Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Electronic waste recycling event Jan. 7

            West Side residents are invited to participate in Buffalo’s annual After the Holidays Recycling Event on Jan. 7 at the Engineering Garage on 1120 Seneca St.
Susan Attridge, director of recycling for Buffalo, urges residents to recycle their electronic-waste appropriately in order to protect the environment.
“By properly disposing of e-waste, Buffalo residents are helping to further reduce the harmful effects that e-waste can have on the environment,” Attridge said.
Buffalo residents can bring in their old electronics such as computers, printers, TV’s, scanners, audiovisual equipment, holiday lights, clothing and textiles.
Christmas trees will also be collected at this event. These trees will be run through a tree shredder and turned into mulch, which will be made available for residents to take home.
For the first time ever, Buffalo will be collecting Styrofoam as well. The foam must be white, bulk foam that is clean. The foam must be free of tape, dirt or screws. No food containers or packing peanuts will be accepted.
            Electronic recycling services are available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday year-round at the Engineering Garage. Senior citizens or disabled residents who have limited transportation can also contact the Division of Citizen Services (311 or 716-851-4890) to make special arrangements for e-waste recycling collection.  By Brittany Schmidle and Clifton Robinson


West Side gets ready for winter weather

        Winter is approaching, and West Side residents are preparing for the snow.
William Devereaux, the manager of Dibble True Value Hardware, 262 West Ferry St., said that sales of winter items are “pretty close between snow salt, shovels, and snow blowers.”
“They buy them at the same time,” he said.
He added that most customers are expecting average snowfall for the season. The Old Farmer’s Almanac, however, projects that snowfall will be above normal in Western New York this season and Buffalo’s weather will turn “bitterly cold” in January.
The emergency preparation website says that besides stocking up on basic snow removal supplies, people should have blankets and fuel at home in the event of becoming stranded with regular heating cut off in the middle of a blizzard.
The website also states that vehicles need to have an emergency kit in case of a snowstorm. Kits should consist of necessities such as water and snack food, as well as items such as flashlights, booster cables and emergency flares. By Melissa Burrowes

Services collaborate to help deaf refugees

By Tiera Daughtry and Vincent Nguyen

Bengal News West Reporters
         This student was hard to forget for Pamela Kefi, executive director of Deaf Access Services. Not only was he a refugee and Deaf, but also he took interest in helping others like him.
            Kefi first met the student at an American Sign Language class. The student knew American Sign Language a little better than the rest of the students.
            While Kefi assisted him with his application for reduced bus rare, she connected with him on a deeper level. The student the role of a case manager and advocate for people in his predicament.  
            “That’s the thing we like to see. A community that helps each other and have no problem with taking people under their wings,” Kefi said. 

Pamela Kefi, executive director of Deaf Access Services, far right, and staff

            Deaf Access Services is collaborating with Jewish Family Services and St. Mary’s School for the Deaf and Niagara Falls’ Service Bridges to create a program that provides services specifically for deaf refugees in Buffalo.
             “Deaf refugees have not received the attention they need in all facets of our education system, which means they are marginalized compared to hearing refugees,” says Marlene Schillinger, president and CEO of Jewish Family Services. “There is an added layer of complexity to their resettlement process. Our goal and the goal of our partners is to teach (American Sign Language) so they can find employment.”  
            Refugees’ first stop is at Jewish Family Services, 70 Barker St., a non-profit health and social service provider that has served the community since 1862. The organization provides American Sign Language educational and job prep classes. Jewish Family Services has a class of about 10 students.  The refugees are then transferred  to Deaf Access Services, where the refugees are assisted with resume building, job applications and workplace etiquette.
            Deaf Access Services, 2495 Main St., connects Western New York communities of deaf, hard of hearing and hearing people using American Sign Language through advocacy, education, employment and interpreting skills.
            “Around 2010, this agency has started to recognize refugees and immigrants in Western New York who were Deaf,” said Kefi. “I have worked with many refugees before coming to this agency and I haven’t witnessed  any deaf refugees in the program. I noticed a weirdly large gap. So, this agency started to take some action to serve that community. It’s a lifelong process. We tend to work with the community forever.” 

Pamela Kefi, of Deaf Access Services:

            Deaf Access Services welcomes deaf refugees and their families to stop if they need any help with filling out an application of any sorts or help with translating information.
While Jewish Family Services and Deaf Access Services continue to provide for the community, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, 2253 Main St., joined the others to spread the services among the children and their families who may need the services.   
             “We have a lot of supports in place here at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf to help newly arrived Deaf refugee students,” says Joy Higgins, associate principal for St. Mary’s. “We provide an individualized approach to all of our students. We offer sign language and parenting classes for our parents and families.  The classes are offered in Arabic, Somali, Spanish and English.  We believe in supporting the entire family.”
            Wrapping up the collaboration of services for refugees is Service Bridges, 8666 Buffalo Ave., in Niagara Falls where the agency fights for the right to provide the needs and services a hearing person receives for a Deaf Person
             “As the CEO of Service Bridges, an (American Sign Language) educator at SUNY at Buffalo and as a deaf son of two Deaf educators, I advocate for the Deaf community,” said Jason Goldstein, CEO of Service Bridges.
            With the help from these agencies, Deaf refugees from places such as Vietnam, Cuba, Africa, can live the same lifestyle as a hearing person.
             The collaboration’s main goal is to provide an example for other deaf businesses to build off as the right way to handle deaf arrivals.

We Never Close shop lives up to its name

We Never Close, 1054 Elmwood Ave. at Bird Avenue, is an iconic convenience store that stays open 24-hours, year-round. It opened as Cameron’s 24-Hour store, named after the original storeowner’s son. The store has never closed since opening on June 1, 1972. With the holidays approaching, the store will remain open, living up to its name given by the regular customers who depend on the store daily. With the help from his team of employees, Paul Antonio, current storeowner, creates an approachable atmosphere where he is on a first-name basis with his regular customers.  The convenience store sells an array of chips and snacks, emergency grocery and home items, ready-made sandwiches, pizza and fried chicken. By Tiera Daughtry and Vincent Nguyen

Melting Point doubles space, adds seating

             Melting Point, located at 244 Allen St., is adding a dining area to its small storefront.
            The sandwich restaurant specializing in grilled cheese recently purchased the gallery directly next door, doubling its space.
            Matthew Yuhnke and business partner Mike Kifner, both from Buffalo, chose to buy the space in Allentown to stay local and stick to the neighborhood that they know.
            “I don’t think we could leave Allentown because to me this is home and the first shop is always special,” Yuhnke said. “I call it my baby because I really put everything into it.”
            Yuhnke and Kifner created each sandwich that is on the menu, and they still cook the sandwiches themselves most days.
            “We are like any neighbor sandwich shop. We know our customers and they know us,” Yuhnke said. “I know it makes a difference to the customers to see my face, see Mike’s face, being hands on with the food. They know that we know our stuff and they love that.”
            Once open, Yuhnke is looking to have between 10 and 12 tables for customers to sit. To go with the bar atmosphere of Allentown, the restaurant will have high tables and bar stools as opposed to conventional tables.
            “Getting this space was really through popular demand. We originally wanted to keep it small but to have a real dining area will take us to the next level,” Yuhnke said. By Franklin Hagler and Matt Neidhart

Greenleaf on target with Grant St. project

A new 162,000-square-foot student housing project that includes retail space is coming to Grant Street, and it’s nearly complete. Construction on Greenleaf Development’s off-campus student housing project is on track to finish in July 2017 and open for students by August. The apartment complex will bring more than 300 beds to a property that borders Grant, Rees, and Bradley streets and SUNY Buffalo State’s Rockwell Road. The project will include 5,000 square feet of retail space in the building facing Grant Street. Project Manager Sarah Witherell-Nayman said Greenleaf hopes to fill the three retail spots with possibly a coffee shop, pizzeria or other restaurants. Greenleaf purchased more than 40 properties back in 2008 in hopes of building student housing. Many aged, decaying houses were knocked down to make room for the project. Other houses were restored by Greenleaf and are now being rented out. “It’s easily the biggest development on that part of Grant Street in a long time,” Greenleaf President Jim Swiezy said.  “Five years ago nobody wanted to walk down Grant Street. We bought a lot of homes, cleaned them up and now we’re doing this project. It’s transformational for this neighborhood.” By Dave DeLuca and Patrick Koster

Newman Center camaraderie continues

Volunteer cooks serve the last weekly Thursday dinner of the semester at the Newman Center and Chapel, 1219 Elmwood Ave., but the camaraderie between students and the rest of the community continues through December and January. The parish held an Advent Celebration on Dec. 11 and on Jan. 28, the center plans to strengthen its members’ relationships by organizing a “Dinner of Eight.” In groups of seven, members will go to an eighth member’s home and have dinner. Afterwards, the entire congregation will meet at the Newman Center for dessert and choir singing. Event Organizer Carmen Schaff, who has worked with the Newman Center for over five years, said all SUNY schools have a John Hugh Newman Center where Catholics can worship. Masses and center events are held all year long. By Tony Callens and Benjamin Joe

Monday, December 5, 2016

Houghton adds program for ‘new Americans’

Houghton College History Professor Steve Strand, left, lecturing to his refugee and immigrant class at the college’s satellite campus for refugees at First Presbyterian Church at 1 Symphony Circle. Dean of Houghton College Buffalo Cameron Airhart announced a new matriculation program that allows refugees to transfer to SUNY Buffalo State after obtaining their associate’s degree. Houghton College Buffalo has a graduation rate of 80 percent and currently enrolls 55 “New American” students into its program. Airhart is confident that this school can hold up to 100. Houghton’s high school recruitment program has been successful is getting refugee and immigrant students a brighter vision for college success. By expanding into Utica, next fall, Houghton hopes to help immigrants and refugees in that region as well. Houghton College is hoping to break down walls for immigrant and refugee students with various programs and partnerships. By Cliff Robinson and Brittany Schmidle

No plans to maintain West Side murals

There was great fanfare when the mural located on Auburn Avenue and Grant Street was unveiled but now three years later, the piece is in disrepair. There are several panels missing and no plan in place to restore the mural. Commissioned by the Olmsted Park System in 2013 to combat concerns about graffiti, former SUNY Buffalo State Fine Arts Department Chair Phillip Ogle was consulted to put the project together. Artist Augustina Droze along with students from International School 45, Lafayette High School and Buffalo State collaborated to create the mural. “It takes a community effort to keep these works of art together,” Ogle said. “The artists can only do so much.” By Tony Callens and Ben Joe

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Maryland St. construction project delayed

Allentown Square, located at 295 Maryland St. at West Avenue, has postponed opening its doors this month. “The problem is funding. My guys work hard but it’s a slow game when it comes to projects like these,” Robert Neagle, construction manager of Allentown Square said. “The project is going up pretty fast but the manpower isn’t there.” In order for the complex to open this month as scheduled, twice the manpower would have been needed, according to Neagle. The 54-apartment, $7 million project will now likely be ready in March 2017. By Franklin Hagler and Matt Neidhart

Monday, November 28, 2016

Music is center of ‘note’-worthy therapy

The Community Music School of Buffalo, 415 Elmwood Ave., doesn’t only teach music; it also uses music to heal as part of its music therapy program. Music therapy is a unique mental health treatment where the participants listen to and play music. The two music therapists on staff, Brianna Miller and Sara Rogers, say they treat a wide variety of people from autistic children to elderly dementia patients. However, Miller and Rogers said that they often feel the profession is not treated seriously. “Music therapy is so much more than just someone playing therapeutic music for someone,” Rogers said. She added that practitioners must be board certified and prospective patients must be evaluated before a treatment plan can be developed. Patients can either be referred or can contact the music school directly to assess whether music therapy can benefit them. For more information visit  By Melissa Burrowes

‘Lost Boy’ finds his new life in Buffalo


By Dave DeLuca and Patrick Koster
Bengal News West Reporters
            The first time Kang Kerubino Guot shot an AK-47, the recoil was so powerful that it knocked him on his butt.
            He had no choice but to use the weapon when war broke out in his hometown in South Sudan. It was either hide and get killed, or run and fight back.
            It’s 1995 and Guot, a skinny, wide-smiling boy with hopes of someday studying mathematics, has an 11-pound, military-style weapon draped over his shoulder. Gunshots ring through his ears. Women are raped. Some children are abducted. When the mayhem finally ends, dozens of boys like him lie dead in the street.
            Guot, just 6 years old, is trying to survive what would become one of the worst humanitarian disasters in world history.
            “I was a lucky one,” Guot said. “I made it out alive to tell the story.”
            Twenty-one years later, the now 28-year-old Guot is a college graduate with a degree in economics from SUNY Buffalo State.
            He lives on the West Side and works at Rich Marine Sales, but his life began in Sudan, the same year a civil war broke out between Arab Muslims in the north, and black Christians in the south. More than 2 million people died, a half a million fled to other countries. Peace was finally restored in 2011.
            Guot was one of an estimated 20,000 boys, known as the Lost Boys of Sudan, who were separated from their families and fled to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.
            By the time the Lost Boys arrived at the camp, their numbers were cut in half. Some died of starvation along the walk, others died of dehydration. Lions and crocodiles killed others. If Guot saw a lion, he said, he avoided eye contact at all costs.
            The boys’ survival tactics are unnerving to hear.
            To avoid dehydration, Guot drank his own urine. He and the other boys ate leaves, berries and dead animals to avoid starvation.
            “I had a lot of friends die along the walk,” Guot said. “Others died when we got to the camp from sickness.”
            For those that made it to the camp, a better life was just beginning. The camp was funded by international aid organizations as well as the United Nations. It provided food and clothes were donated by American churches.
            In 1999, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, working together with the State Department, recommended roughly 3,600 of the Lost Boys for resettlement in the U.S. Nearly 500 of the Lost Boys who were still under the age of 18, including Guot, were supposed to emigrate to the U.S. by the end of 2001. But tragedy struck America on Sept. 11, 2001.
            “All of the flights to the U.S. were blocked,” Guot said. “It took me three years longer to wait for a flight to come. I was so excited to come, but it was taken away.”
            Guot finally got on a flight to America in 2004, and was ecstatic.
            “I knew that I had to make most of the opportunity,” Guot said. “I never thought I’d have the chance.”
            Guot was sent to Syracuse and met Ann Mayes, a volunteer advisor at Onondaga County Catholic Charities. Mayes helped Guot apply to Onondaga Community College and prepared him to take the college placement test.
            It took Guot eight years just to earn his associate's degree from Onondaga Community College. He jumped around from full-time job to full-time job in between taking classes.
            “Even considering how tough it’s been here, I’ve been given an opportunity here that many of friends and family members could only dream of,” Guot said.
            Like many other Lost Boys, Guot faced an uphill battle to get immersed in American education.
            “In Kenya, his education was a small group learning under a tree,” Mayes said. “No paper, no pencils. He never used a computer before coming to America.”
            It took Guot more than a year to figure out how a computer worked.
            Unlike other refugees, Lost Boys came by themselves. Guot’s father, an army officer, died in the war. His mother and six siblings are all in Sudan.
            “They have to provide for themselves,” Mayes said. “They don’t have parents, they didn’t have wives. Kang and many others struggled to balance working full-time and going to school full-time. It was a big, big cultural change.”
            Guot sometimes worked third shift before going to morning classes.
            “The Lost Boys required a lot more maintenance than the normal refugee family that would come,” said Stephen Redding, former director of the International Rescue Committee who helped send the Lost Boys to the U.S. “Some of them had a very hard transition to America. Just doing the basic things like finding a job, going to the supermarket and laundromat were so foreign to them.”
            Guot dropped four of his classes halfway through his first semester because the workload was far too tough. The only class he kept was math, because it required just paper and pencil.
            After graduating from community college in 2012, he moved on to SUNY Buffalo State, where he earned his four-year degree in economics. Now, he’s working on obtaining a second bachelor’s degree in international relations.
            “It’s been a long journey,” Guot said. “I’m just so happy to be here and have to chance to get an education and better myself. Back home, others weren’t that lucky.”


Friday, November 25, 2016

Allentown holiday home tour set Dec. 11

            Many know the excitement of Allentown, but not the history.
            On Dec. 11, visitors will step inside the private homes of Allentown’s National Historic District for the Secrets of Allentown Holiday Tour of Homes. The self-guided tour will bring visitors into homes from the 1800s that are fully decorated for Christmas.
            Allentown Association President Jonathan White said this is the first time in several years the tour is being held.
            “We thought that it would be a perfect way to integrate the Allentown community and the Western New York community for that shared common bond that people have around their love of family and their love of things for the holiday,” White said.
            White said guests will receive a special booklet with the locations of each home. Without the booklet, guests will not know which houses are part of the tour.
            “The tour booklet will include the wonderful artwork, which is a line drawing of each property, that we’ve specially commissioned for the booklet and then a description of each house,” White said. “You learn a little bit about the house and the home owner before you get there.”
            The tour’s starting point is the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, 641 Delaware Ave., where a Victorian holiday event will be taking place. Guests can tour the first floor, including the library where Roosevelt was sworn into office.
            The tour will run from noon to 4 p.m., with start times at noon and 2 p.m. Tickets are $35 for the general public and can be purchased at By Patrick Koster and Dave DeLuca

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Boxes of Love project seeks gift wrappers

            Every child deserves to feel the magical moment of opening a present early Christmas morning. With the help of Buffalo Dream Center, many children can experience that pure happiness.
            The Buffalo Dream Center’s Boxes of Love project helps out families in need with a wrapped Christmas gift for each child and a bag of nonperishable food. Distribution this year will be on Dec. 10, said Eric Johns, Dream Center pastor.
            Buffalo Dream Center, an outreach Christian ministry in the inner city, is signing up volunteers to wrap gifts at its 318 Breckenridge St. headquarters. More than 1,000 volunteers have signed up in recent years.
             “The week after Thanksgiving, volunteers start to come in and help wrap the gifts for the community,” Johns said.
             Pastor Johns spends the week of Thanksgiving living with the homeless using the opportunity to spread the word among the streets.
            Its Boxes of Love project began in 1999 assisting a few families with Christmas toys and bag of groceries but over the years has assisted 3,000 families and 5,000 children. By Tiera Daughtry and Vincent Nguyen

Monday, November 21, 2016

Immigrants may be unaware of diabetes risk

             More than 29 million people in America have diabetes, including the new immigrants who might not know they have the disease or how to treat it.
            Special attention is being payed to diabetes in November because it marks American Diabetes Month.
            Jericho Road Community Health Center, 184 Barton St., is one place immigrants can get help.
            Registered dietitian Christine Fleming, who works for Jericho Road, says many people are unaware that they have the disease before coming to this country.
            “Sometimes people will think they’re becoming sick with a new diagnosis,” she said. “Sometimes when finding out they have it, they’ll realize they’ve been having these symptoms for a long time and they just didn’t know their meaning.”
            Fleming said there are two types of diabetes. Type 1 affects younger people and occurs when the body stops making insulin. They stop getting energy from the food they eat and their blood sugar spikes.
            Type 2 diabetes is linked with people’s diets. Two things can happen Fleming said. The body can stop responding to insulin or could stop making as much insulin. It can be treated with lifestyle changes such as dieting and exercise.
            Many immigrants come to America with different cultural foods that may not be healthy for them and can heighten their risk of diabetes
            “What I try to do is teach them foods in their own culture and their own diet that they’ll be able to eat to help them have a balanced diet,” Fleming said. By Tony Callens and Benjamin Joe

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Petri bucks trends at Westside Stories

Joe Petri, owner of Westside Stories Used Books, 205 Grant St., opened up his store five years ago during the rise of e-readers despite decreasing sales of hardcover books nationwide. He remains optimistic for lovers of traditional books. “I have so many hardcover books I can make furniture out of them,” says Petri. In the mid-2000s the rise of e-books shocked the world of printed books leading to the slow decrease sales of traditional print materials.  According to the Association of American Publishers, throughout 2015 hardcover book sales dropped almost 19 percent. However, sales are on the rise for paperback and hardcover books for the first time this year in four years. The sales of paperback books rose 7.2 percent and hardcover books rose 17.4 percent. Petri continues to believe there is room for print books in the book industry. “I have a physical copy of Leonard Cohen’s original poetry, that can be considered a piece of art, something that can’t be considered a collectable if it was an e-book,” said Petri. “I don’t think digital books are bad. They certainly have a place, especially for a college student. I just can’t imagine something other than a physical book.” By Tiera Daughtry and Vincent Nguyen

Friday, November 18, 2016

Paradise Wine gives tips for Thanksgiving

Paula Paradise, owner of Paradise Wine, gives her suggestions for pairing wines with your favorite Thanksgiving foods. The self-acclaimed specialist in pairing wine with food offers over 450 all-organic wines at her location on 435 Rhode Island St. Paradise and her business partner Lauren Kostek offer classes in wine tasting every week. By Franklin Hagler and Matt Neidhart

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Print still alive at Buffalo Zine Fair

Max Weiss of Niagara Street holds up a copy of his first graphic novel, “Papa Time,” at the Buffalo Zine Fair on Nov. 12. The novel was published recently by Hypnotic Dog Press, a local independent publisher. With the rise of digital media, the event aimed to promote old-fashioned publishing, using the slogan, “Print media is not dead.” The event drew more than 25 independent publishers from Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. Publishers brought their “zines,” which are self-published, non-commercial booklets or magazines made for small-scale circulation. Some publishers are self-funding their zines, others use crowd-sourcing. Buffalo Zine Fair lasted seven hours and was held at Sugar City at 1239 Niagara St. It was presented by Sugar City and West Side comic book store Gutter Pop Comics. By Dave DeLuca and Patrick Koster

‘Full Circle’ swings into West Side lot

Buffalo’s CEPA Art gallery teamed with director of CSL Curatorial Projects, Claire Schneider, to bring to life an interactive art piece on the West Side. The art structure, called “Full Circle,” is part of CEPA’s West Side Lots Project that takes empty lots across the West Side and transforms them into spaces for temporary art work. “Full Circle” is a swing-set, designed in a circular steel frame allowing occupants to swing towards or away from each other. It creates a personable and entertaining experience. The debut of the art piece was on Oct. 25, across from P.S. 45 International School on the corner of Auburn Avenue and Hoyt Street. It gathered dozens of community members and children together for an exciting and fun experience. By Jack T. Gerard

‘Friends’ prepping Thanksgiving dinner

Friends of Night People, 394 Hudson St., is preparing for its annual Thanksgiving dinner. Executive Director, Joseph Heary, says the organization is planning a full Thanksgiving meal with traditional turkey and stuffing to pumpkin pie on extra large plates. Its main priority is offering a comforting meal to people in need. Additionally, Friends of Night People serves hot meals daily, provides warm clothing in the fall and winter and offers medical help year-round. All services are provided free of charge to men, women and children of all ages. By Tiera Daughtry and Vincent Nguyen

Monday, November 14, 2016

Small Business Saturday set for Nov. 26

The TreeHouse Toy Store is one of many Elmwood Village businesses preparing for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26. Co-owner Gaetana Schueckler has run the business at 793 Elmwood Ave. with her husband David for 20 years. The store offers complimentary gift wrap, asks fun trivia questions and gives  free locally made caramel corn on that day, all special things the store does on that Saturday to get customers in the holiday spirit. The store continues to offer its range of playthings from the selection of $4.99 items to the unusual, difficult-to-find toys that are available year-round, Schueckler says. “We don’t want our customers to have to jump through hoops to come in on a special day or a special time to get a different price,” she said. “We try to help them pick the right toy, be the toy expert. We do the heavy lifting so they don’t have to wrack their brains trying to find the perfect toy. That’s our job.” By Anthony Callens and Benjamin Joe