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.