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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Photo Friday: Ripples frozen in place on North State Street

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • November 27, 2015


Behind the Scenes at Assumption Church’s Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen

Written by Lexie Kwiek  • November 24, 2015

Lexie2_for webEditor’s Note: Lexie is a proud AmeriCorps VISTA alum with a master’s degree in Communications & New Media Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. She currently works as the Volunteer & Community Engagement Coordinator for the Syracuse Northeast Community Center and NEHDA. We’ve asked her to write guest posts for us, taking a deeper look into the Northside, its businesses, organizations, and residents. Her posts can be found under the “Syracuse Northeast Community Center” and the “NEHDA” categories.


Assumption banner 2

We all know that with the joy and happiness that the holidays bring, there is also a lot of stress involved. Who is coming into town? Is there enough time to clean the house? Do we have enough food? Can we afford a turkey?

For some families in Syracuse, this is a very real question—and organizations like Assumption Church’s Food Pantry are helping to relieve that stress. Thanks to generous donors, the pantry has 150 turkeys to give away this year for Thanksgiving.

When families find out that they will have a turkey for the holidays, “you can see the weight lift off of them,” said Ana Thesing, the Pantry Coordinator and FrancisCorps Volunteer. Ana shared that she sees three or four people in her office every week consumed with worrry about food security. It can be difficult to ask for help, but that is why the Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen exists: to help serve those in need.

In just October of 2015, the Pantry supplied 7,515 meals to over 260 families, and the Soup Kitchen gave out nearly 7,500 sandwiches. The programs run seven days a week, from 11:00am- 1:00pm, and the Soup Kitchen opens again in the evening on weekdays from 4:00pm- 5:00pm.

When giving out meals at the Soup Kitchen window you will hear “Thank you,” “Have a great day,” and “God bless!” from most of the clients. There is no judgement or rejection at Assumption; all of the volunteers are united in the mission of providing meals to those who need them.

Assumption banner 1

The volunteers who help at the pantry come from all backgrounds and social circles. Once you step into the busy kitchen there is no time to worry about where people come from, what they do for a living, or even what religion they belong to. There are sandwiches to make, pots to stir, trays to clear, and clients to serve.

As a FrancisCorps Volunteer, Ana has chosen to dedicate one year of her life to this service. Originally from Minnesota, she now lives with four other volunteers who are serving at different ministries in Syracuse. The mission of FrancisCorps is Gospel Service; to have volunteers “share their gifts and talents in a year-long, faith based community.” Ana and her housemates share at least one meal a day, make time for daily prayer together, and have a weekly community night that they take turns planning. Their year is just as focused on personal growth as it is on developing their professional skillsets.

In the small kitchen/pantry space, volunteers laugh and interact as a family, clients are greeted by name, and the mission of Saint Francis is lived daily: “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words.”

Learn more about the Franciscan Church of the Assumption, visit their website and “like” them on Facebook. To help support the Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen this season, consider purchasing cookies from the church’s fundraising effort,  Fat Friar.

Lights on the Northside Holiday Lighting Contest at the Buy Local Bash

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • 

Lights on the Northside banner

The Northside Business Partnership had a great time at the Buy Local Bash last night, kicking off the Lights on the Northside holiday lighting contest. To place your vote, visit Northeast Hawley Development Association‘s Facebook album and “like” your favorite storefront: https://goo.gl/7uCrNG.

To experience all the details of each display, make sure to visit the participating businesses: Cooperative FederalDi Scenna Travel ServiceFrankie’s Piccolo BistroHairanoiaLaci’s Tapas BarSyracuse Soapworks, George Angeloro’s building (513 N. Salina Street), The Speach Family Candy ShoppeSyracuse Northeast Community CenterYardsmith, Little Italy 5 and Dime, and Thanos Import Market.

Photo Friday: Shades of orange

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • November 20, 2015

Shades of orange

Vinoamania’s List of the Best Wines (and a Signature Cocktail!) to Pair with Your Thanksgiving Feast

Written by Liz Wierbinski  • November 18, 2015

Liz2Liz is a graduate of SUNY Albany with a master’s degree in Social Work. She’s currently working with NEHDA and Northside UP as our Community Prosperity AmeriCorps VISTA.

As part of our collaboration with NEHDA, we’ve asked her to write guest posts for us each month as she explores the Northside, its businesses and residents.  All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. You can learn more about the organization by visiting their website and Facebook


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Thanksgiving is Vinomania’s biggest wine holiday, with people constantly stopping in on a mission to find the perfect bottle (or, more likely, bottles) that will not only suit their taste buds and Thanksgiving meal, but their budget as well. Vinomania owner, Gary Decker a.k.a. the VinoMan, suggests going with a sparkling wine that has a touch of sweetness because it goes really well with turkey. But don’t worry – if you’re still having trouble finding that perfect bottle, stop in to Vinomania on November 20th from 4:30-6:30 PM for a free tasting to test out some of their best Thanksgiving wines!

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Here are a few frontrunners that pair well with a cranberry, stuffing, and turkey trio:

Ela – A lively Portuguese rosé with a crisp, fruity-yet-dry body and tangy finish. $8

Villa Sparina – A white wine from Italy offering soft floral and peach tones. $16

Nando Fragolino – This delicious Italian moscato brings with it a fruity, refreshing strawberry flavor. $10

Brotherhood – a premium sparkling wine fermented from 100% New York Chardonnay. It has a dry flavor but the bright pear aroma adds a hint of sweetness to it. $11


Or, you can always pump up your Thanksgiving cocktail with a Hot Cider Toddy! This warm signature cocktail will help keep the looming Syracuse winter at bay (at least for a few minutes).

Signature Cocktail by the VinoMan: Hot Cider Toddy

1 cup fresh apple cider

1 ½ shots Monkey Spiced Rum

1 cinnamon stick

Orange peel

Heat your fresh apple cider in a pan on the stove. Once thoroughly warmed, add Monkey Spiced Rum and stir. Pour into your favorite mug and don’t forget to add a cinnamon stick for ultimate flavor delivery. Entice your taste buds even further with a zesty orange peel as a garnish to top off this aromatic seasonal concoction.


To learn more about Vinomania and saty up-to-date on all their events, visit their website or “like” them on Facebook.


Photo Friday: Quiet walk though Lincoln Park

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • November 13, 2015

Special thanks to Liz, one of our AmeriCorp VISTAs stationed at the Northeast Hawley Development Association,  for snapping this photograph!

Lincoln Park

Neighbor Spotlight: Yeshua Restoration Ministries

Written by Lexie Kwiek  • November 11, 2015

Lexie2_for webEditor’s Note: Lexie is a proud AmeriCorps VISTA alum with a master’s degree in Communications & New Media Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. She currently works as the Volunteer & Community Engagement Coordinator for the Syracuse Northeast Community Center and NEHDA. We’ve asked her to write guest posts for us, taking a deeper look into the Northside, its businesses, organizations, and residents. Her posts can be found under the “Syracuse Northeast Community Center” and the “NEHDA” categories.


Anne in garden_blog

Anne Vincigeurra

If you live in or spend time on the Northside, you should have heard the name “Vinciguerra” at least once. Some still associate the family with their initial soccer club, but over the years they have turned into much more under the organizational title of Yeshua Restoration Ministries.

Their vision is to unite the Northside community — to get people to care about and for their neighbor, and to get families to stay and live in the area. How do they work towards these goals? They identify a specific need and build programming to meet it.

After answering their spiritual call to move back to the city where they grew up, Lou and Anne Vinciguerra worked on building bridges in their community. The first activity they found that brought cultures together was soccer. When they started the club for neighborhood youth there were only three rules: no fighting, no swearing, and you had to speak English.

This familiar activity and using a common language to communicate, brought the youth of the neighborhood together. The program exploded from only four boys to 40, and through playing together they learned how to work as a team and care about one another, despite their many differences.

Along with the sport component, their youth program also has a community service requirement of one hour a week. Their projects range in size from picking up trash in their neighborhood to partnering with other organizations to have a bigger impact. Soon, Yeshua Restoration Ministries will be working with Onondaga Earth Corps and the Cornell Cooperative Extension to plant trees throughout the community.

It’s not just the kids that work to improve the look and image of the neighborhood. One of the Vinciguerra’s newest projects is to create more dignified housing in the area. They are currently renovating a house (to the same standard of their own remodeled home) in the hopes that with more quality housing available, couples and families will choose to stay in the area.

A grander vision that they have begun working on is the development of a Community Center right next to their home. They have identified a need of connecting community members and service providers, and having a comfortable space that allows for relaxed interaction would help bridge that gap. Again, they have broken down a community need to its simplest form, and have built a plan to address it.

Another project that the Vinciguerra’s are now building is a job training program. With refugee children falling through the cracks at school, this type of training teaches them basics through hands-on learning. They are becoming familiar with American culture while learning skills and trades that will always be needed in the community. This way, even if they don’t make it through traditional high school, they will be able to contribute to the community that helped teach them.

So, who exactly are these people that are bringing individuals, organizations, and cultures together in the Northside? The Vinciguerra’s are the people that open their home to the community for a giant Thanksgiving dinner because it’s one American holiday that everyone can participate in. As Anne Vincigeurra explained, “We can all be thankful for something.”

The Vinciguerra’s are a family that opened their doors to a young refugee boy living across the street because they knew he had potential, but just needed some help to reach it. What is the one thing that he has to do in order to stay in their home? Go to school. He is now on track in a vocational program, and hasn’t missed a day of school since moving in.

One story that sums up the impact that simple, caring gestures can have is the story of one of the Vinciguerra’s neighbors, Junior. Junior was developmentally disabled and living with his family next door. His home was infested with roaches, and personal hygiene was not a priority. Junior never left his front steps, and no one ever approached him out of fear. Lou Vinciguerra made a point to wave to Junior every time he passed his house, and, in time, Junior began to wave back. Eventually he came down from his stoop to talk with Lou. Since no one had worked with Junior, he was only able to communicate through sounds and noises, not actual words, but Lou still took the time to engage with him as a neighbor.

As the years passed, Junior’s family moved to a new home, his mother became ill, and eventually she passed away. Instead of caring for their sibling, Junior’s brothers and sisters left him alone in the house to fend for himself. Adult Protective Services eventually had to step in, and the contact number that Junior handed them was the Vinciguerra’s. Lou and Anne got Junior a shower, a shave, clean clothes, and even found him an apartment. Today, Junior speaks and takes pride in his neighborhood. He acts as the community watchdog, alerting the Vinciguerra’s of everything that goes on and protecting their property from any threats.

Junior’s transformation began with a simple wave — a sign of friendliness from a neighbor. Since they have been in the neighborhood, the Vinciguerra’s have seen many more little changes that bring them hope. Neighbors are putting out plants and lawn furniture, cutting their grass, picking up trash, and making an effort to say hello to each other. In such a high refugee population, learning these customs can be a challenge, but with more people following the example of Yeshua Restoration Ministries and asking, “What does my neighbor need and how can I help?” the Northside is becoming a place for people to stay and work together.

To learn more about Yeshua Restoration Ministries, visit their website and Facebook.

Salt City DISHES: Send in Your Proposals!

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • November 10, 2015

DISHES banner

If you have a creative project that engages the Syracuse community, submit a proposal to the DISHES team for the chance to win a micro-grant at the February dinner! This time, the grant offered is doubled: $2,000 for the grand prize, and $500 for the runner-up. To see if your project would qualify, check out DISHES’ FAQ page. Submissions are due by November 22nd and can be uploaded here.

Salt City DISHES (Dine in. Support Happenings. Enliven Syracuse!) is one of Northside UP’s sponsored events. DISHES is a recurring community dinner, which funds creative public projects that enliven the city of Syracuse. At the event, guests receive a home-cooked, locally sourced meal and a ballot to vote on project proposals. Proposals are voted on during the dinner as select community members present their ideas. The winner is awarded money collected from ticket fees to help realize their project and returns to the next DISHES to report on their progress.

For more information, visit the DISHES blogspot or like them on Facebook.

Photo Friday: The glow of early nightfall at the corner of Prospect and Salina

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • November 6, 2015

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