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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Feeding Those in Need

Written by admin  • May 26, 2009

Assumption Food Pantry works to meet the needs of the hungry on the Northside in two ways – a conventional food pantry and its unique daily sandwich program. Nancy Cannizzaro, one of the pantry’s coordinators, likes to remind everyone that people are hungry all year long. “It is great that donations increase around the holidays but the service we provide is needed daily throughout the year.”

Since the early 1900s, the pantry has provided free sandwiches to those in need who stop by the ministry. “The longevity of the program speaks highly of the Franciscans and their mission,” says Nancy. “This is the only program of its kind in the 11 county area.” Even disruptive events like the recent flooding in the ministry’s workspace don’t prevent the sandwiches from being made and distributed. Fortuitously the program received donated sandwiches those weeks from volunteers throughout the community and handed them out on the next door steps of Northside Ministries. “Everyone who walks through our doors receives two sandwiches and a serving of fruit, no questions asked,” stated Nancy. The pantry purchases the supplies for preparing the sandwiches and fruit portions but tries, through donations from area businesses, to provide a sweat treat with each meal. “The generosity of businesses on the Northside and throughout the city makes it possible for people in need to eat a well-balanced meal twice a day,” Nancy acknowledges graciously. “And it keeps valuable food from going to waste.”

The pantry also distributes food in 12-meal portions to help Northside residents address their needs in times of emergency or for the long-term. “We meet people where they are in life and by the time they are at our door, things are pretty difficult. It is very emotional for people to come to us for help.” Participants in this program must satisfy a few requirements and fill out some paper work to help make sure there is enough food to fill the demand of all in need. Both programs operate through grant funding and donations. “People and organizations help in many ways. Some have long time connections to Assumption while others just find us in the phone book.”

If you would like to volunteer, please contact Jeff Schardt at 473-0952 x301 or jeff@assisicenter.org. Please call the pantry to arrange donations.

Northside Dinner

Written by admin  • 

Thank you to everyone who came to the Northside Community Dinner. Your support helps to fund important neighborhood programs, the next dinner will be June 18th at 5:00 at the Assisi Center. To view pictures of past dinners click here.

Livin’ on the Northside: The Prospect Hill Edition

Written by admin  • May 15, 2009

It was early on a Sunday morning last spring and I was ironing clothes in front of my opened kitchen window. We had recently moved into an apartment on the corner of Catawba and Townsend St. in the North side of Syracuse. My gaze was fixed on the sight of spring bursting out over the hills which seemed to extend forever into the distance. It was one of those first spring mornings, quiet and sleepy, the only sound being the occasional chirp of the birds beginning to awake and greet the new day. A familiar aroma began streaming into the kitchen sparking memories of the days gone by. Somewhere someone was cooking spaghetti sauce.

My life journey began in the North side, on the hilltop of Prospect Ave. I was born into a catholic, Italian immigrant’s family and life seemed to be simple. I remember huge, green trees lining the streets, and flower gardens with roses, lilacs, tulips, peonies and lilies; all kinds and colors. Vegetable gardens and fruit trees filled the yards, the neighborhood was beautiful. Most of the homes were multiple dwellings and it was not uncommon to be surrounded by extended family, and sprinkled in were a few single family homes. I used to wonder what it would be like to live in an “up and down” house with only my mom, dad, dog and me. We had no car and walked almost everywhere we needed to go. There were small, corner grocery stores peppered throughout the neighborhood and you could sometimes savor the smell of fresh bread coming from the nearby bakery. We would walk downtown for most necessities: clothing, furniture, drug stores and movie theaters. On Saturday mornings the streets would be packed with people either window shopping or making purchases. No one used credit cards back then, at least not the people I knew, it was “cash money” or store credit.

My mom stayed home and took care of us; she cleaned, baked, and cooked. There was always a neighbor or two we delivered a batch of her cookies to. My dad worked at New Process Gear on Plum St. and left the house at 5:30 am, most of the time on foot, no matter how the weather was. Sometimes a co-worker would cross his path on the way and give him a ride and just about every day I would wait for him at the corner after school, watching him climb up that huge hill from State St. which seemed more like a mountain to me. He would be carrying a loaf of crusty bread in his hand from Columbus bakery that he would later let me dunk a slice of into his bowl of milk, sugar and coffee.

Life revolved around family and neighbors. Endless hours were spent sitting on hand- made benches under the grape vines or on the roof covered porches, and quite often we would be gathered around the dining room table, breaking bread and sharing life’s burdens, joys and sorrows. These were our friends. When I left Syracuse for college, it felt like I was traveling halfway around the world and I never returned to life as I knew it then on the North side of town, or so I thought!
Over the course of the past two years I began to really understand what “serving God”, the answer to my catechism question, was all about. After being away from the North side for almost thirty years and with 7 of our children grown and on their own paths in life; my husband, our youngest daughter and I decided to use our time and talents to help out the church we had been attending. The building was in much need of repair and we quickly became aware of how overwhelmed many the people in the neighborhood seemed and how deteriorated things had become. We sensed that there was little hope in their hearts, and it could be seen on their faces. While most were just waiting for the chance to move on and away, we began to sense that right here was where we belonged. We began restoring the abandoned living quarters above the church. The views from the apartment were amazing and the majestic, twin lit domes of the Assumption church, a symbol of faith, seemed to watch over us. At night, we could overlook the city sprinkled with luminous lights below and glowing stars above. I loved our home. Once again I found myself living on a hilltop in the North side.

Summer nights would find us sitting outside by the bocce court that my husband, friends and neighbors designed and built. Sometimes people would stop out of curiosity and be drawn into a game. Other times our neighbors would come by and serenade us with a song and guitar, sitting perched on the back of a parked pickup. The people from the Assisi Center across the street would always stop and encourage us in all that was being done and made us feel included and welcome. Others helped create a small garden by bringing some of their own clippings to share. Some would stop for a cup of coffee and to unload some of life’s heavy burdens. The alley behind us bustled with the sound of kid’s playing, watching for my daughter to come out with us so they could share their dinosaurs, dolls or play under the sprinkler on a hot day. One neighbor would always call out my husband’s name from his bedroom window just to say, “Lou! Hey Lou! I love you Lou”. One family brought a whole dinner over to share with us on one of their birthdays, and yet another neighbor was always along side us with tools in hand and words of encouragement. Friday nights would find us all sitting out on the corner sidewalks, playing chess or singing songs, visiting ‘till the wee hours of the morning.
This was the type of community I remember as a child; and the one I longed for. Although things had appeared to be so different at first, the longer we had lived there the more I could see so many similarities to life as I knew it. There were still the small corner grocery stores; the only real difference was some of the Italian stores were replaced by various other ethnic ones. Walks to Café Express with my husband for some espresso replaced the bowls of milk, sugar and coffee with my Dad. The mall was the place to be now on Saturdays, rather than Downtown, and most of the people were still walking to get where they need to go. Each day had brought new people into our lives whose names we had gradually come to know. There was still so much left to do, yet so much we had already done. In such an unexpected place, at such an unexpected time in my life I realized that to “know God” is taking the time to really know each other and to be able to call our neighbors by name. To “serve God” is to serve each other in our needs.

We were asked to leave our apartment that I love this past winter. In my quiet times alone, I began to reflect on how my husband’s mom would say, “Always leave a place a little better than you found it”. I guess we had done that and yet the faces of my neighbors began to flash before me, along with all the memories of their many words of encouragement and acts of kindness. I have been truly blessed with a like-minded husband and daughter, who upon receiving the news of our having to move out both agreed that leaving the North side was not an option for us. So my husband bought me my “up and down” house for the three of us to live in along with our dog. This is where we can minister from and where we will continue to renovate and restore, sit out with neighbors, share meals and sing, play bocce, plant flowers and make sauce on Sundays!

St. Joseph’s Celebrates 140 Years of Service

Written by admin  • May 4, 2009

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center will celebrate its 140th anniversary on Wed., May 6, at noon in conference room L-100A off the hospital’s main lobby. As part of the celebration, the hospital also will unveil a new mission statement for the organization.
St. Joseph’s was founded on May 6, 1869, by Five Sisters of St. Francis – Sister Mary Dominica Cummings, Sister Mary Mechtilidies Goggin, Sister Mary Veronica Gosse, Sister Mary Johanna Kaiser, and Sister Mary Hyacintha Eagan – who transformed a saloon and dance hall into Syracuse’s first hospital.
They would begin the history of St. Joseph’s with only 15 beds, a deep commitment to their faith, a quiet patience, and a determined will to heal the sick and injured.
“Our founding Sisters were inventive,” remarked Theodore M. Pasinski, president of St. Joseph’s. “By hanging a bell in front of the hospital, they pioneered the 911 call system. They gathered the young boys of the surrounding neighborhoods and explained that the first one to fetch them a doctor at the sound of their bell would receive a quarter. The system was extremely effective with a squad of eager, young runners continuously stationed outside the hospital doors.”
In addition to those founding Sisters, Blessed Marianne Cope served as one of St. Joseph’s first administrators, setting forth infection control practices, establishing a medical school and instituting the mission and values on which the hospital still stands today.
“We are also unveiling a new mission statement for the hospital network that will lead us into the future,” said Sister Rose Ann Renna, vice president for mission services for St. Joseph’s. “Nearly 1,200 employees helped us draft the new mission and values statements and we are excited to present them to the hospital network and community.”
Media are invited to attend the celebration, which begins promptly at noon. The media contact at the event is Kerri Ganci at 703-2132.