As we begin this new year of 2022, I’d like to reflect on FOCUS’s activities in 2021 as well as our plans for 2022.
FOCUS was very active this past year, despite the challenges COVID-19 continued to present. Highlights of our activity in 2021 included:
- Hosting 2 Wisdom Keeper events with generous sponsorships from a variety of businesses, organizations, and individuals:
- Our 2020 Wisdom Keeper Virtual event in January celebrated the entire Central New York Community for service, resilience, and innovation in the time of COVID.
- Our 2021 Wisdom Keeper Celebration was held in October and celebrated 3 fabulous individuals: the Honorable Van B. Robinson, Linda Brown-Robinson, and Merike Treier. (This event was held in-person, following State and County guidelines for holding such an event.)
- We conducted monthly virtual FOCUS Forums on a variety of topics including bridging the digital divide, workforce development, priorities of our Mayor and County Executive for making our community a better place for all, and higher education in the time of COVID. Our forums even caught the attention of now Governor Hochul, who gave opening remarks on our childcare forum.
- We returned to hosting a 10-session Citizens Academy, in-person, with a class of approximately 35 individuals. In partnership with Syracuse University’s Office of Community Engagement, Onondaga Couonty and the City of Syracuse, the class traveled to many interesting locations in Onondaga County, including the Lakeview Amphitheater, Skӓ•noñh Great Law of Peace Center, Justice Center, Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant and Syracuse City Hall.
- Working under contract with the Onondaga County Department of Adult & Long Term Care Services and the Onondaga County Health Department, FOCUS facilitated the Livable Community Alliance of Onondaga County. The Alliance was comprised of over 40 representatives of local government, nonprofit organizations, and individuals, and focused on building a 3-year Action Plan to achieve the goal of a more Age-Friendly Onondaga County. A draft Executive Order supporting the action plan is currently under consideration by the County Executive.
This activity occurred while transitioning our staff, including celebrating the retirement of Dee Klees, our former Communications Director, and her great work for FOCUS. In late March, we welcomed Jessica Lisi as our new Communications and Office Manager. Jessica has taken on her new role with energy and enthusiasm. She has made great strides in improving our media presence, including social media. She planned and ran our Citizens Academy this year and has been involved in nearly every other aspect of FOCUS’s activities since coming on board. We are lucky to have her.
We look forward to continuing our work of citizen engagement in this coming year. Planning of our FOCUS Forums is already underway with the recently completed January forum seeking ideas from the community on topics of interest. In partnership with the CNY Community Foundation, we will be surveying our network to better understand the actual and perceived needs of our community. Our Citizens Academy committee is evaluating how we can broaden the reach of this much acclaimed program. Our Visioning committee is considering how to best involve the community in setting new goals for the future of Central New York, similar to what was done 25 years ago when FOCUS was founded. Our Fund Development committee is working on a plan for FOCUS’s financial sustainability.
FOCUS could not do what it does without the tremendous support and active engagement of our Board of Directors. It is an honor to work with these individuals who are so dedicated to FOCUS’s goal of facilitating, educating, and celebrating citizen engagement in order make Central New York a better place to live.
We look forward to another great year!
Rita L. Reicher, PhD
FOCUS Board President