Legacy Giving – Shirley Florczyk

Giving to help others: start small and see how it feels

Having a conversation with Shirley Florczyk is like opening a window on the first warm day of spring—it just feels great! After a 36-year career at United Parcel Service, Shirley is grateful, and a little surprised too, how she is able to be a part of the lifesaving work at Upstate Medical University through her giving at the Upstate Foundation. 

“I am a big believer, when you do good things, good things come back to you,” says Shirley, as she recalls the first gift she gave to the Foundation “It was small, but it felt great.” 

While listening to a local television station in 2005, she 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. 

Since that first gift to the Foundation, Shirley’s connection to Upstate has continued to grow, playing an important role in her life, especially in retirement. In addition to the Children’s Hospital, Shirley has supported the Foundation’s fundraising campaigns for the Upstate Cancer Center, pediatric emergency department and Golisano Center for Special Needs through the years. She solidified her commitment to Upstate with legacy gift in 2014. It wasn’t until this native Syracusan toured Upstate’s Cancer Center that things hit home. “My eyes were really opened. Not only did I not realize all that we have right at our fingertips,” I never thought I would see my name on a room at the hospital.”

She reflects on lessons she learned from her mother and father, as she described them as giving people. The concept of giving was instilled in Shirley at a young age.   

“My mother taught my sister and me to always take a gift when you went to someone’s home, don’t go empty handed, even if it’s a bag of chips,” she said, adding that she encouraged her sister to join her in supporting Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital as well. 

As she enters her 16th year of retirement, she still looks forward to opening camp for the season in one of her favorite places, the Adirondack Mountains. Yet, she continues to find it in her heart to support three local charities, commenting, “If it’s local and it’s a good thing then I say, why not? I enjoy being a cheerleader for Central New York.” 

Teaching the next generation about “doing good” is important to Shirley, who regularly shares her philosophy with her three nephews. She had a big smile on her face as she shared an experience with one nephew who repeated back to her the importance of doing good for others. Her impact will be felt for generations to come. 

Shirley chuckles as she hears the phrase, “living the dream,” but admits that being a good steward of what resources she has, working with her financial planner and giving to help others, has “helped me accomplish my dream of retiring without having to work again and still have enough to help others.” 

She encourages others to take a few minutes and look at everything Upstate Medical University and Upstate Foundation make happen. 

When it comes to philanthropy, Shirley encourages others to “start small and see how it makes you feel. Every time I give, it feels great.”

“It never hurts to pay it forward. I like being part of the Upstate Foundation. I never thought I’d be in a position to name a room at the Cancer Center. I love it, and I am not done yet!” Shirley exclaimed. 


Photo: Shirley Florczyk is a member of the Upstate Legacy Society, leaving a gift from her estate to further the work for which she cares deeply. 


To learn how you can leave a legacy gift to help others at the Upstate Foundation, contact Carolyn Hendrickson, director of planned giving at 315-464-6490 or hendricc@upstate.edu