CNYCF Staff Member ‘Steps Up’ for a Good Cause

Do you ever wonder if there is something more that you should be doing, aside from the daily hustle and bustle of everyday life? The idea is there, but there’s trepidation or fear, and you can’t quite put your finger on it?

That’s exactly how Geri Corradino, finance associate at the Central New York Community Foundation, was feeling. She knew deep down there was something more she should be doing to serve her community, but she didn’t know exactly what it was. It wasn’t until she met Kate Waltman, former David J. Moynihan accounting fellow at the Community Foundation and founder of the Step Up Moment, that the light bulb went off.

After months of listening to Waltman talk about volunteering and the positive impacts that it provides, Corradino decided to take Waltman up on the offer to stop by the Rescue Mission’s chapel on Syracuse’s West Side for an evening of sweat, fun and camaraderie. It was a day last February Corradino would never forget.

“I walked in there and everybody was just so full of love, and everyone was so happy to see one another,” Corradino said.

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Step Up Moment aims to bring healthy lifestyles to one of the nation’s poorest communities through exercise. The program forges lasting relationships between participants, program team leaders and volunteers. Many who participate are looking for an outlet from their everyday stressors or a springboard to tell the program team the feats of their day. Everyone from all walks of life is welcomed as they venture through the doors of the Rescue Mission to kick their endorphins into high gear and let loose for an hour. Laughter and conversation between gasps of air are carried throughout the chapel. Corradino is often seen weaving in and out of the group offering encouragement while Waltman is heard hyping the crowd to finish that last rep strong.

With Step Up Moment still in its infancy, both Corradino and Waltman thought it was fitting to set their sights on a different challenge. They planned a fundraising event to addresses local homelessness and bridges the gap between two communities of Syracuse – those who are homeless and those who want to help. Thus, the annual Step Up Stories was born on January 26th.

“I feel like this [event] was a great way to make that bridge and get the two — our split community — into one,” Corradino said. “It’s hard to touch homelessness unless you see it firsthand.”

The Central New York Philanthropy Center ballroom served as the setting for a family-style dinner, where good eats and company were top priorities and laughter was a mainstay. Waltman, the host of the event, addressed the crowd and very poignantly pointed out the poverty problem that plagues Syracuse. Step Up ambassadors – the original crew that have been with Waltman since its inception – spoke of their harrowing stories that spanned from mental health to drugs and gangs. img_7763

Corradino is quick to point out that there are several parallels between the Community Foundation and Step Up Moment, especially when it comes to piecing together invaluable information and applying it to their daily planning.

“I’m lucky enough to work here because the people here see these things like Step Up and they believe in it,” Corradino said. “They know that helping the community is what we need to do.”

Corradino’s path with Step Up Moment would have never come to fruition without the resources and friendships fostered here at the Community Foundation. Advice and feedback from staff has been instrumental in the growth of the organization.

“[Step-Up Moment] changed my life completely,” Corradino said. “It’s so rewarding that I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wouldn’t trade anybody that I know through that program for anything – any amount of money. They’re so valuable to me. I realize now how much I needed them in my life to really shape me as a human being.”

To learn more about the Step Up Moment, visit http://www.familyfirstfitnessfoundation.org.

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