It’s been said that school is a building with four walls and tomorrow inside. Bruce Pollock, founder of Friends of Educational Excellence (FREE) Partnerships, believes there are actually three schools that educate children — the home, the community, and the public school the child attends. He traces the beginnings of his efforts to ensure bright tomorrows for Rochester’s children:
“When I moved to Rochester in 2004, I joined Temple B'rith Kodesh (TBK) and helped start a Temple partnership with School 52, one of the elementary schools in Rochester.”
Don Ginsberg, a TBK member and retired Rochester school principal, was the leader of this new partnership.
Since 2005, TBK has been an active partner with School 52.
“We bring volunteers to the school to tutor students in reading, writing, and math,” Pollock said. “Over the years, TBK has also provided books and clothes for students, and school supplies. We also designed and manage a summer reading program for School 52 students. Last year we had over 100 volunteers in the school.”
It only took one year for Pollock to realize how effective the model was for promoting student success. He was working full-time for IBM then and so he didn't have the time to try to replicate this partnership model to other schools.
In April 2009, when he retired, Pollock says, “I now had the opportunity to realize my dream of establishing effective school partnerships at other Rochester city schools.”
After working for eight months to lay the foundation for the organization, Friends of Educational Excellence Partnerships was launched in February 2010. Pollock traces the initial endeavors: “Don Ginsberg became the President of the Board and I became the Executive Director. We established an official relationship with the Rochester City School District that recognized support for several Rochester schools. Since then we have added more schools and currently support ten city elementary schools: #4, #7, #10, #12, #15, #22, #34, #39, #50, and #52.
“Each school,” he reports, “has a community partner. FREE Partnerships support these school partnerships in three ways:
1) We recruit more volunteers to support more students.
2) We host FREE Coalition meetings where school partners collaborate and share information on ways to improve support for students.
3) We document and promote Successful Practices that serve as a roadmap for community organizations to be the most effective partner with their school.”
You can learn more about FREE Partnerships on its website: www.freepartnerships.org
Pollock believes the passion he feels for helping underprivileged city youth started in his early childhood.
“My father was born in Rochester in 1927,” he shares, “to parents that immigrated to the U.S. from Russia. Dad went to Rochester city schools, then to the University of Rochester, and finally to Georgetown University Law School. Although his family income was modest and his parents did not originally speak English, my father was determined to move forward.”
Pollock grew up in the Washington, D.C. area in the 1950s and 1960s, at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Embedded in his spirit was a desire to help the underprivileged and promote Tikkun Olam, a Yiddish phrase that means "repairing the world.”
"When I moved to Rochester," he notes, "I felt I was moving home to pursue a great mission. FREE Partnerships is my mission to help kids in Rochester fulfill their dreams.”
John Lennon, one of the world's most beloved dreamers, maintained that a dream you dream alone is simply a dream. But, he insisted, “A dream you dream together is reality.” Fortunately for Rochester students, there are fellow dreamers, like Bruce, at FREE Partnerships helping to create the reality of scholastic success for children in Rochester.
— Dr. Marlene Caroselli, a Pittsford resident, likes to write. Among her 60 books are The Language of Leadership, The Critical Thinking Tool Kit, and Principled Persuasion, named a Director's Choice by Doubleday Book Club (www.saatchionline.com/LainaCelano) . Her column, Notables and Quotables, features Brighton and Pittsford residents each month.
Actor Kevin James maintains there is no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap.
His sentiments may explain the popularity of places like the Great Northern Kitchen at 1918 Monroe Avenue in Brighton.
Co-owner of this and other locations in Rochester, Fayetteville, and Williamsville, Joe Zabitchuck has been with Great Northern for nine years. He started as a part-time cook in 2003 while attending Monroe Community College.
“After a few months of school,” he recalls, “I decided to take off a semester of and pursue a different direction. I was soon promoted to full-time pizza cook at a pizza shop. As a cook, I learned and experienced many things, including a trip to New York City to cook for company business meetings.”
Advancement came quickly for Zabitchuck. “After a year of cooking,” he notes, “I was promoted to shift supervisor and shortly after, to assistant manager. At this point my goal became learning how to run a restaurant.”
He worked at four different Great Northern locations in five years and assisted in opening two of the newest locations.
Zabitchuck adds, “After much learning, hard work, and dedication, I was promoted to General Manager." Zabitchuck expresses his gratitude and desire to "play it forward.” “Great Northern always provided me opportunities to be successful,” he says, “and one of my goals as an owner is to keep those opportunities alive going forward.”
Asked about a typical day’s work, this self-proclaimed huge Buffalo Bills fan explains, “There is so much that goes into a typical day at the shop. We work very hard as a team to provide great products and exceptional customer service.”
Not surprisingly, he regards every day as a challenge in order to maintain the established standards.
“We have up to 25 different slices on display during lunch and dinner. We also serve soups, salads, and sandwiches that rival our pizza! We even have gluten-free options. There is definitely something for everyone at Great Northern,” he asserts with pride.
If you saw the movie or read Eat, Pray, Love, you may recall the author’s near-obsessive view of pizza:
"I love my pizza so much," she admits, "that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair."
While the co-owner of Great Northern Pizza, might not express it this way, he clearly wants his customers to feel this way. Enjoy your next pizza experience and Buono Appetito!
"Happy is the hearing man," Ralph Waldo Emerson once opined.
Dr. Gregory King, the main audiologist of Pittsford Hearing and Balance Center at 56 North Main Street agrees with the opinion. In fact, he has spent his entire professional life improving hearing and thus, increasing the happiness-quotient in the world.
"I have been practicing now for 15 years," King says. "The first 10 years were spent in California in private practice and the last five here in upstate New York in a group practice."
Caring for patients is a family endeavor: King's wife is a speech language pathologist in the area.
"My wife and I originally met in graduate school at Syracuse University," he explains. "When it came time to start a family, we returned to the area to be closer to family. I was fortunate to find this group, which was opening a new location in Pittsford and needed someone with experience to help facilitate the process."
Good hearing impacts so many aspects of life. To more fully embrace the world, we need to have it, and our other senses optimized.
This is where the Center comes into play. On a typical day, the doctors see patients of all ages to assess and then improve both their hearing and balance needs.
"The population is mainly adults," King shares, "but we do see children as well. Hearing examinations, hearing aid fittings, and balance testing for dizziness/vertigo patients take up most of the day. We also see people with tinnitus (ringing in the ears), musicians, industrial workers, and many others."
Another doctor, one we associate with systems thinking, chaos theory, and organizational behavior, notes the enhanced interpersonal exchanges that are effected by being able to hear the words of another person.
"One of the easiest human acts," Margaret Wheatley asserts "is also the most healing. Listening to someone. Simply listening. Not advising or coaching, but silently and fully listening."
Many who have noticed a problem with their listening ability turn to their general practitioner for help. Not surprisingly, most of the Center's referral, King acknowledges, come from physicians.
"Patients do refer other patients," King adds, "and, of course, we welcome new patients who have heard about us through our marketing."
Asked what sets Pittsford Hearing and Balance Center apart, King points to their concern for clients.
"We strive to take care of our patients," he responds. "When someone requires amplification, all of their follow-up visits and supplies (including batteries) are complimentary for the life of the hearing aids."
Like many full-time working adults, King admits to having limited spare time. When he is not at the office, he enjoys spending time with his family and traveling.
It is clear that at Pittsford Hearing and Balance Center, patients receive treatment as well as thoughtfulness. The staff there abides by the words of Martin H. Fischer, M.D., who maintains that "in the sick room, ten cents' worth of human understanding equals ten dollars' worth of medical science. "
At the Pittsford Hearing and Balance Center, patients get their money's worth, in terms of both understanding and medical science.
Dreams have been likened to stars — things we may never touch but which, if followed, can lead us to our destiny.
Elissa Schaeffer, children’s services manager of the Brighton Public Library, found the job of her dreams by reading -- avidly -- ever since she was a child.
“My various jobs and careers have always revolved around books and/or reading, especially children’s materials,” she acknowledges.
“Being a children’s librarian was such a natural choice. It’s as if all of my previous experiences led me to my dream job.”
Asked about ways parents and teachers can inspire a love of reading, she explains that children “should be reading what they enjoy.”
She advises further: “Try not to focus on reading level alone, but to include building on those topics children enjoy. There’s plenty of room for compromise,” she asserts, “because there’s such a vast array of topics to choose from.
“Don’t forget nonfiction!” she urges. “Some children don’t necessarily like to read stories, but they will immerse themselves in nonfiction.”
She further encourages parents to lead by example.
“It helps children to see their parents read, be it books, magazines, newspapers, or material on a computer screen.
Schaeffer admits, “It’s a fine line that parents and teachers walk to try to inspire readers — to keep challenging them to grow but at the same time keep them from being discouraged. We are here to help with that,” she offers on behalf of librarians everywhere.
Those who know her are in total accord with Schaeffer’s self-description: “I can usually be found with a book on me in case I have a few spare moments to read. However, most of my time lately is spent chasing after my 15-month-old daughter. I love being a parent and introducing her to the world around us. I haven’t always lived in the Rochester area, but I’ve always been in upstate or northern New York…I have never experienced a winter without lake effect snow!”
Regarding those librarians everywhere, English author Neil Gaiman has spoken of the correction between a culture’s peace and prosperity and the number of librarians in that culture. He insists that a culture that doesn’t value its librarians doesn’t value ideas.
Here’s to idea-valuing and the readers who like Elissa Schaeffer who promote it.
School has been in session for a while now. So, it's high time for a quiz. Can you match the saying with the correct "sayer" beneath the quote?
1. "Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. "
A. Mehmet Oz, M.D.
B. Arnold Schwarzenegger
C. Gunnar Peterson
D. John F. Kennedy
2. "Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."
A. Lane Armstrong
B. Oprah Winfrey
C. Sanjay Gupta, M.D.
D. Jack LaLane
3. "My health is the main capital I have and I want to administer it intelligently."
A. Ernest Hemingway
B. Drew Pinsky, M.D.
C. Anthony Pilate
D. John Dean, M.D.
Here's another great quote. This one's from Andrew Schuler, owner of Pittsford Nautilus at 35 Lincoln Avenue:
"I've seen repeatedly the positive impact exercise had on people's lives, both physically and mentally."
Schuler was introduced to weight training and bodybuilding when he was only 15. A few years later, while attending Brockport State, he developed greater awareness of the importance of physical fitness.
Schuler says, "I began to see how exercise and one's fitness affected people in their everyday lives."
After college, Schuler was employed by the YMCA of Greater Rochester and then Hillside Children's Center, where he was able to assist in the development and implementation of their fitness centers.
In 2001, he recalls, "the opportunity arose to buy Pittsford Nautilus and Personal Training Center, formerly known as Nautilus of Pittsford.
We are now beginning our 32nd year in business. Our history in the community has allowed me to continue assisting people improve their fitness and meet and surpass their goals."
Schuler and his staff work with all ages and all fitness levels. Asked about their mission, he enthusiastically responds, "A typical day here is spent assisting and encouraging members to enrich and improve their lives through fitness. We encourage members to constantly challenge themselves."
You'd be wrong if you were inclined to think this fitness guru is too tired at the end of a day to do anything but sleep. Schuler and his wife have four children. Additionally, he maintains his in-work passion outside of work as well: Schuler is active in bodybuilding and powerlifting, both as a competitor and a judge.
Do his days have more than 24 hours? Not only does he cram all of this into his days, Schuler also enjoys hunting, fishing, and reading.
Clearly, Schuler is heeding Bob Dylan's advice: "He not busy being born is busy dying."
Here's to all the Pittsfordians like Schuler who keep busy with the birthing of new ideas, new activities, and new goals.
And if you did well on the quiz, congratulations. It means you know fitness-faith goes beyond trainers—presidents, talk-show hostesses and authors all believe in the importance of wellness, too.
There are any number of pithy sayings that capture the admiration most people have for firefights and paramedics.
“Firefighters are hot stuff.”
“You might be a firefighter if the microwave goes off and you run out of the house thinking it was your pager.”
“Hug a firefighter and feel warm all over.”
“All men are created equal and then a few become firefighters.”
“What you call a hero I call just doing my job.”
Tyler Hares, Director of Operations for the Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance Service at 40 Tobey Road, has heard most of them. He’s also heard from area residents, expressing their appreciation for the contributions he and his dedicated team so willingly make.
Hares’ roots go back to his teenage years: he joined the local fire department after high school and knew he had made the right career choice. “I became certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and began to work full time at Rural Metro Medical Services in Rochester,” he said.
“Over the next several years I took as many classes as I could. I became a paramedic and eventually became a state EMS instructor at the EMT and Paramedic levels.”
Despite these accomplishments, Hares was hungry to learn even more.
“I continued with courses in emergency management offered through the state as well as FEMA,” he recounts, adding, “I was training director at Rural Metro Rochester just prior to applying for, and being selected as, the Director of Operations for Pittsford Ambulance.”
Because Pittsford has no shortage of people interested in helping others, Hares hopes some of those interested in volunteering their time will consider working with his existing team of 80.
He admires the willingness of volunteers to dedicate their time to the Town and Village of Pittsford as well as surrounding communities. He is the only paid employee of the ambulance service, having been hired as the full-time director to manage day-to-day operations.
When there are time slots volunteers cannot fill, the service leases staff members.
"This allows us to provide continual service to our residents,” Hares said. “There are several training requirements to work on the ambulance in any position. However, Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance will ensure you get the proper training to work with us.”
Hares provides further information: “All members must be trained in CPR and AED use, as well as Blood Borne Pathogens Safety training. Drivers are required to take an Emergency Vehicle Operator Course to be trained to drive the ambulance safely and following all legal requirements.”
New York State has additional requirements, Hares explains.
“EMT’s must take the required state certification course to provide care to persons in need. This is a college-level course that is a semester long.”
Hares says Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance also has positions for persons not wanting to provide direct medical care.
Given the life-and-death nature of his work, it’s little surprising that Hares finds pleasure in non-stressful pursuits.
“When not at work,” he reveals, “I spent most of my time working around the house I just purchased with my wife.”
That work includes gardening and working on the lawn — activities Hares describes as “mentally relaxing.”
Additionally, he is “currently putting in a woodworking shop and looking forward to enjoying that addition to my house.”
Peter Drucker, Father of Modern Management Science, advises managers to regard employees as volunteers—people free to leave when they want to, people passionate about their jobs, people willing to work without being paid.
Pittsford’s Tyler Hares is fortunate to have actual volunteers to manage. And, Pittsfordians are fortunate to have him, and them, at our service.
Note, at the time of publication: Tyler Hares is no longer employed by Pittsford Ambulance Service.
Ethel Merman once acknowledged her debt to the Great White Way by admitting, “Broadway’s been very good to me. But then,” she added, “I’ve been very good to Broadway.”
Brighton resident, Elaine Sanzel, has been finding the good in Broadway and other musical sources ever since she was young.
“Music and theater have always been part of my life,” she reveals. “When I was young, the Metropolitan Opera was on the radio every Saturday afternoon. And, of course, I grew up with the golden years of the movies.
“The musicals were the best,” she reflects, “because of all the singing and dancing.”
Sanzel put her money where her heart was back then: “My babysitting money went directly to movie magazines.”
Theater soon became a family focus when Elaine’s son Jeff starting writing sending letters backstage to celebrities. So persuasive were the contents that Sanzel and her son Jeff gained backstage access to actors like Vincent Price, Imogene Coca, George Burns, and John Carradine. (Jeff is now Executive Artistic Director at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, NY. Last December, he gave his 1000th performance of Scrooge.)
Daughter Hilary has been drawn to acting as well. Now a Chicago resident, she has appeared in a number of shows and has studied with Second City performers.
Son Ken entered the dramatic field in a roundabout fashion. He was working as an undercover detective in NYC when he sold a screenplay. Soon agented, he wrote and directed two HBO movies (Lone Hero and Scarred City) and was soon tapped as executive director of television’s “Numbers.”
Like many people enjoying their golden years, Sanzel delights in the “newest and best joy” of their lives—granddaughter Maya Elizabeth, now 3 years old. When not performing her role as princess, Maya attends Montessori preschool.
Playwright Edward Bond once asserted, “I think there is no world without theater.” To be sure, the Sanzel family are full-fledged members of the world that includes all things theatrical.
Stephen MacAdam is a man on the move — geographically and intellectually. His childhood was spent in Nova Scotia, where he developed an intense interest in all things aquatic.
In time, he became a diver and entered fire service via the dive team. (One had to be a firefighter in order to be on the team.) MacAdam trained with the fire and ambulance service. His father, who had attended the Nova Scotia Fire Academy, worked for the ferry service was head of the safety team.
MacAdam came to Rochester to serve as best man at the wedding of a fellow Nova Socian. As is often the case, the best man and the maid of honor enjoyed the time they spent together. So important was that time that MacAdam wound up proposing to her. And the travels began not long after. She lived in Washington, D.C., and he, much farther north.
In time, the couple wound up in Brighton and, later, in Washington, D.C., where MacAdam volunteered with the Chevy Chase Rescue Squad. At the same time, he was going to graduate school and working as a teacher.
“Firefighting gets in your blood,” he admits, “and it’s hard to let go of it.”
The same, clearly, can be said of education. Always one to seek leadership opportunities—in both public and pedagogical service—Stephen MacAdam, Doctor of Education, finds many parallels between the two callings.
Regarding family life, he reveals intense involvement on this level as well. “Our daughters, aged ten and seven, play soccer. They ski, swim, and go hiking, too. If there’s a chance to be outside, they never fail to grab it. And, of course,” he acknowledges, “my wife and I join them as often as we can.”
Regina MacAdam is a corporate attorney with Harris Beach, one of the top 250 law firms in the country.
Chief of the Brighton Fire Department and Vice Principal of Klem Road School, this multi-talented man is currently being pressured by his daughters to buy them to buy a horse instead of a dog. While he finds he can resist that urge (at least thus far), he cannot resist the urge to do whatever he can to increase fire-safety awareness.
He delivers pizzas in a fire truck to help spread the word about fire safety. And, he helped institute the EDITH plan (Exit Drills in the Home) to encourage Brightonians to be as knowledgeable as possible when it comes to dealing with fires.
New York City’s Fire Chief, Edward Croker, once observed that “when a man becomes a fireman, his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work.”
Brighton residents are grateful that MacAdam, and the other brave men and women with whom he serves, are committed to brave accomplishments in their line of work.
It wasn't just the kite that made Benjamin Franklin famous. It was also pithy observations about life and living--observations such as this: "Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy."
Marie Casciani, owner of Pittsford Wines, doesn't need much proof of God's love. She comes form a long family tradition of learning and loving the age-old marriage of food and wine. Asked how she came to have her own
business, she responds, "It seemed natural to take advantage of a business opportunity involving retail sales of wine and spirits."
Casciani and her daughter Nicole work together in the store at 3 Schoen Place.
"We open for business at 10 a.m., Monday through Saturday," she says, "and stay open until 8 p.m. Our Sunday hours are noon to five."
Casciani and her husband travel to wine regions all over the world. In addition to exploring different cultures and traditions, they are always eager to learn whatever they can about wines and wine-making.
Customers inevitably benefit from the learning the Casciani's acquire in their travels.
And — as Peter Drucker, Father of Modern Management Science, asserts — "Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it."
The Casciani women are committed to ensuring customers get the most value out of their purchases.
Casciani notes, "Nicole and I spend dedicated time with our vendors. Our mission is to select the perfect wines and spirits for our clientele. Our business model is very relational as we enjoy greeting our customers, sharing and exchanging knowledge about different wines and spirits, and assisting them to select the perfect wine or spirit for their everyday needs, meal, or special occasion."
There are challenges, to be sure, in every business. Asked about theirs, Casciani acknowledges, "Our biggest challenge is trying to get the idea across that easy access and 'big box' shopping may appeal to our multi-tasking culture, but in the long run, we consumers nurture small businesses and local identity by keeping our dollars where we live, work, and raise our families."
Casciani describes her clients as "a very loyal customer base" and adds, "We are always appreciative of the time they take to shop with us."
Proud to be known to their customers as "the wine shop on the canal," the Casciani women cater to their customers and their various uses for the wine they buy, including those customers of the W.C. Fields ilk: "I cook with wine," he boasted. "Sometimes I even add it to the food!"
Robert Fulghum, famous for his kindergarten wisdom, once wisely remarked, “
If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you have a problem. Everything else is inconvenience."
Pittsford’s Dr. Robert Cole understands the profound implications of the problems to which Fulghum alludes.
President of Fireproof Children, located in the old “Pickle Factory,” has conducted research into fire-setting started by juveniles.
In his studies, he was surprised to learn: “The young age of the children who started fires, their extensive experience with fire, their ready access to ignition materials, and the small number of families that actually explain fire is an adult tool.”
To be sure, much of the fire-setting is the inadvertent by-product of children playing. But, not always.
Says Cole, a developmental psychologist at the University of Rochester, “Based on our interviews with children, we believe most of the children who intentionally set fires are responding to serious, but common, family crises and that our local social service agencies and providers could help resolve those crises. Simply by making appropriate referrals, we were able to reduce repeat fire-setting by more than 70 percent in the City of Rochester."
Asked for a simple tip all families could use, Cole share a three-word maxim: “Put it away.”
He elaborates: “Easy access to all forms of hazardous materials — matches, lighters, candles, poisons, knives — is a critical contributor to all types of unintentional injuries. Putting them away is a simple, cost-free, intervention any family can use."
The genesis for Cole’s Fireproof Children firm was an initiative undertaken in 1982 by the Rochester Fire Department.
They approached the Child and Adolescent Clinic at the U of R to help them better understand children who started fires and how best to deal with them.
"We have been working together ever since," Cole shares. "In 1988, we started our company, Fireproof Children, to be able to provide education and training to other organizations."
American poet John Godfrey Saxe once pondered this question, "If Prometheus was worthy of the wrath of heaven for kindling the first fire upon earth, how ought all the gods honor the men who make it their professional business to put it out?"
One wonders how the gods ought honor those who prevent fires from starting in the first place.
Humorist Dave Barry insists that camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business. The 100inner-city children who attend the Community Luteran Ministry Summer Camp each summer would surely disagree.
The camp runs for six weeks once school is out for the summer.
According to Beverly Voos, Board of Directors Secretary, “The children who attend receive breakfast and lunch. They are involved in sports, trips out of the city, swimming, picnics — all the things you’d expect a summer camp to provide.”
Asked about the camp’s origin, Voos provides details.
“The camp is an offshoot of the ministry that takes place on Joseph Avenue. There is an after-school program during the year where students can stop in after school, get a bite to eat, and work on homework. Many of them stay until 5 or 6 p.m. Other programs offered include reading, dance, and basketball.
"This is a safe alternative,” she notes, “to walking around when it's dark out or going home to an empty house if parents are working. The children have a safe and fun place to go during the summer."
“In summer camp, they are provided wholesome meals, kept busy with activities, do some reading and most importantly, are able to leave the city at least once a week for a field trip. Many of these children have never been out of the city. So, these activities are especially exciting.”
In terms of selection, Voos shares, “Any child can attend. Some of the cost of camp for some of the children is provided by the Department of Social Services if the families qualify. Much of the cost of this camp is underwritten by private donors and churches in Monroe County and beyond.”
In addition to her work for the camp, Voos is active in her church.
“I have been on two mission trips to Haiti with my family and others from the church. I participate in fundraisers including an annual garage sale, the proceeds from which benefit the summer camp," she adds.
It’s been said that if you need something done, give the job to the busiest person you know.
In addition to her volunteer activities, Voos teaches seventh-grade math at Spry Middle School in Webster.
"I stay busy,” she admits. “I am the advisor for a service club there that is sponsored by the Kiwanis. And, I am very active as a professional educator at the state and federal levels."
Fortunately, Voos manages to find time for fun.
“My husband, Jared, and I love to travel,” she reveals. “We have been on a number of cruises. We love spending time, too, with our children who live in Albany and Baltimore.
Like most people, Beverly Voos has several sources of inspiration in her life, her faith being at the forefront of things that guide her. The gratitude she feels for all she has, stems in part from family members.
“My parents were excellent role models,” she says. “They taught me to give to others so that those lives could be made better. My husband, too, provides me with the love and support in all I do and works right alongside me on a number of projects.
Another comedian, Bill Cosby, claims to have insight into God’s first creations. “After creating the heaven, the earth, the ocean, and the entire animal kingdom,” Cosby says, “God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing He said to them was “Don’t.”
The second thing He said may well have been “Do….help others." Beverly Voos is one Pittsford exemplar who knows what to do when it comes to service.
We tend to think quantum physics when we hear the name “Albert Einstein.” And yet, Einstein is the author of any number of maxims to live by.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters” is just one example.
Nothnagle realtor Mark Siwiec, repeatedly named the No. 1 agent in Rochester, bases his success on three simple tenets: honesty, persistence, and an unparalleled commitment to his clients.
No doubt clients know they can trust him with the important matter of selling or buying a home: 75 percent of Siwiec’s sales are based on referrals.
Even though he and his partner Duffy Palmer were leaving for Athens in the morning, Siwiec took time to answer questions for the Brighton Pittsford Post. The rapidity with which he responds to questions is a tribute to the rapidity with which he apparently gets things done.
The first in his family to go to college, Siwiec was told to get a degree — any degree — and the world would be his oyster. His particular oyster, though, held no pearls for a young man with a University of Rochester political science degree.
Siwiec wound up working for the New York State Health Department. His first assignment: Interview a man with syphilis and track down all the people with whom he had had contact for the previous six weeks.
Informing people they might have contracted a serious illness was not exactly what Mark had aspired to do with his life. After a year, unable to return to college for another degree, Siwiec made an assessment of successful people who didn’t need extensive schooling to do what they did. His insights led him to the field of realty.
Aphorist Jason Zebehazy maintains three things are needed for a good life: good friends, good food, and good song.
Siwiec and Palmer, former New York State Secretary of Education, entertain their friends at their Park Avenue home or their second home in Hammondsport, frequently providing that “good food” for as many as 250 people.
And, as far as good song is concerned, Siwiec serves on the board of the Rochester Philharmonic, an ideal position for a man who loves music nearly as much as he loves his work.
Notable and Quotable in Pittsford: JoAnne Ryan, President/CEO of Volunteers of America (VOA)
Mother Teresa once addressed the definitions of poverty. She worried that “being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty" than simply being without food.
Volunteers of America of Western New York’s President and CEO, JoAnne M. Ryan, RN, MHA, fully understands the two types of poverty.
Recently named Woman of the Year by the Sons of Italy Vincent Lombardi Lodge 2270, Ryan was honored for her significant contributions to the community. Those contributions include feeding the soul, as well as the body.
Under her leadership during the last two years, VOA has opened two new supportive housing programs and three new resale stores (Batavia, Fairport and Henrietta). Ryan has also narrowed the focus of the agency from twenty goals down to a solid four that reflect the abiding values expected of VOA staff members: compassion, respect, integrity, teamwork, and excellence.
These core values are ones she has learned from others.
“I have been blessed with many exceptional role models,” Ryan affirms.
She recognizes her parents as her earliest influences, noting that as first-generation Italian immigrants, they “demonstrated a stellar work ethic, a high level of integrity, and sharing with others in random acts of kindness.”
VOA is a non-profit organization that has been providing human services for more than 100 years.
Dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential, their programs include housing and support services for the homeless; care and educational programs for at-risk children; Step by Step, which empowers women who are, have been, or are at risk of being incarcerated to reclaim their strengths; the Working Wardrobe for adults seeking employment; and crisis assistance for families in need.
Throughout Western and Central New York, Volunteers of America helps more than 5,000 individuals a year.
Especially in view of the upcoming holidays, the staff is now reaching out to the community. They have an urgent need for toiletries for the families they welcome to the Guest House, a facility designed for homeless families.
The House is one of the few shelters that keeps families together in a single shelter. When residents move to affordable housing, VOA provides them with a bag of supplies that includes towels, washcloths, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and soap.
Given the increase for emergency housing in Rochester, VOA has served more people than usual this year. Now, their supplies are nearly gone. They have only enough supplies for the next month.
If you believe in the Biblical exhortation to give rather than receive, or if you want to exercise your heart as an anonymous sage urges—“There is no better exercise for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up”—then please consider contacting VOA (647-1150).
Your contribution of much-needed toiletries will be felt and appreciated by a great many hearts indeed.
Jazz saxophonist Steve Lacy asserts that “it is in collaboration that the nature of art is revealed.”
Eight local artists, representing seven distinct genres, have found a collaborative means of revealing their art. The artists will feature their work at the first annual Artisan Fine Art Craft Show. They are:
Joan Ruzitsky (Jewelry and Wearables)
Eve Botelho (Embroidered fiber)
Charles Willard (Wooden lathework)
Chi Soo (Leather purses)
Lou Ryen (Fine art photography)
Jennifer Buckley (Functional and decorative pottery)
Cheryl and Don Olney (Contemporary wooden folk art figures)
The photograph accompanying this article is designed to merely whet your appetite. You can see the full artistic smorgasbord at the artists' First Annual Exhibition and Sale. Meet these creative area residents, learn about their work, find your own inspiration by learning about theirs, and engage them in conversation about how and why they do what they do.
They'll be at the Old Pickle Factory, One Grove Street in Pittsford (Suite 217) in just a few days:
Friday October 26, 6 - 9 p.m.
Saturday October 27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday October 28, 10 a.m. to 5p.m.
There is no admission fee. And, if you come on the opening night, you’ll find both artistic and culinary temptations. You’ll be verbally tempted as well—your own artistic tendencies may be sparked, for example, by these words from Joan Ruzitsky, who specializes in jewelry and wearables.
“I have always had a passion for color,” she notes, “and get my inspiration from nature and the world around me. I have taken many workshops in color, design, and dying—be it weaving, painting on silk, dying or turning a collection of beads into a vibrant flowing necklace.”
Ruzitsky describes her work as "diverse, yet unified.” In so doing, she parallels Andy Warhol’s assertion that “the most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never met.”
Over 400 years ago, British essayist Joseph Addison pointed out that colors speak all languages. This assertion is paralleled as well in the work of Cheryl and Don Olney, who live in Rochester's dynamic South Wedge neighborhood.
Their brightly colored, figurative, spirited, and joyful pieces reflect their sources of inspiration: diversity, inclusiveness, family, friends, and neighbors.
Barbara VanGraafeiland: Volunteer, Monroe Community Hospital (MCH)
Author Nadia Sahari maintains “it is by choice and not by chances that we change our circumstances.”
Barbara VanGraafeiland, a volunteer at Monroe Community Hospital, recalls enthusiastically the choice-freedom she felt upon completion of her working career a decade ago. That freedom led to a choice that definitely changed her circumstances.
“What a feeling it was,” she relates, “to experience freedom of choice in my daily routine. I soon knew, though, that too much idleness was not for me. It was at a visit to see my godchild Jackie, a resident of Monroe Community Hospital, when my life changed.”
VanGraafeiland relates how Jackie expressed a desire to see her more frequently.
“So,” VanGraafeiland recalls, “I put her to work, inquiring about office volunteer positions that might be available at MCH. And, she found one!”
After volunteering in various offices for about three years, VanGraafeiland was ready for a change.
“An opening became available in the Boutique, our MCH thrift shop, in 2005,” VanGraafeiland recalls, “and I have been hooked ever since.”
The Boutique is staffed completely by volunteers, VanGraafeiland points out.
“The shop is located on the third floor of the Faith Building at MCH and is usually open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (She suggests people call 760-6161 to be to be sure it's open.)
“I think we are one of the only thrift shops in the area located in a long-term care facility,” VanGraafeiland says, adding that “MCH cares for more than 560 residents. As a result,” she says, “they are always looking for items.”
The Boutiques offers next-to-new clothing (for both men and women), shoes/boots, handbags, accessories, books, greeting cards, VHS tapes, CDs, DVDs, electronics, wall art, furniture smalls, holiday items, household goods, etc.
“Although the shop serves our residents and staff,” Van Graafeiland explains, “it is also open to the public, so anyone is welcome to stop by. We are sponsored by the MCH Auxiliary and all proceeds are used for our residents’ needs. In addition, the Auxiliary operates Tapestry, our facility’s Gift Shop, which is also totally staffed by volunteers.”
VanGraafeiland invites readers to learn more about the facility by visiting the website at www.monroehosp.org. She also invites readers to the annual Harvest Craft Faire, which will be held Nov. 16 and 17.
In her free time, VanGraafeiland has made choices that involve simple pleasures. She lists “being with family and friends, dining out, movies, and gardening. Reading is a favorite pastime, too,” she adds.
Even in her free time, VanGraafeiland is thinking about MCH: “I go to garage/household/organization sales,” she confides, “to shop for items for the Boutique."
It’s been said that “we can do no great things, only small things with great love.” If that is true, then Barbara VanGraafeiland, it seems, has made rewarding choices regarding her freedom and her time.
NOTABLE & QUOTABLE IN BRIGHTON: Becky Tassistro, Message Therapist
Becky Tassistro is a massage therapist associated with the offices of Pace Family Chiropractic.
“When message and chiropractic therapies can be used together,” Tassistro maintains, “people will realize the greatest benefits. I also enjoy educating patients,” she shares. “I like talking to them about their health and the best ways to improve their quality of life through both massage and chiropractic.”
Tassistro and chiropractor Dr. Sarah Pace are continuing a treatment that has benefited patients for over 100 years. It began when Canadian Daniel David Palmer came to American in 1865. In 1898, he accepted his first students at the Palmer School & Infirmary of Chiropractic.
Of this healing art, he said “The basic principle, and the principles of chiropractic which have been developed from it are not new. They are as old as the vertebrae… I am not the first person to replace subluxated vertebra, for this art has been practiced for thousands of years.”
Dr. Sarah Pace, founded of the medical practice, evinces a similar modesty.
“I do not claim to treat or cure any diseases,” she maintains, “but I believe that by removing the subluxations from the spine, it allows the nervous system to function at its best and in turn helps the body to heal on its own. “
The word “subluxation” may not be familiar to those outside the chiropractic community. Pace defines it this way: “Subluxations are misalignments in the spine that cause disruption of normal nerve flow from the brain and the body and can lead to dysfunction as well as arthritis.”
Pace uses a technique called CBP-chiropractic biophysics.
She explains this “structural correction of the spine. X-rays are taken on almost every patient to see where their spine is in relation to ‘normal.’ A specific corrective program is given to each patient utilizing CBP mirror image adjustment, CBP traction and CBP postural exercises that retrain the muscles and ligaments to restore normal alignment. This can help slow down, stop, and possibly reverse the arthritis process as well as alleviate symptoms.”
Tassistro and Pace are part of the team known for the passion and positive attitude they provide amid a healing atmosphere for patients.
They attend to bodies, fully mindful of another kind of healing, that espoused by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: “The soul is healed by being with children.”
Years before Bruce Springsteen was even born, another beloved "Boss" was changing the lives of Americans. His real name was Franklin Roosevelt and his private battle with polio led to a public creation: the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
The March of Dimes, its more-familiar name, was established in 1938; it funded research for vaccines to treat polio. And such a vaccine was discovered by doctors Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin in 1955, ending the epidemic and making the physicians heroes to the millions who feared the deadly illness.
Once the vaccine had done its job, the Foundation worked on an equally important mission: to prevent birth defects and to lower the rates of infant mortality.
Rochester’s Community Director for the March of Dimes Foundation is Michael Burke, Jr. A volunteer firefighter/EMT, he joined the foundation four years ago. His background in relationship development/ management and public safety has helped immensely, he notes, “in my work with families, corporate sponsors, and supporters.”
Asked about the clients they serve, Burke shares that “the March of Dimes primarily works with women of child-bearing age and their babies.
“We help women go to the full-term in their pregnancies,” he explains. Additionally, he says, “We support research into the problems that threaten the health of babies.”
The Folic Acid Campaign is one example of such research. It has led to impressive reductions in the number of neural tube defects and other birth defects related to the brain and spine.
Like so many non-profits, the March of Dimes Foundation is dependent in large measure on support from the public. Burke describes one fundraising effort:
“Our Signature Chefs Auction is coming up on November 5 at the Doubletree Hotel. This event brings chefs from some of the Rochester area’s finest restaurants and country clubs together,” he shares with considerable pride.
“It’s an evening that allows guests to sample offerings of haute cuisine, along with wine from some of the region’s most popular wineries.”
Additionally, Burke points out, the evening also boasts some fantastic live and silent auction items. If people can’t attend, they can donate items/gift certificates for the live and/or silent auctions or make a 100 percent tax-deductible Fund the Mission donation. Readers who would like to learn more about supporting the Signature Chefs Auction can contact Michael Burke at 585-286-5864 or email@example.com.
Just as Rochester is known for its charitable efforts, Salk left a legacy that is truly legendary: He declined any profits that might have accrued from his discovery.
Asked who owned the patent for the polio vaccine, he responded, "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
Fortunately for mothers everywhere, the sun’s rays shine ever more brightly via the dimes set for marching for healthy babies.
The ancient Greek fable-teller, Aesop, once asserted that "a crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety."
Janet Reynolds, a long-time Pittsford resident and coordinator of The Food Cupboard, along with its director Anita Conlon and nearly 75 active volunteers, provide both peace and food (well above the "crust" level) to more than 300 families each month in the Rochester area.
Of those volunteers, Conlon says, “The Pittsford Food Cupboard is blessed to have such an energetic, talented and caring community of volunteers, staff, and donors involved in providing some of life's basic needs, ones that we all have in common — food and love."
Located in the old Pickle Factory, the Food Cupboard serves 600-700 people from Pittsford, East Rochester, Brighton and two areas in the city of Rochester. The Cupboard includes among its clients "the elderly, the sick, the poor, those who have lost jobs, and those who have other trauma in their lives."
Reynolds, a native Oregonian, retired early from a managerial career at Xerox, was in the antiques business before starting her volunteer work at the Cupboard and is now as the coordinator of client services.
Asserting "No one should be hungry!" Reynolds provides background about the organization.
"Originally founded in 1998 by the Pittsford Clergy Association and local churches, which remain very active supporters, the Cupboard is affiliated with Food Link, the regional food bank that provides some of the food."
There are many other sources of food donations, though: the Pittsford schools, local organizations, and businesses, many local people.
Reynolds points out, "Individuals provide us ongoing donations critical for meeting the need for food. Some give cash; others have 'adopted’ a shelf'’; there are even some who shop for us as they do their own grocery shopping."
The support appears in numerous sources, in numerous ways: "Some people think of us at times of holiday or significant events in their own lives. Children do neighborhood drives, have birthday parties with food in lieu of gifts. Some children even give us the profits from their lemonade sales.”
Not surprisingly, Reynolds finds (and helps create) peace in the Cupboard environment, which she describes as a "warm supportive place for customers and volunteers alike. We value the friendships we have made with both groups," Reynolds shares. "We cheer each new job and relish seeing customers improving their health. Of course, our support doesn't always come in the form of food--sometimes we simply provide a welcome ear for our clients to talk about what is happening in their lives."
Reynolds, Director Conlon, and the many volunteers with whom they work are lessening the anxiety of those in our community who find themselves in difficult circumstances. Ideally, in time, all meals will be eaten in peace.
Jane Addams, widely regarded as the mother of Social Work, once asserted that civilization is simply a “method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.”
This desire to regard others respectfully and to help when they are in need is an integral part of the persona of Justin Drew, a young man currently looking for employment in the social work field.
A graduate of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Drew majored in sociology but also took courses in American Studies and Film.
Not surprisingly, Drew was active in on-campus sexual assault-prevention and other educational groups. His desire to help others is evinced in his having served as a dormitory house advisor, aiding first-year students navigate the various pressures of their first year in college.
“My work with them,” he recalls, “and with the sexual assault prevention groups constituted some of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of my life.”
This multi-faceted young man was also a disc jockey for the campus radio station and a member of the Jesters, a stand-up comedy group.
Asked about hobbies, Drew replies, “I spend much of my spare time catching up on the latest music and movies, as well as reading quite a bit. Lately I've also begun writing. I've been hoping to get the opportunity to do a stand-up set again and so I've been writing down everything that I see on a daily basis in order to come up with more material. I’ve already written several skits,” he acknowledges.
“Of course,” he adds, “I also still spend plenty of time searching for a job.”
His aspirations for the future? “I hope to get a job with a nonprofit organization,” Drew says, “where I can work directly clients. I am very passionate about the issues of sexual assault and equal access to education,” he admits. “Ideally I would be able to work with those who need aid with those situations. I would also like to move to another city. I've grown up in this area for so long that it would be nice to get out of my comfort zone for a while and see something new.”
In expressing that hope, Drew would find encouragement in the words of Benedict Cumberbatch, star of PBS’ Sherlock series:
“The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.”
Here’s wishing Justin Drew a future with imminent employment and unending fun.
Think the most famous physicist in the world and you'll no doubt think "E = mc2." But Einstein had hobbies that took him beyond quanta and into the seas — he was an avid sailor — and into the world of music as well — he studied violin and piano since childhood.
Henry (“Hank”) Till, retired Pittsford physicist, similarly, has interests that go beyond the advanced research and technology work he did for the Xerox Corporation. Till ran five marathons and numerous smaller races until his knees failed. He then turned to swimming.
He and his wife Judie have been married for 50 years and have traveled to Europe and the Caribbean on numerous vacations. Additionally, they are active in their community and in the church life of Mountain Rise United Church of Christ.
“We have a close group of friends we have known for many years,” he says and describes them as “extended family.” Their children grew up together and the group often vacations together.
Woodworking is another of Till’s pursuits.
“I had a picture framing business for many years,” he reveals, noting his father enjoyed the hobby, too.
“I inherited his 1940s lathe, sander and jigsaw, which I have refurbished and still use today. Now that I am retired, I am actively woodworking. I love making furniture and built a new entryway to the house last year. I have built one wood strip canoe and have two more under construction."
Till and his wife don’t just talk about “giving back”; they are active volunteers in the area.
Till says, “I recently began volunteering at Advent House, a two-bed hospice care home in Perinton. My wife has volunteered there for many years and she convinced me it was something I could do, too. I do overnights with occasional daytime shifts. I think it is important to support people at the end of life. Advent House is a loving, caring community of volunteers who all feel the same way. I have found it very satisfying.”
Had he Einsteinian power to change people’s perceptions of long-held views, Henry Till would no doubt focus on the earth’s overpopulation.
“I feel strongly,” he shares, “that overpopulation is the primary issue of our time. This impacts global warming, consumption of resources, our environment, food shortages — to name a few. Women’s health issues in developing countries strongly correlate to the number of children they have. People worldwide need to be educated about limiting and planning family size."
Till’s concerns are lifelong, as was Einstein’s interest in physics. On the Princeton campus one day, the famous professor encountered a co-ed, who — failing to recognize him — asked what he did there.
“My dear,” Einstein explained, “I have devoted my life to the study of physics!”
Her eyebrows rose in surprise. “Really?” she asked. “I finished physics in one semester!"
Fortunately, there are people like Henry Till who continue to study and teach others about they things to which they are deeply committed.