Legacy Society member stories

Grateful for the extraordinary care her daughter received at the center, and the support her family also received, Iris wished to “create something in perpetuity that was going to benefit other families like ours.”

For Iris Buczkowski, whose oldest daughter is autistic, the new Golisano Center for Special Needs at Upstate Medical University was a life changer.

So much so, in fact, Iris and her family decided to leave a legacy gift to the center through the Upstate Foundation.

“My daughter utilized services at the center for a rather extensive period of time,” said Iris, who is a business owner in Rome, NY, where she also lives and is raising her family. “After successfully completing an intense therapy program, she became herself once again and was back to the happy child we knew we had.”

Grateful for the extraordinary care her daughter received at the center, and the support her family also received, Iris wished to “create something in perpetuity that was going to benefit other families like ours.”

A licensed financial advisor and chief executive officer of Birch Wealth Management, Iris donated a life insurance policy to the Upstate Foundation that will establish an endowment supporting the needs of the Golisano Center for Special Needs for future generations.

Iris understands the impact of legacy giving and routinely explores the topic with her clients.

“It’s actually my favorite part of what I do, because I get to show people how to really maximize something that is meaningful to them while they are planning at the younger stages of their financial life,” said Iris. “I wanted to set an example that you don’t have to be at retirement age or past your working years to make a meaningful legacy gift that’s going to create a long-term impact; you can leverage money to make an even bigger gift than you think you can.”

A wife and mother of three, Iris strives to make a positive impact in other aspects of her busy life. She is actively involved in her community, serving on local boards including the chamber of commerce.

“Part of who I am is that I am always looking for ways to give back,” she said. “I teach my kids this; they do it through their sporting events, and they volunteer for causes that are close to our hearts. I think when you’re in a position to have a voice and you’re considered a leader, it’s our duty.”

As for partnering with Upstate Foundation to leave her legacy gift to the Golisano Center for Special Needs?

“They made giving very, very easy because the team has a collective approach,” Iris explained. “They’re accessible if you have questions. They facilitate all of the administrative responsibilities. And they’re just fun people with whom to work. I would encourage anybody who wants to make a charitable gift to have that conversation.”


For more information about ways to create your own personal Legacy, contact your financial advisor or call the Upstate Foundation, 315-464-4416.

“If you have a spark to do something that’s bigger than yourself… say yes to that impulse. Say yes to life.”

“It feels like there is a sense of peace, and it feels humbling, because this is something that will be happening after I leave this world,” said Daniel. “If you have a spark to do something that’s bigger than yourself, this is a wonderful avenue for it. And I would recommend it for anybody. Say yes to that impulse. Say yes to life.”
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“It’s very gratifying… knowing we will continue to help young people with mental health issues.

“I think Corey would be extremely proud of us,” said Lisa. “I can’t tell you how many people reached out to us after the fact and told us she was always there for them.”
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“It’s a way to help make sure others have the same positive experience you’ve had.”

“Dr. Wright was like an angel on earth,” said Dick. “When Priscilla was hospitalized, I was so impressed by the care that he, and every nurse and orderly showed not only to Priscilla and me, but all patients and families on the oncology floor. Even though Priscilla was going through a traumatic time, it was joyous how everyone was treated like family. I still get emotional about it even today.”
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“We’ve been blessed. There’s no question.” 

They consider themselves blessed. That is why Dr. Frederick “Fritz” Parker and his wife Ginny included the Upstate Foundation in their estate plans.
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“I want to invest in the lives and health of children.”  

It’s no wonder, then, that Dr. Victoria Meguid – who has been a powerful force for pediatric care at Upstate Medical University since 1992 – has made the Upstate Foundation a beneficiary of her retirement plan.
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“It never hurts to pay it forward. I like being part of the Upstate Foundation.”

While listening to a local television station in 2005, Shirley Florczyk  heard about a motorcycle ride supporting Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. She sent in a gift and ended up connecting with Toni Gary, assistant vice president for development for the Children’s Hospital… the beginning of a wonderful relationship for both women.
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Charitable gift annuity benefits both donors and Upstate  

“It’s terrific! You can have your cake and eat it, too.” This is how Dr. Michael Ratner and his wife Rissa describe their latest philanthropic endeavor – a charitable gift annuity through the Upstate Foundation.

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Legacy gift reflects love for community

A legacy gift as part of Jim and Ceme Curley’s estate plan is just one more step in an enduring relationship with the Upstate Foundation. 

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A legacy that inspires

“Your legacy is how you’ve led your life and how you’ve influenced someone else,” said Molly King, who added to her legacy in this community by including the Upstate Foundation in her estate plans.

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Former longtime Upstate physicians help children and families through legacy gift

“Leaving Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital as a beneficiary in our will was an easy decision for us,” says Dr. Richard Sills, former director of the Dr. William J. Waters Center for Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders, and Dr. Irene Sills, former professor of pediatrics, pediatric endocrinologist at Upstate University Hospital.

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Sick children helped by retired nurse’s planning and commitment

When Elizabeth “Betty” Runkle created the gift annuity, she remarked, “The health profession has given me so much. I’m glad to have the opportunity to pay it back in a small way.” Read more…


Lifetimes of service inspire a legacy of hope

John and Mell Gleason’s professional lives have been devoted to the not-for-profit sector. Read more…