Ron & Sheila Cuccaro

Ron & Sheila Cuccaro at the The Community Foundation on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Utica, NY. (PHOTO BY NANCY L. FORD)

We’re fortunate here at The Community Foundation to work with many amazing individuals who are motivated to make change a reality. Generosity comes in many forms, often as a charitable donation but also through commitment of time, energy and thoughtfulness to making our communities better, more vibrant places to live.

The names of these outstanding individuals often become symbolic of their leadership, generosity and the positive outcomes of their efforts. Among Community Foundation staff and our nonprofit partners, the name Cuccaro is well known.

Introduced to The Community Foundation through friends and colleagues, Ron and Sheila Cuccaro learned that establishing a fund would help their charitable investments grow over time, maximizing their philanthropic impact for the benefit of the community they’re passionate about.

The Cuccaros sought to contribute to both established nonprofits as well as smaller, startup organizations and were drawn to The Community Foundation because of its broad reach and impactful community partnerships. In 2006, the couple established the Ronald and Sheila Cuccaro Family Fund and in the years since have granted more than $100,000 to more than 30 local nonprofit organizations and programs.

“The community has been good to us,” said Ron. “We raised our children here, and we always believed we needed to give something back.”

Ron is the founding president and executive chairman of Adjusters International, one of the nation’s premier disaster recovery consulting organizations. Effortlessly charismatic, with a smile that’s been known to be contagious, Ron is distinguished for both his professional and philanthropic accomplishments. His elevated position as a prominent community leader is grounded by the genuine kindness and integrity he displays in every interaction.

Ron’s family immigrated from Italy, arriving in Utica with just a few belongings. He was fortunate to grow up during a time when opportunity was plentiful, and his family thrived; he would like others who are new to this area to have that same opportunity. The Ronald and Sheila Cuccaro Family Fund focuses on human services and programs that help those struggling to meet basic needs. The Cuccaros feel strongly that everyone deserves access to fundamental care and are inspired to give to groups that help individuals attain food, clothing and housing.

The Cuccaros also support childhood education initiatives and nonprofits that serve the community’s growing refugee populations. Over the years, they have awarded grants in support of these causes through organizations such as the Utica Public Library and the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees.

“We believe in helping children achieve a solid education,” said Sheila. “It’s one of the most important aspects of building the foundation for a successful life.”

Ron and Sheila’s community involvement goes beyond their grantmaking and includes significant commitments of time and energy to causes they care about most. In fact, Sheila refers to Ron as “the master volunteer,” a role that gives him perspective on our community’s greatest needs. Since 2012, Ron has advanced countless projects and initiatives as a member of The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees, serving as Board chair from 2015 to 2017.

Ron is quick to share how meaningful his experience has been as a representative of The Community Foundation.

“Working with a lot of great, young people at The Community Foundation—many of whom were not here when I first got involved—has been one of the most rewarding experiences,” he said. “Watching the organization transform and seeing all the progress that has taken place, even in just the last five years, makes it very worthwhile to be a part of it all.”

In his opinion, the most significant change has been The Community Foundation’s transition from transactional grantmaker to proactive leader of initiatives that address the community’s greatest needs.

Sheila hopes these changes will encourage others’ generosity, leading them to establish a donor-advised fund and experience the opportunities it affords donors.

“I hope others with the ability to give in the future discover the benefits of creating a fund that can benefit their charitable passions as well as make a difference to the organizations whose work inspires them,” she said.

Timeless as Ron and Sheila’s partnership, the Ronald and Sheila Cuccaro Family Fund will have a lasting impact. Through their dedication to the community they love, the pair has shaped a family legacy that will be remembered for years to come.