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The Syracuse Northeast Community Center is Hiring!

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 16, 2017

SNCC Collage

SNCC is looking to hire a full-time Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (CAPP) Educator. This person “will support a citywide initiative that aims to engage youth, 10-21 years old, in dynamic and meaningful programming to increase self-confidence and self-worth while decreasing the likelihood for teen or unwanted pregnancies.”

Duties will include outreach to schools, organizations, health centers, and parents; educational interventions using curriculum and program requirements dictated by the grant; documentation and record-keeping of program data.

Minimum requirements for the position include a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education and one to three years of experience.

To read the full job description, click here. Interested candidates are asked to send a cover letter and resume to Sarah Walton (swalton@snccsyr.org) by Thursday, March 23.

To learn more about the SNCC, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

“There’s Your Watermelon!”: NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Linda & Dave Campbell

Written by Rachel Nolte  • March 15, 2017

rachel_for-webEditor’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.


Davco collage


Dave and Linda are owners of Davco Performance Automotive, “The best little repair shop in Syracuse.” Davco has been a Northside Business Partnership member since 2012. Read on to discover what drew them to the area, what keeps them here now, and what kind of oddities you might find in someone’s car.

Q: How long has your business been on the Northside?

Linda: We’ve been here since ’99 . . . Both Dave and I were born in Brooklyn. We migrated to Long Island, like every person in Long Island comes from Brooklyn, I think. We started a family there and Dave worked in transmission shops and managing shops and so on. We came very close to owning a couple of shops there, but one thing or another prevented us from doing that. We decided that it was best to relocate somewhere else. So we did our homework and we looked at statistics. We knew we wanted to stay in New York State because we wanted to stay close to the rest of the family. We had small children. We wanted a good school system. So we started looking upstate. At the time, we didn’t have internet back then, so we subscribed to different newspapers in three major cities in upstate New York. We chose to concentrate on Syracuse based on quality of life here. We started looking for business opportunities and houses. That’s what brought us here. We were able to buy a house for half the price of what our house was on Long Island and were able to start a business with the rest of the money.


People’s cars can be very personal, like a home on wheels. What are some of the stranger things you’ve seen in people’s cars?

Linda: There was that one time when that lady came in and had work done . . . She calls back a couple of days later and said ever since you worked on my car, every time I step on the break, there’s a clunk. So we said, by all means, bring it in, we’ll take a look at it. See what’s going on. So he road tests it. Sure enough, every time you step on the break, there’s a clunk. There was a watermelon, underneath the seat, the back seat, rolling around the floor.

Dave: When you step on the break, it would roll forward, and BOOM! Clunk right into the front seat. So I picked it up, said there’s your noise! She said, “Oh, I’ve been looking for that! We went to the grocery store the other day, and I thought I bought a watermelon, but then we couldn’t find it!” There’s your watermelon.


Q: What’s your favorite Northside place to have a drink (coffee or stronger!)?

Linda: To be honest with you, I do like the restaurants here on the Northside, and I do—well, let me say, we eat at our desks. In a small business, we have to be here all the time. So, I bring my lunch, and we eat our lunch here. We work late. Sometimes we don’t get out of here until 8 o’clock at night and I’m darned tired! I want to go home. So, to answer your question, if I was a woman of leisure, and I didn’t have to work long hours, I’ve always wanted to try Laci’s  . . . For me, to even leave here for an hour, it never fails . . . Something happens when I’m gone and we care very much about our business. In our real world, our favorite place to stop for a drink after work is the Dunkin’ Donuts drive in window on the way home!


Q: How do you feel about all the “self-driving car” stuff?

Linda: That would be a question for Dave. He is amazingly technical. When a customer comes in for a repair, has a question, he will explain things in such a way that’s like, how the heck do you know all this stuff? He could build you a rocket ship to the moon . . . Now, I don’t know how to change oil, but I can talk to the customer on their level. I can interpret what he is saying on a highly technical level to a point where the customer can really understand what he’s talking about.

Dave: It has a lot of opportunity to go a lot of different places . . . There’s holes in the algorithms and in the technology that can be very dangerous. We’ve seen that for years, with cars that have throttle control that’s not mechanical control, the gas pedal you step on in your car, if it’s newer than an ’06 or ’07, the gas pedal that you step on probably has no physical connection with the engine. It used to have what’s called an accelerator cable that went from the gas pedal to the throttle body and that controlled the throttle opening on the engine. Nowadays, depending on how hard you’re stepping on the gas, that tells the computer how fast you want the car to go and the computer actuates the throttle motor on the engine and opens and closes the throttle.

You may remember, several years ago, Toyota had a problem where the cars were just taking off out of control, jumping off curbs, people were crashing into stuff because they’d step off the gas and then the car would just keep on going. They tried to figure out what the problem was and sometimes they thought it was a floor mat stuck under the gas pedal, but eventually they changed a lot of accelerator pedal position sensors, which is basically what your accelerator pedal nowadays is. They pretty much worked the problem out but we still see a tremendous amount of accelerator pedals that go bad. Typically when they fail, they fail in what’s called fail safe mode. In other words, you can’t step on the gas, you have reduced tension power, maybe you can limp someplace but you don’t have the power you could because you’ve got checks in the system. Computer sees, even for a fraction of a second, if it sees an anomaly in those voltages it will shut down and reduce the power on it so that if you had to, even if the car took off on you, you’d be able to control it by stepping on the break . . .

So with any new technology like that, there’s a lot of bugs that have to be worked out. In the future? Yeah. Self-driving cars are something that are definitely a wave of the future. Will we see them in my life time, in the next 20 or 30 years, where they are at the level of cars today where we drive ourselves personally? Maybe. But I think a lot of what we’re seeing today is computer augmented, computer assisted driving, and I think that is going to continue to grow. But I don’t think that the actual full, computerized mode of operation where you just sit back and read a book and the car drives you to work is going to happen in the next 20 or 30 years.


Q: What’s your dream car?

Linda: I don’t know. I don’t have a dream car! All the cars, to me, look the same. The only reason why I know the difference between a Toyota and a Honda is because I work here! But if I didn’t have the experience of working here, I wouldn’t know one car from another on the road. I still cheat and look at the emblems so I know the difference! The high end cars, the Mercedes and the Audis, knowing what I know because I work here, I wouldn’t want ‘em. I used to love Jaguars, but I don’t like the new Jaguars. I don’t like the way the new Jaguars look. As long as it has heat, and it’s safe.

Dave: I’ve all my share of classic cars. I had a 55-T Bird that just recently sold. We did a complete frame off for my son on his 69-GTO. Started that when he was 11 and finished it when he was 16 so he could take it to his first prom.

Linda: That’s a love story. (Unclear if she meant the car or the prom!)

Dave: That’s still in the family. My son has that. I gave that to him when he graduated college. But, I don’t know, it’s a hard one. There’s a lot of cars out there that I like and enjoy, and there’s all kinds of super cars out there, like McLarens, and Nismos, Ferraris, things like that. But I’m kind of a pick-up truck sort of guy. I’ve evolved from one thing to another, I’ve owned all types of vehicles over the last 50 years or so. I like the Fords, I enjoy, I had a Mustang convertible not too long ago. But at the end of the day? I’m kind of a pick-up truck, motorcycle kind of guy. If I had to pick a car that I said was my ultimate dream car, it would probably be a ’57 Thunderbird, with a turbo in it. They didn’t make many of those and they’re quite expensive. But I enjoy such a broad spectrum of cars.


What do you feel is the Northside’s best quality?

Dave: I think that the Northside’s best quality is its diversity. We have such a diverse amount of immigrants, refugees, and perennial Northsiders that have been here for generations. Affordable housing, access to a lot of different options when it comes to access for entertainment and shopping. I think that the Northside has a lot to offer and that’s one of the reasons why the Northside has been targeted by developers . . . When we first came here in the 90s, I really feel that the Northside had the most potential of any area. It’s had its ups and downs, but its’ certainly much better than when we moved here in the late 90s.

Linda: Coming originally from downstate, going to the city was going to New York City. I don’t miss it. Not one bit. Here, the city of Syracuse, has everything New York City has to offer on a much smaller scale. You can go to the theater. You can go to nice restaurants. You can go to festivals. There’s so much that the city has to offer . . .

There’s a lot of historical culture here. We’ve got new immigrants coming in now, not the Germans, not the Italians, but now we’ve got the Vietnamese, the different African countries, and so on. They’re bringing in new things for our future generations to talk about in their culture. It’s a big melting pot here, just like New York City . . . I tell this story so often, because it’s so—it’s engrained in me, and it will be forever. When we first started the business, there was an African man that came in to get his car repaired. He was REAL tall, real tall, real thin. At that time, the office wasn’t here, it was in the garage, and I had a little tiny office in the back of the garage, and while they were fixing his vehicle, he sat in the office and we chatted. Well, I had learned that he was one of the Lost Boys—

Dave: —Lost Boys of the Sudan, to clarify—

Linda: —Of the Sudan, yes. He told me a story about how he and his friend walked thousands of miles through the desert, and he’s been here for about 4 months. In 3 months, he was set up with food, shelter, and a maybe a little bit of money. But in those 3 months, he learned English, he got himself a job, he purchased a vehicle, was paying us to have his car fixed. In three months. And just a couple of years ago, I opened up the Sunday newspaper, there he was, that same man that sat in my office, telling me his story, was featured in the newspaper, that he, with two of his friends who were resettled in Pittsburgh, where they are today. He remained in Syracuse and I believe he still lives here today. Has saved, worked hard. Worked real hard. Contributed to society and saved enough money to build a hospital for other children in the Sudan. It’s just amazing, and it makes me happy to be here in Syracuse.

The documentary that this man, John Dau, was featured in is called “God Grew Tired of Us.” It is available for streaming on Netflix.  


To learn more about Davco, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

New Developments at 437 North Salina Street

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 13, 2017


Last week our  Vice President of Economic Inclusion at CenterState CEO, Dominic Robinson, met with the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) to propose a plan that would bring life into the long-vacant building at 437 North Salina Street. OCIDA currently owns the building as part of a purchase from the Syracuse Land Bank that included the building next door—what is now the With Love teaching restaurant and entrepreneur incubator from Onondaga Community College. The proposal asks OCIDA to help with a portion of the renovation costs for the building and, in turn, a design team that includes  Home HeadQuarters and Northside UP would purchase the building, finish the renovations, and put the building back into use with commercial space on the bottom floor and apartments on the upper floors. Because of the buildings obstacles, including its small square footage and need for extensive renovation, past efforts to get the building back on the market were unsuccessful.

OCIDA won’t vote on the proposal until April, but the Agency’s chairman, Pat Hogan, told Syrcause.com that he views the project as an “outstanding idea:” “I think this is exactly what we should be doing.”

To learn more about the proposal, read the full article, “Partnership proposes redevelopment of long-vacant Syracuse commercial building” from Syracuse.com and stay tuned to our blog for updates about the property.


Photo Friday: Gratitude

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 10, 2017

This week, Kathy Ruscitto retired from her position as President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health. We are so thankful for all she’s done to support and enrich our community, for her words and her actions, for her unwavering hope and pride in the Northside and our work.



To recognize Kathy, CenterState CEO crafted a “Resolution of Appreciation” following her retirement that celebrates her commitment to fostering economic opportunity for the region.

Resolution of Appreciation Recognizing the Service of Kathryn Ruscitto

WHEREAS, Kathryn Ruscitto served with distinction as President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center for sixteen years; and

WHEREAS, during her tenure and under her leadership, she led significant initiatives dedicated to improving the quality of care for St. Joseph’s patients and their families; and

WHEREAS, she was instrumental in leading a multi-million dollar hospital renovation project that generated jobs and substantial direct and indirect economic benefits for the City of Syracuse and the Central New York region, and as importantly, improved the surrounding Prospect Hill neighborhood; and

WHEREAS, she served on the Boards and in leadership positions of local and national philanthropic, health care and business leadership organizations, including CenterState CEO; and

WHEREAS, through her consistent support and engagement in the work of CenterState CEO, programs such as the Northside Urban Partnership, Up Start and Work Train were all made possible leading to new employment opportunities for neighborhood residents and New Americans, targeted support for entrepreneurs, improved housing stock, and the attraction of new capital and private investment to an area that had long suffered from blight and deterioration.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of CenterState CEO does hereby recognize and express its sincere appreciation to Kathy Ruscitto for not only her contributions to the well-being of the organization, but also for her genuine and compassionate concern for the health and economic well-being of the people of Syracuse and Central New York. 


Visioning Voices Re-imagines Public Space on the Northside

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 9, 2017

Visioning Voices


WHAT: Visioning Voices Community Speaker Series, a free reoccurring event from SUNY ESF’s Center for Community Design Research. The series takes place in different places throughout Syracuse with the goal of growing healthy neighborhoods.


WHEN: Tuesday, March 21 beginning at 2:30 PM

Guided walking tour of N. Salina Street:  2:30 – 3:30 pm

Presentation by Nate Hommel and intervention site visit: 4:00 -5:45 pm

Community dinner: 5:45-6:15 pm

Workshop: 6:15-7:30 pm


WHERE: Assumption Church, 812 North Salina Street


“Take useless spaces and give them back to people,” encourages Nate Hommel, University City District Director of Planning and Design and the speaker for this month’s Visioning Voices series and workshop on the Northside. Nate will take participants on a walking tour of the North Salina Street corridor and a nearby community space, and will present some of the work he’s done in Philadelphia transforming underused public spaces. Check out the video below for a brief overview of Nate’s efforts!


This event is free and open to the public. Although it focuses on the Northside as the “host neighborhood” concepts will be applicable across communities. Participants can attend one or all of the event’s components by registering at the Visioning Voices Eventbrite page.

To learn more about the event, join the Facebook invite and follow SUNY ESF on Facebook.

NBP Member: Interview Series Featuring David MacLachlan

Written by Rachel Nolte  • March 8, 2017

rachel_for-webEditor’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.



David is Vice President at Dominick Falcone Agency, where he has worked for almost 12 years. Dominick Falcone Agency has been a Northside Business Partnership member since 2012. David attended SUNY Geneseo and is a lifetime resident of Onondaga County.

Q: At what point did you realize that you wanted to go into this career?

A: It was about 20 years ago. I was getting out of school. The plan was ultimately to go to law school but I was going to work for a while, while my then fiancé, now wife, was at law school. But I went to work for an insurance company, thinking it was temporary, for a few years and really liked it, had some good opportunities, so stuck with it. I did that for about 10 years and I’ve been here for about almost 12, but it’s been insurance the whole time.


Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: I do a lot of commercial insurance, so the best part really is just meeting with business owners of all types. Our typical client—there’s some very good size businesses, but not publicly traded companies or anything like that. I find it interesting to talk to, say three different machine shop manufacturers in a week, and they all are a little bit different, but they’re all successful in their own way. It’s just interesting, there’s a lot of different ways to be successful in business and personality types.


Q: Dominick Falcone Agency has been in service for 90 years. In what ways has the industry changed and in what ways has it remained the same?

A: The thing that’s remained the same in any customer service business—you really have to focus on listening to customers. There’s a lot of opportunities and a lot of different ways you can purchase insurance. So there’s an incredible amount of competition. The way we stay ahead of that is you have to pay attention to what customers need and listen to them and help guide them, maybe sometimes see some of the exposures that they don’t see. That really hasn’t changed. If you were doing that 70 years ago, it would still be—while the world was probably more simple as far as what businesses needed, you still needed to help them understand what risks. The building could still burn to the ground, workers can still get hurt.

The number of people you needed to handle the amount of business has really changed, and it’s technology. With rare exception, we deal with our insurance companies electronically 95% of the time. There’s still underwriters you talk to and claims adjusters, but so much of the communication is back and forth electronically. Frankly the technology has made it so that agents—we do a lot of work that the insurance companies used to do. They used to have dozens of people that were rating and quoting policies manually. It would be pen and pencil. Now, we enter the data and we can get a proposal in real time. Someone walks in, I can gather some information from them, and if they have 15 minutes or so, 20 minutes to wait, my commercial team or my personalized team can get a proposal together.


Q: If you had an afternoon free to spend on the Northside, what would you do?

A: I think I’d gather up a handful of my closest friends and have a very long, leisurely lunch at one of the great restaurants on the Northside. Attilio’s is very good and Julie’s is fantastic.


Q: If you could manage insurance for any business, which would you pick and why?

A: As far as a very large company, I think it would be interesting to handle the insurance for Starbucks. That may sound kind of crazy but, I would say that only if I could talk to the CEO. Howard Schultz, is that his name? He’s just a pretty interesting guy. I look at Starbucks and he took a product that’s been around for hundreds of years, if not longer, and convinced us that what we were consuming before wasn’t really all that good. We didn’t know that, and yet we’re willing to pay a premium for it. That’s not easy to do, and to see how that business has really thrived, I just find that amazing. If you think about it, you can get coffee anywhere. You can make it yourself, it’s not that hard to make, it’s not inaccessible, and yet look at how it’s taken off. It’s incredible. And he’s kind of interesting character, too, so that would add to it.

The interesting thing about commercial insurance is that there’s kind of basic needs, that whether you have no employees, in a small business, or you have a thousand employees or beyond, there’s basic things you need. You need general and building, you need to insure your product, you need to make sure that–it’s really just a financial hedge. You say to yourself, I don’t have enough cash to rebuild my building if it burns so I’m just going to transfer the rest to an insurance company for a fraction of what it would cost to rebuild. As things get bigger, things get complex. That’s where the interesting part of making sure what people have what they need. You start from the same general template, but then you really talk to business owners. You can look at the website and you can talk to them in terms of the insurance, but if you’re really not asking them about their business, then you’re really not going to know what their exposures are and what they need insurance for . . . Sometimes they’ll tell you about something they’re thinking about doing, and there might be insurance repercussions for that so you don’t want to help them, not be a road block, but help them, facilitate, and get it done. A guy who had been an attorney for a very long time told me that it’s so easy as an attorney to just throw down the bad things that can happen and try to protect everything but in reality, if you can facilitate getting business done, that’s being a good attorney. Help the person protect themselves, but don’t say no and no and no.


Q: What’s your favorite part about having a business on the Northside of Syracuse?

A: For us, it’s funny. We’ve been on the Northside so long, we kind of take it for granted. The agency was started in the front room of a house near I think what is now Our Lady of Pompei school. That’s just where it was and it’s always where it’s been. Dick and Joe, who are retired now, they grew up in Segdwick, they grew up less than a mile away from their office, where they worked for 40 years. It’s important for us to be in the city. It’s a hard question to answer because we just like being here. We’ve always been here, really in only two locations, unless you count the house they started in. When you’ve been somewhere for 90+ years, it’s just part of who you are.


To learn more about the Dominick Falcone Agency, visit their website.

Photo Friday: Thanks Charity!

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 3, 2017

Charity’s Instagram takeover this week featured photos from her time volunteering at Hopeprint. Check out all of her photos: www.instagram.com/northsideup.



Clean Up ‘Cuse: Northside

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 2, 2017

Clean up Cuse banner

Join the Northeast Hawley Development Association (NEHDA) for Clean Up ‘Cuse, an annual community beautification initiative that coincides with OCRRA’s Earth Day clean up.  This year, the event will take place on April 22nd from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM.

The Northside effort will focus on the North Salina Street corridor, the Hawley Green Triangle, and Rose Hill. Activities include litter removal and weeding of green spaces, parks, sidewalks, and parking lots. Volunteers will be equipped with all supplies courtesy of the City of Syracuse and donuts donated by Dunkin’ Donuts.

To register as a volunteer for the event, contact Rachel at NEHDA:  rachel@nehda.org or 425-1032 x103. For more information about Clean Up ‘Cuse, follow NEHDA on Facebook  and join the event invite.

InterFaith Works’ Northside Bus Tour Connects Their Work to the Neighborhood

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 1, 2017

Editor’s Note: In the past few months, we’ve shared many articles and events from InterFaith Works – an organization dedicated to building bridges of understanding to affirm the dignity of all people in Central New York. Late fall of last year, our staff was invited to join their employees on a neighborhood tour. This experience gave us a chance to explore the Northside neighborhood with new eyes and we hope this recap offers you an opportunity to do the same.


 Bus Tour collage 1


Several months ago we were invited on a neighborhood bus tour put on by and for the staff of InterFaith Works. The “Know Your Neighborhood Bus Tour” was designed to help employees connect their work to the neighborhood they serve and we were asked to come along and help fill in extra information and capture photographs. Among the places on the tour were:

- Landmarks like the statue in Schiller Park featuring the park’s namesake, Schiller, and Goethe. Both men were of German descent—Schiller was a playwright and Goethe a poet.

- Businesses small and large, such as Tops, the only commercial grocery store in the neighborhood that has various services for helping families and assisting New Americans as they shop in the United States for the first time.

- Organizations like the Syracuse Northeast Community Center that focuses on the changing needs of the neighborhood, including parenting classes, housing assistance, and more. Sarah Walton, Deputy Director of Operations and Programming at SNCC, explains, “We’re really focused on the details of the family.”


Bus Tour collage 2


The stops had us look to the past and future of the neighborhood for inspiration and hope and as we traveled from one place to the next, the tour confirmed just how much the success of the Northside depends on the businesses and organizations that continue to support its residents. Some of the stops on the tour featured speakers, including representatives from Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam, the Cathedral Candle Company, and White Branch Library, that helped us better connect their work to InterFaith Works’ mission and the neighborhood as a whole.


Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam – Mosque of Jesus, Son of Mary

“Everyone is welcome. It enables people to not only come in and worship, but also sit in here and just think. It gets you away from all the tension and all the negativity that’s outside right now.” – Hassina Adams, leader of Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam

Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam (which translates to Mosque of Jesus, Son of Mary ) was previously the Holy Trinity Parish, but sat vacant for four years until the Northside Learning Center bought the building and started reaching out to the community to explore potential uses for the space. “The answer kept coming back, ‘this was built for worship, why don’t you find someone who can worship here,’” explains Mark Kaas, then board member and now Executive Director of the Northside Learning Center. A new mosque in the neighborhood would also solve an issue that many of the Learning Center’s clients voiced: the difficulty of worshiping regularly without a mosque nearby. With the help of local leaders, the space was repurposed and the mosque was established with the motto, “check your culture at the door,” as a way to be inclusive of all genders and religions.

Hassina Adams, a member of the mosque, shared with us one of the biggest events held at Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam, World Harmony Day, organized in partnership with InterFaith Works. “I got the chance to participate in an initiative that allowed people not only to interact with each other,” Hassina explained, “but remove the misconceptions that they had of Refugees, of Islam, and also brought in an atmosphere where people could talk freely and get to know each other and interact in ways that you don’t usually see outside.”


Cathedral Candle Company

“That’s one of the reasons we’ve always stayed right here on the Northside, on Kirkpatrick Street, because we’ve had so many great employees that live in the neighborhood and we don’t want to lose that talent if we were to ever move.” – John Steigerwald, owner of Cathedral Candle Company

The Cathedral Candle Company was founded almost 120 years ago by Jacob Steigerwald, a German immigrant and candle maker. The current owner, John Steigerwald, Jacob’s great-grandson, has continued to celebrate the diversity of the Northside and employ residents from the surrounding neighborhood. These workers make candles that are shipped all around the world and have been used by Popes, U.S. Presidents, and even appeared in a Janet Jackson music video.


White Branch Library

“This whole building is set up for the neighborhood.” – James, Staff at White Branch Library

The White Branch Library is the Northside’s resource for accessing information, educational and professional development, and entertainment. Beth Broadway, President of Interfaith Works, shared a story about one of her first interactions with the library. The branch manager, Renate Dunsmore, called Beth after witnessing a group of neighborhood kids being bullied. Beth explains, “So, we started a young person’s dialogue in the library for people in the neighborhood and their parents. And it was very successful. The library has been super friendly to our work.”


Group photo


The bus tour ended at the Samaritan Center where the staff enjoyed dinner together. Everyone was given a tote bag full of mementos and gifts from the various stops – soap from Syracuse Soapworks, lip balm from Tops, candles from the Cathedral Candle Company, snacks from Thanos Import Market and Di Lauro’s Bakery, as well as other items. But, they also went home that evening with greater insight into the hard work that takes place in the neighborhood around them each and every day.

To learn more about InterFaith Works and their mission to “affirm the dignity of each person and every faith community and work to create relationships and understanding among us,” visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

Syracuse.com Explores the Rooms at Saint Clare Gardens

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • February 27, 2017


Earlier this month, Assumptions Church announced that they were in the process of selling several buildings on their campus to local developers Troy Evans and Steve Case. Included in that sale are the Saint Clare Garden apartments and the Parish Hall, the subjects of a recent article from Syracuse.com that explores the buildings’ rooms, their history, and their potential.

“Peek inside the former Saint Clare Gardens apartments on Syracuse’s Northside neighborhood and you’ll be forgiven if you can’t tell whether you are in an apartment building, a school or a convent.

During the building’s 92-year history, it’s been all three.

It opened in 1891 at 1109 N. Townsend Street as the Assumption Church sisters convent. In 1925, an addition was built to house Assumption Academy, a high school for the children of the parish. In 1981, with student enrollment declining, the Franciscan Friars, the building’s owner, closed the school and sold the building to a developer who turned it into apartments.

The friars later reacquired the building and operated it as apartments for low-income tenants. But without the money required to make needed repairs, the religious order closed the apartments early last year and relocated its tenants to other housing.

‘We have no more savings,’ said Friar Rick Riccioli, pastor of Assumption Church. ‘If the roof goes or the boiler goes, we have no money.’

Now, two developers, Troy Evans and Steve Case, have agreed to buy the building, as well as Assumption Church’s parish hall and three other nearby buildings, from the friars. Case said he and Evans plans to spend about $1 million to renovate the building’s 29 apartments and reopen them as affordable alternatives to the pricey downtown apartments that people with average incomes cannot afford.

Case said rents will be in the $700 to $1,000 a month range, compared with the $1,000 to $1,500 (or higher) rents charged at many of the apartments that have come onto the market in downtown Syracuse in recent years.

The renovations will include a new roof and heating system. Case said carpeting will be ripped up to expose the building’s original hardwood floors. The apartments’ layouts will not be changed, but kitchens will get new cabinets, appliances and counters.

The building contains many reminders of its past uses, and Case said they will remain in place. The Assumption School’s blackboards are still there, hanging in hallways and living rooms. So is the fine wood paneling in an apartment that once served as the entrance to the convent. 

‘They’ve still got the charm of old apartments,’ Case said.” 

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