ALBANY — SEFCU is committed to changing lives through financial services and by volunteering, providing monetary support, and partnering with local leaders and nonprofits to find solutions to the challenges facing our communities. The COVID-19 outbreak was no exception. As described below, since it started, SEFCU stepped up to support healthcare workers and nonprofit organizations that are feeding the individuals and families hit hardest during this pandemic.

“Through the commitment of our board of directors, dedication of our employees, and generosity of our members, SEFCU responded to the coronavirus pandemic with passion and creativity to ensure that our healthcare heroes and hungry neighbors received the support they needed. That selfless effort and its positive impact are what continue to motivate me, and so many people at SEFCU,” said SEFCU President and CEO Michael Castellana. “We are part of something bigger, and I believe our collective efforts and partnerships continue to provide our community with something better — especially during these times of great need.”

During June, SEFCU and its media partners News10ABC and iHeartMedia Albany joined forces for an online fundraising campaign called “No Neighbor Hungry.” To maximize the effort, SEFCU matched the first $100,000 raised to support nonprofits that are providing meals and food for people in our community.

The combination of the community’s generosity and SEFCU’s match raised more than $300,000 — $313,724 to be exact — during the “No Neighbor Hungry” campaign.

All of the donated funds are being distributed to nonprofit organizations that are focused on feeding individuals and families, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Capital Area, Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady, Catholic Charities, Feed Albany, Food Pantries for the Capital District, Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council, Inc., and South End Children’s Café.

“Thanks to SEFCU members, employees, local businesses, community leaders, and caring individuals, and our fantastic partnership with News10ABC and iHeartMedia, this campaign truly became a movement to address hunger and feed our neighbors,” said SEFCU Chief Community Officer Kathy Lanni. “My heart is full, and I am extremely proud of all the individuals and organizations who came together to meet the overwhelming need of the moment while ensuring that people in our region will continue to receive the nourishment, support, and care they need from the nonprofits who deliver it best.”

In addition, SEFCU’s Freight Farm — a 40-foot shipping container that has been converted into a high-tech hydroponic farm — remains fully operational, and 100% of its yield is being donated to community partners who are feeding those in need. Since the start of the pandemic back in March, SEFCU has provided local nonprofits with about 9,000 plants, including lettuce, basil and other cooking greens.

In April and May — during the height of the coronavirus outbreak in New York’s Capital Region — SEFCU spearheaded an effort to provide healthcare workers from Albany Med and St. Peter’s Hospital with a place to rest and recharge.

SEFCU, in collaboration with BBL, and thanks to additional support from CDPHP and MVP Health Care, transformed the Hilton Garden Inn in Albany into “Heroes Landing.” The hotel became a nearby respite for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to receive much-needed rest, nutrition, comfort, and strength between shifts.

Over the course of two months, 526 health care workers received respite, including a care package, meal and access to a room at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Heroes Landing was staffed every day, around the clock, by SEFCU volunteers who safely greeted our heroes, took their temperatures, and asked a few standard screening questions.

In total, more than 50 SEFCU employees committed nearly 2,500 volunteer hours during the 59 days Heroes Landing was open. SEFCU Solutions Professional Maggie Harrigan volunteered at Heroes Landing every day, dedicating more than 350 volunteer hours to this important initiative.

“We were as close as we could possibly be to this pandemic without being a front-line worker or someone who had COVID-19. It was eye opening to see how grateful, thankful, and appreciative these exhausted healthcare workers were. It truly was amazing to be a part of,” said Maggie Harrigan. “I felt really strongly about doing my part to help. If I couldn’t help my son and see my grandson, I wanted to be able to do my part to help someone else’s son or someone else’s family during this uncertain time.”

Additionally, at the start of the pandemic, SEFCU donated thousands of protective masks to St. Peter’s hospital, St. Catherine’s Center for Children and other organizations in need, and employees sewed and donated homemade masks as well.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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