WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. When The Westchester Bank’s Eric Wiggins accepted a role on a board that oversaw selections for students who overcame challenging odds, he got way more than he bargained for.
Wiggins served as a member of Student Advocacy’s Overcoming The Odds award. The Elmsford based group recognizes students who have successfully faced serious obstacles to their success in school and honored students from Westchester and Putnam counties in physical and medical challenges, family and social challenges, and disability challenges.
Hearing and reading about the handicaps opened the eyes of Wiggins, who is senior vice president and chief credit officer for The Westchester Bank.
“There were some heartwrenching stories,’’ Wiggins said. “They found themselves in abusive home situations. Some had medical issues. The stories really affected all of us on the committee. It really puts your life in perspective.”
The students selected by the committee are acknowledged publicly at Student Advocacy’s annual Overcoming the Odds Awards Dinner. Wiggins said even though he had a general idea of their hardships, the details were harrowing.
“It was difficult to get through some of the profiles,’’ he said. “Their stories were compelling.” Wiggins also served on a volunteer basis for Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern. He had been involved with the hospital for several years, and was asked to serve as treasurer for hospital’s Foundation Board.
“I did not get too involved with the hospital financials,’’ Wiggins said. “But it provided me with a new appreciation for the cost associated and complexity of health care. The costs are staggering and proved why it’s important to maintain partnerships between the hospital and business community.”
When he’s not working or volunteering, Wiggins’ passion turns to the outdoors. He’s an avid hiker, along with his wife and teenage son. The rough winter has given him time to plan this summer’s excursion to Utah.
“One of our most memorable was hiking down the Grand Canyon,’’ Wiggins said. “As exhausting as it was, it exhilarating to see the beauty of the Canyon from a perspective most people don’t get to see.”