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Photo Friday: Meet Sarah Averill

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 20, 2017

Sarah Averill

“While attending medical school and working at St. Joseph’s Health in 2013, Sarah became interested in Syracuse’s Northside. She was intrigued by the diverse cultures and people in the neighborhood and wanted to learn more about the community where she worked. But, she needed a way to gain access to Northside residents and a legitimate reason to be in the neighborhood. This is where her photo project came in.”

Over the next week Sarah will be taking over Northside UP’s Instagram account (re)sharing with you some of her many experiences on the Northside. Follow us on Instagram to stay tuned: www.instagram.com/northsideup

Once a Pompeian, Always a Pompeian

Written by Joe Russo  • January 19, 2017

Editor’s Note:  Joe Russo is a “Nortsider”, a retired teacher, and an aspiring writer. We’ve asked him to share his stories of the past and offer his perspective on the present and future of our neighborhood. His posts will appear each month under the category, “Old Times on the Northside.”


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Photo credits: Our Lady of Pompei/St.Peter Church

“Pompei is having a reunion this year. Do you want to be on the committee?” asked Joey Nigro. I didn’t respond as I thought about it. “It’s going to be big”, she continued. I shrugged it off and insisted I was too busy. “Keep me posted on the developments”, I replied. It would be interesting to see some of the old timers. It is the part of my life that I am most nostalgic about. But I really didn’t have the time to be on another committee.

Every time a conversation about the old Northside begins the wishful thinking starts. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back to the 1950’s and 1960’s. A double dip ice cream cone was only 12 cents and Our Lady of Pompei was the cultural center of Syracuse. It wasn’t just a neighborhood church with a neighborhood school, Pompei had the Pompeian Players. Why was that so special, well, you would have to know something about the old Northside to understand that.

In 1949 Father Charles Borgognoi was assigned to Our Lady of Pompei parish.  The old Northside, a working class neighborhood, was within walking distance of a manufacturing sector now known as Franklin Square (this is where they made everything from automotive parts and ball bearings to washing machines). The Northside was all about family, big families with lots of children. Father Charles assignment was to give the kids something positive to do, something to keep them off the streets and out of trouble.

How about a Broadway play? Not a stripped down version but a full blown version complete with original costumes and stage props. In 1950 it was just a dream. By 1960 it was the most successful theatrical group in upstate New York. They played to an audience of thousands downtown at the RKO Keith’s Theater. To sell out every evening performance plus the matinees was not unusual. If you were a Pompeian Player you were one of the cool kids.

The reunion could be a chance to capture some the old magic. On October 8, 2016  a combination reunion and fund raiser for Our Lady of Pompei school was held at LeMoyne College. This little school has been around since 1926. To find a way to celebrate 90 years of history is not an easy task. Lucy Paris and the reunion committee did it in a wonderful way. Because not only must they reflect on the past but also give us a vision for the future.

The past was there in full force. Three hundred fifty alumnae paid $100 each to celebrate Pompei. Present were some colorful individuals: Rita Barrone, the Nesci brothers, Joey Ciminio, the Falcone brothers even the President of LeMoyne College, Linda LaMura, is a Pompeian. The past was quickly brushed aside for the future. Bill Salomone our master of ceremonies promised humor, performances by some of the original Pompeian Players and nostalgia.

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Features from the “Once a Pompeian” program

Our program guide is a reflection of the past. Bill Salomone asked us to flip through the program guide until we found the loose photo that was tucked away in each booklet. Everyone had a photo of a child currently attending Our Lady of Pompei School. The new students at Our Lady of Pompei were also New Americans. The students are from immigrant families but not from Italy or Germany they are from Asia and Africa. A group of Asian and African students quickly assembled on stage to sing songs from one of the Broadway plays performed by the Pompeian players. When they finished Bill Salomone spoke in a quiet reassuring voice. “They are the reason we are here tonight. These students are carrying on a tradition that started in 1926 and we are here to support them.”

For some reason the angelic voices of children brings a tear to my eyes. The singing of the young students aroused a standing ovation and I could see around me many a teary eye. Compared to my story the Northside is writing a very different story, but it is a compelling story.

No one can really foretell the future. Children, especially bright eyed enthusiastic children, give us hope for the future. The Northside is an incubator of ideas. “Will we ever get along?” is a question we all have.  The answer may be percolating right now on the Northside.  Regrettably I never did join the reunion committee.  I want to be part of the story whether I am living or writing the story. All these young northsiders need is support. They have the energy and will to turn a reunion into a rebirth.

Welcome Leslie Paul Luke, New President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 18, 2017

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Last week, St. Joseph’s Health announced in a press release that they’ve hired their 14th President and CEO, Leslie Paul Luke. Born in St. Louis and raised in Hawaii, Luke has been serving as the interim CEO of Tennova East, a seven hospital system in Knoxville, TN.

“Syracuse, N.Y., January 13, 2017 – [...] While he plans to dedicate his first 90 days to acclimating to the organization and getting to know his new colleagues, Luke intends to focus on quality, growth, patient satisfaction and strengthening financial operations across the system.

‘I am deeply honored to have been selected for the role of President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health,’ said Luke. ‘I am very pleased to join such a progressive organization that has a proven track record for delivering outstanding care to its patients and an enduring commitment to improving the overall health of the community.’

Luke, 55, holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Health Administration from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. In 1991, he received his first CEO role at a 50-bed, not-for-profit hospital in Kentucky. Since then he was CEO of three other hospitals. In 2006, he joined Community Health Systems where he held several key leadership roles including his current position.”

To read the full story, visit St. Joseph’s Health’s website.

Photo Friday: Snow Settles on Assumption Church

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 13, 2017


This Sunday: Transforming Holy Places on Syracuse’s Northside at ArtRage Gallery

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 9, 2017


“The transformation was not an easy one but through patience, community leadership and neighborly outreach, the Christian and Islamic neighbors have found a way to embrace each others beliefs and differences.” -ArtRage.org

As part of ArtRage‘s current exhibition, “In God’s House: The Photographs of Robert Knight,” the gallery is hosting a free presentation and panel discussion about the transformation of holy places. The event will focus on the transformation of the former Holy Trinity Church that remained vacant until the North Side Learning Center purchased the building in 2013 and transformed it into the Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam (which translates to Mosque of Jesus Son of Mary).

The panel will consist of various individuals who are familiar with the project, including a a former parishioner of Holy Trinity, Toni Franklin, and the Executive Director of the North Side Learning Center, Yusuf Soule. Beth Broadway, the CEO of InterFaith Works, will facilitate the discussion. To learn more, visit ArtRage.org or join the Facebook invite.


Photo Friday: The Weight of the World

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 6, 2017


This Saturday: “The Journey of Becoming a New American”

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 5, 2017



WHEN: Saturday, January 7 from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM


WHERE: Turkish Cultural Center of Syracuse, 275 W. Seneca Tpke.


WHAT: Join InterFaith Works and the Turkish Cultural Center for a special event to better understand the refugee experience and welcome New Americans in our city. InterFaith Work’s Volunteer and Donor Coordinator, Daryl Files, will share her knowledge about refugee resettlement services. Donations for new or gently-used winter clothing and TOPS gift cards will be collected at the event. Tickets are $10 and includes brunch.


RSVP: Registration ends today, January 5th! Email women@tccsyracuse.org to register your spot as soon as possible.

For more information about the event, join the Facebook event.

An Update on the Evolution of Northside UP

Written by Dominic Robinson  • January 1, 2017

Editor’s note: In July of 2015 we shared a post about the changes Northside UP would soon be undergoing with the goal of expanding programming across the community, while maintaining a commitment to the continued revitalization of Syracuse’s Northside neighborhood. This post is an update on the article and where Northside UP will progress in 2017.



Dear Friends and Community Partners,

Northside UP, originally the Northside Collaboratory, began in 2006 rooted in a collaborative approach towards the goal of radically improving the quality of life on the Northside. In June of 2015, Northside UP relocated its offices from our long-time home on North Salina Street to downtown’s Pike Block. This move was part of our team’s evolving role and work within the Syracuse community.

Since our official incorporation as the Economic Inclusion division under CenterState CEO in 2016, we’ve spent a great deal of energy revisiting our role on the Northside and the work we were known for in the neighborhood. While our workforce and small business development initiatives readily adapted to be citywide, we realized that our roles as convener and connecter on the Northside was as critical as ever.  Over this past spring and summer, we met with neighbors and partners to discuss and design how to continue our work on the Northside. We’re excited to announce that our planning efforts culminated in a fresh structure for Northside UP as a program administered by CenterState CEO’s Economic Inclusion team. Under the guidance of a community-led steering committee, and with staff support from my colleagues Stasya Erickson and Jonathan Link Logan, Northside UP will continue to harness the power of partnership for improving the health and strengthening the economy of the Northside. Moving forward, Stasya and Jonathan will be serving as Co-Directors of Northside UP, while I continue to provide support and guidance. Stay tuned for more details in the weeks and months to come.

We look forward to working together in this mission so that we may create a vibrant and prosperous Northside community that embraces diversity and fosters opportunity for all. Please feel free to contact Stasya (serickson@centerstateceo.com), Jonathan (jlinklogan@centerstateceo.com), or me (drobinson@centerstateceo.com) with any questions. Happy New Year!





Photo Friday: Sun Sets Over the Rising Sculpture

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • December 30, 2016

As 2016 fades, we wish all our friends and neighbors a bright and peaceful new year ahead!



“What’s For Dinner?”: Featuring Frank

Written by Rachel Nolte  • December 27, 2016


Editor’s Note: Rachel is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) at NEHDA for the year. Her roll involves a variety of tasks, such as recruiting volunteers and applying for funding opportunities to plan really cool, really fun events that benefit the community. Rachel graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in psychology. She spent the past year serving in another AmeriCorps program where she traveled the state of New York to help out with various environmental projects. As part of Rachel’s work with NEHDA, she is writing some posts for us to share. All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. To learn more about NEHDA, visit their website and Facebook.



Frank is a volunteer for NEHDA and chairperson to the Hawley-Green Neighbors, Inc. He comes in twice a week and brings his trusty side-kick, Orzo, a friendly little white terrier. Their welcoming presence is a beloved staple to the organization. 

Q: How long have you lived in the neighborhood?

A: Frank moved here 12 years ago. He found himself spending significant amounts of time in Syracuse for his work with an insurance company. While visiting, he would meet up with different people to play volleyball and cards. In this way, he met his future husband, who resided in the Hawley-Green neighborhood. So, Frank moved into the neighborhood and 12 years later, he’s happily still here!


Q: What made you decide to get involved with NEHDA?

A: Frank’s step son, Ben, was working at NEHDA and encouraged Frank to get involved. Frank found that he really enjoyed the environment of NEHDA because of the positive attitude of the staff. He observes that they have a “frank way” of dealing with problems (pun intended!) where the focus is on practical ways to improve rather than the issues themselves. If a problem cannot be tackled immediately, it isn’t ignored, but is rather kept “on the back burner” until they can focus on it.


Q: What is your current role at NEHDA?

A: When asked this question, Frank pointed to a cabinet labeled with an assortment of terms, including everything from “Veggie Garden” to “Website.” He then explained that he does all sorts of things to help out with the general operation of NEHDA, such as answering phones and minding the office, as well as specific tasks, such as searching and applying for grants, building relationships with other local groups, filling out taxes, and doing other corporate work.




Q: If I gave you $100 to spend on anything from a Northside business right now, what would you get?

A: Responding almost immediately, Frank declared, “It would have to be food.” He said that he would probably split the money between cheeses at Thanos Import Market and eating at Laci’s Tapas Bar. However, he did go on to mention that he is biased in his support of these businesses because he can walk to them, something he really appreciates.


Q: What is your favorite Northside event?

A: Frank first had to look through NEHDA’s pamphlet of various events to spark his memory before answering this question (We put on so many wonderful events, it is hard to keep track of them all!). He decided on the appreciation picnic, because “My mother taught us to say thank you and welcome.” Frank explained that the appreciation picnic is NEHDA’s way of saying “thank you” to all the people who make NEHDA a success; while there’s not an event for “welcome,” NEHDA does hand out Welcome Packets to those who are new to the neighborhood. Frank then added that the annual caroling event is a lot of fun, but that he had answered my question before he had gotten as far as December in the NEHDA pamphlet of events.


Q: What development on the Northside are you most excited about?

A: When Frank moved to the Hawley-Green neighborhood 12 years ago, there were known drug houses and prostitutes. There were regularly occurring murders and stabbings. At one NEHDA appreciation event, a few police offers were in attendance. In the middle of the party, they had to leave to do a drug bust right next door, and then they returned after the bust was over. Frank is therefore proud of the tremendous reduction in crime present in the neighborhood. The most recent community meeting featured an update from the police that there were no notable crimes from the past month. Unrelated, Frank is also extremely excited about his grandsons (he saw them on Thanksgiving!).


Q: What’s for Dinner?

A: Black Bean & Salsa Soup

Frank says: It’s easy & you can make it in 15 minutes!

Take 2 cans of black beans, a half jar of salsa (use mild, medium, or hot according to personal taste), a beef bouillon cube, and blend them up. Heat and add 1 tsp of cumin. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and diced chives.