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.
Maggie works for NEHDA and the NPC (Neighborhood Preservation Coalition) as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). She is a welcome new presence in the office and we look forward to seeing what she accomplishes during her time with us.
Question: Where are you from?
Maggie: I was born in Vallejo, California, which is across the bay from San Francisco. I spent most of my time growing up in Cazenovia, New York, outside of Syracuse.
Q: What drew you to NEHDA?
M: I knew I wanted to do AmeriCorps and I knew I wanted to stay in Syracuse. So NEHDA just seemed like a great organization. I was especially interested in the work that you did helping different businesses and things like that (Side note: Throughout my VISTA year, I’ve done a lot of work with the Northside Business Partnership). I thought that was cool and different from some of the other AmeriCorps programs that I saw.
Q: What do you like about the area?
M: Well, I’m married so I wanted to live with my husband. We just got married, so I’m not sick of him yet (laughter). Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll move away for a program.
Q: What are you most excited about with your new position?
M: I’m mostly excited to learn more about advocacy with the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition. I know I get to go to a few meetings in Albany with my site director, Mike [La Flair] and so I’m excited to see how those meetings go.
Q: For those who are not familiar with the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, could you tell me a little more about it?
M: Yeah. The Neighborhood Preservation Coalition (NPC) is based out of Albany, and then they have them all over. So, New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and they even have rural NPCs. NEHDA is actually an NPC. They’re nonprofit organizations that do community development in a specific area. So for Syracuse, there’s some on the Northside of Syracuse, the Southside, the Westside, and the different neighborhoods. Ithaca has an NPC, Watertown has an NPC, so they’re different nonprofit organizations that fall under the community development umbrella. A lot of times, they do work with affordable housing.
Q: Do you have a strong interest in housing?
M: I think growing up in Syracuse, I always saw all the empty and boarded-up houses, and it’s really too bad, I know a lot of people need affordable housing. So when I interviewed with NEHDA it was cool to see—on their walls, they have pictures of houses that they have worked on or given money to work on. So it was cool to see that they care about the way that their community looks and that people have access to affordable housing. Then it makes your neighborhood look better, too.
Q: Do you have a favorite business on the Northside yet?
M: I don’t. I just had lunch at Mi Casita today and it was SO delicious and I’m stuffed. It was great.
Q: Speaking of food, What’s for Dinner??!
M: My vegan friends visited and inspired me to try cooking tofu.
Tofu Stir Fry:
– Pre-marinated and baked tofu, teriyaki flavored (“Tofubaked” is the brand!)
– yellow squash
– red + green bell peppers
– red onion
Cook desired amount of rice.
Combine veggies in a frying pan with some oil, salt, pepper, and any spices your heart desires. Add a stir fry or teriyaki sauce. Cook veggies, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes and then add in chopped tofu. Cook another few minutes until veggies are tender and tofu is warm.
*Feel free to use any vegetables you have on hand, this just happens to be what I have in my fridge at the moment*
Top rice with tofu mixture and enjoy!