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.”
Maureen Dore is someone you should know. Imagine having no money, resources or connections. Your only assets are persistence and a desire to get the job done. Why? Because there are young people in need without a voice. Maureen has become the voice for a small group of young people. Her determination is impressive and her accomplishments significant.
In my search for answers to how the soccer goals found their way to Washington Square Park I met with Maureen Dore. In her walks around the Northside, Maureen noticed that wherever there was a green patch of grass young people kicked a soccer ball across, in and through the available green space. It seemed obvious to her that placing goals on the field would help give some sense of order and purpose to an otherwise random and chaotic frenzy. She got on the phone and began calling people and charitable agencies. She was looking for advice, insight maybe even some financial assistance.
Soccer goals are expensive, long and heavy. Even if she had the money to buy the goals how would she be able to transport and set them up? Using the persuasive argument that soccer goals were good for the neighborhood Maureen was able to convince some important people to support the cause. Lou Vinciguerra, Pete Ramin, and the Welch Allyn Corporation found a way to financially support the effort. Lou is a long time northsider dedicated to providing positive experiences for kids on the northside. He uses soccer as a tool to reach them. Pete is owner of the Baldwinsville Indoor Sports Center and the Silver Knights (our professional indoor soccer team). Welch Allyn is a very successful medical equipment manufacturing company. These three stake holders funded the purchase, plus the transportion and set up of the equipment… but the effort didn’t end there.
As soon as the goals went up the games began and more challenges appeared. A different group of young men played basketball at Washington Square. They viewed the group of immigrants and refugees with suspicion. This was their park and basketball was king. Maureen once again stepped in as a mediator and found that the basketball players had difficulties similar to the soccer players, both groups of boys are on their own finding a place to play their game.
Maureen buys soccer shoes for those who need them and petitions the DPW to turn on the water fountain so the boys can take a water break between games. However there doesn’t seem to be an organized effort to fill the gaps and help these teenagers mature and grow. I have to keep searching because I haven’t found an answer to my original questions. How do our youth see what the future holds for them? Is it a promising future or is it something less?