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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Photo Friday: Thanks, Sarah!

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 27, 2017

Sarah'[s Instagram Takeover


Sarah Averill’s Instagram Takeover this week was filled with photos that capture life on the Northside: www.Instagram.com/NorthsideUP

“This photography project is an accident: the biggest, most thrilling accident I ever could have hoped for.  It continues to fire my sense of wonder and curiosity about the world and the varied people in it. We are not all the same; yet, we share so many important features. Isn’t that the most amazing thing of all?  We are different and we share so much. To think that I might have missed out on exploring the Northside, all of its people and places, and all moments in and around these photographs. If I’d listened to the people around me who told me to be afraid, that is what would have happened. I would have missed out, completely missed out.

Fear can get in the way if we don’t know when to put it in perspective; if we don’t know when to let it ride over and through us and just let it be a feeling we sometimes have without giving it control.  Sometimes, it’s just that we don’t know enough, haven’t acquired a store of experiences sufficient to replace or temper our fear. Sometimes, it’s just that something is unfamiliar, and we need time and exposure to change our fear into something else. 

That was my experience on the Northside. I had to make a few trips, visit, linger, and then linger more, and eventually, the world got bigger, and the people in it didn’t seem like such strangers. These are my—and your—neighborhoods from around the world. If I had a wish for my friends and family and colleagues at the edge of 2017, it would be to give fear a break, to find the boundaries of that hard-wired default setting, and stretch beyond it a little bit, and then a lot.” – Sarah

If you are interested in being a part of our Instagram take overs and sharing your Northside images, please contact info@northsideup.org.

CYO Shares Photos from Family Photo Day

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 26, 2017

Family Photo Day

Photo credit: Catholic Charities of Onondaga County

Catholic Charities of Onondaga County recently shared some snapshots of Family Photo Day at the Northside CYO. Kate Holmes,  BIA Rep and ONA Manager at CYO, acted as photographer for each of the families eager to get their picture taken.

“’A lot of these families haven’t had portraits taken,’ Kate said as she waited for another family to step up to her makeshift studio. ‘Or if they have, they’ve only been for documentation purposes. So they don’t smile. They’re very stoic. But they do smile when they see the results.’”

To read the full story and see some of the pictures from the photo session, visit Catholic Charities’ blog.

“What’s For Dinner?”: Featuring Azella Alvarez

Written by Rachel Nolte  • January 24, 2017


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.


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Azella is a Northside resident and business owner. Her restaurant is called Oompa Loompyas, which is a pun on the popular and delicious Filipino spring roll or lumpia.


Q: What brought you to the area?

I was married to a military guy, so when he got out of the military, we found that having 3 kids and living in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in California, which is San Diego, was not feasible. So we started looking outwards and he was actually from the New York area . . . His family eventually moved here, so we visited here maybe twice, and that was it. We were like, let’s go! So, since then, we haven’t left since ’99 so we’re still here. When asked if she misses the weather, Azella immediately responded (with laughter) “Always.”


Q: What advice would you give to someone considering opening a business on the Northside?

I would say definitely have the passion for it because it’s a lot of long hours. I don’t think it ever dies down. It just becomes, because you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work. But you definitely have to get all the information . . . You have to have all your certificates in line, health, business, all in a row to get started because you can’t operate without that. You definitely want to go around and talk to any peers or friends or colleagues that you know and get any type of feedback from them because obviously experience matters. But when you’re in the trench of it all and you’re learning from the ground up, it’s you. It’s on you . . . The restaurant business, I will say, is the hardest. You never know what you’re going to get on a day to day basis. You try to stay consistent . . . Have excellent customer service because, most likely, you might have good food, but if you don’t have the customer service, they won’t come back . . . It works hand in hand.


Q: What developments on the Northside are you most excited for?

Hopefully, vamping up the Northside. Having the community be able to walk outside their house, be able to go to the neighborhood store, see that it’s actually a gem and not say, “Oh, well, gosh, you live on the Northside?” . . . I want to see growth of local restaurants here. It would be great if we could get the diversity—we’re certainly getting it with, there’s Laci’s down the road, there’s Middle Eastern down the road, then you have the Filipino, you have the Asian, the Vietnamese over here on the Northside as well, but it would be nice to see maybe Puerto Rican, Korean, Japanese, things like that all down Burnett would be nice. There’s a lot of open buildings for lease and you’re just hoping someone would go in there. That would, I think, restore the local community.


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Left: traditional beef & crab stuffed lumpias; Right: beef bistek


Q: If you could change something about Syracuse, what would it be?

The weather? (Laughter) But it’s ok because I love the fall. If I could have the fall 6 months out of the year, that would be great. So, the weather for sure, but we can’t change that. I would also like to see Syracuse open up about different ethnicities. Because 9 out of 10 times, people will come here and they’ve never have Filipino food, which is so weird! It’s still being discovered…I think that we should find more festivals because people really go all out on festivals on the East Coast (I’m from California) So I’d like to see more diversity in festivals because that could really bring people together. Let’s say, hey! Make an effort to go to this Filipino festival, so to speak. We don’t have that. Even an Asian festival, in general, we don’t have that. We have the population―we’re big on refugees, so I could see that happening . . . I just think that as a whole, we need to be more aware of it.


Q: If you had to teach a class on an obscure topic, what would you teach?

I’d say Filipino 101. I find myself educating everyone everyday. And there’s no problem, I love my culture, but there’s definitely a lot of people that don’t know much about Filipino—what it is even. They’ll say, ‘so what is Filipino?’ They don’t even say, we’ll you’re Asian. They say, ‘what is it? What? Where—what is that a fusion of?’ They don’t see it as Asian at all, they just think it’s different. What would the first class be? Probably be the food, and that we’re such a hodge-podge of different ethnicities. I think we’re like the catalyst of fusion. It’s so weird. Like, in our language, there’s Spanish in it and people don’t know that. The Spaniards were our first settlers there, so the Spaniards are really big on our ancestry and a lot of our influences are from that. But then we’re derived also because being in Asia we derive also Asian, which brings in I think a lot of Malaysian and Chinese circles. So it’s just this mix of really deep roots.


Chicken adobo

Chicken adobo


Q: What’s for dinner?

We’re having our national dish. For the longest time, we were offering our pork adobo and people were loving that but a lot of people who were familiar with Filipino food were used to the chicken adobo. So today we have chicken adobo. And then like I said, it’s our signature national dish. It consists of garlic, vinegar, and soy sauce. It marinates for quite some time and you just let it simmer in there for a little bit and out comes this glorious flavor. It is so good and it’s the simplest of flavors but it’s just the depths of it. It’s just amazing.

I can personally attest to the fact that this was, in fact, delicious. There is something magical that happened with those flavors that I can’t quite explain. 

To learn more about Oompa Loompyas, follow them on Facebook or visit their website.

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.