Rise by Bozzuto, our social impact program, unites our 2,800 associates and over 110,000 residents with a platform that fosters fulfilling, collective impact. The reach of Rise would not be possible without our Community Champions and Co-Chairs, who act as main points of contact for our initiatives in each region. They empower our associates to continue making positive impacts in their regions that align with Rise’s pillars: homelessness and housing, youth development and environmental impact. Meet Our Rise Community Champion Co-Chairs:
Pea Medina, Co-Chair for the Tri-State Region
Where I come from, if people like “Community Champions” don’t stand up for their community, there is no community. This past holiday season, my team and the residents in our community assisted a non-profit organization with housing 18 families in refurbished apartments. It felt really good to know that these families who did not know what their holidays were going to look like had new homes waiting for them. This year, as a Rise Community Champion, my goal is to be a part of the solution. Homelessness is a problem in almost every city. It is such a tremendously large world but I have hope that Bozzuto will bring the right people together to make some impactful power moves to help rectify this known dilemma.
Charmaine Pequeno, Co-Chair for the Tri-State Region
My family has always placed an importance on giving back to our local community. Ever since middle school, I remember spending my weekends at soup kitchens and spending afternoons volunteering at local food banks and nursery schools. Since then, my family has expanded their reach to impoverished communities in the Philippines and has raised donations to help fund new schools, churches and libraries to name a few. To me, the Rise by Bozzuto program is a community of dedicated people who strive to do more for their community and work together to come up with creative ways to give back. Our days can be filled with endless work calls and long to-do lists, and volunteering with our coworkers is a fun outlet.
Alan Foresta, Co-Chair for the Midwest Region
I describe Rise by Bozzuto as an ever-changing conglomerate of progressive opportunities to make an impact on the world around us. It follows Bozzuto’s motto to be “family taking care of family,” whether it’s associated with any or all three of the pillars. These areas challenge all of us to be better people and take care of our neighbors regardless of age. The most memorable initiative for me while being involved with Rise has been the Race to End Poverty. As a former collegiate athlete, I always enjoy accepting physical challenges and it’s that much more rewarding when you’re doing it for a charitable cause. It’s all about keeping the mentality that every effort being put forth is in the right direction. No amount of help is ever too small if you’ve made an impact on 1 or 100 lives.
Liridona Hoti, Co-Chair for the Midwest Region
In 1999, I came to America as a refugee and I remember the people around us helped us get settled in what was a foreign country to us. Since then, I have always wanted to give back to everyone around me. This past winter, I helped spearhead my community’s give back initiatives by partnering with Cradles to Crayons. We were absolutely blown away by our residents’ generosity to supply local school-aged children in Chicago with warm clothing and pajamas. We’ve also partnered with Feeding America and Toys for Tots in the past. My goal is to learn more about the different organizations in Chicago and how we can support them. It’s great that we are all partaking in Rise by Bozzuto initiatives as a company—it shows that we are all in it together.
Beth Argaman, Co-Chair for the Midwest Region
I moved to Chicago a few years ago with Bozzuto when we were expanding the region and I began to grow roots in this community. Over the past year, I’ve become even more grateful for the life I have, especially after seeing what my community, the city and the country went through in 2020—racial injustice, job loss, financial uncertainty, food scarcity, families struggling to educate their children, access to healthcare, etc. These hardships took a toll on everyone’s mental health, which inspired me to be more active in the community. Part of the reason I love working for Bozzuto—and why I have stayed with the company for 7 years—is because the leadership of Bozzuto makes it clear where they stand and what the company’s values are.
Kyle Kunz, Co-Chair for the Midwest Region
My partner is very passionate about getting involved and giving back to the community. He motivates me to want to do more for our community myself. 2020 was an impactful year—it pushed me to get off my feet and get involved, such as marching for Black Lives Matter and contributing to campaigns that are working to make a real difference in our society by maintaining this momentum to fight racial injustice. It is so important for companies to get involved with community initiatives and charities. This not only supports the communities that we serve but also supports the members of our Bozzuto family. It means a lot to be a part of a company that cares for others, which enforces that our company cares about us as employees too.
Elly Radillo, Co-Chair for the Southeast Region
Rise by Bozzuto provides a platform for me to follow my passion to help those in need. During the holidays, I spearheaded the Feeding South Florida initiative to support families in need of food assistance. It was inspiring to see our collective effort—together we raised 6,210 meals for families in our region. Necessary, inspiring and educational—these are the words I use to describe the Rise by Bozzuto program. I’m especially passionate about making a positive impact on climate change and promoting sustainability and green initiatives, so as a Community Champion, I’m excited about Rise’s Environmental Impact Pillar. I have been doing research on green initiatives to implement, which is something that hits close to home with the rising sea levels in South Florida.
Conny Matos, Co-Chair for the Southeast Region
Giving back gives me personal gratification that I cannot put into words. My husband and I have a dream of opening up an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, where 20 percent of children under the age of 15 live without parental care. If I could, I would open one in every country. Until we make that dream come true, giving back through Bozzuto makes me incredibly happy, as this is my passion. Early on, I learned about Rise by Bozzuto and read into its guiding pillars, and I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of all things Rise. One goal of mine this year as a Rise Community Champion is to help lead the South Florida team in our participation in the Race to End Poverty on Saturday, May 1, 2021.
Miranda Saucier, Co-Chair for the Southeast Region
I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2019, which really motivated me to devote my time to helping others. We stayed in a small town and had the most amazing time painting multiple homes and even building a basketball court for the kids. The most impactful memory from my trip was meeting the beautiful people. We were there to give back to them, but all they wanted to do was give back to us—the owners would come out with water and homemade food for us. It was a very humbling trip because they didn’t have the luxuries we do in the U.S. yet were so grateful. Bozzuto is unlike any other company I know—it values hard work, dedication and concern for others. Rise is a way for Bozzuto employees to give back, which helps our company stand out from the rest.
Kristen Thompson, Co-Chair for the New England Region
Between work and family life, community service dropped off my priority list as an adult and I was looking for new opportunities. In high school, I traveled to Tobaí, Paraguay, where we built the foundation for a future school and donated clothing and hygiene items. I’ve participated in Habitat for Humanity for most of my life, served food at shelters and assisted with food donations during the holidays as well. Therefore, I was excited to be more engaged with my community through Rise by Bozzuto. A family friend started a program in our hometown to donate backpacks and school supplies to children in need in our area. This year, they donated 500 backpacks full of supplies! It was a powerful moment for me to understand—there are people struggling in all circumstances, and it’s our responsibility to help in any way we can.
Rocio Simon, Co-Chair for the New England Region
Growing up, my family would visit our family in Mexico a few times a year. Every time we visited, my mom would pack a full suitcase of clothes to donate to families. At first, my 8-year-old self didn’t want to give anything away, but once I saw the living conditions they were in, it all sank in. These families didn’t own mattresses to sleep on or refrigerators to store their food. While my family was not wealthy, we always tried to give back in any way we could. At a very young age, this gave me the perspective of how lucky I was to have everything I could ever need and more. This led me to volunteer throughout high school, such as mentoring high-risk youth from neighboring towns, and organize philanthropic events throughout college. And now, I am a part of Rise by Bozzuto. As a Community Champion, my goal is to give back in any way possible to our local community while also networking with my Bozzuto colleagues, various vendors and charity organizations.
Kelsey Sauve, Co-Chair for the Mid-Atlantic Region
Since middle school, I’ve enjoyed giving back to my community in any way that I can because I believe that there are always opportunities for growth and positive impact. It genuinely makes me happy to see how little acts of service and kindness can impact those around me. Rise by Bozzuto provides a great opportunity to give back to the community around us and to make an impact within Bozzuto itself. Our group of Rise Community Champions is not only impacting and helping those in our own regions, but also connecting and sharing ideas with those in other regions to make an even larger impact. We truly are a family taking care of family and this is not just a “day job.” We want to improve the communities around us during our own time and help make a difference.
Kristie Delauter, Co-Chair for the Mid-Atlantic Region
I have always been inspired by doing good—any time I have the opportunity, I raise my hand to help others. I went on a youth volunteer trip to Spain during middle school to build a summer camp and it was the most rewarding experience. Every year, I sponsor kids in my local community who would not have a Christmas otherwise. This was given to me as a child so it is very near to my heart. Rise is a wonderful platform to engage our employees and we’re committed to fostering our Bozzuto family’s desire to give back to the world around us. My goal is to establish partnerships with a few local organizations that we can continue working with year over year.
Elizabeth Williams, Co-Chair for the Mid-Atlantic Region
I find it so reassuring to see how many people are willing to help. I held a virtual food drive for the holidays, and everyone from the retail team was so willing to help out despite having their own families to provide for. It is so encouraging to see how Bozzuto has been so committed to different social initiatives and specifically ones that align so closely with ones I find important. Homelessness and hunger are two things that I do not think anyone deserves to experience. Working at a company that masters the art of creating sanctuary provides us with so many resources to help those who have not yet found their sanctuary.