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Your Story is Our Story

Each of us has a story to share – tales that remind, inform or guide. The Community Foundation's 85 year history is but a compilation of thousands of your stories. Those of our donors, whose values and interests are perpetuated in the funds housed here, and those of the nonprofit leaders and community visionaries who have crossed our threshold to partner, lead and motivate for the betterment of Central New York.

Join us as we celebrate our 85-year anniversary by sharing some of these truly inspiring stories with you.

These interviews are provided courtesy of StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives. www.storycorps.org

Beth Broadway

Beth Broadway is local civic rights activist and founder of the Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism. This organization has reached over 8,000 people in Syracuse who have participated and learned about racism and how they can stand up against it. Beth spoke with Melanie Littlejohn, a coactivist and friend, to discuss the local work being done to bridge gaps between ethnicities.


This segment was produced by Otto Media. To support InterFaith Works, visit its website.

Ginny Donahue


Ginny Donahue is the founder of On Point for College, an organization that helps underprivileged students to get in to college, stay there, and succeed afterwards. The program has placed more than 3,200 students into 216 colleges and will soon be expanding to two additional cities. Ginny sat with co-worker Sam Rowser to discuss how On Point came about and the impact it has had on our community’s college-bound children.

This segment was produced by StoryCorps and Long Haul Productions. To support On Point for College, visit its website.

Linda Donalson

Linda Donalson began the KJ’s Angels Memorial Fund in honor of her son, KJ, who passed away when he was 3 months old. This group supports other families that cannot afford cemetery markers for their deceased children. Linda shared with Cindy Squillace the story of how the KJ’s Angels Memorial Fund was formed and already has helped over 225 families.

This segment was produced by Otto Media. To support KJ's Angels Memorial Fund, visit its giving page.

Walter Eiland

Walter Eiland is the president of 100 Black Men of Syracuse, an organization that aims to improve the quality of life within Syracuse communities and enhance educational and economic opportunities of all African Americans. This organization focuses on educating and mentoring children and teens of local underserved populations. Walter sat with coworker Vince Love to discuss his experiences with 100 Black Men and the impact its mentoring has had on our local children.


This segment was produced by WAER 88.3FM. To support 100 Black Men of Syracuse, visit its website.

Barb Genton

Barb Genton is the board chair of Sage Upstate, an organization that promotes the health and well being of LGBTQ individuals in Central New York as they age. Leading Sage after a long and successful teaching career has helped Barb give back to the community she grew up in. Barb sat down with Kim Dill, the executive director of Sage Upstate, to explain the lessons she’s learned through volunteering and some of the personal struggles she faced in her life and career.



This segment was produced by WAER 88.3FM. To support Sage Upstate, visit its website.

The Hancocks

The Hancock family has had a long history in the Central New York area. Ruth Pass Hancock was motivated as a child by her family to carry on their sense of philanthropy and community leadership. Ruth sat with her daughter, Marion Hancock Fish, to tell of her experiences growing up in Syracuse and how her family played a key role in improving the Syracuse area.



This segment was produced by Otto Media. To support Huntington Family Center, visit its website.

The Holsteins

Chuckie Holstein has been leading civic engagement projects in Central New York for many years. She explained to her husband, Alex, how her desire to give back has been ingrained in her since childhood.


This segment was produced by StoryCorps and Long Haul Productions. To support the Holsteins Family Fund for Civic Engagement, visit its giving page.

The Johnsons

The parents of William Johnson, Al and Chris, recently reflected on how their son’s short life had a positive impact on the people around him. William passed away at the age of 12 due to complications from a rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.


This segment was produced by StoryCorps and Long Haul Productions. To support the William Johnson Memorial Fund, visit its giving page.

Clarence Jordan

The late Clarence Jordan was the former executive director of the Rescue Mission and later served as development director at Mercy Works. Jordan served the Syracuse community for decades. In 2012, he discussed his professional motivations and personal experiences with his good friend, Bob Hood.


This segment was produced by StoryCorps and Long Haul Productions. To support MercyWorks, visit its website.

The Linns

Zalie and Bob Linn are long-standing community volunteers and philanthropists in support of various local nonprofits throughout Syracuse. The Rosalia Hull and Robert H. Linn Fund at the Community Foundation supports organizations in Central New York that are near and dear to their hearts. Together, they discussed their community support experiences, hoping that following generations are inspired to do the same.


This segment was produced by Otto Media.To support Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, visit its website.

Agnes McCray

Agnes McCray is a mother of three, a sibling to nine, a daughter, an advocate, a board member of ARISE, and a person with “extravagant differences.” She was determined since childhood to make it possible to live a normal life and to embrace what makes her different. She talked with Nancy Kern Kronen, Director of Development and Public Relations at ARISE, about her experiences blazing trails in the area of disability rights.


This segment was produced by StoryCorps and Long Haul Productions. To support ARISE, visit its website.

Peggy Ogden

Peggy Ogden served as the Community Foundation’s president and CEO for 20 years. Under her helm, the Community Foundation’s endowment grew from $3 million in assets in 1979 to more than $120 million by 2008 and hundreds of charitable intentions and legacy stories were recorded to inspire the community’s future. Peggy sat with colleague Dotty Irish to give examples of some of these inspiring stories.


This segment was produced by Otto Media. To support the Peggy Ogden Community Fund, visit its giving page.

Dorothy Riester

Dorothy Riester spent her life as an artist, inspiring others through her work and her words of kindness. She spoke with Steven Waldron, Art Park board member, about her inspirations in art and in life.


This segment was produced by StoryCorps and Long Haul Productions. To support the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, visit its giving page.

Dene Sarason

Dene Sarason has volunteered with local nonprofit organizations in the community for many years. She and her late-husband Dr. Ernest Sarason were long-time community philanthropists. Dene sat with one of her sons, Robert Sarason, to discuss the service she and her husband took part in for community improvement.


This segment was produced by Otto Media. To support the Central New York Community Foundation, visit its giving page.

Mary Alice Smothers

Mary Alice Smothers, commonly known in her neighborhood as Aunt Alice, has lived in the Near Westside of Syracuse all of her life. She watched this once vibrant community become a vacant one, but now enjoys watching the neighborhood come alive again. She told Marilyn Higgins, board president of the Near Westside Initiative, about all the changes she has seen first-hand.


This segment was produced by StoryCorps and Long Haul Productions. To support the Near Westside Initiative, visit its website.

Jai Subedi

Jai Subedi, a refugee from Bhutan, resettled in Syracuse with his relatives in 2008. He founded the Bhutanese Community Association, an agency that teaches English to refugees, helps them obtain their citizenship, and holds cultural events for families. Jai sat down with Olive Sephuma, a friend from the Community Foundation and Leadership Classroom training program, to discuss the struggles he has gone through as a refugee and how he is helping others to overcome those same struggles.


This segment was produced by Otto Media. To support the Center for New Americans, visit its website.

Patty Weisse

Patty Weisse, Executive Director of the Baltimore Woods Nature Center participated in the John F. Marsellus Sabbatical in 2007. She talked to John Marsellus, son of the late John F. Marsellus for whom the sabbatical program is named, to explain how the experience taught her about herself and affected her leadership.


This segment was produced by StoryCorps and Long Haul Productions. To support the Baltimore Woods Nature Center, visit its giving page.

Watch Video: What is the Central New York Community Foundation?

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