Five Civic-Minded Things You Can Easily Do

By: Karen Lombardo

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Time is such a relative term. Time can pass so quickly when you are having fun, and so slowly when waiting for a change. It has been 194 days since the March 11th announcement and national declaration of the pandemic. Depending on your situation, this time has been challenging. I volunteered to quarantine for two weeks after driving my son to the University of Alabama. Two weeks is a long time, and, in that period, I was the fortunate recipient of many acts of kindness from a late afternoon coffee run to the delivery of much-needed groceries. Do we realize we have a civic duty? The consensus defines civic-minded as “A person interested and cares about what is happening in their community. A person who carries out this concern for the betterment of the community public.” Think about it for just a second and ask yourself, am I a good member of my community? Do I think about others and honestly assess if I could be giving back to build a more vital home and neighborhood for my family and friends? Have I sat down and created a goal for community involvement? 

Suppose your answers are predominantly ‘no.’ No worries. We have some thoughts to send you on your way to being civic-minded. 

Five civic-minded things you can easily do for your community: 

  1. Register to vote.
    The U.S. government has a site and page dedicated to voter information. Visit https://www.usa.gov/election-day to find out more. The rules vary from state to state and are run by the states themselves. Some can vary by county or town within a state. Ironically, no two states are the same. In New York, you can register online at https://www.ny.gov/services/register-vote . The New York State Board of Elections has a webpage to address absentee ballots: https://www.elections.ny.gov/votingabsentee.html . Please use this link to complete the application for a New York Absentee ballot.
  2. Visit your local farmer’s market.
    Cool spring Saturday’s turn into warm summer morning at the local farmer’s market. As summer turns to fall, we visit the local markets a little less, and winter rarely gets us out. Our local farmers continue to provide fresh produce, meats, eggs, cheeses, and spectacular baked goods for any sized family. Continue to support your local farmer’s markets. The USDA keeps a self-reported, searchable database of farmer’s markets that allows people to search by zip code/state, products available, payment accepted, and type of area.
  3. Support a local nonprofit.
    There are numerous nonprofits in the capital region and surrounding counties. The WBC Adopted Nonprofit for 2020 is The Food Pantries for the Capital District. In a spirit of cooperation, The Food Pantries for the Capital District believes we can do more together than any one of us can alone. The Food Pantries is a coalition of more than 65 food pantries in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties. The Food Pantries’ vision is to end hunger in the Capital Region. Last year, their member pantries provided approximately 57,853 individuals with enough food for more than 3.2 million meals. Yet with more than 89,000 people (including 27,000 children) affected by food insecurity in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties, there is more work to be done.
  4. Help a neighbor.
    As simple as this sounds, reach out and help a neighbor. The leaves will soon be falling, and some elderly homeowners struggle with the clean-up. Grab a leaf blower or an old-fashioned rake and lend a hand!
  5. Volunteer for holiday duty.
    The nonprofit organizations are hurting. They are stretched to the end with funds and resources. With the holidays quickly approaching, the need will be more significant for food, supplies, and holiday gifts. Donate your time to serve holiday meals, volunteer at a shelter, and of course, donations are always accepted. 

How can you help? 
Commuting time has been reduced or eliminated, and the absence of an abundance of social engagements affords us some time to investigate being a little more civic-minded. Give a try. Start slowly, and you will be hooked. Supporting your community is inspiring! 

Interested in learning more about the Women’s Business Council and volunteer opportunities, E-mail Marna Redding mredding@capitalregionchamber.com or call 518.431.1421 to learn more!

Member Spotlight: Becky Daniels, Director of Community Engagement of CAP COM Federal Credit Union

Becky Daniels recently joined the team at CAP COM Federal Credit Union as the Director of Community Engagement, overseeing the areas of community impact, public relations and business development. Prior to CAP COM, Becky served as the first Executive Director of Discover Schenectady, the tourism promotion agency for Schenectady County, founded in 2016.

Outside of work, Becky is the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Schenectady City School District Education Foundation, a member of the NextGen Committee for the Albany Symphony Orchestra, serves on event committees for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Ellis Hospital and is a proud founding member of the Palette Café community and sustaining member of the Junior League of Albany. She currently lives in Schenectady with her beloved rescue dog, Izzie.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

When the weather is nice, I like to take my dog for a walk and soak up some sunshine. If outdoors isn’t in the cards, though, I often opt for a quick yoga flow. And if I’m craving some stillness, I’ll grab a book or take a mental break with an episode of Friends or Schitt’s Creek. 

What do you love most about what you do?

While I’m only about a month in to my new role at CAP COM, I can already tell you that I love the people I work with! The teamwork and collaboration that I get to be a part of is absolutely amazing – particularly in the age we’re in of working remotely. No matter the project, it has been amazing to see how our people and teams come together for the benefit of our members and our community. 

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

I would tell myself to trust the process and your experiences! I could never have imagined the twists and turns of my life, but each one of them, happy or sad, has led me to a really wonderful place. At the time, I’m sure I would have fast-forwarded through some of the tougher times, but they have made me who I am today, and I would not trade any of it. I would also add to slow down and savor the journey- the older I get, the faster time seems to move!

What have you gained from being a member of the Women’s Business Council?

I love connecting with other women! I am a firm believer that we learn best from the experiences of others and I have gained so much great knowledge, insight and confidence from many of the women I’ve connected with or seen present at WBC programming. It’s vital, as women, that we all take time to learn from each other and lift one another up– and the WBC is a fantastic outlet for that! 

What is the best advice you have ever received?

You cannot pour from an empty cup! I have re-learned this lesson time and again, but it is so important to ensure we are confident stewards of our own mental and physical health. Weathering the tough times that life throws at all of us is so much easier when we have a good relationship with ourselves and cultivate the tools we need to overcome challenges.

A Mini Summer Guide from the WBC

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

While we all love the summertime, things are a little different than usual this year due to necessary standards, but that doesn’t mean we want to sit around and do nothing. 
So the big question is “what is there to do this summer?!” 
A group of our WBC members were able to share some ideas on how to keep busy, while staying safe: 
 
Go to an Italian, Greek, or Armenian Drive-Thru Food Festival! 
St. Sophia is having Greek Feast on July 10th, 11th and 12th.  
Check out the link for more details : https://www.stsophiaalbany.org/greek-feast?fbclid=IwAR2__tcScngwU2B_pIu5nuJ9BcqF19hbpnQdJ5wS5IfVdybzoJqAKp-11SE

Have Outdoor Competitions!  
Buy a corn hole set, ladder toss, KanJam, a giant Jenga tower, croquet, horse shoes or other similar fun outside games and have an all day tournament.

Take on a New Sport or Activity!
Kayaking rentals are still available  http://www.upstatekayakrentals.com/walk-up-locations.html, you can also find rentals in Mechanicville, Saratoga, and other areas.

Attend a virtual 5K Run, check out this link to see which ones you can join: https://www.runningintheusa.com/race/virtual/ 

Go on a Railbike adeventure in Lake George : https://www.revrail.com/ 

Go Camping!  
As of June 22nd all NYS Park Campgrounds opened so families can truly get away and enjoy the great outdoors whether it’s camping, renting cottages or cabins. It’s super easy to social distant and a chance to visit/explore a new part of our great state. People can make reservations here: https://parks.ny.gov/camping/ 

Go Raspberry/Blueberry Picking!
Indian Ladder Farms hours are: Tuesday-Friday 9am-1pm, Saturday -Sunday 9am-4pm, closed Monday , but please check the website for constant updates: https://www.indianladderfarms.com/ 

Go To The Drive Ins!
The drive ins are still open and are playing old classics to recently released films. Check out and see what Malta drive-ins is playing this weekend https://www.maltadrivein.com/ 
Along with other drive-ins near you.

Drive-in concert series! 
The Troy Music Hall is having drive-in concerts, check out when their next one is: https://www.troymusichall.org/


 

Equality of Opportunity

The Capital Region Chamber will join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce national townhall event on June 25 where business and community leaders will discuss concrete actions that can be taken by government and the private sector to address inequality through education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice reform.


“As an organization, our Chamber works to ensure that the Capital Region is a vibrant place to work and live. We recognize the importance of diversity and equity and understand we must do more. We are committed to listening, learning and to being part of the solution to reverse disparities to ensure fairness and shared opportunity,” said Mark Eagan, Capital Region Chamber President and CEO.


Read more here: https://lnkd.in/exPPkXc

WBC Member Spotlight: Kim Siciliano, YWCA of NorthEastern NY

Kim Siciliano is the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA NorthEastern NY. Serving as the organization’s top leader since December 2016, she has been an employee of YWCA NENY since 2001. During her 19-year tenure at the agency, she has overseen all program areas, including child care, fitness, breast cancer awareness and prevention, housing, and domestic violence. As CEO she provides guidance and supervision to six Program Directors and 70+ employees. Siciliano firmly believes in YWCA’s mission work of eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Outside of work she is currently the Secretary of the Schenectady Kiwanis Club and a Past President, the Immediate Past President of the Capital District Child Care Coordinating Council Board of Directors, the Vice President of Crossroads Center for Children, and a member of the Schenectady Business & Professional Women’s Club. Additionally, she is a member of the Schenectady County COVID-19 Coalition leadership team and co-chairs the Housing and Shelter Focus Group for moving forward/re-opening. 

What do you love most about what you do?

For 16 years, I was part of the YW team as a Program Director and as part of the Leadership Team steering the destiny of our organization. Now, in year 20 as the CEO, I work with an incredible group of professional staff members who all support the mission work we do at the YW every day. For 132 years, YWCA NENY has thousands of people who came together to support our community. The rich history of the YW reminds me that whatever I do, whatever we do, as a team and as individuals, creates our legacy and our place in history here. I am proud knowing how successful we have become in just three years of my assuming the core leadership role. Our team has struggled, been in despair, found solutions, succeeded and overcome challenges together. That is an amazing feeling. Walking in and being greeted by staff, residents and clients alike, is as if this is our home away from home and we are neighbors, friends and community change agents all in one. 

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

Stay sassy! Always be yourself. Never try to be anyone else. Your success in life is directly connected to channeling the person you are meant to be into everything that you do. Trying to fit into someone else’s picture or mold of what or who you should be will only stifle your growth.  Try new things, meet new people and stand up for what you believe, even if you’re the only one talking. This too shall pass.  Life is a series of ups and downs, good days and bad days, stay the course and know that wherever you are right now is temporary. Whatever you do, do it with pizazz!

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Can’t think of just one thing! Some of the best advice I have received is that remember how you affect others, as the things you say and do may change their life and yours.  Always give support, a listening ear, and an open mind to any discussion.  Leave behind negativity and toxic situations and focus on your goals, but find time to recharge.

For more information about the YWCA, please go to: http://www.ywca-neny.org

The Food Pantries of the Capital District is Here2Help!

According to Feeding America, in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady county, over 89,000 people are food insecure. Out of that number, 27,000 are babies and children. With the occurrence of COVID 19, the Food Pantries of the Capital District is now more than ever motivated to help. They are working hard to ensure that our local food pantries are prepared for these circumstances that are devastating to our most vulnerable community members. Please consider helping this amazing organization by one of the following:

  • Make a cash donation 
  • Donate food, personal hygiene, household products, and diapers to your neighborhood pantries.  Find your neighborhood pantry here. Please call ahead of time – that way they can tell you exactly what they need.
  • You can find their donation link here : https://thefoodpantries.z2systems.com/np/clients/thefoodpantries/donation.jsp?campaign=75&&test=true
  • Volunteer
    • ​They ARE still accepting individuals and groups looking to support our work via volunteering.  Individuals can submit your volunteer application here.  
    • Corporations, organizations or other groups looking to lend a hand, you can connect with Kathy Marco at 518-458-1167 x104.

If you’d like to learn more about the Food Pantries of the Capital District, please visit https://www.thefoodpantries.org/home.html.

Who’s Ready For March 8th?

Mark your calendar ladies and gentlemen because International Women’s Day is coming up!

In 1908 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. Two years later, a woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) at an International Conference of Working Women, tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. Zetkin proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, and working women’s clubs welcomed Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result!

Since then, on March 8th we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and continue to demand for gender equality all around the globe.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of International Women’s Day, click on this link > https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About

Also, if you’d like to be a part of something empowering on this day, then please check out The Beltrone Living Center International Women’s Day event! https://colonieseniors.org/event/calling-young-and-old-mark-your-calendar/

WBC Member Spotlight: Rita Cox, Cox Marketing Solutions, LLC

Meet Rita Cox, Founder of Cox Marketing Solutions, LLC! Founded in 2017, Cox Marketing Solutions helps businesses make sense of today’s complicated marketing options with strategic plans, detailed execution, and most importantly – measurable results. https://www.coxmarketingsolutions.com

Read about what inspires her, how she spends her free time and what she has gained from being a member of the Capital Region Chamber’s Women Business Council.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

Walking our two rescued pit bulls. They never get enough attention and it’s a great break for all of us!

What do you love most about what you do? 

I absolutely love working with a wide range of clients and finding new ways to grow their businesses.  The greatest reward is a client who says that their business is up!

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13? 

I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t doing a lot of listening at 13, but I wish I had understood that doing homework was important.  

What is the best advice you have ever received? 

My dad always said two things “If you’re going to do it, do it 100%” and “Things don’t get done by themselves.”  He’s still one of the smartest guys I know.