April 17 – 23 is National Volunteer Week, and we will be profiling several Tidal Basin and Adjusters International team members who are doing fantastic work both in and out of the office. To them, volunteerism is not a one-time deal but a year-long commitment to those – both near and far – who may need a helping hand. Whether it's fundraising, shaving their heads in solidarity, competing in athletic challenges, or providing homecooked meals to those in need, we hope the acts of kindness profiled in these stories will inspire you to show your community some love.
When Shareen Jordan isn’t with family or overseeing the digital marketing for Tidal Basin and Adjusters International, she is giving her time to help others in her community. “We all have something to give. Some people have time, others have money, and some smile and offer a friendly “hello,’” said Jordan. “For me, I like volunteering.” For Jordan, two charitable organizations share a special place in her heart: Pets for Vets and Lasagna Love.
Once a year, Jordan and her husband participate in a fundraiser for Pets for Vets, a nonprofit that connects military veterans with rescued animals.Every Memorial Day, participants compete in the Murph Challenge, a workout used by Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient Michael Murphy, honoring the men and women of the armed forces that lost their lives in defense of our nation’s freedom. The workout consists of a mile run, 300 air squats, 200 push-ups, 100 pull-ups, and ends with another mile run. The money raised benefits Pets for Vets local chapters.
Many brave troops return home with scars – both seen and unseen – which makes the transition back to civilian life difficult. At the same time, millions of wonderful animals wait in shelters for a forever home. Pets for Vets is the bridge that brings them together.
When Jordan isn’t training for the Murph, she’s in the kitchen making lasagna.
Jordan loves to cook and frequently uses her kitchen talents to help people in need. Jordan is a member of Lasagna Love, a global nonprofit and grassroots movement aimed to connect neighbors with neighbors through homemade meal delivery.Every month Jordan makes lasagnas for local families in need – any kind of need. “They could be having a hard time. They could be feeling sad. They could just want a lasagna. It is a way to spread kindness,” said Jordan.
Jordan believes that volunteering comes in a variety of ways. “We are all in this world together, trying our best to make it through each day. Some days are a breeze, others a challenge. When we give what we can, when we throw it out there in the world, we make someone’s day a bit easier. In turn, our day becomes brighter, and everyone wins.
When Susan Currie learned that 60% of students in a suburban Buffalo school district live below the poverty line and over 40% receive reduced cost or free meals during weekdays, she knew she had to help. Currie and a handful of church members got together and brainstormed a solution. That was 2015. The following year, Daily Bread food truck, Buffalo's only nonprofit food truck, was hitting the pavement.
"We began working with social workers in the district to identify families in need," said Currie. "Those families were the first to benefit from our free food deliveries."
The Daily Bread food truck provides meals to food-insecure families in the Amherst, NY area by employing a "get one, give one" philosophy. Daily Bread sells meals prepared by volunteer chefs in summer and fall and delivers meals to those in need during the colder months. When the pandemic hit in 2019, Currie and the team shifted their business model to provide 100% free meals right from the truck, thanks to donations from area restaurants and truck volunteers.
Similar to her role at Tidal Basin and Adjustors International, Currie flexed her creative marketing muscle and assisted with the food truck's branding, website, social media, and video production. She also walked the routes for meal delivery, helped to fundraise, and once even drove the truck to an event and worked as a short-order cook!
"Being out in the community and talking to the people benefiting from our free meals really shows first-hand what a difference we make for struggling families," said Currie. "The outpouring of help from our community has been an eye-opening experience, especially during these difficult times."
Riding with Purpose
After months of training, Team Tidal Basin packed their bags, their bikes and met up in the Sunshine State for the Pan-Florida Challenge Cancer Bike Ride. This annual event raises much-needed funds for the Moffitt Cancer Center, cancer research, patient support, and food for children impacted by food insecurity.
"We have had family, friends, and coworkers battling cancer and have experienced firsthand its impact on our loved ones," said Laura DeLoach, Vice President, Resource Management. "We wanted to help our local community fight cancer, and the Pan-Florida Challenge Cancer Ride was a way for us to raise funds that provide meaningful support."
Team Tidal Basin included Laura DeLoach, Carlos Castillo, Chief Development Officer and Senior Vice President; Bill Slater, Vice President, Public Assistance and Recovery; Melissa Gordon, Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer; and Arthur Glickstein, Associate Project Manager. Collectively, they rode 386 miles for charity."Living a purposeful life is both fulfilling and rewarding when we make time to support and help others in need," said DeLoach.
Riding for a good cause isn't something new for Castillo. "I enjoy getting exercise and helping others at the same time," said Castillo. Over 12 years, he has ridden in many cycling events, raising funds for diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer research, and various nonprofit organizations. Most recently, Castillo rode side-by-side with 200 other riders to support orphans in Ukraine.
"Helping people is something I love doing," said Castillo. "Whether it is giving your time or resources, it is humanitarian to give back to others."
For Daina Ocaña, any child diagnosed with cancer is one too many. That is why she has dedicated her time and energy to bringing support and funds to help young patients beat cancer. When the Tidal Basin Caribe case manager isn’t working with her Community Energy & Water Resilience Installation Program team in Puerto Rico, she participates in events to raise money for CAP Foundation. CAP is a local nonprofit focused on providing young Puerto Rican patients with the best treatment available in pediatric oncology.
“This charity is so special to me,” said Ocaña. “I want these children to know that they are not alone in this fight.”
Once a year, CAP hosts Uniendo Cabezas (Joining Heads), a hugely popular event that draws thousands of Puerto Rican business leaders, celebrities, elected officials, patient families, and friends to participate in an act of solidarity – to shave their hair off. And for the past four years, Ocaña has been there and looks forward to doing it again soon.
“One hundred percent of the funds raised are invested in purchasing state-of-the-art medical equipment and improving the University Pediatric Hospital facilities at Centro Médico,” explained Ocaña. The CAP Foundation also provides emotional support services to aid young patients in their treatment and recovery.
For Ron Cuccaro, being involved in his upstate New York community – where our company was founded – has been a lifelong passion and endeavor. For the Rising Phoenix Holdings Corporation Executive Chairman, his philanthropy work is rooted in reinventing the formerly industrial, now rust belt community into one of commerce, innovation, and opportunity. And how does he do that? By helping the underserved population. “The rising sea floats all boats,” explained Cuccaro. “Help the people, and all else will be well.”
At a young age, Cuccaro got to experience firsthand the kindness of others and credits the local Boys Club for that. The “Boys Club kept me out of trouble,” explained Cuccaro. “They were pretty good at keeping me busy, and that impacted my life.”
Years later, at the beginning of his career, Cuccaro started his volunteer and philanthropy work and joined his local United States Junior Chamber. As a Jaycee, Cuccaro received leadership and volunteer training and was called upon when a civic organization needed help. One of his first projects was to fundraise for Arc, which serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “We sold Christmas trees in the winter and hosted its annual carnival,” recalled Cuccaro. “We raised enough funds to help Arc buy their first community home. Since then, more than 30 community homes have been built, but we purchased the first one. The home still stands today. I drive by it often, and I feel a sense of accomplishment.” Ron went on to serve as a board member and president of Arc.
While Cuccaro volunteered with the Jaycees, he got involved with the Downtown Utica Development Association and connected local businesses with nonprofits to improve the community. He met with legislators, councilmen and women, and other elected officials and coordinated its annual summer festival to raise funds for improvement projects.
He brought about change when he saw that the local government didn’t reflect the ethnic diverse community it served, so he created a coalition comprised of a diverse group of community members, including minorities, garnered petition signatures, and made legislative changes to redistrict representation.
Cuccaro later served as a trustee at Utica College for 24 years and chair for four years.
For the past 10 years, Cuccaro has dedicated his free time to the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties and currently serves as a trustee. The Foundation supports its counties by pooling donations and creating permanently endowed funds to address current and future community needs.Some of the initiatives the Foundation support include: the COVID-19 relief fund for impacted families, funding for two new affordable all-service residential buildings equipped with childcare and senior center, a local flood recovery campaign, and The Center – a robust hub that provides resettlement, education and community resources and services to refugees, immigrants and the residents of Utica and Mohawk Valley. The Foundation has transformed decades of donor generosity into $100 million invested in social impact initiatives, collaborative leadership, grantmaking, and scholarships – an initiative of which Cuccaro is proud to be a part.
“Addressing systematic issues in my community is very rewarding,” said Cuccaro. But sometimes, his volunteer work is more personal. His granddaughter Isabel was born with a congenital heart defect. “Thanks to the swift action of the medical team, they saved her life.” Isabel, now 23 years old, was Cuccaro’s North Star when he participated in the local American Heart Association Heart Runs and served on their board for nine years.
“Volunteering is incredible,” said Cuccaro. “You always get more than you give. It’s gratifying to see the people you help accomplish wonderful things.”