From April 15-21, organizations throughout the country will be celebrating the individuals who give freely of their time and talent to support causes, programs and initiatives that mean so much to them.
At the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, more than 75 individuals volunteer annually to serve on grant, scholarship and policy committees to support the Foundation’s mission of “enriching the quality of life in the Chautauqua region.”
Below are five of the many individuals the Foundation is grateful to have worked with during its 40-year legacy in the community.
Victoria Patti serves as Community Engagement Coordinator and Training Specialist for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene. Throughout her professional career, she has had the opportunity to volunteer in many different ways in the community from serving on nonprofit organization boards to planning community events.
Currently, Patti is the coordinator for The Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention, as well as, past president for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
“As a growing professional, not only have I found a passion for (volunteering), but my time spent on the board has taught me the ins and outs of what it takes to run an organization,” Patti said. “It is not easy, but working with a group that cares, I feel we can do anything together to help the children and our community get stronger.
Mary Jane Griffith
Mary Jane Griffith has been an active member of the Foundation’s scholarship committee for many years, as well as, Ross Grange #305 where she currently serves as treasurer.
Griffith is also very involved in her hometown of Ellington, serving as past president and current treasurer of the Ellington Farman Library, treasurer of the Ellington Town Picnic Association, and member of the Ellington Fireman’s Auxiliary.
“I volunteer because I enjoy being with other people who are passionate about making a difference in our community,” Griffith said.
Harold Brunacini is a certified public accountant and partner with James W. Vanstrom and Company. In 2016, Brunacini became a member of the Foundation and has served on various committees, including the community service grants committee and the audit committee.
Brunacini is also a member of the Falconer Rotary Club and serves as treasurer on the Board of Directors at Infinity Visual and Performing Arts.
“When I step back and think of (the organizations I am a part of) and the impact they have had on our community and the lives they have touched over the years, it is very inspiring and I am thankful I have had a chance to be a part of it,” Brunacini said.
Karl Wiggins is currently the Vice President of GA Family Services in Jamestown. Dedicated to supporting youth in the community, Wiggins is a board member at Chautauqua Striders, serves on the governance committee at Chautauqua Tapestry, is vice chair with the Community and Family Association of New York State and is a member of the Western NY Citizens Review Committee.
For several years, Wiggins has also been a member at the Foundation, serving on a number of grants committees.
“I feel it is important to learn about the community you live in and give something back,” Wiggins said.
Retired Superintendent of Schools for the Panama Central School District, Carol Hay has been a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2010. She served as the Board’s secretary from 2012-2014 and as vice-president in 2014.
A Panama resident, Hay currently volunteers as chair of the church council at Panama United Methodist Church and has been involved in numerous church boards and committees. She is also a member of the Sherman Historical Society, coordinating the organization’s public relations, managing the required paperwork, serving as a guide at the Yorker Museum, as well as, managing different aspects at the museum.
Hay is also very involved with her community, making meals and running errands for those in need, driving friends and neighbors to doctor’s appointments, and more.
“I feel I am here to serve others, doing whatever I can to help organizations and individuals,” Hay said. “I feel fulfilled and happiest when I can do something for someone else.”
For 40 years, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has worked together with its inspiring donors, selfless volunteers and grateful community organizations to share their stories for enriching the quality of life for all who live here.