Sunday, December 10, 2023

Ronald McDonald services celebrates 40 years


Ronald McDonald House Charities in December marked 40 years in service to families with children seeking medical treatment in Buffalo hospitals. Marking the occasion are, from left, Marketing and Communications Director Darlene Wilber, Executive Director Marianne Hoover, Director of Development Krystina Burow and House Operations and Guest Services Manager Yulanda McVay. More than 500 people stay at the Ronald McDonald House, 780 W. Ferry St., every year. The organization also provides respite space and other services  for the comfort of families with children in John R. Oishei Children’s Hospitals. By George McClendon

Saturday, December 9, 2023

W.S. International Soccer continues to inspire

By Joseph Cali                

            When thinking about sports to start young children in, most times parents fear the financial dread that comes along with them.

            The West Side International Soccer Club offers programs, whether it be a travel team or through public schools, around the West Side to help families provide a safe, affordable, and memorable experience on the soccer field for their children.

            The club was founded in 2012 by former University at Buffalo soccer player, Mateo Escobar and his wife Amanda Escobar.

            According to the team website, it  “uses soccer as a vehicle to provide a safe place to play, connect with mentors, break down barriers, and empower participants to become leaders in their community and their chosen life pursuits.” 

            Graham Vosburg, the vice president of West Side International Soccer, has been involved in the  program for 10 years. He said the program has changed and formed into what it is today over the decade he has been involved.

            “We were looking at walkable locations along the West Side," Vosberg said. "Probably 90% of our players were just from foot traffic alone. When I would drive there on Saturday mornings or afternoons depending on practice time, I would usually see the players walking there. There is really a neighborhood feel and to serve that neighborhood specifically is great.”

            According to Project Play, an Aspen Institute research initiative on sports and society, the average cost to start a child in soccer last year was $1,188. That is a large amount of money for an average family just to give their child an opportunity to play the game of soccer at the youth level. As they grow and need new equipment that number only increases from there.

            FC Buffalo’s City United Initiative works with any person or group who wants to bring free or cost-minimized soccer to the Western New York region and aims to elevate top underserved talents to the top teams and programs in the area.

            Nick Mendola, a writer for NBC sports, board member of the West Side soccer club and owner of FC Buffalo, said the West Side organization has been inspiring from the start.

            “West Side has been doing the right thing ever since they have existed," Mendola said. "Matteo, Amanda, Graham, and everyone there are just the sort of people that you want to work with. Frankly, I think one of the things about groups like them, who start and very much grow into what they are as a labor of love, working with them is very inspiring. The odds are all of the things that they want to do are worth doing.”

            Though Covid-19 shut down many programs, the West Side club live on, operating withint the Buffalo Public School system.. The leaders want to be as adaptable as possible with the West Side residents' needs. The organization  tends to be one of the more popular options for students within the district to pick from. Whether it’s a weekday or weekend program, they will continue to provide as much as they can for soccer lovers on the West Side.  



Thursday, December 7, 2023

InnBuffalo hosts first-ever Christmas Market

Manager Zena Bliss readies a Christmas tree at  InnBuffalo off Elmwood, 619 Lafayette Ave., in preparation for the hotel's Christmas Market to be held from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. on Dec. 9. Visitors will be able to shop at 15 vendors while enjoying complimentary hot chocolate and mulled wine. Tarot card readings will add to the fun. This will be the first-ever Christmas Market at InnBuffalo, the 1898 Victorian mansion named for its first owner, Herbert H. Hewitt, a Buffalo industrialist. The home was purchased in 2011 by Ellen and Joseph Lettieri and opened as a hotel four years later.  By Ariel Scarbrough


Monday, December 4, 2023

Whole Stories provides more than mental health services

Ashera De Rosa, owner of Whole Stories Therapy at 257 Lafayette St., wants to make therapy accessible for everyone. As a private pay institution, the practice does not need to tangle with insurance companies. Whole Stories Therapy works with organizations throughout the West Side to serve the community. With services such as therapy, sex education, and Narcan training, Whole Stories Therapy is more than just another practice in the area; it is a service to the community. By Andrew Forsyth

Friday, December 1, 2023

Waterkeeper in step with state to eliminate plastic litter

 By Angela Caico

     In the latest step towards cleaner waters, a lawsuit against PepsiCo Inc.  was filed by the New York Attorney General on Nov. 15 for playing a significant role in the plastic pollution of the lake bordering Buffalo.

     The lawsuit is the result of extensive research done by the Attorney General in collaboration with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, an organization that seeks to restore and maintain Western New York’s freshwater shoreline. Each spring, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper works with hundreds of volunteers to conduct a shoreline sweep, and the majority of the litter they recover is composed of plastic. Last year, that plastic was predominantly traced back to PepsiCo.

    “People shouldn’t have to worry about microplastics in their water, garbage in their communities, and a lower quality of life all because of rampant trash and plastic garbage throughout the Buffalo River,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

     Assemblymember Jon Rivera said that he remembers coming to Canalside when he was a kid, and it’s one of his favorite places to take his children to now. He credits the work of Waterkeeper for making it one of Buffalo’s most beautiful sights to visit. He agrees that also includes the help of policy leaders and holding contributing corporations accountable. 

    “At the end of the day, people that produce things have a responsibility for the things that they produce,” Rivera said.

    The lawsuit is the most recent action taken in Waterkeeper's commitment to its vision of a litter-free water source in the city. Emily Dyett, Waterkeeper community engagement project manager, said that the two key components of accomplishing this goal are data collection and policy.

    Dyett said that the West Side is especially affected by this pollution because it is one of the most densely populated areas next to the water. The mouth of Scajaquada, just off Niagara Street on the West Side, is one of the most polluted sites due to sewer overflow and trash coming down from four municipalities including Lancaster.

    During the sweep and all year round, volunteers are encouraged to track the types of trash they recover within the Clean Swell app, a mobile app started by the Ocean Conservancy. This collection of data infinitely equips organizations like Waterkeeper with the numbers needed to fight for things such as policy changes.

    For example, in 2020 New York State banned plastic bags. Prior to this, plastic bags were one of the most collected items from the Buffalo River. Now, Dyett said, it’s one of the least.

     “The power of litter data can be used well beyond that one day that you pick it up,” Dyett said.