By Doug La Rocque
On Monday, May 7, two billboards went up in Hoosick that featured Jessica Abramovich Kuron, with the phrase “from Hoosac Meadows to the U.S. Capitol.” The billboards ask the question, “Where will Hoosick Falls take You?”
The John Liporace Sr. (JLS) foundation is behind the billboards.
The non-profit was founded in 2005 to show you can grow up in a small community like Hoosick Falls, where more than 50 percent of the students live at or near the poverty line, and still achieve great success. John Liporace Jr. founded JLS in honor of his father. He grew up in Hoosick Falls. He says his father was a lifelong resident of the village and was passionate about community service, joining such organizations as the Lions Club, the Elks Club, the Hoosick Falls Reality Corporation, the Town of Hoosick Housing Authority and the Immaculate Conception Church, just to name some.
He tells The Eastwick Press that everyone featured on these and future billboards, are part of the Hometown Network, “which is a network of people from Hoosick Falls organized by profession and available to anyone who wants to build a professional network in a specific field. The campaign utilizes billboards to celebrate the success of people from Hoosick Falls in a way that can inspire students in the community to reach beyond what they might think is possible.” Ms. Kuron was one of the first JLS foundation Scholarship winners and Mr. Liporace says “she has an incredibly inspirational story.
We thought she would be a great person to feature in our first billboard.” The program is open to everyone from Hoosick Falls, whether they are part of the JLS Foundation program or not. Ms. Kuron has spent time in Washington as the Director of Operations and Executive Assistant to Delaware Senator Tom Carper.
Why the Billboard Campaign?
Mr. Liporace says the JLS Foundation has been providing professional networking, mentoring and college scholarships to students at HFCS since 2005.
“One of the things we’ve learned is that when students from HFCS meet successful people from Hoosick Falls it inspires and empowers them.
They start believing that if this person grew up in HF and went on to be successful then maybe I can too.
So, we want to shine a light on successful people from Hoosick Falls in a way that will reach the most students in the community. We think a billboard is a good way to do that.”
Mr. Liporace also tells The Eastwick Press the Hometown Network was built on a powerful insight picked up while working with HFCS students. Each year five students are brought to New York City to meet successful people from a variety of different industries and a few years ago they started inserting people from Hoosick Falls into the lineup of successful people. “We could see that the students were even more empowered after those meetings because they recognized that if someone else from Hoosick Falls was able to achieve great success then maybe they could, too.”
Mr. Liporace says that between the JLS Foundation and the Hometown Mentoring program, they have worked with about 130 students so far.
Currently there are 25 students from the Class of 2015 that are matched with mentors, about 17 from the class of 2016 and another 22 from the Class of 2017.
The Foundation has erected two billboards so far, with more planned. The first two are located on Route 22, just south of the village near the Falls Diner, and along Route 7, near the Vermont boarder.