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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Photo Friday: Meet Theresa Barry

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 31, 2017

Over the next seven days Theresa, known as “elraz.” will be taking over Northside UP’s Instagram account, sharing with you some of her many experiences on the Northside. Follow us on Instagram to stay tuned!

Instagram Take Over Collage

Theresa Barry (elraz) has a long-time interest in the Northside neighborhood.  It began years ago as she walked around photographing the buildings and street life that she witnessed on North Salina Street. Theresa is a an artist, event organizer, visual merchandiser, community volunteer, photographer and mentor/big sister to 2 Congolese girls. Theresa has volunteered with Hopeprint since 2012 and has more recently volunteered at the newly set up food pantry at the Masjid Isa mosque.  She lives in downtown Syracuse.

“What initially interested me in the northside was the incredible architecture and the history. My husband’s family lived on the northside beginning in the late 1800s and we have  photos of them in places that are still there today―which I love. I started taking regular walks down North Salina Street to photograph the amazing architectural detail on the brick buildings. I became intrigued by the diversity of the neighborhood and vibrant street life I was witnessing and began going into all the little food markets and shops that I would come across. I loved chatting up the owners and getting to know their stories and ideas for their businesses. I started volunteering with Hopeprint in winter of 2012 and through that organization got to know many of the families in the neighborhood.  I then started being  invited into people’s homes, which I considered an honor and a great way to learn about other cultures. And to eat delicious food from around the globe! I’ve never visited the home of a refugee family without being fed.   I love everything about the northside―I think it is the most unique and interesting neighborhood in Syracuse”

NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Alan Poushter

Written by Rachel Nolte  • March 29, 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.



Ra-Lin collage


Alan is the president at Ra-Lin Discount: The Original Discounter! This Northside Business Partnership member is a second generation, family-owned supplier of large appliances, electronics, photography equipment, and much more.


Q: How long have you been in Syracuse? How long have you worked at Ra-Lin?

A: First of all, Ra-Lin’s started in 1953. It was started by my father-in-law, Bernie Radin, and his partner Herman Zeitlin. I was born in 1952, so actually just the year before the store opened—born and raised in Syracuse, went to Nottingham. In fact, all the owners went to Nottingham. The owners are my brother-in-law, Lewis Radin, and my wife, Marsha Poushter, but she was Radin obviously before that. We were all born and raised in Syracuse, went to Nottingham. The only time I left was when I went to University of Denver for college. When I started at Ra-Lin, it was 1978, so 39 years. Hard to believe.


Q: Ra-Lin has everything from major appliances to home theater speakers to jewelry. How do you provide knowledgeable staff support to customers when you have such a broad range of products?

A: We have specialists in every department. In fact, what you’ll find is even right now, there are two appliance people who just do appliances. There are two people who just do the TVs and stereos. There are two people who do jewelry. There are two people who do small appliances and there are about four of us in camera because we do photo finishing too. And that does not include the sporting goods, by the way. They have their own—there’s like five people that work just in sporting goods. I think what separates us from the competition is our knowledgeable staff. Also I would say most of the staff, believe it or not, have been here over 30 years. Not only are they knowledgeable, but the appliance people have been here 30 years and 40 years, in TV one guy has been here 30, 40 years. Also, whatever department the person is in, the guys are into it. The TV department, the guys are into it. The sporting department, the guys are sportsman and they go off sporting. The camera people shoot photography. Everyone who is in their specialty is also an avid fan. It’s not just a job. It’s their hobby. In a nutshell, that’s who we are and why we’re successful. People know that when they come in here, the person that they’re going to talk to is highly knowledgeable and motivated and into it. It’s not just a job.


Q: Have you ever had strange requests for products you don’t carry? Can you think of any examples?

A: Oh, every day. We get a lot of calls for computers because people think we sell computers. Computers and computer accessories. You would think it would go with everything else we sell here—it’s what I call a small big box. We carry pretty much everything a big box store would carry, without the computer stuff.


Q: What do you like about being located on the Northside? Dislike?

A: Yes we’re on the Northside, but we’re also almost downtown. We’re also Eastside. We get a lot of customers from DeWitt. Although I am on the Northside and belong to all the groups, I consider myself a centrally located—although, like I said, we’re on the edge of the Northside. We like the location. We’re centrally located and we’re right near the Teal Ave exist and the downtown exit, the Townsend Street exit, and we’re convenient no matter what side of town you’re on. And I think our big advantage over other businesses on the Northside is we have PLENTY of adequate parking.


Q: Lately, we’ve had such new technologies as smart phones, 3D TVs, and Blu-ray. Any thoughts about what the next big technology will be?

A: Well, we’re selling some drones. It actually falls into the camera department because all the drones have these high-quality cameras. Most of the drones you see are used for monitoring or looking at things, so it’s photography, video. All of ours are really sold to photographers, who are now getting into it. We’re selling some to business guys, construction guys, who use it instead of getting up on a ladder to look at a roof, or a farmer or real estate people. It’s still a new thing but we’re starting to sell some. What we find is that even though they’re photographers, they’re not good flyers, and we’re having trouble with things crashing. So we’re getting together with the clubs that use model air planes. They came at it more from the flying part and we’re more at it from the picture part, so we’re trying to work with the local model air plane guys.

The other thing we’re selling new are these security cameras. With these new security cameras, you can look at your store or your house on your phone, wherever you are. The security camera is hooked up to your computer through the Wi-Fi, and from your computer to your phone. There, again, we have a specialty guy. He has to come out and look at your house. You could home-install it, but most of the time you would hire someone. And we’re not doing so much individuals with security cameras as small businesses. We did a system for the Canal Museum. People have gone away from alarm systems because you can see it on your phone. Less false alarms.


Q: If I could write you a check to buy anything in the store, what would you get and why?

A: I would say the fancy drone or the big TVs. The other thing I would say is, the appliances are getting more sophisticated. You can monitor your refrigerator. That’s the new thing—monitoring of the home appliances. From your phone, you’ll be able to find out what’s in your refrigerator. This is kind of in the future, what they’re talking about. They’re not quite there yet, but you’ll be able to get it from your phone, all this stuff.


To learn more about Ra-Lin, visit their website at RaLins.com.

Re-imagining Syracuse’s Churches

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 28, 2017

CNY Central--Churches

Earlier this month, CNY Central reported on the many different churches in our city that have found new uses in a changing community. Many of the examples are from the Northside, including the Samaritan Center, the Myanmar Baptist Church, and Assumption Church.

“It would be easy to be discouraged at the number of church buildings closing in the Syracuse area. But people who watch religious trends say changes for church buildings, are not the same as changes to Faith.

Professor Margaret Thompson, who studies religious trends at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, says that yes, we are changing. But, we’re not abandoning our houses of worship.

She says some congregations may leave their buildings, but other groups often replace them, often representing groups that are new or growing in the community. A perfect example, the former Friedens Church on Syracuse’s Lodi Street, which was established by German immigrants. The congregation closed after 111 years as numbers dwindled, but the building is now occupied by the Myanmar Baptist and the Syracuse Nepali Churches. . . 

Big changes are also coming to Assumption, the landmark twin steepled church complex on Syracuse’s North Salina Street. Shockwaves went through its community, and actually the whole North Side community, when for sale signs went up on some of its buildings. Friar Rick Riccioli, the pastor at the Franciscan church says it’s part of a continuum: ‘This was orignally a German parish, and the Assumption Campus was the hub for them, both spiritually and culturally. The North Side has changed.’

Assumption is not closing, but it is reinventing itself. The buildings that have housed services to the community, including the soup kitchen, medical clinic and legal aid, are being sold. Those services will be relocated to the building that now houses the friars’ residence. It, and the church itself are the only two properties that will remain in Franciscan hands.

Assumption is also selling its old high school, which will once again become apartments, only this time they’ll be rented at ‘moderate prices, with the hopes of attracting more young adults to the area.”

To read the entire article and watch the video, visit CNYCentral.com.

Photo Friday: Take to the Street

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 24, 2017

Our Co-directors led the Northside walking tour during the Visioning Voices Speaker Series Event this week. Stay tuned for a recap and more photos from the event!


Photo Friday: Winter Fog at Rush Hour

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 17, 2017


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.