On June 3, 2019, NeighborWorks® Community Partners Rochester (formerly NeighborWorks® Rochester) and the City of Rochester honored six area leaders at its Celebration of Rochester Neighbors Awards. The event was held at the City of Rochester Public Market, to honor the great people that make our community strong, and give us all a chance to have fun with neighbors from throughout the city.
- Northwest Quadrant Community Champion: Barb Ann Kupiec
A long-time resident of the Maplewood Neighborhood who has dedicated her retirement years to improving the neighborhood, Barb Ann generously shares her master-gardening expertise by leading a team of volunteers as Chair of the Maplewood Gardening team. Together they maintain public garden areas, planters and trees along Dewey Avenue. Additionally, Barb serves on the Maplewood Neighborhood Assoc. Board of Directors as Board Secretary. She has served on both the Maplewood Public Safety Committee and the Zoning Committee. Barb Ann is also involved with taking care of feral cats in the neighborhood. Barb Ann also volunteers her time as a Master Gardener throughout the county, cultivating plantings and maintaining gardens at many county parks.
- Southwest Quadrant Community Champion: John DeMott
John is described as very serious about the betterment of his community, and also very friendly and kindhearted. Some of his community involvement includes assisting with the weekly farmer’s market in the summer, and engaging residents, businesses and students to beautify the community with flowers and plantings along the street. He was also influential in the birth of the Brooks Landing development. As a musician, John often donates his time to provide music and entertainment to the community, including organizing an event called Beats @Brooks to provide music for residents of the Southwest neighborhoods. John is a firm believer in supporting local businesses, with a true desire to see them succeed.
- Northeast Quadrant Community Champion: Vincent Russello
Nominated by Carlos Torres of the Northeast Neighborhood Service Center, Vincent is the founder and president of the Vineyards Neighborhood Association. This enterprising resident is a true leader in his neighborhood, working tirelessly to resolve many community issues and working with the city to relay concerns. He is very creative in collaborating and working with other groups to improve the community. He has reached out to agencies to bring them into the neighborhood to assist those in need and regularly invites new ideas and input on projects. He’s a driver in obtaining funding for community improvement projects and is great at bringing people together for support, safety and promotion of the neighborhood.
- Southeast Quadrant Community Champion: Joe DiFiore
Joe’s involvement and accomplishments are almost too many to list! This dedicated volunteer gives hours of his own time for the people and families of Beechwood and the City of Rochester. Some of the boards and organizations he serves include the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition, Peace Village Homeless Encampment, Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, and Little Flower Community. Joe is skilled at organizing groups to get projects done. He was instrumental in getting Play Streets established, which resulted in a policy developed for Healthi Kids Coalition and the City of Rochester Dept. of Recreation for more neighborhoods to take on Play Streets – where 2 weeks of the summer time is set aside to close the streets for children of the neighborhood to play. Another project he championed was to create a StoryWalk at #33 School, Ryan Center and Sully Library. Joe’s other passion is affordable housing, as a Board member of City Roots Community Land Trust, he works to establish and promote permanently affordable, quality housing in our city. His vision includes: Vacant properties turned over to the Trust for community-led development, which will turn them into community-held assets; Infrastructure and playful design elements that encourage people to walk and bike; Utilizing vacant lots for pop-up events, community gardens and play spaces.
- Community Leader Award: Devon Reynolds, Sr. and Javon Bradley
The Community Leader Award recognizes volunteer leaders who spark change by engaging others in improving their community. Devon Reynolds, Sr. and Javon Bradley, co-owners of the Brothers and Sisters Unisex Salon embody this in their everyday lives. The have addressed issues in their neighborhood, including the challenges that families face from lack of food, kids hanging on street corners at all hours, lack of job opportunities, and feelings of despair and hopelessness. Projects they have organized include: Starting a school supply give away to assist families Providing free haircuts in the schools during the school year; Starting a food pantry – Sweet Ida’s Food Pantry – soliciting donations that include food and clothing; Holding events during Black History Month and providing free books to children; Providing Thanksgiving dinners to those in need – more than 100 dinners in 2018!; Organizing an annual Father’s Day Celebration; Collaborating with Trillium Health and Common Ground to host an event for HIV/STD testing and education, blood pressure screening and more; and hosting Community Roundtables to provide a venue for the community to speak, express their thoughts and concerns.