On Giving Tuesday, Community Members Tell us What Matters in CNY

Five Online Contest Winners Announced; All Entries Displayed Online

November 29, 2016 – In 2011, Rita Kimak was a member of St. Joseph’s Church in Camillus when the congregation was shaken with the news that their beloved pastor, Fr. Gregg LeStrange, had terminal cancer. It was a shock; he was only 55 years old and had always been so full of life and energy.

When he wasn’t leading the congregation’s church services, Fr. Gregg was known to spend a good deal of his time serving meals at the Samaritan Center in downtown Syracuse. As a truly compassionate man, he was known for genuinely listening to the concerns and experiences of each person he served.

After he passed away, Kimak joined her fellow parishoners to volunteer at the Samaritan Center in honor of Fr. Gregg. She knew it would be hard work but was surprised by how rewarding and moving it was to serve a hot meal to crowds of hungry people from the community.

“I saw in person what Fr. Gregg had seen – the importance of sharing a meal and of spreading hope,” said Kimak.

Kimak’s story is one of five named as winners of the What Matters to You? Contest hosted by the Central New York Community Foundation. The winning entries scored highest among the nearly 40 received from community members vying for the opportunity to direct a $500 grant to the nonprofit of their choice.

Today the Central New York Community Foundation released the names of the winners and displayed all entries it received on its website. The contest was conducted in celebration of Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving designed to celebrate and provide incentives to give.

Entrants to the contest were encouraged to take a photo, write a story or produce a video that explains why their chosen cause in Central New York matters to them. A panel of independent judges scored the entries based on the contest criteria: use of creativity, storytelling effectiveness and likeliness to inspire others.

The five winners are:

Carrie Large

Designated Charity: ACR Health
“There are  true heroes living amongst us who continue to  save lives and create opportunity for those suffering from addiction.”
View Entry

Ellen Spencer
Designated Charity: Samaritan Center
“The Samaritan Center fed my soul and has influenced where I am today. They spread light in a sometimes dark world.”
View Entry
Kirsta Malone
Designated Charity: Healing H’Arts
“I have so many hopes and dreams for this nonprofit but my mission will remain the same. The world needs a little more love and Healing H’Arts Equestrians are up for the challenge.”
View Entry

Jim Emmons
Designated Charity: CNY Arts
“For a small, economically suffering city, Syracuse offers a wealth of cultural opportunities, and I feel strongly about speaking up for their value.”
View Entry

Rita Kimak
Designated Charity: Samaritan Center
“I would like to carry on the legacy of Fr. Gregg by contributing to a charity so close to his heart. For if I may once again coin his phrase: ‘It is all good.'”
View Entry

All 39 of the contest entries can be viewed on the Community Foundation’s website at cnycf.org/whatmatters.

“The moving stories that were shared by our community confirm that our nonprofit community helps those who give just as much as those who receive,” said Jennifer Owens, Community Foundation vice president for development and marketing. “Encouraging conversation and raising awareness about what matters will help our community to organize resources around the protection of those good things. Thinking long-term about how to save what is precious to us is important if our community is going to thrive.”

The Community Foundation conducted the What Matters to You? Contest to encourage community members to consider how the region would benefit if we could ensure that key resources like local nonprofit organizations will continue to thrive and support future generations. It was designed as an extension of the Community Foundation’s 5forCNY public awareness campaign. Stemming from a transfer of wealth study, the organization is asking community members to consider ensuring the causes that matter to them are secured for generations by including support for local charity in their estate plans. More information can be found at http://www.5forCNY.org.

The contest’s panel of judges included Sean Kirst, writer & author; Ashley Kang, editor, The Southside Stand; Kathe Harrington, founder, Humans of Syracuse; Julie Dudrick, Project Director, Upstate Institute, Colgate University; and George Kilpatrick, President & CEO, Kilpatrick Media.

Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of permanent charitable endowments for the betterment of the region.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of nearly $193 million. It awarded $11 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, it has invested nearly $150 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of more than 700 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen local nonprofits and address the region’s most pressing challenges.

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