Friday, October 26, 2012

MAP lends support to Corfu farm after fire

The Massachusetts Avenue Project is raising money to help its long-time partner, the Oles Family Farm, rebuild in the wake of a barn fire.
MAP’s shareholders have already donated to The Oles Family Farm in Corfu, and the organization as a whole is raising money in any way possible.
 "We've already raised some money for them and offered to go help put the barn up and help with any labor needs they have, once we know what they need," said Diane Picard, executive director of MAP.
According to Picard, donations prove vital because although the community is working to help, it may not cover the total amount of loss.
The partnership between the two organizations spans back to about six or seven years, including the annual Tour de Farms event, in which the Oles have donated their farm as the destination point.
"They have been incredibly generous to us and so many other people,” said Picard. “We really value their partnership and friendship and it is an awful thing that happened, so we are trying to do what we can to help."
Jane Oles, co-owner of the Oles Family Farm, said that they are rebuilding and focusing on the new structure of the barn, and are hoping to have it finished by November.
Oles said that the outpour of support the farm has, serves a builder of faith within the community. Story by Lakisha Ford and Narmeen Karzoun

IN DEPTH: Policy in action to reduce air pollution

The five-minute idling policy has gone unnoticed to drivers at the Peace Bridge and the idling of trucks still remains a problem for the air quality on the West Side. Full story by Joe Losito and Mhairi Moorhead

HALLOWEEN HOUSE - The Medley family of 320 14th St.  is out and about preparing for Halloween night right around the corner. Photo by Sara O'Brien and James Wright

West Side Bazaar moving to new location

Vendors at the West Side Bazaar are eagerly anticipating the move to their new location next month.
            The Bazaar, which is currently located 242 Grant Street, will be moving to 240 West Ferry Street after some final renovations are complete. The move to the new location is made possible by a $100,000 grant given to the Bazaar by Westminster Economic Development Initiative (W.E.D.I.) earlier this year.
            With the grant, the West Side Bazaar hoped to build a kitchen in their new location; a plan that is now in action.
            Bonnie Smith, economic development director at W.E.D.I, said, “There has been great progress made possible by the grant.”
            Guysma Thik, a vendor at the Bazaar and a native of the South Sudan, said, “They are fixing the floors and the walls. They started on the kitchen this week.”
            “I feel excited because now we are only 6 six vendors. At the new location, we will have more than 20 vendors,” said Pou Ma, a vendor from India. “Also, another good thing is over here we just have a small washroom, and in the new location we will have a separate dressing room. Right now, when people come in and they want to try on clothes, they have to use our washroom.”
            In addition to the kitchen, the new location will house larger spaces for vendors, an eatery and a seating area for customers. The Bazaar plans to be moved into their new location in November of this year. By Sara O'Brien and James Wright

Trees to be planted throughout West Side

Winter is around the corner and The Belle Center, in collaboration with Re-Tree Western New Work and Keep Western New Work Beautiful, plans on planting one hundred trees throughout the West Side of Buffalo.
            The project, which is expected to happen on Nov. 3, will replace the trees that were ruined during the October Storm in 2006.
            Paul Mauer, chairman of Re-Tree WNY, created the idea to plant the new trees because of the beneficial factors that trees have.
“Trees have been shown to reduce stress, produce clean air, and unite families as well because as the trees grow people also watch their families grow,” said Mauer.
All of the trees will be planted on public properties and focus on 26 municipalities where the storm had hit. This year, organizations are focusing on seven of the municipalities.
            A variety of trees will be distributed depending on the location. Pennsylvania Street, Busti Avenue, Maryland Street, Hudson Street, and Virginia Street, are some of the locations listed to have the trees planted.
The Belle Center is coordinating 25 volunteers needed for the project. Jim Pavel, president of corporation for Keep Western New York Beautiful, is responsible for recruiting the volunteers for community service projects.
            “There are a lot of people that want to help their community in one way or another,” said Pavel. “Those that volunteer are individuals in the community that want to do something in their own neighborhood.” Story by Joshua Clegatt and Stephanie Delaunay

IN DEPTH: Grant aims to improve future of W.S. kids

Since securing a five-year $625,000 grant in September, the Buffalo State College Center of Health and Social Research along with many West Side organizations are setting the groundwork to benefit West Side families.  Full story by Jessica Chetney and Chelsea Goodridge

Thursday, October 25, 2012

D'Youville to partner with charter school

D’Youville College has agreed to partner up with the West Buffalo Charter School.
Located at 320 Porter Ave., D’Youville College helped with funding to get the old apartment building on 114 Lafayette Ave. converted into the West Buffalo Charter School.
Phillip Piotrowski, assistant professor of the education department at D’Youville College, said his graduate class of 17 students go on Wednesdays to give an extra set of hands and help out with the students.
Piotrowski said he is thrilled that his students are getting a real sense of experience student teaching in this environment.
“I have to say, they do a really nice job and the community is really turning around,” Piotrowski said.
The students at the West Buffalo Charter School are kindergarten through second grade and by 2014 they are hoping to expand to fourth grade, Todoro said.
Charter schools are all different, and they all concentrate on one thing. For West Buffalo Charter the niche is literacy.
Andrea Todoro, school leader of the West Buffalo Charter School, said they not only accept children from the West Side, but from all over the neighboring areas.
Todoro explained that she didn’t think it would be fair for the expansion to go beyond fourth grade because the mental development is too different.
“I would rather have quality and keep it small than have quantity and keep it surface level stuff,” Todoro said.
Todoro also said Canisius College and Buffalo State College are in the process of possibly partnering up with the West Buffalo Charter School as well. By Kristin Ritch and Jasmine Willis

Vacant house now Halloween youth activity

Buffalo State students put final touches on haunted house

Making Fishers of Men and Women, an afterschool program, is collaborating with Buffalo State College students to create a haunted house.
            The haunted house will be running from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Oct. 29 at 33 18th St., the event is free and open to the public. A vacant house was purchased by Making Fishers of Men and Women for the event.
            Paul Gabriellini, a senior at Buffalo State studying theater, said he has taken control of the haunted house project.
            “To put it simply, we are putting on a fun, safe and free event for all of the youth and the community,” Gabriellini said. “Students in the theater department will be acting at this haunted house and there are twice as many actors compared to last year.”
            This year’s theme is called “Tribulation Trials” in which participants become “patients” and are put in frightful situations involving claustrophobia, suspense, mystery, blindness and darkness, Gabriellini said.
            Mike Brundige, the program director of Making Fishers of Men and Women, said he gives complete credit of the haunted house to Gabriellini.
“Paul has taken our meager attempt to offer the youth and families of our community a simple, safe and fun alternative to being out on the street and turned it into something just as nice as these top dollar Fright Worlds,” Brundige said. By Shari Ingles and Maureen Vitali

Participants taken on spooky river ride

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper will host its first Halloween River Tour on Oct. 30, extending the regular tour season.
The non-profit organization, located at 1250 Niagara St., hosts tours all year, but this is the first holiday-oriented tour.
The tour will start at 6 p.m. at Tonawanda creek and participants need to meet at 4 p.m. at the North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens.
Registration is open until 9 a.m. the day of the event. There are a limited number of kayaks available for renting.
Elizabeth Lamont, the volunteer coordinator of the citizen action team at the Riverkeeper, said the tour will be informative.
“A lot of people in Buffalo don’t really get out on the water even though we are a waterfront city,” Lamont said. “People don’t know how to access the water, what they can do, and where it’s safe, so we try to educate people about the water ways around here.”
She said she encourages people to wear their costumes for this holiday festivity.
Chris Murawski, the riverwatch coordinator at the Riverkeeper, said he is looking forward to participating in the event.
“It’s a good opportunity for people to get out on the water even though it’s late in the season,” Murawski said. “Hopefully we can have fun and educate them about the water at the same time.”
Registration is available at or by calling (716) 852-7483. By Crissie Russo and Caitlin Waters

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

FINISHING TOUCHES - Volunteer Greg Hint, right, helps West Side Ministries contractor Michael McGuire install hard wood flooring on the second floor of the house at 307 14th St. West Side Ministries is restoring the building to house an after-school readiness program for refugee youth and affordable housing for Americorps members. Development Coordinator Brittany Barber said the project is set to be completed by Oct. 31. Photo by Brian Alexander and Jennifer Waters

Popular donation program suffers cutbacks

The start of the Kettle Bell Campaign is only a few weeks away and The Salvation Army already has plans to eliminate wages, making the campaign volunteer based and therefore saving money for resources within the organization.
According to Andrea Glinski, Red Kettle and Volunteer Coordinator, the Salvation Army usually employs up to 90 bell ringers and truck drivers throughout the campaign, 15 percent of them from the West Side. 
 This year, with a new kettle coordinator, changes are in effect and the campaign is only employing about half as many people, in hopes that more volunteers will come forward throughout the holidays. 
"We propose that within the next 3-4 years, the kettle campaign will be 100 percent volunteer based. This will save the organization $130,000 each year," said Glinski. 
The extra money saved will be put back in the organization to increase its resources amongst the three locations, Grant Street being one of them.
"The hope is that more money within the organization will go towards the food pantry, english speaking and garment making classes and other resources provided at The Salvation Army," said Glinski. 
The organizations website,, also lists the objectives and additional resources provided by The Salvation Army to the surrounding communities and how areas like the West Side can evolve from its services.
"Although this employment cut may seem like a big change to some, the benefits from saving the additional money will truly help the organization provide its community members with the resources and services that may be hard to obtain on their own," said Glinski. By Chanice Johnson and Jennine Taberski

Buffalo Motor Works plans on expansion

     After facing several issues last spring ranging from a lack of planning to city hall of bureaucracy, Buffalo Motor Works owners say that their dealership business is thriving.
      "Things are going well for us,” said Andre Sadoff, co-owner of Buffalo Motor Works. "Every business has their issues and a big one for us was the registration process, but right now that has been resolved and we're in pretty good shape.
      The business, which is located at 202 Rhode Island St., was established in spring 2011. Sadoff and co-owner Dan Sciolino have a dealership with a unique focus on the green movement.
     One of the ways the pair planned to incorporate environmentally friendly tactics was to establish a community garden at a nearby lot. They faced another issue when a private person bought the area.      “It may be something we could come back to in the future, but right now we just have our hands full with the business," said Sadoff.
     A possible idea in the works for the energy efficient dealership may include expanding to another retail location in a more popular area. The plan is to get business out there, said Sadoff.      "Expanding your small business could be difficult only if you have not focused in on a specific market,” said Andrea Lizak, a financial business advisor in the Small Business Development Center. "Community involvement is key because you want the community to patronize and help your business."
      Buffalo Motor Works has given community members who are interested in energy efficiency an alternative choice of vehicles. Having the ability to purchase these cars could save them money in the long run, said Sadoff. By Lakisha Forde and Narmeen Karzoun

Monday, October 22, 2012

BUILDING A BETTER BARBER SHOP - Carpenter Ramone Gonzalez works on the soon-to-be relocated barbershop, King of Life, to be opened at 544 Niagara St. in one month. The manager of the barbershop, Nelson Rivera, who is relocating from 488 Niagara St. said that he wants more space for his clients. Photo by Josh Clegatt and Stephanie Delaunay

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MAP ready to sprout into future

            Coming off a surprisingly successful summer, the Massachusetts Avenue Project is making big plans to improve next season.
            Located at 389 Massachusetts Avenue, one of M.A.P.s main goals is to reduce the food desert on the West Side. In addition to providing the community with affordable fresh grown produce at their Massachusetts Avenue location, they also provide a mobile produce truck for easier access to fresh food.
            And with the growing season winding down, Katie Pfohl, Farm and Markets Assistant at M.A.P., is already looking forward to the next season and a new greenhouse.
            We are going to move our composting to somewhere else, and some of our chickens so that we can do that on a bigger scale, she said. We also want to grow a lot of lettuce. Get the greenhouse up and maybe do a little more adventurous stuff in the greenhouse.
            Eric Alcosiba a senior at Tapestry Charter High School has been employed with M.A.P. since February and he believes the program is beneficial for the community.
            Joining M.A.P. and actually working here you see where your food comes from, he said. You can get more involved with your community and it also teaches some great skills.
            For more information regarding M.A.P. and its growing green movement visit their website at mass-ave.or. Take a farm tour offered on Tuesdays at 4p.m. or Saturdays at 10:30a.m. ;the farm tours will go until the second week of November. By Sara O'Brien and James Wright

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PREPPING FOR WINTER: Shane Daley of the Buffalo Olmsted Conservancy demonstrates how to prune trees for winter preparation during a workshop for West Side residents. The workshop took place at Urban Roots, a community garden center located at 428 Rhode Island St. The center will be holding more workshops throughout the month to cater to every green thumb's seasonal needs. By Jessica Chetney and Chelsea Goodridge

PREPARING FOR A FULL HARVEST - Joshua Smith, the Community Gardens Supervisor for PUSH Buffalo shows the crops still growing in the gardens on 14th Street. This is one of two community gardens that PUSH operates in Buffalo’s West Side, where local residents can rent a plot of land and grow their own crops. Photo by Joe Losito and Mhairi Moorhead

Halloween safety should be part of the fun

Halloween is already full of little scares, but by keeping safety in mind, West      Side residents can help avoid any larger ones this year.
Andrea Todoro, Principal of West Buffalo Charter School, recommends that children should either have a reflector or flashlight with them while trick-or-treating, make sure they are with an adult at all times, and that parents should be checking the candy their kids are collecting.
“Halloween is something fun for the kids, but it’s also something parents worry    about,” said James McNeil, Program Director at the Belle Center. “We always stress to   parents that when their kids trick-or-treat, that if they are not there, that they have an older sibling or they travel in groups, that way they are never alone.”
This year, the West Side Community Center on Vermont Street will be hosting a Halloween party on Halloween night for members of the community, as a possible         alternative to trick-or-treating.
The Buffalo Police Department endorses the idea of going to a Halloween  party  rather than having children trick-or-treating. According to the Buffalo Police, there are a number of safety tips that they would recommend, such as making sure  children have    their parents’ home and cell phone numbers, that they do not take any shortcuts through alleys, and for homeowners, making sure they maintain clear walkways. For more         Halloween safety tips, you can visit the Buffalo Police website   at
For more information on the West Side Community Center’s Halloween party,    you can contact them at 884-6616. By Mhairi Moorhead and Joseph Losito

VANDALISM- Iron gates were installed at Sagarmatha Groceries at 489 Grant St. after the front window was broken on October 5. Owner Kaji Sunwar is one of the last business owners on Grant to install protective gates. The establishment celebrated its grand opening in May.  Photo by Shari Ingles and Maureen Vitali

Sunday, October 14, 2012


READY TO ROW: Above, students of the modified rowing training program at the West Side Rowing Club carry a boat to the Niagara River in preparation for a day on the water, below. The current session of modified rowing training ends Oct. 28.  Photos by Tom Gallagher and Mike Straw

Saturday, October 13, 2012

DaVinci joins effort to stop bullying

            Leonardo DaVinci High School is joining others in the community to focus on bullying during Anti-Bullying Month, which runs through October.
            Paul O’Grady, a DaVinci guidance counselor, said while the school hasn't had a big problem with bullying, the rise of social media has prompted school leaders to focus on cyber bullying, or the abuse that happens over the internet.
            “Parents need to monitor Facebook more,” he said. “Ninety percent of the cases we see are caused by Facebook. When kids get together and talk it out, the problem disappears but it’s scary to see the speed things escalate on the internet.”
            Also this month, the Buffalo Public Library system has rolled out its “Bullying Stops Here” campaign to raise awareness on the issue as well.
            Assistant Deputy Director of Development and Communications Joy Testa Cinquino said each of the 37 public libraries has hung a banner people can sign, pledging their support in the fight against bullying.
            “We want the community to feel the libraries are a safe haven,” she said.
            On October 19, the Central library located in Lafayette Square will host speaker Suzanne McKenney for a free, public event called “Creating a Culture of Character.” McKenney will discuss what makes bullying so prevalent in today's society and what communities can do to prevent it. By Brian Alexander and Jennifer Waters

  ETHIOPIAN TREAT - Abba Biya performs the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at Lucy Ethiopian Cuisine and Variety Store located at 388 Amherst St. Photo by Dayna Francis and Tyeisha Prior

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

West Buffalo Charter School plans to grow

 School has been in session for only a month at West Buffalo Charter School, however, plans are underway to increase the student population and expand the size of the school.
  There are 162 students enrolled from grades kindergarten through second. Over the course of the next few years, the school, located at 113 Lafayette Avenue, will be ableto accommodate twice as many students.
  Andrea Todoro, leader of West Buffalo Charter School, said the school occupies only the first four floors. Renovation plans for the 2013-2014 school year include  additional classrooms for the third graders on the fifth floor.
  Plans are also in effect for the following school year. The school has plans for an expansion program that will create a larger cafeteria for the increased number of students, a full gymnasium and additional classrooms for fourth grade students. 
  Organizations throughout Buffalo are also contributing to the school’s growth. According to representatives at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, plans are underway  to incorporate music in the school's program.
  “With our solid academic and literacy program we hope that more students will circulate through the school and there will be an easy transition for them within higher education,” said Todoro.
  Todoro hopes that through word of mouth, advertisements, awareness programs and the school’s website, the school will flourish and be recognized for having a top-notch educational instruction. By Chanice Johnson and Jennine Taberski   

Historic district to create jobs on W.S.

Renovated homes and an influx of jobs will be coming to the West Side in the next few months thanks to the newly recognized Elmwood Historic District West.
The district, bounded from Forest Avenue to the north, Summer Street to the south, Richmond Avenue to the west and Elmwood Avenue to the east, will be classified as a state and national historic district as nominated by the Start Board for Historic Preservation.
Led by architectural consultant Clinton Brown, residents of the Elmwood Historic District West will have the opportunity to apply for tax credits towards home renovations while also providing work for local contractors.
“Historic preservation creates jobs,” said Brown. “The credit allows roofing, painting, heating and cooling, insulation inside and outside of the house and will create jobs.”
This tax credit will give residents 20 percent back on all eligible home renovations that cost over $5,000.
According to Dan Keefe, the Deputy Public Information Officer of the NYS Office of Historic Preservation, the period for applying for tax credits is now open and residents should contact the New York State Preservation Office for more details. By Max Borsuk and Maria Yankova

October promotes awareness on West Side

              Have you noticed the pink apparel, advertisements and especially ribbons that are appearing all over the West Side of Buffalo?
            That’s because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. During the next couple of weeks, residents will be noticing more advertisements reminding women to receive routine screenings for breast cancer.
            Ann Raderman, director of the Buffalo Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society, said the organization's holds community awareness clinics where they work with providers in community centers all over the West Side. The materials are there to educate West Side residents to get their screenings, what you should be looking for, diet and nutrition, which are always important, and exercise.
            “Its very important, women need to get their mammograms, its life saving,” said Raderman, who is also a breast cancer survivor of 15 years.
            Some West Side residents who may not be able to afford the cancer screenings, whether underinsured, uninsured or those not technically at-risk, may still be able to utilize these services.
            “If a women, no matter what her income, is unable to pay for her mammogram, we will provide services for her,” said Lisa Napier, outreach manager of the Cancer Services Program of Erie County.
            The Erie County Cancer Services Program is a state funded Department of Health organization. For more information on these services in the west side, you can visit Buffalo Hope Lodge at 197 Summer St. or can call 886-9201. By Joe Losito and Mhairi Moorhead

West Side Housing - Susan Lenahan, from MJ Peterson Real Estate, discusses the improvement of the West Side housing market and sees a positive outlook for the future. Video by Lakisha Forde and Narmeen Karzoun

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IN DEPTH: Pre-K program educates across borders

A Peter Towers Grant of about $3,000 was recently awarded to the Belle Center's Universal Pre-K Program  to provide technology in the classrooms.
“There are no computers or anything in here currently. This will allow for technological development and an upgrade for the early childhood development center,” said Marketing and Communications Director Callie Johnson. Full story by Brian Alexander and Jennifer Waters

Monday, October 8, 2012

New mural commemorates refugees in Buffalo

The Young Audiences of Western New York and the city of Buffalo are partnering to create a new mural on Grant Street and Lafayette Avenue.
 The mural will be constructed based on stories from local refugees and immigrants, which will then be transformed into pictures of art.
“The theme of this mural is ‘Celebrating the Refugee Experience’, and we are just trying to learn more about the immigrants in our community and their stories,” said Melissa Buckley, Director of Development of Young Audiences of WNY.
             The art project is broken down into two different phases. The first involves Young Audiences doing programs with school children of Lafayette High School, International School Number 45, and the Community Academic Center, beginning early winter.
“The purpose of these programs is to speak to the children and their families and listen to their stories and then figure out how to turn that into art,” Buckley said.
The second involves sorting the combination of stories and coming up with the final visual for the mural based on those anecdotes. The mural is expected to be complete by next summer.
Councilman David Rivera of the Niagara District thinks having the city of Buffalo join with Young Audiences is something that contributes to this great creation.
“The West Side is a very diverse neighborhood and immigrants are coming in from all over the world, and they make up what we call our ‘beautiful melting pot,’ and this mural will really capture that,” Rivera said. By Lakisha Forde and Narmeen Karzoun