Volunteer Spotlight: Amanda Sucato

Amanda Sucato manages Energy Efficiency programs at Central Hudson, helping customers to get the most value out of their electricity and natural gas. Throughout her ten years at Central Hudson, she has become a respected leader and was a natural choice for chair of the utility’s 2015-2016 United Way workplace campaign.

Amanda has lived in Poughkeepsie her entire life, except for her college years, when she earned her degree in Electric Engineering from Syracuse University.  As a prior summer intern for Central Hudson, she knew the Hudson Valley and Central Hudson were her first choices for location and career goals. Upon graduation in 2005, she joined Central Hudson in its Engineering department.

While she began to volunteer almost immediately, it was not her first time in that role. When Amanda was a student at Poughkeepsie High School, she and her high school tennis coach received a grant from the United States Tennis Association to provide tennis clinics for underserved fifth and sixth grade girls who showed an interest in learning the sport. The grant provided a week of lessons, tennis rackets, equipment, t-shirts, and transportation to the participants, as well as a celebratory pizza party. Years later, one of the students who had participated in this program told Amanda of the positive impact the experience had had on her life:  “If it hadn’t been for you, I would have never learned the game of tennis.  I still play to this day.”

A commitment to improving her community has always been important to Amanda. Currently, she is devoting much time and energy to Central Hudson’s employee campaign, one of the largest in the region.

“I love the Hudson Valley, and donations to the United Way go right back into our community. It’s a great way to keep giving local!”

Amanda is proud to have been selected as the current Central Hudson campaign chair. Last year, she served as the campaign co-chair, which gave her the opportunity to become more familiar with the work of United Way and to transition into being the chair this year. “In my time as co-chair, I learned which campaign incentives were popular, and this year I brought some ideas of my own.” For example, Amanda instituted a popular new auction that offers vacation time as the prize.

Amanda also hosted kick-off breakfasts at each Central Hudson district site. Although each breakfast was well-attended, there were leftovers. “I couldn’t stand to see the food go to waste, so I brought the unopened juices, yogurts, and bagels to the families served by the Grace Smith House and Dutchess Outreach. The staff was so excited to see us pull up with extra food!”

Central Hudson has been a steadfast supporter of United Way for several decades and matches donations to the Community Fund on a dollar-for-dollar base. The Poughkeepsie-based company also encourages employees to volunteer for Days of Caring, and has a strong civic presence as volunteers on many local non-profit boards and committees.

 Amanda says Central Hudson’s culture of giving is one of her favorite parts of working there. “Central Hudson has so much pride in our community and is committed to being a good corporate citizen. The Company has really encouraged me to be both a leader in my organization and in the community. I have such a sense of pride of being part of this amazing organization.”

In addition to her campaign work, Amanda has participated in Days of Caring, including painting and planting at the YMCA, prepared the physical site of Suited to Succeed (the men’s complement to Dress for Success), and is coordinating her team’s participation in Make a Difference Day at both Poughkeepsie Farm Project and Habitat for Humanity.

While Amanda was refurbishing the Suited to Succeed location, a female passerby reported how she had been helped in the past by Dress for Success with its provision of professional clothing and career guidance. “I felt so humbled when she told me of her experience. I know by volunteering that we are truly making a difference,” said Amanda.

In addition to her hands-on work, Amanda has participated as a United Way grant reviewer, which includes evaluating proposals and making tough decisions about which organizations should receive resources. “It was an eye-opening experience for me to see all of the great programs that are providing crucial services in our community and to be a part of the allocation process.”

Amanda attributed her community awareness and career choice to her family. “My mother and father raised me to always help those who are less fortunate. They both continue to inspire me to this day to always give back, and to always be kind.”

This year, Amanda’s United Way team adopted the theme “The Power of U.” “As employees of Central Hudson, we literally provide power to hundreds of thousands people each and every day. But we’re a powerful provider of more than electricity and natural gas in our communities, too. We volunteer. We contribute. We lead. We care.”

“But there is no we without first you. It is you who chooses to step up and help out to make progress possible. ‘The Power of U’ reminds us – it all starts with YOU.”

To learn about the countless volunteer opportunities available to you, visit the Volunteer Portal at volunteer.uwdor.org.

–Melissa Clark, Manager of Community Mobilization