while demonstrating a strong drive to give back to the community and spread that desire to others.
“I just think it’s really important to help those that need the help and the hand up,” says David Flaum, CEO of Flaum Management Co. Inc. “Nothing is better than having someone receive and then utilizing (that) so they become someone. I give a lot of scholarship money through Syracuse University, and I get these beautiful letters from scholarship recipients.”
The Whitman’s School of Management at Syracuse University honors the Flaum family with the Eileen and David Flaum Grant Hall due to the family’s help getting the building started and funded, in addition to the scholarship money.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t receive a telephone call or an email,” Flaum says.
The Flaums initially got involved with Foodlink by donating a building for its relocation, which is now Foodlink’s current headquarters at 1999 Mt. Read Blvd. That relationship has grown ever since.
“Foodlink is a wonderful organization that feeds the hungry, and it’s a very necessary organization,” Flaum says. “It does great work, and I got involved with Foodlink by donating a building to them, and it grew from there. When I donate buildings I name them, but when I deal with organizations that deal with people, I do it very anonymously, so that’s my philosophy. I like to as sort of my legacy, and my future.”
Flaum’s children have continued their father’s tradition of giving themselves, donating hefty amounts of their own time and money to the organization. Asher Flaum, president of Flaum Management, helped to found the Forks and Skis charity ski event, an event that has grown in attendance and revenue every year since its inception, with a fundraising total so far of more than $65,000, making it the organization’s largest third-party fundraising effort.
Loren Flaum, vice president of finance at Flaum Management, is an active board and finance committee member at Foodlink and has donated his expertise to help guide the organization through various strategic decisions.
“We started them off very early, and we included them and made them aware,” says Flaum of his children. “They give their own money and their own time and energy. I think it’s within our family lineage. That’s why I said it’s part of our legacy and our future.”
It is a legacy that has already transferred to his grandchildren. Grandson Ryder Flaum asked guests and friends at his 7th birthday to make donations to Foodlink in lieu of receiving gifts and raised nearly $900. His younger brother Austin intends to do the same for his next birthday.
“My wife Eileen and I are thrilled with that,” says Flaum of his grandsons. “I really encourage it, but truthfully they want to do it. I don’t have to really motivate them; they just want to do it. It’s part of who they are, it’s part of what they’ve seen growing up.”
Flaum says he likes to inspire giving by example.
“When I name buildings, I like to put our name because I want them to be a model for other folks to give, to motivate them to give,” he says.
Lisa Maria Rickman is a Rochester-area freelance writer.
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