When was the last time you performed a random act of kindness? Perhaps you lent a friend a helping hand, gave directions to a stranger on the street or simply smiled at a passerby. Or maybe you were on the receiving end of another’s generosity. Whatever the gesture, it probably wasn’t all that random. Kindness is a choice. Compassion is a choice. These are the choices that define us, as individuals and as a community. These are the choices that transform strangers into neighbors and friends. These are the choices that change lives.
All too often, we choose to shut each other out — smiles go unanswered, voices go unheard, doors remain closed, barriers remain intact and we fail to connect. Sadly, we are inundated daily with news full of fear, anger, vitriol and division. A community that fails to connect is a community in crisis. While the path forward is not always clear-cut or easy, we can make progress by facing problems collectively. Let’s choose what unites us. Rather than letting our differences divide us, let us be the difference.
As Board Chair of the Community Foundation, I have experienced firsthand the collective power of passionate individuals committed to effecting positive change: from Imagination Library’s gift of free books to promote early childhood literacy (p. 4); to the enduring promise of college for Syracuse City School District students through Say Yes to Education (p. 6); to the work of the In This Together program to address street violence in affected neighborhoods (p. 10); to the emergence of the Greater Syracuse HOPE Initiative (p. 13), an alliance of community leaders, neighborhood residents and grassroots organizations working together to combat poverty and inequality; and to legacy donors like Barbara Genton (p. 16), who made a charitable legacy plan to ensure that her spirit of giving will live on in support of SAGE Upstate, an agency that provides vital social supports and resources for the aging LGBTQ community. In this year’s report, we highlight just a small sample of donors, grantees and initiatives helping to widen existing pathways, as well as to forge new ones.
As pathways are laid brick by brick, progress is made little by little. We each have a part to play. Every day, we have choices to make. The vitality of our community relies on the sum total of our collective and collaborative actions. Together, it is within our power to open doors, raise ceilings, forge inclusive pathways and say yes to full participation for every individual at every level of our community. We prosper together, or not at all.
Richard D. Hole, Esq.
Chair, Board of Directors