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November 2018





The Philanthropy Edition

November 2018





LETTER FROM THE EDITOR.......................................................6 CONTRIBUTORS............................................................................7


PAST EVENTS.................................................................................9 FASHION Fashion Forward: Giving Back............................................. 10


SPECIAL FEATURE National Family Caregivers Month..................................... 14 WISE WISE Woman: Bryony Grealish........................................... 18 FOOD Syracuse Eats: Nestico's Too............................................... 19 EAUTY B Erica Abdo............................................................................. 24.


ON THE COVER Ocesa Keaton............................................................................ 27

SYRACUSE READS Susan B. Sloane......................................................................... 32


IN HER OWN WORDS Jennifer Shorr........................................................................ 32 FOR A GOOD CAUSE HOPE for Bereaved.............................................................. 34



INSPIRE Sheena Solomon................................................................... 38 Meg George.......................................................................... 42 Deborah Hundley................................................................. 46 UPCOMING EVENTS................................................................. 52 MOVERS AND SHAKERS......................................................... 54






The Philanthropy Edition

November 2018



LETTER from the Editor

F all has always been a time of rebirth and reinvention for me. Maybe it stems from my birthday being last month.

I started my journalism career in Watertown with NNY Magazines in fall 2014. A year later, I took the helm here at Syracuse Woman Magazine. I’ve had the honor of serving as managing editor for three years and working with the very best team. I’ve shared stories of inspiring women and leaders in our community. Through the magazine, I’ve discovered a passion for giving back to the community that raised me and welcomed me as a journalist. I’ve gotten to know my city on a deeper level and connected with the nonprofit sector through volunteer work and board involvement. Eventually, I realized that life was guiding me toward work in that community on more than a part-time basis. As some readers might know, this is my last issue as managing editor. As you read these words, I will be jumping into a new chapter of my life, starting my career in the nonprofit sector as marketing and development coordinator at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology. While I’m thrilled to be working with another team of people to make a positive impact on my community, this is a very bittersweet moment. Being managing editor has connected me with so many extraordinary people, many of whom I’m proud to call my friends. On an individual level, being a part of Syracuse Woman Magazine helped me grow as a person. I’m happy to announce that fellow Eagle Newspapers editor Sarah Hall will be the next managing editor of Syracuse Woman Magazine. I’ve known Sarah my entire time with the magazine and know she will continue the excellent work past editors Farah Jadran and Alyssa LaFaro started. Thank you to everyone who’s supported me and the magazine in these past few years! You all mean the world to me.


ON OUR COVER Ocesa Keaton was photographed by Alice G. Patterson of Alice G. Patterson Photography at Alice’s studio in Baldwinsville. Special thanks for Jillain Salomone, owner of J.Luxe Salon, for Ocesa’s makeup styling and April Williams, owner of A Perfect 10 Natural Hair Salon, for Ocesa’s hair styling.



OUR TEAM Publisher David Tyler


Lorna Oppedisano


Andrea Reeves

PhotographERS Sheena Christ Dennis Fernando Ana Gil-Taylor

Susie Ippolito Steven J. Pallone Alice G. Patterson Paul Carmen Viggiano

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Nichole A. Cavallaro Susie Ippolito Jamie Jenson Lorna Oppedisano

Advertising sales

Linda Jabbour Renée Moonan 315.657.0849 315.657.7690


Unlike any other publication in the Syracuse area, our feature articles address major topics that interest local women. Each issue includes articles on health, fashion, fitness, finance, home matters, dining, lifestyle and personal perspectives, as well as a spotlight on local Syracuse women. Ads are due on the 15th of the month prior to publication. The print magazines will be distributed locally in over 350 locations and will be in your inbox electronically by the middle of every month.

The publication is available free of charge.


315.434.8889 | 2501 James Street, Suite 100, Syracuse, NY 13206

The magazine is published 12 times a year by Community Media Group, LLC and Eagle Publications, 2501 James St., Suite 100, Syracuse, NY 13206

Copyright © 2018 Community Media Group, LLC. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or republished without the consent of the publishers. Syracuse Woman Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts, photos or artwork. All such submissions become the property of Community Media Group, LLC and will not be returned.

The Philanthropy Edition

CONTRIBUTORS This month, we asked, “What's your favorite way to give back to the CNY community?”

Nichole A. Cavallaro

Freelance writer Find her work on page 10 What’s my favorite way to give back? I donate to local charities in the form of money, clothing, food and mental health counseling services (pro-bono when able). Connect with me: Instagram @eneverythingnice

Susie Ippolito

Freelance writer and photographer Find her work on page 24 What’s my favorite way to give back? I volunteer with Father Champlain’s Guardian Angel Society. I also make every effort to be a positive presence in the Syracuse community. Connect with me:

Jamie Jenson

Freelance writer Find her work on pages 43 What’s my favorite way to give back? Aside from volunteering, I like to buy as much as I can from small businesses. Connect with me: Twitter or Instagram @jamieljenson

Steven J. Pallone

Freelance photographer Find his work on page 19 What’s my favorite way to give back? Pretty much all of my work is in support of the community, ranging from agency jobs of commercial photography for area businesses, to documenting graduations for grade schoolers and covering competitions with regional H.S. athletes, to shooting Syracuse Eats in this magazine in support of local restaurants. Making a small, positive impact for all these people and places is super rewarding. Connect with me:

Alice G. Patterson

Freelance photographer Find her work on the cover, as well as pages 27 and 34 What’s my favorite way to give back? The best way I give back is by gifting a portrait or pet session to a few organizations’ silent auctions and fundraising events each year. Connect with me: or on Instagram @alicegpatterson

Paul Carmen Viggiano

Freelance photographer Find his work on pages 38 and 46 What’s my favorite way to give back? I love to educate students on my past career experiences as an art director/ stylist! Their eyes pop out whenever I tell them my behind-the-scene stories of being on sets with famous actors! Connect with me: or 917-697-5855

November 2018





The Philanthropy Edition






5 1-3) The Syracuse Fashion Week team held its annual Syracuse Style fashion show on Thursday, Sept. 13, on the 100 block of Walton Street in Downtown Syracuse’s Armory Square. The show featured Downtown Syracuse apparel boutiques, jewelry, eyewear and more. Photography by Dennis Fernando. 4) Women Business Opportunity Connections hosted its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Genesee Grande Hotel. Members Dianne Rizzo and


6 Lisa Baker presented the evening’s program, “Rethinking Networking.” Photography courtesy WBOC. 5-7) Hope for Heather hosted the 10th annual Teal Ribbon Run on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Lewis Park in Minoa. This year’s event was in memory of Mary Gosek. Photography courtesy Hope for Heather.

November 2018




Thrift Store Styling By Nichole A. Cavallaro


hilanthropy is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.” The desire to promote the welfare of others — in one word, “kindness.” In college, I belonged to a large sorority that was created based on service and philanthropy. I recall fundraising many weekends in a row on campus, collecting change and putting it toward a particular charity or cause. We’d also travel out of town to volunteer at events, offering our support and time to those in need. We’d often pull all-nighters and find lodging where we could to make it there and back to campus before a chapter meeting on Sunday and the inevitability of classes Monday morning. Fast forward to now – my philanthropic efforts aren’t as adventurous and tumultuous as they once were, but I do many things to achieve those same efforts. Clothes that either don’t fit or no longer serve their purpose for me are bagged up, ready to drop off at Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Of course, I don’t just donate anything that isn’t up to par. I’m mindful of what I donate, as I was once in a position where going to a thrift store was something I needed. I actually liked thrifting because of my ongoing love affair with different styles. Whether it’s looking for vintage glassware or a stylish coat, I’ve developed an eye for dated pieces and updated ones, as well. Here are some tips for putting together a look found at a thrift store: 1. Look at the tags! You can tell a vintage label from a current one. It’s usually in cursive — you know, the handwriting no one really uses anymore. 2. Look at buttons, zippers, stitching and patterns. Be mindful of loose threads and faded colors. 3. Consider going to a thrift store if you’re going on a vacation to somewhere warm. Again, a few pieces that aren’t brand new aren’t going to kill you. I recently went to the Caribbean. Although the thought of spending money on summer outfits was exciting and enticing, I chose to use that money



The Philanthropy Edition

toward the vacation. Yes, I bought a couple budget-friendly items to wear to dinners, but a few summer dresses from Goodwill weren’t only perfect, but also perfectly priced. I scoured the jewelry section and bought a Kate Spade white enamel bangle for a dollar. My logic is: I’m a mom who needs to be comfortable and functional. 4. Be mindful of work pieces. I tend to stay away from polyester blends from a thrift store. But if you find a basic blazer that fits and is the right price, go for it. That brings me to my next tip…. 5. CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN. Steam clean it, take it a dry cleaner, hand wash it or machine wash it. Always clean it before wearing it. 6. Ask yourself: Is this something you could easily buy new for around the

same price? For example, I see a lot of tops from Target, Express, Old Navy and other brands. 7. Shoes can be tricky. Try them on, of course, but try to find some that aren’t too worn out and damaged. 8. Another shop with discounted prices is Plato’s Closet. I’ve brought things there to sell and have seen designer pieces for work, school, college and casual settings. Although this store is geared towards a younger crowd (about ages 18 to 25), there are still some nice pieces in there as well as mint-condition shoes. 9. If you donate, consider what you give away. Would you wear it? Your intention is kind but make sure you’re not giving away garbage. Most places won’t even except shabby clothes, footwear or broken dishes.

There are consignment shops for children, too. Those are gold mines for parents because although clothes can be pricey, children grow quickly. Most of the time, you can find clothing and tons of toys that are practically new, some with the tags still on. I’ve found awesome (and new!) pajamas, toys and tops for my daughter. The price I paid for those items was amazing compared to what I’d spend elsewhere. You don’t have to wear the best and most expensive labels to feel great. Being happy with who you are and what you wear is a mindset. Being kind is the best label. After all, kindness never goes out of style. SWM

Nichole A. Cavallaro is a Syracuse-based lifestyle blogger. Read more of her work at

November 2018





The Philanthropy Edition

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November 2018



SPECIAL FEATURE National Family Caregivers Month

The Families of David’s Refuge


Photography provided by David’s Refuge

t isn’t possible to talk about self-care for family caregivers without talking about respite. More than any other service, respite or a break is what family caregivers want most. — Suzanne Mintz, National Family Caregivers Association president and cofounder. In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, we talked with two families involved with David’s Refuge, a local nonprofit organization that provides care for the caregiver. They shared stories with us about their children, how David’s Refuge helped them and how they’re paying it forward.

Judie Murphy SWM: Tell us a bit about your family.

Judie: We are an athletic, active, busy family. When we’re not going to a sporting event of our own, we watch as many SUNY Cortland football or basketball games as we can. We have a large extended family, both locally and all around the country, that we spend a great deal of time with. SWM: How does raising a child with special needs impact your family?

Judie: More than just the impact on any given day, it’s impacted the way we think, act and treat others. I’ve always been kind, patient and understanding of individuals who were a little different, but living in Thomas’s world for the past 10 years has increased those characteristics exponentially. In addition, my husband and I make a concerted effort to tend to our daughters’ needs as much as possible. Both of our girls have become incredible advocates, not only for their brother but for so many other students and individuals with special needs.

SWM: When and how did you connect with David’s Refuge?

Judie: We heard about David’s Refuge when Thomas about 3 or 4 years old and still a patient of Dr. Dosa at Upstate Medical. We sat on the idea and application because it seemed to good to be true. We couldn’t comprehend that someone/some organization/some people would simply want to care for us. When we finally did apply and set up our first weekend, I only told Tom we were going away for the weekend together as a surprise.


Judie and Tom Murphy and their children.

What we learned that weekend — and every other time since — is there are people who genuinely care about others and simply want to help us help ourselves be better parents, caregivers, etc. SWM: Last year, you became a host couple for David’s Refuge, donating a few weekends per year to help other couples on their journey with the organization. What prompted you to make that decision?

Judie: We were asked. To be honest, I didn’t think our schedule or finances would allow it. But the funny thing about giving back is it truly benefits the giver as much as the receiver. We love our weekends as hosts almost as much as our weekends as a couple. We weren’t in a position to give financially, so this is a way for us to pay it forward. The connection we make with other families is really something you just can’t describe — you have to feel it. SWM: In recognition of National Family Caregiver Month, do you have any advice for other caregivers?

Judie: Take care of yourself. It’s OK to get a massage or pedicure, read a silly novel instead of another article about your child’s condition or be tired, burned out and angry at the disability. Find someone for each of your


needs. Create a community around yourself. Being a special needs parent can be very isolating, even when you’re surrounded by other people. SWM: Anything else you’d like to add about National Family Caregiver Month or David’s Refuge?

Judie: If you’re on the fence about going on a weekend… just do it! You’ll be glad you did. Take the risk and take care of yourself. I am a caregiver for my 83-year-old mother with Alzheimer’s and my 10-year-old son with special needs. I often have feelings of guilt and of not being good enough. But then I remember: I AM enough and I’m doing the best I can. Thank you David’s Refuge for always reminding me of that!

Julie Gridley SWM: Tell us a bit about your family.

Julie: I am a single mom of one courageous and infectiously joyful girl. My daughter does not walk or talk, but that doesn’t stop her from fully expressing herself and getting into all kinds of mischief! She is a social butterfly and full of compassion and concern about the people in her world. We’ve recently moved

The Philanthropy Edition

Photography provided by David’s Refuge Julie Gridley and her daughter.

Grandma into our home. My daughter is enjoying this new texture in our lives.

home. I have had the pleasure of several respite weekends and other David’s Refuge events.

SWM: How did raising a child with special needs impact you?

SWM: How has the organization impacted you?

Julie: Raising my special needs child has given me opportunities to grow in ways I could have never imagined. It brought out my inner tiger, for sure! I’ve learned to use my voice, advocate and even fight for what’s necessary and right. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my child is no matter what’s happening, you can figure out how to be happy. Born with severe orthopedic deformities, she doesn’t walk, but she climbs stairs, she swims, she plays in the snow. She does what other kids do. It doesn’t matter that she does things her own way and it isn’t always pretty. She does what she wants, and she enjoys her life! I’ve struggled in my life with a fair amount of anxiety and a feeling that I don’t quite fit the mold of the world, but she has taught me that’s OK. Just be happy and live your life. SWM: How did you connect with David’s Refuge?

Julie: I connected with David’s Refuge through my child’s preschool program during the first year they were in operation. My first respite weekend was in Warren and Brenda Phol’s

Julie: My involvement with my David’s Refuge friends is hard to describe. Everyone desires to connect with others who relate to them and their unique life experiences. While I’m blessed with an abundance of wonderful, supportive people in my life, nowhere else do I feel so at home than with my David’s Refuge community. These are my people! SWM: Talk about the newly-created single mom weekends you helped David’s Refuge create.

Julie: Attending respite weekend as a single parent was never less than amazing, but there were some awkward moments for both myself and the couples attending. While I’m comfortable enjoying outings without a partner accompanying me, certainly some things are better enjoyed with others. David’s Refuge would provide me with the same generosity given to couples and I was left unable to really utilize it all. Also, there remained a big piece of the puzzle we couldn’t share: the difference

between raising a special needs child as a couple and doing that as a single parent. The creation of a single parent weekend provided an even greater depth of understanding and common ground. SWM: In recognition of National Family Caregiver Month, do you have any advice for other single mothers?

Julie: All special needs parents need support and help. Single parents have no one to pass the baton to on a regular basis. That can be overwhelming at times. Asking for help is necessary. It’s not weakness or lack of ability. No one can pour from an empty vessel. Even though it can be uncomfortable to ask for help, my advice for other single or coupled parents of special needs children is to do it anyway. Fill your tank. Don’t let the business of the day — the caregiving, the appointments, the therapies, etc. — let you lose yourself. SWM For more information on David’s Refuge, visit Interviews were edited for length and clarity.

November 2018





The Philanthropy Edition

Infinite Light Center for Yoga and Wellness Holiday Shops Sunday November 11th 10 am to 4 pm Many Local Vendors! FREE Admission

6499 E. Seneca Tpke, Jamesville November 2018



WISE WOMAN Byrony Grealish


Owner, The Fingerless Kitchen


ccording to Winston Churchill, “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Bryony (Brie) Grealish has walked that path with a winning smile and a belief that every day is the next step toward total life and entrepreneurial success. Brie’s entrepreneurial dreams have centered in her favorite place in the home — Her Kitchen. This Kitchen is a special one — its brand is “fingerless”, and physically, so is Brie. When she refers to her intense interest in food and its presentation, she is not limited to BEING in the kitchen, she’s talking about WORKING in the kitchen. However, when cutting round vegetables, how does she hold them to keep them from rolling away? When lifting heavy dishes hot out of the oven, how does she grip the pan? And, when grating artisan parmigiana cheese blocks, how does she safely hold the grater and the cheese without slipping? On the social media platform Instagram, Brie cooks and displays everything from biscotti to jams (from her own grapes!) to fondantdecorated cakes to complete cheese trays of imported selections. Each of her creations rival those of any

professional chef or baker, visually or in taste. For that matter, Brie is asking well-known chefs to meet her “Chef’s Challenge”. Those with full capacity in the kitchen may find it a challenge to cook against her with their fingers taped with duct tape to match her hands and of course, recorded for social media sharing to “The Fingerless Kitchen” followers! What this all adds up to is grit. Brie has it and is determined to take her business and the brand of “The Fingerless Kitchen” to its next level. When she first arrived at the WISE Women’s Business Center, she had a dream of developing a catering company but after WISE Business Counseling and meeting so many other women in entrepreneurship, her dreams have expanded, catching the attention of the Food Network and nationally known mentors. Through WISE, Brie has gained the confidence to be herself while feeling supported by so many other women entrepreneurs with their own unique challenges. With the counselors at WISE WBC, she has her goals and a business plan in development and her pathway paved with no stops ahead.

wise words of wisdom... “Remember, if you think you are all thumbs in the kitchen, I’m proof you never really needed them.”

PHOTO courtesy of Ana Gill-Taylor


—Byrony Grealish

Check out for a complete list of upcoming events!

WISE “Business Title TBD” mini course 6-week book club

Social Media Roundtable (bring your laptop!)

November 1, 8, 15, 29, 12:00 -1:30PM

November 7, 12:00- 1:30PM

The Building Blocks for Starting a Business November 13, 12:00 – 1:30PM

Women as Career Changers Roundtable Discussion November 14, 12:00-1:30PM

All events, unless otherwise indicated, are held at the Wise Women’s Business Center, AXA TOWERS // 100 Madison Street // Syracuse, NY 13202 (315) 443-8634 // // // FIND US ON: POWERED BY

A program of the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Small Business Administration. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least 2 weeks in advance. Call (315) 443-8634.

WiseSWM.OCT2018_ copy.indd 1 18 SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM

9/28/18 4:11 PM

The Philanthropy Edition

Every person is equally important to me. I always just want them to feel really valued.” — Marty Richardson, Nestico’s Too owner

Photography by Steven J. Pallone

Syracuse Eats Nestico's Too

Nestico’s Too owner Marty Richardson stands in the restaurant’s dining room.

The Secret to Restaurant Success? Be a Know-It-All By Lorna Oppedisano


n almost any given day, Marty Richardson can be found at Nestico’s Too, doing just about any job — and doing it well. Though Marty has owned Nestico’s Too since 2007, not many of the customers initially realized she was running the establishment. In fact, people are still often surprised to learn the owner herself works there nearly every day. “I would say the most important thing I learned very early on was to learn how to do every position in the restaurant,” she said. Marty’s worked in the restaurant industry most of her life, from the time she got her first job at the A&W in Cicero when she was 14. In 1998, she was hired as a server at Waffle Works in the building Nestico’s Too now occupies. She served for half a year before beginning a series of promotions, until she was eventually running the establishment.

As she became more familiar with the restaurant industry, she learned every position. That versatility is one of the most important pieces of advice she’d pass on to anyone interested in restaurant management or ownership, she said. “I always thought it was very important to be able to step into any position at any time and be able to do the job,” she said. The restaurant was eventually sold to the Nestico family and became Nestico’s Too. Marty ran operations there for a few years until finally buying it in 2007. “We joke that I come with the building,” she said with a chuckle. As her restaurant experience evolved over the years, Marty was always included in decisions about what they offered their guests.

November 2018

Continued on page 20




The Secret of Success? Be a Know-It-All from page 19 “I had owners who gave me full freedom to do whatever I wanted,” she said. “So, I was able to make changes as I went along. I’ve always done the menus. I’ve always picked what we’ve served and specials.” She and the Nestico’s Too team, which includes Marty’s sister, Ana, have tailored the menu to what they’ve found the area likes — classic with some twists, Marty said. The menu includes breakfast and lunch offerings, coupled with specials the team creates each week. This month, the specials menu includes pumpkin pancakes. “People will literally start asking about pumpkin pancakes in June,” Marty said, “because they’re obsessed with the pumpkin pancakes. So, we run those all fall.” The whole team at Nestico’s Too makes the restaurant run quickly and efficiently, especially on busy weekends, she said. Over the years, she’s found that hiring people based on personality has gained the best results. People with less experience are often more willing to learn how the team functions, she said.

“They’re as valuable to me as I am to this place,” she said about her team. “Every person is equally important to me. I always just want them to feel really valued.”

About a year ago, Marty added a second establishment to her restaurant portfolio: The Rise and Grind Café.

She’d been toying with the idea of opening a coffee shop for a while. When the perfect location came up — a space in the same plaza as Nestico’s Too — she knew it was time to make her dream a reality. A self-proclaimed obsessive multi-tasker, Marty said she’s had fun running the two businesses. Customers often ask her if she’d open another Nestico’s Too, offering up suggestions for the perfect location. She prefers to be very hands-on with her projects, though, and wouldn’t want to stretch herself thin. As both businesses continue to grow and evolve, she’s happy

Veggie frittata, made with fresh vegetables, with Geddes Bakery Italian toast.

Nestico’s Too seasonal special: pumpkin pancakes.



The Philanthropy Edition

to do any job that needs to be done, from cooking to serving to hosting to bussing tables. In fact, she loves running around on busy Sunday mornings to clear tables and overhear guests’ conversations about their dining experience. “It just makes me work even harder,” she said. “I love that people are proud of us and compliment us on the job we do.” SWM

Photography by Steven J. Pallone

Nestico’s Too is located at 4105 W. Genesee St. in Syracuse. For hours, menus and specials, visit, call the restaurant at 315-487-5864 or connect with them on social media.

Cobb salad.

November 2018



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Thank you for your generosity and support of the SPCA and for helping us KEEP TRUE TO OUR MISSION!

‘Tis the Season to Support Our Furry Friends!

Please go to


Sat. November 17 – 10am-3pm

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• Cut your own and precut trees • Beautiful Canaan and Fraser Firs to 14 feet • $7 per foot • Over 9 feet, Special Pricing! • Fresh wreaths, roping & tree stands • Free wagon ride • Free baling & drilling • Farm store: Alpaca yarn, clothing/socks, local honey/ maple syrup/local artisans

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November 2018



BEAUTY Erica Abdo

Self Care is a Generous Act Story and photography by Susie Ippolito


usie Ippolito is a makeup artist turned beauty editor, writer and content creator. Connect with her at

A generous spirit is a wonderful gift. I find myself drawn to people who go above and beyond to share goodness with the larger world. They keep me inspired and motivated to do more. They also keep me wondering exactly how they do it. Erica Abdo, owner of Green Beauty Bliss, located in the newly renovated Deitz Lofts building in Syracuse, is one of those people. Erica draws you in with a smile and a warm hug, leaving you inspired to get more peace, more gratitude and more self care. She’ll inspire you to generously share these gifts with the world. She also has a thriving business as a makeup artist and gives organic facials that have earned her a loyal clientele. Even Erica’s journey as an esthetician and makeup artist is generous in its spirit. “The main thing that makes my soul happy is when I connect with people and help them enhance their way of life and their mindset,” she said. Erica believes self care is part of maintaining a generous spirit. It’s necessary to pay attention to our own needs in order to be able to generously give to others, she said. “Giving back to myself and recharging shows that I care for me,” she said. “And that’s important.”

Self care creates kindness

It’s interesting to think about self care as an act of generosity. But the truth is if we generously give ourselves love, care, patience, kindness and compassion, it becomes infinitely easier to give those things to the larger world. That may sound like a lofty goal that requires hours of meditation and yoga. And, yes, meditation and yoga are two of the most generous gifts you can give yourself, but you don’t have to sit in meditation for 45 minutes a day. Even small shifts in perspective can make a big difference. Be more patient with yourself and you’ll begin to notice you’re more patient toward others. The same goes for kindness, compassion and all the things we so rarely give to ourselves. Cultivating a generous spirit works in the same way and works best when paired with gratitude and intention. “Always come back to gratitude,” Erica said. “It is always the answer.”

Gratitude makes it all possible

Erica’s daily meditation practice is a priority in her life. As the owner of a small and thriving business in a new location, she doesn’t have a lot of free time. “I wake up every morning and say what I am grateful for and I set my intention for the day,” she said. “And, I have to tell you, my days are remarkable.” Erica keeps her intentions simple: be kind, be patient, be open. Simply stating intentions out loud makes them easier to connect to throughout our day. 24

“There is something special about vibration and sound,” she explained. “There is something extra special when you speak your words.” Erica says that “living in the moment” is the key to a generous spirit. Because so much information passes by at any given moment, people don’t often realize the power of being present and aware, she said. “When we slow down and become present, space and time open up,” she said. “We are able to create moments of generosity throughout our day.” Writing this column, I get to interview incredibly kind and generous women who seem superhuman in their ability to give. Some of them do volunteer work, some create their own nonprofits and some, like Erica, jump at any opportunity to give. Each one of them says the same thing: “It is in my heart to do it.” Awareness and self-care practices connect these women to their heart and give them the ability to light up the world with their gifts. Some of them meditate; some are focused on prayer; some find this connection by running or spending time in nature. The common thread between them is they each take time every day to reflect, empty their minds of daily clutter and focus on their own internal experience. This is the ultimate act of self care.

Small shifts create a better world

It’s understandable that not everyone will have time to commit to volunteer work or may not have the resources to donate money to a cause. Often, our most generous aspirations go onto the When-I-Have-Time list. “There is so much more I want to do,” Erica said, “but it has to be the right time.” She has full faith that the right opportunity will present itself to her when she’s ready. In the meantime, Erica stays mindful of how she’s able to share her gifts with the world. “I love teaching people how to fall in love with themselves,” she said, explaining that many people don’t love themselves. “Self care is No. 1 in falling in love with yourself. What you put in your body and on your body matters. Healthy food matters. Water, exercise and doing things that you love to do all matter.” As we take better care of ourselves, we create positive energy and become compelled to share these good vibes with the rest of the world. Even when we’re super busy, Erica recommends small gestures like leaving positive messages for loved ones on Post-it notes or text message. “[It’s] an appreciation for who they are and why you are grateful for them,” she said. “Don’t forget about people. We all want to be loved. That’s why we’re all here: to spread love and be our best selves and learn and grow.” SWM

Green Beauty Bliss is located at 225 Wilkinson St. #105a in Syracuse. For more information, visit


The Philanthropy Edition

Dr Suzanne Shapero, DMD, MBA, PC Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

“Don’t be afraid of the dentist, Dr Shapero is not only a dentist, but a good friend. Thanks to everyone there for making the trip to the dentist a painless and friendly experience.” - - Phillip E., patient


Jussara Potter Photography

ATTENTION EMPLOYEES OF: • Wegmans • Anheuser-Busch • AARP • Erie Insurance • Lockheed Martin Corp. • M&T Bank • NY Power Authority • Clifton Springs • Cavalier Transportation We Accept: Delta Premier, Delta PPO and Cigna 1 Charlotte Street, Baldwinsville (across from the Police Station) In the old Post Office building opposite the Village Hall

November 2018





The Philanthropy Edition

COVER STORY Ocesa Keaton


Photography by Alice G. Patterson

Advocating for those who need the most help — that’s really been my driving purpose in just about everything that I’ve done.” — Ocesa Keaton, Greater Syracuse HOPE executive director

November 2018



COVER story Ocesa Keaton

Bringing Syracuse HOPE By Lorna Oppedisano


Photography by Alice G. Patterson

t’s important to figure out what matters the most to you and try to verbalize that for yourself,” said Ocesa Keaton, the executive director of Greater Syracuse HOPE. “You never have to share it with anybody. But if you’re able to identify that and verbalize it for yourself, I think that would help you find the most fulfillment in your life.” For Ocesa, it’s about helping people find a voice. From pointing out inequalities in her high school to attending law school to finding her way into the human services sector and her current position with HOPE – which stands for Healing, Opportunity, Prosperity, Empowerment — that’s been her personal mission statement. “Advocating for those who need the most help — that’s really been my driving purpose in just about everything that I’ve done,” Ocesa said.



The Philanthropy Edition

The question should never really be, ‘What is HOPE doing to get rid of poverty?’ The question should be, ‘What are we doing to build our community resources and community assets so that we mitigate some of the issues surrounding poverty?’” — Ocesa Keaton, Greater Syracuse HOPE executive director

A born advocate Throughout her life, Ocesa naturally noticed injustice and wouldn’t stand for it. “When you have that type of personality, people always say, ‘You should be a lawyer,’” she remembered. So, when she graduated from Henninger High School, Ocesa wanted to be an entertainment lawyer. After she completed undergraduate studies at Clark Atlanta University, she took a year off to return home and study for the LSATs. During that hiatus, she worked as a care manager at the Salvation Army, her first exposure to the human services field. “It was an eye-opener — a completely different type of field and concept,” she said. “But I did enjoy it.” When she returned to school, this time at Western State College of Law in Los Angeles, she became even better acquainted with the human services sector. While completing her first and only year at law school — a field she eventually realized wasn’t a good fit for her — Ocesa was diagnosed with lupus. Being a full-time student, she wasn’t allowed to work. So, she found herself seeking assistance in an unfamiliar health care system. Since she didn’t have health insurance, some of the clinics she visited turned her away. “My inability to navigate that system almost cost me my life,” she said, “because by the time I really did get help, my kidneys were shutting down.”

Through the Veteran Affairs system, Ocesa’s father, a veteran, was able to connect her with a hospital where she received care. During her five-day stay, Ocesa met a social worker who explained what social work entailed and encouraged Ocesa to return home to a state with more health care options. Thinking back, Ocesa described the whole experience as a blessing in disguise that ended up directing her down the right career path. Though she wasn’t happy in law school, she initially didn’t want to give it up. She was the first person in her family to attend graduate school and her parents had made sacrifices so she could attend. “In my mind, there was no way I could pick up the phone and say, ‘It’s not for me. I don’t want to go to law school and I don’t know what I want to do,’” she remembered. “I just felt like I’d be like this big disappointment.”

An introduction to HOPE When she came home, Ocesa also returned to the human services sector. She gained experience working for a couple organizations, earned a master’s degree in social work from Syracuse University and began working for the city of Syracuse. While the social worker who’d inspired her was a micro social worker — someone who helps people on an individual level — Ocesa went into macro social work. “Macro is when you take a look at how systems interplay with communities and the community is your client,” she explained. When she worked for the city of Syracuse, part of Ocesa’s responsibilities included

maintaining good relationships with the community. That prompted her to attend community meetings, where she eventually became aware of Greater Syracuse HOPE Ocesa began to learn more about the initiative from Helen Hudson, then Syracuse Common Councilor-At-Large, and got involved by volunteering her time and input. “Just helping people who are most impacted by poverty, I thought that was a wonderful concept and a wonderful idea,” Ocesa said.

The story behind the mission HOPE was formed in 2015 by multiple community stakeholders from different sectors in Central New York, to “bring our diverse residents and stakeholders together to impact systems and create effective pathways of opportunity, resulting in a community with an inclusive future,” according to the organization’s website. The efforts are funded by Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. The group did a lot of work before bringing on an executive director in April 2017, Ocesa explained. With the help of a parttime coordinator, they put together listening sessions throughout the city and organized a summit. While Ocesa was familiar with the organization through her position with the city of Syracuse, she also felt the health problems she’d had in L.A. gave her a unique perspective. Though she hadn’t been happy in law school, she’d felt it was her only option.

November 2018

Continued on page 30



COVER story Ocesa Keaton

Bringing Syracuse HOPE from page 29 The experience instilled in her the compassion to understand the motivation behind people’s actions when they have seemingly limited options, she explained. “I didn’t grow up with money. But the poverty that I experienced when I was in law school, it just felt different,” she said. “I felt, at times, hopeless.” Since her position was implemented, she’s worked to help the organization take shape and form. She assembled a community advisory panel a few months ago that’s been instrumental in helping with outreach, she said. “They represent the community in the everyday people who feel the effects of poverty the most,” Ocesa said, adding that they have ambitious goals, many of which provide awareness to the community on topics that fall under HOPE’s four focus areas of economy, education, health and housing. “In each of those focus areas, we have indicators that we look at to see if we’re making an impact,” she said. Another effort Ocesa’s been leading is the selection of the community organizations HOPE will partner with in the future. Last fall, they put out a request for proposals for community partners. They went through a review process, bringing some partners back to the table to help tweak the proposals to fit the vision of HOPE. The overall goal of these partnerships is to build community by strengthening community assets, Ocesa explained. “Instead of looking at it from a deficit model — and this is the social worker in me kicking in — we’re forcing the community to look at themselves, ourselves, from a strengthbased model,” she said. “What are the existing assets we have in the community that are working and can be strengthened or scaled to larger initiatives or programs?”

This strategy can be divided into a few different pieces, she explained, including looking at how HOPE can help fill existing gaps in the community; building neighborhoods by strengthening communal relationships and teaching people to lead; and looking at what grassroots agencies could potentially collaborate. “That was one of the things that came from the listening sessions: agencies need to stop working in silos,” Ocesa said. “They need to talk to each other, so service delivery can be more efficient and productive.” Along with those efforts, Ocesa researches other cities that have similar initiatives to discover best practices and serves as the face of the organization, meeting with other agencies that share in the mission. In the future, she’d like to have more time to connect with the community, too. One of the most challenging aspects of the job is trying to make sure people understand the purpose of HOPE or any antipoverty initiative, Ocesa said. “I feel like people only pay attention to the work that I’m trying to do when negative numbers come out,” she said. She explained that sort of attention isn’t from a place of support to the cause. “I’m not the answer to poverty. HOPE is not the answer to poverty. Poverty is something that’s been in existence for a long time,” she said. “I always try to tell people that it wasn’t one thing that got us here, so it won’t be one thing to get us out of poverty. So, the question should never really be, ‘What is HOPE doing to get rid of poverty?’ The question should be, ‘What are we doing to build our community resources and community assets so that we mitigate some of the issues surrounding poverty.” The answer is more conversations and openness to recognizing biases and the

roles they play, she explained, along with challenging ourselves to be more inclusive, from an individual or organizational level.

Getting to know Syracuse Along with a job that aligns with her mission statement of advocating for those with less of a voice, Ocesa follows that mission through board involvement, too. “Being involved, that’s just good citizenship,” she said. “That’s just the price you pay for the luxuries that you get in America.” The boards she serves on speak to a common theme, she explained. Leadership Greater Syracuse satisfies civic engagement; YWCA stands for equality and the dismantling of racism; and Salvation Army Young Leaders Advisory Council is doing the most good, she said. When she’s not volunteering or spending time with her friends and boyfriend, local comedian Travis Blount, Ocesa has been making a concerted effort to reacquaint herself with her city. “Syracuse really is a tale a two cities,” she said, explaining that while the city faces problems she helps to solve at work each day, it also has attributes that didn’t exist a few years ago, like a growing art scene. “So, I literally look at all this disheartening information every day and still try to find the positive in it — because there’s always some positive to be found.” SWM

To learn more about Greater Syracuse HOPE, visit



The Philanthropy Edition

Photography by Alice G. Patterson October 2018 November 2018


31 31


Discussing “Sweet Genes”


usan B. Sloane is a local health care professional, but she’ll be the first to tell you her greatest and most important role is mother. When her sons were diagnosed with diabetes at very early ages, she “went though many changes during those days; lost my faith, got it back, anger, frustration, confusion and sadness,” she shared. We talked with Susan to learn more about her story, what she learned through her family’s journey and how she hopes to help other parents with her new book, “Sweet Genes: Finding a Balance Living with Diabetes.”

I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. Then, my mother spoke words of wisdom. “Jason is doing so well and has accepted diabetes as a part of life. What message are you sending him if you let him see how upset you are with Marc’s diagnosis?” she said. Her words helped me stay centered.

SWM: During your journey, you felt envious of “typical” children, which made you feel guilty. Many parents could likely relate on some level. Talk about how you worked through this guilt. Susan: Indeed there were and continue to be times I’m envious of others who have seemingly healthy children who go through life without the rigors of this disease. The moments are fleeting and have certainly happened less as the years passed, but I guess we all wish our children health and happiness and get frustrated at times when we cannot fix problems. SWM: How did you begin searching for help and advice? What resources did you find most helpful? Susan: My search for help came early in my son Jason’s diagnosis, when a hospital chart error gave us an insulin dose much higher than he should have had. We almost lost him that night when he had a seizure in his crib. There were no specialists who would treat children at the time of Jason’s diagnosis, except maybe one part-time endocrinologist who didn’t want the “burden” of a baby with diabetes. I found the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston to be the mecca of diabetes care for children. I was lucky enough to come across the doctor who essentially saved our lives, Dr. Joseph Wolfsdorf.

SWM: Most of us are familiar with diabetes from an outsider’s point of view. Tell us what it meant to you as a mother. Susan: As a health care professional myself, I understood diabetes from the perspective of the “observer.” This perspective of a disease is a sterile outsider’s way of looking at things. In truth, this is the view of many people fortunate enough not to be affected S ETEby NAGING DIAB st chronic MAillness. lle Fu e th ng to comes home with d Livi anuntil It’s not a disease you that you fully understand its challenges Dobstacles. You’re initially filled with rage and and disbelief and become overwhelmed. These feelings gradually give way to acceptance, understanding and courage you never knew you had. I was lucky enough to have a fabulous medical team and a wonderful husband throughout the journey.

SWM: Both you and your sons have dedicated your careers to helping other understand and live well with diabetes. Talk about how you help personally. Susan: I’ve been a community pharmacist in Syracuse for many years. The position has afforded me the great privilege to help so many people with different health challenges, including diabetes. Because of my own personal journey, I think I am more empathetic when teaching and treating patients, without just the sterile knowledge I used to convey. Having walked in these shoes has made me so much better as a health care professional; many patients have expressed their gratitude over the years. It’s a good feeling to pay it forward.

Susan B. Sloane

and their teen months old when he was seven about Sloanes’ first son when information iabetes struck the was nine. At a time to gather years later, when he san Sloane worked second son several vered physician’s radar—Su disco every she on h, not d searc e—an possible. Early in her as the disease was spars them life a put al sdorf norm her sons as Joseph Wolf all she could to give y’s meeting with Dr. Center, and the famil the Joslin Diabetes se. g with this disea ling diabetes copin to hand path for right steps on the easy-to-understand medical des pragmatic, yet ndations include Sweet Genes provi your child. Recomme dures for dealing with for yourself or for as proce at any age, whether derations, as well e’s sons are g schedules, diet consi be controlled. Sloan can tes diabe devices, monitorin nt, live to geme as they desire and With sound mana tes to direct their life school personnel. his perspective to y of those with diabe cine, and each adds testaments to the abilit ed careers in medi y members, can pursu famil have your or sons nstrates that you, the fullest. Both nt. Their success demo their mother’s accou tes. live well with diabe a it’s your child. With tes, especially when for a diagnosis of diabe Susan Sloane’s Sweet Genes answers ers. Nothing prepares you a concerned all you want are answ ups and downs of ional emot mind full of questions, the ng more. From shari diabetes educator, Susan your questions and macist and certified ding of diabetes and sound advice as a phar parent to providing osis to a solid understan the uncertainty of diagn guides you through s. darie a life without boun MS BEUR EN, two — VICT OR VAN journey of raising rstand my friend’s s of helped me clearly unde y dynamics and bond A powerful read that ht into the strong famil It brought me insig sons with diabetes. t and child! love between paren

Sweet Genes

SWM: What was the first thought that went through your mind when your sons were diagnosed? Susan: The first thought that went through my head when my oldest son was diagnosed with diabetes at 17 months old, while I was pregnant with my second son, was, “There has to be some mistake!” Frantically, I called every known expert in the field. Many wouldn’t take the call of a hysterical mother, so scared and confused that her words were often garbled, incoherent and laced with tears. I finally reached a kindhearted doctor who became my son’s physician and, later, our dear friend. He gently talked me off the cliff, explaining what the road ahead of us would hold.


acy has practiced pharm BS, RPh, CDE, CPT, . Susa n B. Sloa ne, for over twenty years and has been a CDE well through for over thirty years with diabetes stay ts patien g helpin Committed to education, she has C AT E G O RY published numerous articles about ts diabetes for patien and healthcare professionals. Susan lives in Jamesville, New York, with her husband, Stuar t.



SWM: What was the most difficult aspect of having two sons diagnosed with diabetes? Susan: When my second son was diagnosed with diabetes through the process of autoantibody testing — in essence, a way to tell if a person is at high risk of becoming diabetic — I was initially angry and started to lose faith. $00.95


SWM: Talk about people’s perceptions of diabetes. What are some of the misconceptions out there you’d like to correct? Susan: Over the years, well-intentioned friends and relatives have showered me with advice. One thing people said over and over again was, “When will you let him handle his disease on his own?” The question had good intentions, but I was steadfast in my response. The Philanthropy Edition

“I will be there with my sons in any way possible to make life a bit easier for them, so they can worry less,” I always answered. I administered shots, calculated insulin dosing and prepared snacks (not so much meals… I’m not the greatest cook). I did — and still do — all I can to help relieve the daily burden of diabetes care. We live good lives, so I don’t want to make my life a pity party in any way. We’ve learned to weave diabetes into the fabric of our lives, so the day-to-day impact seems minimal. Support is so important; the whole family, and even friends, should play a role, in my opinion.

SWM: You recently published a book about your journey, “Sweet Genes: Finding a Balance Living with Diabetes.” What inspired you to start writing? Susan: My book is really about telling a truthful account of our lives with diabetes, during the diagnosis and after. I felt I needed to tell this story because many friends and relatives didn’t fully understand what diabetes is truly like when it comes home with you. I hope the book will illuminate the good, the funny, the bad and the idea that you can live a great life with diabetes in the house.

SWM: Putting together this book must have brought up some memories that were difficult to relive. How did you deal with that? Susan: Reliving the memories definitely brought up old wounds. Healed scabs were broken and emotions were often raw. This happens when the brain relives scary moments. It was necessary, though, in order to get to the truth and tell it in my voice and my sons’ voices. Their accounts were perhaps the most difficult for me to read. SWM: What’s an important piece of advice for parents of children recently diagnosed with diabetes? Susan: The best advice I can give parents who have a child diagnosed with diabetes is to find a pediatric endocrinologist; these physicians have the most experience and often compassion in treating little humans. You also need to remember not every doctor is a fit for every patient. Find health care professionals who you feel comfortable with and have confidence in. You need to feel that you matter and your questions will be answered. SWM For more information on Susan and her book, visit Interview was edited for length and clarity.

November 2018



in her own words Jennifer Shorr

Kindness and Business SWM: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jennifer: I’ve been in the financial services industry since 2006. In my early days, I found myself gravitating towards Medicare and retirement planning because many people found Medicare to be so confusing. Choosing a plan and making the right decision can be difficult and researching all the options gets overwhelming. I decided to work with many different insurance carriers, which allows me to find the best plan to fit a person’s needs. I really love my job and that it allows me to help people while doing it.

SWM: What inspires you to try to help others?

Jennifer: I believe people did not work their whole lives to spend their savings on medical bills.

SWM: Explain what financial toxicity is and how it can affect people. Jennifer: Financial toxicity is a term used in the medical field to describe the emotional, mental and physically debilitating – and often life-threatening – financial side effects and burdens induced by cancer treatment. While financial toxicity is a term specific to cancer, it’s important to note there are other health conditions that can have similar financial consequences. Understanding your plan and having the knowledge to know when to make changes to your insurance can make a big difference.

SWM: Talk about how financial grants, such as those through the St. Agatha Foundation and Cancer Connects’ Angel Fund, can help people.

expenses AND medical expenses. It’s difficult enough dealing with the stress of a diagnosis and not feeling well, but just as stressful wondering how you are going to afford it.

SWM: How did you connect with those organizations? Jennifer: It was through a project started by Jennifer St. Andrew at Hematology-Oncology Associates of CNY. She and her team of patient advocates work very hard to assist their patients to avoid financial distress. They look for grants or copay assistance programs that can assist the patient with their financial responsibility.

SWM: Tell us more about the St. Agatha Foundation.

Jennifer: The St. Agatha Foundation was established in 2004 by Laurie Mezzalingua to assist breast cancer patients in the Central New York area. The foundation is dedicated to providing support, comfort and care to patients — particularly the under-insured and uninsured — through financial assistance programs. The foundation partners with hospitals and health care providers to pay for a wide range of breast cancer treatments and recovery-related costs.

SWM: Tell us more about the Angel Fund.

Jennifer: CancerConnects’ Angel Fund assists many local adult non-breast cancer patients and is 100 percent driven by community donations. They also help with expenses like groceries, gas and transportation services to get to treatment, health insurance premiums, copays, prescriptions and utility bills. By having some of the financial stress of a cancer diagnosis alleviated, people can focus more of their energy on recovery.

SWM: What’s your advice for women who want to build their business while helping those in need, like you have?

Jennifer: It is possible to do business and kindness at the same time. Be yourself and follow your instincts. Something magical happens when you focus on helping others. You will begin to find the reward becomes much greater than the investment. SWM For more about the St. Agatha Foundation, visit For more about CancerConnects’ Angel Fund, visit

Jennifer: I cannot say enough good things about these foundations. They help people when they need it the most. They help to pay for day-today cost of living



Interview was edited for length and clarity. Photography by Alice G. Patterson


o matter what sector you work in, you can be part of philanthropy. In honor of this month’s theme, we asked local business owner Jennifer Shorr, owner of That Insurance Girl, to chat with us about what she does to help Medicare beneficiaries and consumers, how she partners with local nonprofit organizations and what inspires her to help others.

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November 2018



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November 2018



INSPIRE Sheena Solomon

sheena solomon

If people don’t have opportunities and they don’t have accessibility to those opportunities, then they feel no hope. It’s taking all the barriers possible out of the way.” — Sheena Solomon, director of neighborhood initiatives at the Gifford Foundation 38


Photography by Paul Carmen Viggiano


The Philanthropy Edition

The Building Blocks of Community By Lorna Oppedisano


heena Solomon, director of neighborhood initiatives at the Gifford Foundation, began to demonstrate the skills of a leader at a young age. When she was 16 years old, she had her first child. The experience encouraged her to complete high school and set an example for her son, so he would never have a reason not to graduate, she said. “It was challenging,” Sheena said, “but my goal was really to beat the stereotypes of being a teenage mom and be more than what people expected me to be.” Soon after high school, Sheena moved from Ithaca to Syracuse, where she attended Bryant & Stratton College and eventually began her career in area nonprofit organizations. The experience acquainted her with the inner workings of nonprofits, including funding, finances and staffing. In 2007, Sheena learned the Gifford Foundation had an opening for a program associate. She applied for the job and was hired by Kathy Goldfarb-Findling, the organization’s executive director at the time and Sheena’s No. 1 professional inspiration. Kathy had been interested in Sheena’s community impact, Sheena remembered. Through her career, Sheena had become familiar with the neighborhood the Gifford Foundation was serving at the time, Syracuse’s South Side. She knew how to be a listener and cared about the people. Now, 11 years later, Sheena still utilizes those skills as director of neighborhood initiatives. Her work at the foundation is full-circle grant making, Sheena said. Not only does she read grant proposals, but she also works with the grant applicants to help them create the best possible application and stays in touch with the residents served by the funded projects. “That’s what really makes our community work as the mechanism it is,” she said. “So, that piece is really important: actually talking to people, finding out if the programs that we’re supporting are working.” Residents themselves have the opportunity to work directly with the foundation through the “What if…” mini grant program, an initiative Sheena helped make a reality. The largest barrier to smaller community-centric projects — like the creation of a dance class or community garden — is typically finances, Sheena explained. So, she suggested that the foundation create mini grants. While the foundation typically works with two Syracuse neighborhoods — the West Side and the South Side — the “What if…” grants are awarded for projects with a total budget of $5,000 or less within the city limits. Orientations are held once a month to inform interested community members about the opportunities. Grant proposals are accepted several times a year.

Sheena designed the application process so her daughter, who was 12 years old at the time, could fill one out. “It’s really about accessibility because that’s the issue — accessibility and opportunity,” she said. “If people don’t have opportunities and they don’t have accessibility to those opportunities, then they feel no hope. It’s taking all the barriers possible out of the way.” A few years after she helped implement the mini grant series in 2011, Sheena helped develop another Gifford Foundation program: Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders. While reading grant proposals, Sheena noticed a trend in lack of diversity on nonprofit boards. The groups didn’t reflect the community they served, she explained. “How are you making decisions for your constituents when they’re not represented at decision-making tables?” she thought. So, the Gifford Foundation worked with the Central New York Community Foundation, Leadership Greater Syracuse, the Human Services Leadership Council and City of Syracuse residents to develop Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders. It began as a board development initiative but eventually evolved to be more about leadership, Sheena said. Now, 30 people participate in the program each year, learning skills like board responsibilities, how to ask questions and truly be involved with board leadership and how to deal with being the minority on a board. Having diversity in a group of decision makers is what makes a board successful, Sheena said, adding that diversity extends beyond race and gender to factors like age, geography and ability. “Just having that type of diversity around the table helps make effective and impactful decision making,” she said. Sheena currently serves on several boards herself, donating her time and insight to You Can’t Fail Inc., the Syracuse Economic Development Corp., The Near Westside Initiative and the PLACES advisory board. Though she stays busy with work and volunteer involvement, she also makes sure to prioritize time for her three children. She hopes to instill in them the same appreciation for paying it forward she possesses. In everything she does, the people she collaborates with inspire her. She definitely does not do it alone, she said. “It definitely takes a team. It’s not just me,” she said. “I’m totally a collaborator/partner/team player. Nothing that I do is by myself.” SWM Special thanks to Tiffany Nickens for Sheena’s hair and makeup styling.

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November 2018



INSPIRE Meg George

meg george I would love for women to be involved in philanthropy in ways that they might not realize they could.” — Meg George, George Development Group executive vice president

Photography by Sheena Christ of Torrent Photography




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Bringing Philanthropy Full Circle By Jamie Jenson


quick perusal of Meg George’s resume might yield a few surprises. For starters, though she earned a degree in French from LeMoyne College, her professional experience after graduating from LeMoyne has been in development, not requiring knowledge in any language but English. Those who know Meg, though, know her love of languages translates into a skill vital in the development industry — the ability to effectively communicate in order to build relationships. “For me, working in development means literally developing relationships for organizations that lead to support for institutions and organizations,” Meg said. Though building relationships came naturally to Meg, she had no idea what development even entailed. Luckily, she grew close to people who worked in the career advising office at LeMoyne. They encouraged her to look into jobs that specialized in development. “They had to explain to me what that even was,” Meg remembered. “They said, ‘You have an outgoing personality. It seems like you wouldn’t be scared to approach people.’” They suggested she apply for jobs in development. She began her career as a development officer at LeMoyne and for an area hospital. The field also led her to meet her future husband and business partner, Phil, who also worked in development. Meg explained they initially didn’t have plans to branch off on their own. But after they worked on several plans for organizations in the community, they realized there was need for advisors within the nonprofit sector. They wanted to do something to fill that gap. So, several years ago, they founded the George Development Group. “We do a lot of work with nonprofits all over the northeast, but the majority are right in our community,” Meg said. “We advise nonprofits on their development operations. Ultimately, we focus on high-impact philanthropy.” Meg explained that high-impact philanthropy allows organizations to focus on having a relationship-centered approach to the work they do. The Georges strategize ways the organizations they partner with can develop meaningful support among their constituents. Meg said philanthropy wasn’t a big part of her lifestyle while she was growing up, but she feels drawn to it now. “Once I met with one organization and saw they were just craving advice on something they were already well-poised to do, it absolutely felt like a calling,” Meg said.

Even before she had her own company, she always felt the work she did positively impacted the organizations she worked for, but she feels it even more now. “Once I started doing this work for nonprofits — especially local ones — I realized I could be having that impact on a lot of places at the same time,” Meg said. “My husband and I both feel like we will never turn back from doing this.” As their business has grown, the Georges have been able to work with a variety of local organizations, including the Everson Museum. They’ve also worked with the Syracuse City Ballet, an organization that recently moved into a new building and created a new fund for resident dancers. Seeing the fruits of their labor makes the job worthwhile for Meg. “The most fulfilling thing for me at work is taking what I know, giving it to an organization and seeing the direct impact it has on our community because that organization is carrying out those tools,” Meg said. The duo wants to make an even bigger impact on the community. They’ve recently offered their services to for-profit organizations looking for ways to create a culture of philanthropy for their businesses. “It’s the same skill set we already have, but we’re applying it to different parts of business and life,” Meg explained. “It brings everything full circle for us because we believe so much in the kind of philanthropy that we focus on, which is relationship-centered and high-impact. There’s no reason why businesses and corporations shouldn’t be thinking like that, too.” While she has found success in helping nonprofit organizations prosper and for-profit businesses grow philanthropically, Meg said there’s another important group of people with whom she would love to take a more active role when it comes to philanthropy. “I would love for women to be involved in philanthropy in ways that they might not realize they could,” Meg said. She thinks there are many women who work for nonprofits and sit on boards, but she still thinks their voices need to be heard. “I’m young and I’m a woman, and I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time talking to men,” Meg said. “I don’t think enough people in general know about getting into this world and how fulfilling it is, and how different the work can be every day.” SWM For more about the George Development Group, visit

November 2018





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Medicare Advantage • Medicare Supplement • Prescription Drug Plans Long Term Care (CLTC) • Life Insurance • Final Expense (Burial) • Dental Plans Travel Insurance Coverage

November 2018



INSPIRE Deborah Hundley




The Philanthropy Edition

Driving Inspiration By Lorna Oppedisano


eborah Hundley will be the first to tell you she’s an introvert at heart. However, each step of her career — from teaching to founding a local nonprofit organization, Providence Services of Syracuse — has given her the opportunity to adopt skills based on connecting with new people. “If I had just stayed in my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have grown,” she said. “I would have missed so many things.” When Deborah was growing up, she wanted to be an astronaut. She discovered she had a hearing problem, though, which set her on a different path. In college, she considered studying medicine but eventually landed on biology and teaching. She began her career teaching eighth grade biology. After some time, she found a job in church ministry. It was the best job she’s ever had, Deborah said. She loved working to help people in that capacity. “There were so many needs that weren’t being met,” she remembered. “So, my thing was to start helping those needs be met. We started all kinds of programs.” She followed that path until her husband got laid off from work and the duo moved to Central New York for his new job. Deborah hadn’t been sure of her next career move until she saw something in the newspaper about an opportunity to become a certified financial planner. Having followed stock markets as a hobby, she found the idea intriguing. She pursued that as her next career path, working in the financial sector for more than 20 years, until she retired in 2014. After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Deborah’s life changed again. She felt compelled to find a way to help. Initially, she’d planned to travel to Haiti with a group of people from the area. About a week before they were supposed to leave, however, they realized they didn’t have enough money to go. Deborah was initially relieved; she’d been nervous about the trip. But then she learned she could still go if she traveled with people from around the country. She ventured out of her comfort zone and went to Haiti to help rebuild orphanages and care for people in need. The experience gave her a completely new view of the world, she said. “When I came back, I was a different person,” she said. “I saw a level of poverty way beyond even my imagination.”

She found herself reorienting herself with her day-to-day life when she came back to Central New York. The experience eventually led to her volunteer for Hopeprint, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the refugee population, and to be open to fostering two refugee teenagers. They’re both in college now and doing well, Deborah said with a smile. Through discussions with other volunteers at Hopeprint, the subject of local unemployment came up. Having worked in downtown Syracuse, Deborah had been familiar with the issue of unemployment in the area. “Coming out at lunch, I would see all these people walking aimlessly. It always struck me,” she remembered. “So, as I was getting close to retirement, I thought, ‘You know, when I retire, I want to try to give back.’” Talking to other people at Hopeprint, Deborah learned the problem wasn’t lack of motivation or lack of jobs; it was lack of practical transportation. Without access to cars, people found themselves dependent on public transportation, which didn’t necessarily fit their work schedule. “It just blew my mind,” she said. She began reading studies on transportation, trying to arrive at the root of the problem and determine how she could help. In March 2013, she founded Providence Services of Syracuse. According to the organization’s website, they aim to “provide transportation services to and from work to enable New Americans and under-resourced Americans to accept employment where community transportation services are not available.” Providence Services now employs two drivers and plans to expand to four other communities in Central New York in the next few years. Deborah’s goal is to eventually share their model across the country with other areas in need. In the meantime, they will continue to bridge the gap between people who need employment and available jobs, helping to fight poverty in Central New York. “Everybody’s trying to find a solution,” Deborah said. “We don’t necessarily fit everybody, but we can make a big dent.” SWM To learn more about Providence Services of Syracuse and how you can help, visit

November 2018





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UPCOMING SWM Events Thursday, Nov. 1, through Friday, Nov. 16

Art Gone Wild! When: During zoo hours. What: Enjoy artwork created by zoo animals as part of their enrichment activities. Where: Rosamond Gifford Zoo, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse. Info: Monday, Nov. 5

32nd Annual Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame Dinner When: Reception, 5:45 p.m.; awards dinner, 7 p.m. What: Annual event honors eight new inductees into the Class of 2018. Cost: $75 in advance; limited number of tickets at the door, $85. Where: OnCenter, 800 S. State St., Syracuse. Info: Wednesday, Nov. 7

WBOC Monthly Meeting When: 4:30 p.m. What: This month’s topic is “WBOC World Café,” led by WBOC members. Cost: All access member, free; member, $10; guest, $25. Where: Crowne Hotel—20th Floor, 701 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. Info: Wednesday, Nov. 7

2018 40 Under Forty When: 5 to 8 p.m. What: Celebrates young leaders in the CNY area. Cost: $70. Where: OnCenter, 800 S. State St., Syracuse. Info: Wednesday, Nov. 7

1 Million Cups When: Doors open, 8:30 a.m.; presentation, 9 to 10 a.m. What: Presentations by local early-stage startup companies aim to draw feedback from peers, mentors, educators and advisors. Open to the public. Cost: Free admission. Where: Syracuse CoWorks, 201 E. Jefferson St., Syracuse. Info: Thursday, Nov. 8

WCNY’s 4th annual Taste of Fame When: 6 to 9 p.m. What: Dinner event includes cocktails, silent auction and guided four-course dinner crafts by Vivian Howard. VIP ticket options available, including VIP Studio Soirée, in-studio recording and more. Cost: $150; check online for VIP ticketing. Where: OnCenter, 800 S. State St., Syracuse. Info: Thursday, Nov. 8

Friday, Nov. 9, through Sunday, Nov. 11

Holiday Shoppes 2018 When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. What: The Junior League of Syracuse’s 23rd annual Holiday Shoppes features boutique holiday shopping. Cost: $8; presale, $7. Where: Horticulture building at NYS Fairgrounds, 581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse. Info: Tuesday, Nov. 13

Signature Chef’s Event When: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. What: Annual March of Dimes fundraiser features tastings by local chefs and wineries, music and silent and live auctions. Cost: $100. Where: Sky Armory, 351 S. Clinton St., Syracuse. Info: Laurie Farrell, Thursday, Nov. 15

Everson Book Club When: 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. What: Featured docent-led discussion on Dominic Smith’s “The Last Painting of Sarah de Vos.” Cost: Free for members. Where: Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison St., Syracuse. Info: Thursday, Nov. 15

That Chocolate Event When: 3 to 9 p.m. What: Event includes door prizes, special promotions, shop passport, chocolate and more at various Baldwinsville businesses. Where: Downtown Baldwinsville. Info: Thursday, Nov. 15

A Holiday Ladies Night When: 4 to 8 p.m. What: Join Syracuse Woman Magazine and Welch & Co. Jewelers for an evening of fun, including free hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages. Where: Welch & Co. Jewelers, 513 S. Main St., N. Syracuse. Info: Friday, Nov. 16

Art Gone Wild! Reception, Art Sale & Auction When: 6 to 8 p.m. What: Art created by Rosamond Gifford Zoo animals to be auctioned to support American Association of Zoo Keepers. Light refreshments and cash bar available. Cost: Advance sale, $8; at the door, $10; ages 12 and younger, free. Where: Rosamond Gifford Zoo, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse. Info:

The Salvation Army Family Dance: A Masquerade When: 6 to 8 p.m. What: For fathers, mothers, daughters and sons (no age minimum or maximum). Features hor d’oeuvres, desserts, beverages, DJ, raffles, gift bags, photo booth and more. Proceeds benefit The Salvation Army's Tickets for Teens Program. Cost: $60 per couple; additional person, $25. Where: Sky Armory, 351 S. Clinton St., Syracuse. Info:

Saturday, Nov. 17

Friday, Nov. 9

Sunday, Nov. 18

Ladies Night at The Palace When: Doors, 6 p.m.; show, 7 p.m. What: Celebrate music of the 60s. Proceeds benefit Vera House. Cost: $20. Where: The Palace Theatre, 2384 James St., Syracuse. Info: 52

11th Annual Honors Banquet When: Doors open, 5:30 p.m.; event, 6:30 p.m. What: 100 Black Men of Syracuse’s annual fundraising event supports work done for youth and community year round. Mayor Ben Walsh to be keynote speaker. Cost: $100. Where: OnCenter, 800 S. State St., Syracuse. Info: Sip & Shop at Tailwater Lodge When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. What: Includes tastings, samples, live music and more. Where: Tailwater Lodge, 52 Pulaski St., Altmar. Info:


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Monday, Nov. 19

Buy Local Cash When: 5 to 9 p.m. What: Ninth annual event features variety of local businesses. Cost: $15; two for $25. Where: CNY Regional Market Authority - F Shed, 2100 Park St., Syracuse. Info: Friday, Nov. 23

Holiday Event When: 4 to 7 p.m What: Free community event for families includes complimentary picture with Santa, complimentary hot chocolate and cookies, performances by Syracuse Children’s Choir and Syracuse City Ballet and more. Where: Marriott Syracuse Downtown, 100 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse. Info: Friday, Nov. 23

Cirque Musica Holiday presents Wonderland When: 8 p.m. What: Concert experience for the whole family features cast of Cirque Musica accompanied by holiday songs performed by a live symphony orchestra. Cost: Check online for pricing. Where: Landmark Theater, 362 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Info: Saturday, Nov. 24

CNY Wine and Chocolate Festival When: 1 to 8 p.m. What: Two sessions to choose from for a tasting experience featuring wines from NYS and local treats. Cost: Advance admission, $30; designated driver, $10. Where: Horticulture building at NYS Fairgrounds, 581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse. Info: Saturday, Nov. 24

Night Market When: 3 to 10 p.m. What: Urban pop-up market featuring local arts and crafts items, live music, food and cocktails. Cost: $5. Where: Sky Armory, 351 S. Clinton St., Syracuse. Info: Saturday, Dec. 1, & Sunday, Dec. 2

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday. What: Concert features Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in high-definition while Symphoria performs John Williams’ score. Cost: Check online for pricing. Where: Landmark Theater, 362 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Info: Tuesday, Dec. 4

2018 Family Business Awards When: 8 to 10:30 a.m. What: Fourth annual event recognizes and honors family-owned businesses headquartered in CNY. Cost: Check online for details. Where: Genesee Grande Hotel, 1060 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. Info: Wednesday, Dec. 12

WBOC Holiday Party When: 5:30 to 9 p.m. What: Join the WBOC to celebrate the holidays and network. Includes heavy hors devours, cash bar, raffle and more. Cost: Check online for details. Where: Genesee Grande, 1060 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. Info: November 2018



movers AND Shakers La Patria Café opens

Local entrepreneur Clara Cedeno recently opened La Patria Café, a Latin Caribbean and American eatery, at 115 Green St. in Syracuse. The restaurant is set to be open for lunch with a limited menu from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday for dine in and pick up. For more information, visit

Community leaders join award-winning board

The American Heart Association’s Syracuse advisory board was recently recognized as a Gold Standard Board for the 2017-2018 fiscal year for helping the AHA make strides toward its 2020 Impact Goal: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. Two board members are joining the board for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The new board members are Brian Howard of Tompkins Financial Advisors and Monique Wright-Williams of the Syracuse City School District.

Junior League announces board of directors

that the hospital’s clinical outcomes are statistically significantly better than expected when treating the condition or performing the procedure being evaluated. St. Joseph’s Health also earned 3-star ratings for C-section deliveries, hysterectomies and gynecologic procedures, indicating they continue to meet all safety criteria. Hospitals can only receive ratings of one star, three stars or five stars.

Crouse Health announces expansion and renovation

Crouse Health recently announced plans for the expansion and renovation of its Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Crouse Health Foundation also announces a $500,000 gift dedicated to the project from Neonatal Associates of Central New York. The Crouse Health Foundation plans to raise $10 million through private gifts to the CrouseCares comprehensive campaign to support the $31 million NICU expansion and renovation project. The plan is to raise the funds by the end of 2020. More information is available online by visiting

New end-of-life care in CNY

Loretto recently opened an eight-bed wing dedicated to end-of-life care as part of its Palliative Care Program. The program offers people with serious illness specialized medical care focused on providing relief from symptoms and improved quality of life for both the patient and family during a loved one’s final days. For more information, visit

Loretto program moves

Loretto’s Daybreak Adult Medical Day Program in Syracuse has moved to a bigger location at the Loretto Syracuse Campus and will be expanding its physical space in this new location to accommodate the increased demand for the program’s services. The new location is on the first floor of the Cunningham building at 700 E. Brighton Ave. This is approximately one mile from Daybreak’s previous location, 161 Intrepid Lane in Syracuse.

St. Joseph’s Health receives funding

The Junior League of Syracuse, Inc., a local not-for-profit organization, recently announced its 2018-19 board of directors. This team of leaders includes President Jessica Murray, President-Elect Audra Mueller, Secretary Brittany Moen, Treasurer Rachel Ford Ciotti, Communications VP Whitney Browne, Community VP Casey Duffy, Fund Development VP Marie Norkett, Membership VP Amanda Perrine, Nominating Chair Liz Lane and Sustainer VPs Wendy Carl Isome and Jeanne Jackson.

St. Joseph’s Health earns 5-star rating

St. Joseph’s Health was recently named a 5-star recipient for vaginal delivery by Healthgrades, an online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. This 5-star rating indicates


St. Joseph’s Health has been awarded $749,775 in grant funding by the Central New York Care Collaborative Innovation Fund. Two grants were awarded to support the St. Joseph’s Health Mobile Integrated Services Team and the Healthy Parenting Through Wrap-Around Mother-Unborn Child & Mother-Infant Care initiatives which seek to improve the health of the community by making services more accessible to patients through innovation and collaboration.

Local aRt exhibited at Hospice of CNY

Hospice of CNY is currently showing work by area photographers. This annual show from a group of local photographers displays an exhibition of photographs for the Hospice of CNY Art Exhibition. This year’s show explores the fall and holiday season. The public is welcome to visit the exhibit any weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of December. Hospice of CNY is located at 990 Seventh North St. in Liverpool. Submitted content was edited for length and clarity.


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