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Mary Pat Oliker

Central New York has been my home for 50 years. It is where I met my husband, where our careers flourished and where we discovered a shared commitment to the many nonprofit and charitable organizations making a difference in our community.

My passion for giving back was inspired and nurtured by the values and practices in my family – from my grandmother’s weekly contributions to her parish to my mother’s volunteer commitment, in deed and in dollar, to higher education and healthcare in the Rochester community where we lived. The expectations for ‘giving back’ were instilled in me and my brothers from an early age. 

It was while I was attending graduate school at Syracuse University that I met my late husband, Dick. Soon after, our respective careers at Syracuse University and at Upstate Medical University thrived. We were invited to serve on Boards and to participate in the larger Syracuse community in many areas over the years. Our respective volunteer activities introduced us to community leaders, organizations and programs that gave each of us experiences and opportunities far beyond our expectations.

The people I’ve met and worked with and the experiences we have shared have helped me define my own pattern of ‘giving back’. Our careers reinforced our shared passion for higher education and opened our eyes to the healthcare needs of our community. These two causes and the arts have provided a personal imperative for me to give my time and my charitable support.

The Community Foundation provides the vehicle to ‘pay back to pay forward’ through my donor-advised fund. I have also named the Community Foundation in my estate plan, knowing that our legacy of support for Central New York-based education, healthcare and arts programs will be honored into the future.

I am proud to give back to the community where Dick and I made our life together. I find comfort in knowing the Community Foundation will honor our wishes and use our funds to support the areas of interest that so profoundly defined our careers and broader community commitments.