Michael and Susan Meath are well acquainted with the importance of perspective. While they both grew up in Central New York – Michael in Syracuse and Susan in Cortland – they weren’t always aware of the needs and disparities that others were experiencing in nearby neighborhoods. Susan attributes her time in the Navy after college to broadening her worldview and teaching her about service. Michael, for his part, wishes he had gotten civically engaged at an earlier age. While serving on numerous CNY-based nonprofit boards, including the Community Foundation, Michael developed a deeper understanding of the needs of the community.
“With all of its resources and wealth, CNY still has some of the most significant poverty of anywhere in the United States. Through the efforts of the Community Foundation and so many other tremendous organizations, we hope that poverty can be reduced through safer living conditions, quality education, and supportive services for those in need. All of these lead to work – and putting people to meaningful, well-paid jobs is the key to turning the tide on poverty,” said Michael.
Susan and Michael met while they were both working at Agway. After it closed its doors, following a number of large corporations that were either shutting down or moving out of the area, they went on to establish and run a successful consulting business for many years. Now retired, Susan and Michael divide their time between Delaware, Baltimore, Charlotte and Upstate New York. But their strong connection to Central New York remains – in the form of family and philanthropy.
“Central New York was tremendous to us. We had great opportunities and appreciated our time here. We felt a sense of responsibility to leave something behind in recognition for the benefits we enjoyed, and the Community Foundation’s 5forCNY program seemed like the perfect fit for our overall estate plan,” said Susan.
The Community Foundation’s 5forCNY initiative, which invites community members to give back to the region by setting aside a portion of their assets for Central New York charities, immediately resonated with Michael and Susan.
“5forCNY just makes good financial and common sense to us. At a time when a considerable amount of wealth is transitioning out of Central New York, it is a great way for those of us who benefited from living in the region to pay it back. If everyone who was brought up and profited from being here would participate (whether they moved away or not), we could build up a tremendous resource to provide for future generations,” said Michael.
When Michael and Susan pass away, a portion of their estate will support Central New York’s greatest needs through the Community Foundation’s 5forCNY Fund. By combining their legacy gift with others, they are partnering with fellow community members to endow and amplify flexible support for today’s and tomorrow’s evolving needs and opportunities. Michael and Susan believe that the recipe for transformative community-wide impact requires community-wide participation. And from their perspective, it’s never too early – or late – to get involved.