Community Support in the New Year

January 4, 2024

Categories: community, In the Community

Laurie Baker

By Laurie Baker, President and CEO

As we enter the New Year, I have started to outline The Summit’s major 2023 accomplishments in preparation for our spring Annual Meeting. Reflecting upon the past year, I am reminded how much The Summit gives back to our local communities and the possibilities 2024 holds. Three key questions come to mind: First, how do we keep the momentum of “People Helping People” going both in our organization and in communities we serve? Second, what did we learn from a community engagement and philanthropic perspective in 2023 that will inform this coming year? Third, did we accomplish what we set out to do at the beginning of 2023?

Philanthropy is truly cultural at all levels of The Summit organization. We support over 140 organizations and events annually throughout our footprint from Buffalo to Central New York, including Syracuse, Cortland and Seneca Falls, and Rochester. Beyond corporate support, many of our staff represent The Summit at various events during the year, personally volunteer at organizations close to their hearts, and raise money for these organizations. I have been honored to serve on the Boards of the Mary Cariola Center and the Geneseo Foundation. Mary Cariola has been transforming the lives of people with disabilities and their families for 75 years and in addition to my work on the board, The Summit has been an annual sponsor of their programs. The First Gen program that The Summit is supporting through the Geneseo Foundation enhances the already robust initiative which makes the college experience inclusive and meaningful for first generation college students. Members of our leadership team and staff serve on Boards and committees of area nonprofit organizations as well. The Summit is proud of these philanthropic practices. We strongly encourage them and certainly plan to extend these efforts into the new year.

Rochester, where our credit union was founded, is a city steeped in philanthropy. Today, there are many generous philanthropists in our city. I often wonder what more we might do to impart the spirit of community giving into the next generation. The Summit incorporates “sharing” into our financial literacy and education sessions and as part of the “save, spend, share” philosophy in our youth programs. I also greatly appreciate that many of our younger staff members are excited about getting more involved in our community engagement activities.

What did we learn from the past year that we plan to carry into the next? One of the philosophies we will continue to put into practice is that our monetary giving should regularly incorporate a volunteer/engagement component. For example, we have long-standing relationships with Villa of Hope in Rochester and Big Brothers Big Sisters in all three of our markets. Our support of these two organizations is multifaceted. I have personally served on the Board of Villa of Hope and several of our staff members sit on committees for that organization. Additionally, we support them throughout the year at their annual gala and by partnering with them for their Holiday Wishes campaign. With Big Brothers Big Sisters, we have made a multi-year financial commitment, and we support them during the year including our School Supply Drive, holiday toy drive, ticket donations, and volunteering when they need support. It’s great to be able to donate money, but it’s made all the more meaningful by getting to know the people that we are supporting.

From a philanthropic standpoint, we accomplished what we established as major objectives for 2023. However, there is always more to be done. With the spirit of giving back in mind, I encourage us to think about how we can all become multipliers for good in 2024.

I wish you all the best for a prosperous 2024.