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LMV Graduation: Final Lessons

June 21, 2016

Brenda R.My official Leadership Mohawk Valley (LMV) experience has come to an end, but the skills learned, and connections made, are just beginning. I am grateful to have had this opportunity, and would highly recommend it to others.

On our LMV Graduation Day, we presented our projects. For me, this was what LMV was really about: creating a tangible idea—with a solid plan—that truly helped a community organization. I felt like my team and I did something good and productive, helping to fulfill a community need.

I was very pleased with our outcome. Our presentation was vibrant, colorful, a good mix of different people speaking, photos, and video. It was informative, engaging, and best of all, we were able to hand off what we’d done directly to the Children’s Museum. They can now use our presentation to ask for funding to put the plan in motion. That is an amazing feeling.

Preparing for our presentation was nerve-racking, but still a good overall experience. Even with all of our up-front preparation and our dry run-through to establish flow and smooth out transitions, we still had some technical kinks we were working out right down to the wire. I have given presentations before, but I didn’t have to coordinate with a larger team, and it was on material that I was very familiar with. I’ve only used Word and PowerPoint for presentations, but for this project, we included video and custom artwork. In general, it was a much bigger undertaking than any I have participated in before.

As I reflect on graduation, I recall that I had a clear objective when I started LMV. I wanted to find a cause or purpose in the community that I could identify with and become invested in. I wanted to be able to follow through with that cause or purpose, staying connected with it after LMV was complete. I am proud that these were not empty words, and that I have followed this commitment through.

The Utica Children’s Museum is pleased with the presentation and plans, and is currently using our proposal to apply for grants. I have already volunteered once to set up their new Nano exhibit, and intend to continue. My family is planning to help as well. The Utica Children’s Museum would like our team to present to their Board of Directors and Community Donors. So my team will still see each other, and my connection to the Children’s museum continues. Success all around!

Choosing to participate in LMV is like choosing to write a senior thesis in college. It’s a choice to knowingly take on an extra commitment and extra work, but it yields deeper knowledge, and a feeling of accomplishment and pride upon completion. I have benefited both personally and professionally from the experience, and it has helped better prepare me for the various challenges ahead!

Warm regards,
Brenda Rogowski

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My Relay for Life: Not Just a Fundraiser

June 9, 2016

Heather Padula and familyI am a busy mother of four. My husband and I both work full-time jobs, as well as volunteer and participate in the community. We include our children as well, so they can see the importance of contributing to our community.

I have had many family members and friends affected by many different forms of cancer from a very young age. I have lost my grandfather, my father-in-law, my daughter’s grandmother, a friend in middle school, a high school friend, and another high school friend’s husband to various forms of cancer. I also have had my other grandfather, an uncle, an aunt, and a high school friend’s infant daughter affected by cancer (they are survivors!), as well as many other friends’ and co-workers’ family members affected. I’m sure that if you’re reading this, you have in some way been touched by cancer through a family member, friend, or acquaintance.

I have been participating in Utica’s Relay for Life since it was held at JFK Middle School—around their track/football field—many years ago. I would participate with my family, in honor of our family members and friends. I still do this today with my own children, for many more family members and friends that we have lost, or are fighting the battle.

So, what does Relay for Life mean to me and my family, and to so many others? Relay for Life means hope. It means people coming together to fight for a cure, to someday make the world cancer-free, for our children and their children.

I participate with our Relay for Life team at First Source, and help with fundraising throughout our branches beforehand, as well as on the day of the event. My children participate and volunteer, walking and fundraising at the event. We also participate in the Luminaria Ceremony every year, which is a very moving ceremony where candles are lit and placed in paper bag lanterns on which a name, wish, or message can be written. They commemorate those who have passed from cancer, give hope and support to those currently suffering from cancer, and celebrate survivors. I highly recommend attending it if you haven’t yet, as it is definitely something to experience (First Source sells Luminary Bags at every branch).

Why help? I think it’s unfortunate that everyone seems to know someone affected by a form of cancer, and it’s important for us to stick together to help fight, and find a cure. Every little bit helps us move closer to finding cures, as well as helping those in need right now, from providing information to answer their questions, to making sure they have a ride to treatments, and so much more. You are making a difference.

– Heather Padula, Branch Operations Supervisor

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4 Financial Tips for Traveling Internationally

June 9, 2016

Family in Europe
Travelling this summer? Stay safe, have fun, and prevent financial surprises with these financial tips.

1. If you’re planning to travel abroad to a destination where you’ll need to exchange currency, make sure to do that before you go. It’s almost always more expensive to exchange at the airport or visitors’ center. Check your local financial institution. At First Source you can exchange right online using the most current exchange rates. It’s simple, secure, and one less thing you need to worry about. First Source partners with Travelex, the world’s largest retail foreign exchange specialist, offering a wide range of currency, and a number of convenient delivery methods. Plus, if you order before 4:00 p.m. EST, you can get next day delivery! Choose from cash or a prepaid cash passport Mastercard®, which you can reload at any time.

2. Let your credit and debit card holders know when you’re planning to travel, so they don’t block your card (thinking it may have been stolen). A quick call to let them know your destination(s) and dates will help make sure your funds are available when and where you need them.

3. Some credit cards charge an additional foreign transaction fee when using them abroad. If you plan to use a credit card in another country, make sure to bring one that doesn’t charge this added fee.

4. Planning to dine out? Make sure you know the region’s tipping policy. In some countries, tipping is not customary. If you’re tipping within the U.S. but outside our local area, remember to do the math rather than just double the tax. Other cities and counties may have lower tax rates, so simply doubling the tax could short your server.

Plan ahead, and have a great trip!

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