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The ACS Wig Room

January 31, 2018

Attending the ribbon cutting on Friday, January 19th, pictured left to right: Stan Kocyba, First Source FCU Facilities Manager; Mike Parsons, First Source FCU Chief Executive Officer; Pamela Way, First Source FCU Community Relations Specialist; Ciara Parrish, American Cancer Society Coordinator of Community Support; Melanie Francis, Community Development Manager; Robert Elinskas, American Cancer Society Senior Community Manager.

Creating a Welcoming Space

As part of our community outreach and giving, we look to make a direct local impact. Recently we helped renovate a room at our local American Cancer Society. The Cancer Society has an area for those who have begun cancer treatment and are losing their hair, to try on wigs. We were pleased to be able to donate funds and volunteer our time and labor to give this room the attention it needed.

“The ‘wig room’, was in great need of a facelift,” said Ciara Parrish, Coordinator of Community Support for the American Cancer Society. “It’s really tough when reality sets in and you start losing your hair, and the area we had for wigs was not very inviting. This is a time that compassion and comfort is really needed. We are grateful to First Source Federal Credit Union for helping us make this a much warmer and inviting area.”

“Many are not aware of all of our services at the Cancer Society,” Parrish continued. “When patients come in for a wig appointment, we are able to give them one wig free of charge. This can not only be a big savings, it can also make the patient feel a little more like themselves again. Patients can call 1-800-227-2345 to schedule an appointment.”

“We’ve been involved with the American Cancer Society for many years,” said Pamela Way, First Source Community Relations Specialist. “We’ve had teams participate in their Relay for Life and Breast Cancer Walk fundraisers, but we wanted to change things up a bit, and really put our money and time into helping them right here at home, at the source. This renovation directly helps our community member diagnosed with cancer, at one of their most vulnerable times.”

Way added, “We’re fortunate to have a fantastic Facilities Manager at First Source who loves helping out on these kinds of projects. He has a great eye for renovations. We were really happy to be able to help them.”

Giving Smarter

Want to know more about how First Source gives back to our community? 


Helping Stevens-Swan Humane Society

October 20, 2017

First Source FCU staff members present a check to Stevens-Swan Humane Society employees.

Community Service 

We have donated more than $5,000 this year to the Stevens-Swan Humane Society (SSHS), through credit union employee and Member fundraising, and corporate sponsorship of the SSHS annual telethon. Along with many generous Members, our employees have donated physical items, such as pet food and blankets, volunteered for the Society’s annual telethon, and participated in the Wiggle-Waggle Walk-a-thon.

First Source has long supported the Stevens-Swan Humane Society and their many services. In addition to sheltering animals in need, they spay/neuter animals, nurse them back to health when needed, and help with pet adoption and burial services.

“We’ve been very involved with the Humane Society for well over a decade,” said Lynn Riley, First Source Member Care Center Manager. “Our staff really gets into fundraising and being a part of the costume contest for the Wiggle Waggle Walk-a-thon. We’re proud to help animals in need, and raise awareness for the shelter.”

Blanche, a dog at Stevens-Swan Humane Society, is shown with her new canine wheelchair.“The support we receive from the community and individuals is what sustains us,” said Nicole Curley, Shelter Services Coordinator for Stevens-Swan Humane Society. “We are not a government funded organization, so businesses like First Source are very important to us and the animals. On top of what they had already done this year, Lynn Riley from First Source was our top fundraiser, so she received a gift card as a thank you. She chose to donate that card back to us, and we were able to help offset costs for a much-needed dog wheelchair for our girl Blanche.”

Blanche is a great example of the many services SSHS provides that community members rarely hear about. She recently came to the shelter with a slipped disk in her back. She had very little feeling in her back legs, but was not in any pain. With no pain and her good spirits, she was a great candidate for a wheelchair. “We are happy to report that Blanche took well to her wheelchair,” added Curley, “and is ready for her forever home.”

Please consider supporting this organization’s efforts to provide comfort, care, and homes for area animals. 

Photo 1: First Source FCU staff members present a check to Stevens-Swan Humane Society.
Photo 2: Humane Society resident Blanche with her new wheelchair.


Posted in: animals, community, pets, service, SSHS

JD’s Story: Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!)

May 8, 2017

First Source had the pleasure of once again participating on the panel of judges for MVCC’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Investors Presentations.

It was the first time that JD Arrante, a Financial Services Rep at First Source, participated. He enjoyed his experience very much.

JD Shares his story:

It was great to see so many young entrepreneurs speak with passion about business ideas that they had. It was also great that we as a panel were able to help some of these young people start their dreams of business ownership.

The winner of the competition moved on to represent our area in a regional competition, while another competitor was given a scholarship to MVCC. This was one of the largest groups that the program has ever had, and we are hoping for even more participation in next year’s group.

I became involved this year when one of our long-time judges was unable to participate, and I filled their slot. What an awesome experience! I hope to be asked to come back for future competitions.

The team chosen to move on to the regional competition named their presentation, “Blended Feast”. Their idea was to have a bicycle with a blender attached to the back of it. The blender was powered by peddling the bike in place. Everyone in this group is a member of the Utica Community Garden, and that is where they came up with the idea. They’d like to take their bicycle blender to events for interactive activities, e.g. people, called “spinners”, can power their own smoothies. They believe it would be great for Farmer’s Markets and similar events.

Blended Feast is a social-enterprise, youth-established business with the mission to return 100% of profits back into their urban garden program, to continue the cycle of empowering future “spinners”. Blended Feast wants to change the story of food “apartheids”, to enhance nutritional, physical, and mental health in an organic way: gardening. The Blended Feast “spin team” builds awareness while providing a unique, locally sourced product.

Though I am not currently involved in any other community initiatives, I am a proud alumnus of MVCC, and I am very pleased with all that the college does in our community—at both the collegiate level as well as with local middle and high schools—to promote the value of education. 

My favorite part of the whole experience in giving back as a panelist was being able to give a prospective student a scholarship to the college. It really felt great!


Discover the Mohawk Valley Home Show

March 16, 2017

Live Smarter with New Services and Seminars

First Source is proud to support the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Mohawk Valley in their initiatives year-round. They educate, train, and network, and bring together builders, contractors, interior designers, realtors, home owners, and others to learn and discuss all things home building in the Mohawk Valley. We are a financial resource for consumer and business loans, and are pleased to work with the Home Builders Association.

One of the organization’s major annual events is the Mohawk Valley Home Show. We sponsor this wonderful event, a showcase for area trends, products, services, resources, and demonstrations.

As part of our sponsorship this year, we are bringing other local organizations to the home show on April 1st and 2nd! We have sponsored the Utica Zoo, Red Cross, Williams Variety Shop, and Willson’s Nursery. We’re excited to share their unique offerings to homeowners. 

We will be at the show as well, and offering a variety of home loan options to finance whatever need you may have. If you’re in the buying stage, we can review the different types of mortgages we offer. If you’re in the renovating stage, we can talk about our remodeling loan options. Whatever your need, ask us for help!

We’ll be hosting financial seminars at the Show; on Saturday at 11:30am and 2:30pm, and on Sunday at 11:00am. You’ll learn about home financing options, and which fits your needs best. And just for fun, we’ll once again have Bill Pope at our booth to draw caricatures. He’ll be there Sunday from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Financial Seminar Topics:


  • Conventional Mortgage
    This type of mortgage allows you to finance up to 95% of your purchase price (or appraised value). It sometimes has a shorter processing time, and same-day qualification if you are “credit qualified”. Flexible rates and terms are available. 
  • FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Mortgage
    An FHA Loan is perfect for first-time home buyers, shoppers who need a low down payment, or those with less than perfect credit. This type of loan allows the seller to contribute up to 6% toward closing costs and prepaid items. Flexible rates and terms are available. 
  • VA Mortgage
    This type of mortgage is available to Veterans and their surviving spouses, and is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The mortgage company works directly with the VA, since each loan is unique to a veteran’s individual situation. A VA Loan allows for 100% financing of the purchase price or appraised value, for owner-occupied properties with one to two units. The applicant must be an eligible veteran. Similar to the FHA Loan, the seller can contribute up to 6% toward closing costs and prepaid items. Flexible rates and terms are available.
  • Home Possible Mortgage
    Through our partnership with Homeowners Advantage, we offer this unique program. Home Possible allows low and moderate income borrowers to finance a home with low down payments, and flexible sources of funds. Members must qualify by income and other factors. 

Housing Project/Home Improvement Options

Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit
Are you a homeowner?
Chances are you’ve built up some equity, which you can use to borrow against. Home Equity options are best used for financing larger initiatives, like major home improvements, weddings, tuition, or even debt consolidation. A loan versus a line of credit depends on when you need to access the money, and the purpose of the funds.

A Home Equity loan offers a one-time distribution of funds. Repayment of principle and interest begins immediately, and continues over a period of time selected by you. We offer a variety of terms to fit different needs.

A Home Equity Line Of Credit is a revolving line of credit with a maximum loan amount determined by the equity of your home. These funds can be available over a period of time. You can use them as you need. Interest-only monthly payments are required during the draw period. Additional principle payments are also accepted any time you wish to pay the line down.

Home Improvement Loan
This is a great alternative to our Home Equity loan options, when there is little or no equity available in your home. This program can also be an ideal solution for home improvement projects. Rather than end up with a retailer’s high interest credit card or payment plans, we offer a low, fixed-rate Home Improvement loan option. These funds must be used for items or services that are home improvement in nature. 

Home Energy Loan
If your home improvement or renovation is energy-efficient in nature, check out our Home Energy Loan. Often there are grants and tax rebates associated with these types of projects from the retailer as well.

Come to the show, explore all the area has to offer, and stop by our booth to learn more. See you there!


Tammy Finds Time for WERC

February 28, 2017

Tammy Cieslak, a First Source Financial Service Representative, finds it tremendously rewarding to make life easier for others. While at home, she and her spouse are ardent rescuers of cats and dogs. In her professional life, she has made it her mission to make life easier for working women.

Tammy has been a financial advisor for 13 years, and has been on the board of the Women’s Employment & Resource Center (WERC) since 2013. Through that work, she has become involved in one of their biggest fundraisers: Wine for WERC, an annual wine-tasting event that raises funds for the organization’s programs. 

I was involved initially as a business banker in a previous job, because I wanted to be involved in the community,” Tammy says. “As a professional woman, I chose this group to help other women in the area.”

In addition to being a board member, Tammy actually went through their job preparedness assistance program when she was between jobs and needed to update her résumé. She has been gainfully employed with First Source ever since, so she is a living success story for the organization.

What is WERC?

WERC is a non-profit organization geared toward helping women achieve their employment goals. They offer skilled training in Microsoft products, public speaking, interviewing, helping with self-esteem and confidence, and empowering women to get into—or back into—the workforce. WERC helps women become “job-ready”. Since WERC is also partialy funded by the state, many women are eligible for free services if they meet certain guidelines. Anyone who does not qualify can still use their services on a fee basis. All of WERC’s programs are tailored to an individual’s needs; they also offer a full 4-week program that encompasses all of the skills they teach.

Wine for WERC raises funds by securing sponsorships, selling tickets, and through raffles during the event. In addition to Tammy’s participation, First Source Federal Credit Union is a White Wine Sponsor at this year’s event, and is donating a Utica Comets VIP Experience raffle prize.

“I just love participating in WERC,” Tammy adds. “I have learned lot. It’s empowering and exciting to watch our success stories. She enjoys seeing women who go through the program gain confidence, learn to do the work on their own, and become gainfully employed. “It’s so important to give back whenever and wherever I can.”


Wine for WERC 2017 will be on Thursday, March 2, 2017 from 5:30–7:30pm at Aqua Vino Restaurant, 16 Harbor Lock Road East, in Utica. The event features a wine tasting and pairing with heavy hors d’oeuvres, with wine experts on hand to discuss the pairings. The evening includes raffle prizes, and a mystery grand prize. Susan Nackley Mojave will be the event emcee. All proceeds stay in the Mohawk Valley and benefit the free programs and “WERCshops” at the Women’s Employment & Resource Center. 





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