Volunteering: Michaels Bersani Kalabanka program honors Auburn’s ‘heroes’

The following Article appeared in the Auburn Citizen Newspaper yesterday.  Pretty proud of my firm:

Volunteering: Michaels Bersani Kalabanka program honors Auburn’s ‘heroes’

When you think of a hometown hero, what comes to mind? Is it a first responder such as a police officer, firefighter or EMT? Maybe it’s an educator, a nurse, someone that stopped to help someone in need.

When the law firm of Michaels Bersani Kalabanka began thinking about doing something new to support the community, they looked to the United Way of Cayuga County as a natural fit. David Kalabanka of the firm said the United Way has “a firm understanding of the community’s pulse, especially when it comes to volunteers.”

Dave says that they like to give back and support local organizations, especially youth-based groups. When discussing the firm’s already active community involvement, they knew they wanted something different and a way to recognize more individuals. He said that working with the United Way came to mind because they “truly have eyes and ears in the community as to who is working to make it a better place.”

The result was a decision to recognize the many volunteer “heroes” that do great deeds, often unnoticed, throughout the region. And, so in 2013, the Everyday Hometown Heroes program began.

“Volunteers can often do thankless work, very graciously,” Dave said. “They are the people doing the tasks that make this a community and make it better.”

The Everyday Hometown Heroes program allows the United Way to recognize the efforts of one Cayuga County champion at each Auburn Doubledays home game with four box seat tickets and a $10 concession voucher. The hero is recognized briefly in the fourth inning by the Doubledays staff, which reads a paragraph about why this individual is deserving of this honor. Michaels Bersani Kalabanka kindly funds the entire program.

“Michaels Bersani Kalabanka has generously offered the Everyday Hometown Heroes program at the Auburn Doubledays for the past three years to all of our volunteers,” said Carrie Sue Hanno, interim executive director of the United Way of Cayuga County. “The United Way could not accomplish all that we do without the dedicated volunteers that provide us with tremendous talent, knowledge and the most valuable asset: time.”

The United Way seeks the help of its 23 partner agencies and 41 programs throughout the county in identifying these individuals. United Way and other community volunteers are on the front lines of turning actions and ideas into sustainable community solutions. Volunteer opportunities run the gamut of possibilities, from helping people learn to read to mentoring youth to serving on boards and committees. No matter what the task, they are giving their time, talent and resources into making our community stronger and ensuring opportunities for all.

For example, Carrie points out that the United Way’s CA$H program is such a success because of many community members who take time to learn a skill and then spend more time helping others get to a better financial place. With the free tax return program, 757 families were helped this year.

Additionally, all United Way committees are all comprised of volunteers who bring ideas, direction and a voice to the organization. They also have great office volunteers that really help them to get the job done.

Since the program started, the following individuals and groups have been recognized for their service to the community, the partner organizations, and the United Way of Cayuga County:

• Pat Allen

• Debbie Anderson

• Michelle Barber

• Sara Buhl

• Jessie Caza

• Jim Daddabbo

• Tim Donovan

• Melissa Flask

• JoAnne Field

• Felicia Franceschelli

• Cheryl Gabak

• Kimberly Gilfus

• Barbara Graney

• Ginny Kent

• Jennifer Haines


• Renee Jensen

• Judy Lepak (first Hometown Hero)

• Lynne Marinelli

• Laura Marquart

• Susan Marteney

• Ted and Anne Mosley

• JD Pabis

• Karen Quest

• Tom Schuster

• Jamie Sears

• Nancy Sumner

• Joan Taggart

• Marion Wezowicz

• Laurie Whiting

• Jon Wilcox

Carrie noted, “I am thankful that Michaels Bersani Kalabanka law offers the Everyday Hometown Heroes program to show the family and friends of our volunteers how much they are appreciated and that they can be proud of the work they do to help balance things at home while their volunteer loved one is giving of themselves.”


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