Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Santa Con set for Dec. 13 in Chip Strip


        Buffalo is about to join over 200 cities in 29 countries to hold a holiday celebration known as Santa Con.
From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Dec 13, Santa suit-clad revelers will gather for the North Pole Stroll from the night club 67 West at Franklin and Chippewa streets to other participating establishments.

To participate the key word is originality, organizers say. Buy, rent, find or make a costume. Santa, elves, Mrs. Santa, whatever you think up. In the past, some have indulged in theme costumes such as James Bond, Star Trek and Super hero Santa. Last year there were more than 400 participants.

There is a $10 registration fee, which provides a wristband that enables each participant to take part in specials at participating sites. Labatt Blue and Southern Comfort that provide contests and prizes sponsor the event.

A toy donation supports Buffalo charities and more than 1,000 toys have been collected for the children since Santa Con began in 2011.

For more information and registration: www.santaconbuffalo.com. By Olive Porter

North Pole mail collected at Sweetness_7

           Sweet_ness 7 Cafe, 212 Grant St., is bringing holiday joy to people of all ages on the West Side.
            The café once again has the North Pole mailbox, a green mailbox for kids to send letters to Santa Claus outside its doors.  If the kids include their address on the envelope with their letter to Santa Claus, he will respond to them.
            “I created this mailbox the first holiday season I was in business six years ago,” Prish Moran, café owner, said “I did it because I had three children and there was nothing like this for them. I'm a big fan of dreaming - and letters to Santa is an innocent exercise in wishing and hoping for children.”
            Sweet_ness 7 also keeps holiday stationery in the cafe for families not familiar with the mailbox so that they can participate.
            “It's all about old and simple pleasures from my own childhood,” Moran said. “I love tradition.” By Andrea Chevalier and Lucy Lopez

IT Garden offers service, space to West Side

IT Garden LLC, 212 Grant St., opened on June 8, 2013, and has been servicing the West Side community with computer services, electronic equipment services and even offering their back space for community use. The sales and service business was started with help from the Westminster Economic Development Initiative, (WEDI). IT Garden is co-owned by Aung-Kaung Myat and Mustafa Abdo, who serve the West Side community by selling mobile phones and products, fixing broken devices, and even offering their back room for community organizations to hold their meetings in, as long as the business owners are also present. By Sarah Minkewicz and Colleen Young

WEDI preparing for February fundraiser

Volunteers Heidi Moreau, left,  and Marisela Lugo prepare invitations for the Westminster Economic Development Initiative’s seventh annual Winterfest fundraiser. This year is the first time volunteers were invited to participate in promoting the event. Winterfest is a one-night celebration with a buffet, silent and live auctions, interactive displays and music. According to WEDI officials, it is WEDI’s only fundraiser, and, along with grants and community donations, is one of the major sources of funding for the nonprofit. Winterfest 2015 will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Feb. 6, at Foundry Hotel and Banquet, 1738 Elmwood Ave. By Autumn Evans and Melissa Zimmermann

For Olingou, it's college, then boxing

Jeffery Ngayot Olingou began his training in 2009 at the West Side Boxing Club at the urging of his uncle, African boxing champion Anges AdjanoThe difficulties of training though, came after years of hardship outside of the ring. Full story by Taylor Gesel and Nathaniel Smith

Monday, December 8, 2014

Project protects homeowners from hazards


Jericho Road Community Health Center (JRCHC), 184 Barton St., has a new program called Holistic Homes project, which targets household hazards, to make West Side homes safer.

The Holistic Homes Project educates homeowners about lead prevention and other home dangers that pose a risk to residents’ health. Some issues that caseworkers evaluate include pest problems, ventilation issues and fire hazards.

            “We realized that when we were going in homes, we couldn’t ignore other issues and only talk about lead,” said Mary Prentice, program director for the Holistic Homes project.

            Once the deficiencies are located, the landlords or homeowners are connected with agencies to fix the issues.  

The project is largely focused on the Burmese, Karen and Nepali communities on the West Side. Multi-lingual caseworkers follow up weekly with program participants to complete the repair process. JRCHC also has medical staff on hand to test for elevated lead levels in addition to other medical issues related to household hazards.
         The program is a byproduct of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo’s recent “Wipe Out Lead” campaign, with funding for the project coming from a $3.4 million federal grant aimed at lead remediation. By Taylor Gesel and Nathaniel Smith

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Wreaths, lights put Strip in holiday mood


The holiday spirit is beginning to show along the Elmwood Strip as the Elmwood Village Association and business owners begin to hang decorations.
The Elmwood Village Association has hung up wreaths from the corner of Forest Avenue and Elmwood Avenue all the way to Allen Street.
Ashley Smith, the community engagement manager at The Elmwood Village Association, has been the one in charge of these decorations for the past three years.
“For the wreaths, we try to get them up the week before Thanksgiving which for some people is a little like ‘Hey, aren’t you pushing it?’ “ she said. “No one said anything negative to us this year and it kind of helped, I think, that we got all of that snow right afterwards because it was like 'Yeah, it’s winter' or 'Yeah, those have to go up'.” 
Smith said it doesn’t make financial sense to hire a cherry picker to hang the wreaths, so she takes a ladder and hangs each wreath herself.
Aside from the wreaths, businesses will contribute by decorating their stores for the holidays. Those between West Ferry Street and Lafayette Avenue are known to collectively decorate the trees in front of their stores with Christmas lights. By Ryan Gilliam and Nicole Montanino