Unique Collaboration on Solar Installation Project to Bolster Community, Save Residents Money and Energy

solar house imageWe are excited to announce that, with support from NeighborWorks® America and Rochester Area Community Foundation, NeighborWorks® Rochester will be coordinating solar installations on two homes in the City of Rochester during the week of November 10th. The organization is also collaborating with GRID Alternatives, the country’s largest nonprofit solar installer, to install the solar panels on the two income qualified, owner occupied homes.
The two-day installations will take place at 226 Fernwood Avenue and 78 Woodbine Avenue from Nov. 10-13. The average household pays nearly $170 each month in energy costs, and the typical homeowner saves more than $1,000 a year on electricity by installing roof-top solar panels.

“This has been a great team effort,” stated Maureen Murphy, NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Executive Director. “It will make a huge difference to the families that benefit from this, and it is the first solar project that is targeting low to modified income households in Rochester. NeighborWorks® Rochester is proud to lead the way in using alternative energy as an effective way to not only save money, but also build community, along with our partners at Rochester Area Community Foundation and GRID Alternatives. Together we are increasing the access of low-income families to solar power.”

Mary Hartstein, Program Associate, Community Programs at Rochester Area Community Foundation stated, “We welcome this opportunity to invest in providing sustainable financial relief to our low income families. We hope this effort will help build momentum for a residential solar panel movement in Rochester.”

In addition to providing the homeowners with money-saving opportunities, the project will also provide hands-on professional-development opportunities in the booming solar industry for local trainees. Volunteers will be able to have a hands-on experience to help further their education and to make them more employable. According to the U.S. Census, solar installation jobs offer wages of $20-$24 an hour, but usually do not require advanced education. Call (585)327-4705 if you’re interested in volunteering for the install.

NeighborWorks® Rochester is one of nine grantees from across the country who will collectively receive $170,000 in grants to equip affordable single- and multi-family homes with solar power from NeighborWorks® America. Under the partnership with GRID Alternatives, 68 homes and 6 multifamily buildings serving 50 farmworker families will be equipped with solar panels at various locations across the country.

Celebrate Park(ing) Day in our Pop-up Park!

Park(ing) Day pop
Park(ing) Day Pop-up Park to be located at 1090 Culver Road, Rochester

NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative will provide a temporary public open space – a Pop-up Park – to foster community in a city neighborhood and celebrate Park(ing) Day on September 18th. Park(ing) Day is a world-wide initiative which allows residents, businesses, community organizations, etc. to collaborate and transform a parking space into a temporary public green space. This urban oasis will take place at 1090 Culver Road, Rochester, in the parking lot of Rochester’s only remaining cobblestone structure. This space exists within the Triangle Neighborhood (bordered by Culver, Merchants and Main Streets), which is the focus of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Health Blocks Neighborhood Initiative.

The Park(ing) Day event will allow neighbors and the public to socialize in a relaxing outdoor setting which includes food, drink, history and games. Thanks to Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care who will provide greenery to help make the otherwise empty lot into a Pop-up Park.  The event will be held from noon to 6:00 P.M. and will include ice cream from Eat Me Ice Cream and espresso from Ugly Duck Coffee. The first 50 Triangle residents will receive a free affagato – a coffee and ice cream confection. They will also be available, along with ice cream and espresso, for purchase. The Landmark Society of Western New York will also be there to provide historic photos and a history of this unique building, while Reconnect Rochester will provide a mini-golf course and Park(ing) Day bus stop cubes to add to the fun.

WHAT: Park(ing) Day Celebration

WHERE: 1090 Culver Road, Rochester

WHEN: Noon to 6:00PM

HOW: Free to all, espressos from Ugly Duck Coffee and ice cream from Eat Me Ice Cream available for purchase



Grant from JP Morgan Chase & Co. to Support Financial Fitness

NeighborWorks® Rochester is pleased to announce that they are the recipient of a $60,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase to support enhancement of technological systems for its Financial Fitness Program. The grant will allow NeighborWorks® Rochester to build capacity and efficiency through technology and will have a tremendous impact on the financial health of its customers. Individual successes through the NeighborWorks® Rochester Financial Fitness Program will increase with the organization’s ability to more effectively track, monitor and manage their progress. The JP Morgan Chase Foundation’s partnership in this initiative is instrumental to its success.

Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester stated, “Assisting those who strive to improve their lives by increasing their financial skills and providing education for successful homeownership is the core of the NeighborWorks® Rochester mission. We’re extremely pleased to partner with JPMorgan Chase with an innovative approach to provide those in need with tools and resources to make a better path for themselves. In turn, this will also help to build strong neighborhoods in the Rochester community by providing educated, financially-stable, long-term homeowners.”

The support of community partners like JPMorgan Chase allows NeighborWorks® Rochester to continue to provide these services and more. The community-based organization builds strong neighborhoods by educating and counseling new homeowners, providing resources to individuals who may be turned away by traditional lenders, energy-savings programs and targeted neighborhood revitalization through the Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative.

Healthy Blocks Have Healthy Trees

Last February when NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Interim Executive Director, Luis Burgos and Eric Van Dusen, Director of Community Initiatives trudged through the snowbanks in the Triangle neighborhood on what was probably the worst day of our Rochester winter, they came to a realization. Luis who was once the Director of Recreation and Special Services for the City of Rochester, saw the Triangle in a way most of us do not. Luis pointed out the alarming number of missing city street trees in the neighborhood.

Why do trees matter? Street trees have a number of social, health and environmental benefits. They create a walkable environment which in turn creates a safer one too! A street lined with trees makes it appear narrower which causes drivers to reduce speeds. According to Luis, one mature tree supplies enough oxygen for two people a year. Trees also absorb pollution – they can absorb 48 pounds of Co2 per year!

Here’s an example of how street trees can enhance the curb appeal of a home:

curb appeal

This information stirred the Healthy Blocks planning committee into action and NeighborWorks® Rochester scheduled a meeting with the City Forester about filling in the missing trees. The entire Triangle was invited to this meeting, where the City Forester provided an extensive background on how the City of Rochester removes and plants trees. The exciting news is that we can have 20 to 30 trees planted in the Triangle this fall!

The City forester has recently shared a GIS map of the neighborhood detailing where the existing and missing trees are in the neighborhood. The neighborhood group will meet again to discuss where the new trees will have the most impact.

Stay tuned, and take a walk in the Triangle this fall. We hope you’ll be able to enjoy the results of this effort!

NeighborWorks® Rochester and First Niagara Bank Celebrate Partnership during NeighborWorks® Week

Equity Builder Celebration
From Left: Migdalia Toro NeighborWorks® Rochester Homeownership Coordinator, Ted Colucci, NeighborWorks® Rochester Lending Program Manager, Maureen Murphy, NeighborWorks® Rochester Executive Director, homeowners Jaime Rivera and Danielle McDonald, Phil Swetz and Bridget Campbell, First Niagara Bank.

NeighborWorks® Rochester recently celebrated the success of its Equity Builder Loan program by recognizing the first recipient of the loan and our bank partner, First Niagara Bank. The loan helps new homeowners save money on their home by providing closing cost assistance, up to 105% Loan to Value of the home. Homeowners Jamie Rivera and Danielle McDonald, of Rochester, were on hand, along with Phil Swetz and Bridget Campbell of First Niagara to be part of the celebration.

The event was part of the local celebration of NeighborWorks® Week, a nationally-recognized celebration of neighborhood revitalization activities.

“First Niagara is a huge proponent of initiatives that increase self-sufficiency, stabilize housing and improve our neighborhoods,” said Phil Swetz, First Niagara Vice President of Mortgage Banking. “We’re proud to work with Neighborworks® to contribute to stronger, more diverse and thriving communities.”

The Equity Builder Loan helps future homeowners purchase a home with a down payment of more than 20%, avoiding a monthly Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) payment. Over the course of home ownership, this can result in substantial savings.

“We are so thrilled to be able to offer this loan product in conjunction with our bank partner,” said Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester. “It provides money for closing costs and long-term savings for the homeowner. And, as any homeowner can tell you, buying the home is just the beginning – you need to be able to maintain and sustain it throughout the years. We are pleased to be able to help those homeowners stay in it for the long run and make our community stronger as well.

During NeighborWorks® Week, NeighborWorks® Rochester and other NeighborWorks® organizations across the country will mobilize people for neighborhood change and awareness, rehab and repair homes, paint and landscape properties, conduct neighborhood tours, recognize successful partnerships and host a number of events that educate, train and inform.

NeighborWorks® Rochester is part of the national NeighborWorks® network, an affiliation of more than 245 nonprofit organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In 2014, the NeighborWorks® network helped­ 300,000 individuals and families with affordable housing and counseling. The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.

Want to learn more about the Equity Builder or NeighborWorks® Rochester loans? Give us a call at 325-4170.

Our Bags Roc to kick off NeighborWorks® Week

NeighborWorks® Rochester will be holding a tote-ally awesome fundraiser on Friday, June 5th called Our Bags Roc. The event will be held at the newly-renovated NeighborWorks® Rochester offices at 570 South Avenue in the South Wedge area of Rochester from 5:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. and will feature the live auction of “Bags of Swag” donated by local merchants, artisans, restaurants and more. The event will kick off the local celebration of NeighborWorks® Week – a week to recognize successful partnerships, neighborhood change and awareness – which begins June 6th.

OurBagsRoc_Logo cropped LoRezItems for auction include a custom-fitted suit from Vittorio Menswear, a tasting for 20 from Black Button Distillery, a Home Improvement Bag valued at $250, a personalized Memory Quilt and Cocktail Culture and much more. You can view all of our generously donated items and bid on them online: http://www.biddingowl.com/NWRochester

The event will also include delicious food, signature cocktails and beverages. Sponsors include SiteHub, Madison and Dunn, YELP! and Innovative Solutions. Todd Solomon will provide live musical entertainment.

Funds from Our Bags Roc will support the agency’s wide range of services supporting neighborhood stabilization through homeowner education, strategic lending and energy conservation.

Tickets are only $10.00 and are available at ABODE Rochester, 289 Gregory St., Rochester or at NeighborWorks® Rochester offices or online at https://ourbagsroc.eventbrite.com .

Call 585.325.4170 or visit www.NWRochester.org for more information.

New Executive Director Starts at NeighborWorks® Rochester

Maureen Murphy

NeighborWorks® Rochester is excited to announce the appointment of Maureen Murphy, M.P.A, as Executive Director. Ms. Murphy has a history of community service in the Rochester area and currently serves as Board President of the Friends of the Public Market and was a long-standing board member of the South East Area Coalition (SEAC) in Rochester. She previously served as Executive Director of the Habitat for Humanity of Ontario County.

“Maureen has significant non-profit leadership experience and brings knowledge and experience in housing programs, and experience managing staff, but as important, she brings a high level of passion, commitment, and heart for the work that we do,” stated Kim Brumber, President and CEO of the NeighborWorks® Western NY Affiliation. “Maureen knows our programs first-hand; she bought her first home through our Homebuyer Education and Counseling program and also lived in Swillburg during our first Healthy Blocks initiative, seeing up close and personal the impact and potential of Healthy Blocks.”

Maureen, who currently lives in the Park Avenue area of Rochester, is a graduate of SUNY Brockport and Nazareth College. She enjoys running and can be found most Saturdays at the Rochester Public Market.

Dedication of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Education Center in Memory of Karen DiNardo

Dinardo Karen 600dpiWe were honored to dedicate our newly-renovated Education Center to volunteer and friend, Karen DiNardo, at our recent Annual Meeting. The following are remarks made by Kim Brumber, President and CEO of NeighborWorks® Community Partners, during the dedication.

Karen was one of those people that even though I didn’t know her really well, I was able to draw strength from her; that was just the type of person she was.

Karen was a real estate attorney with the local firm Phillips Lytle whom NeighborWorks® Rochester worked closely with at the time. I think we may all likely have an image that comes to our mind when we say real estate attorney – but I will venture to say that at least in my mind, she wasn’t your “typical attorney” – whatever that is! 

Karen served as a volunteer in our homebuyer education classes. For those of you that don’t know, we bring in experts for various sections of the class – a home inspector, a realtor, and an attorney. Karen was our go to person for the “Choosing and working with an attorney” section of the class.

As a volunteer she gave a lot of time to NeighborWorks® Rochester and to our customers. She would often present at the class and then hang around long after her presentation time to assure that she had met with every participant that wanted to ask her a question one-on-one. Her care for our customers and commitment to their success as homebuyers was palpable. I quickly learned through various circumstances that she was very protective of the first time home buyers that she worked with through here – that, I believe was representative of the person she was.  Caring, dedicated, committed and unwavering.

This quiet, gentle strength. She had a patience and calm with people that instantly put people at ease.

Karen left us too soon. She fought a long, difficult battle with cancer – but even through that, she remained positive and still gave of herself endlessly, for as long as she was able. She never gave up. In the years since her passing, when I remember Karen, I recall a very passionate person who cared deeply about those she helped and her work – I think of her as being “all in” when she did something; there was no half way with Karen. For me, she was one of those people that touches our life for a brief time but leaves an impression that goes on forever.  If I had to pick one word that comes to mind when I remember her, it is exceptional. 

It is my honor to dedicate this room, our education center in memory of someone who cared so deeply about our first time homebuyers that are educated here – this will assure that Karen’s life will be remembered through our work.

Partner of the Year, 1st Niagara Bank

Congratulations to our Award Recipients!

Partner of the Year, 1st Niagara Bank
1st Niagara Bank representatives, Phil Swetz, Karla Gadley, Bridget Campbell and Laura Smith accept the Partner of the Year Award from Luis Burgos.
Luis Burgos and Kim Mitchell.
Luis Burgos and Kim Mitchell.
Luis Burgos and Greg Stefl.
Luis Burgos and Greg Stefl.

NeighborWorks® Rochester recently held its 2015 Annual Meeting at the agency’s newly renovated facilities. More than 150 people attended the event, which was a celebration of a record-setting year of services provided to new and current homeowners in the Rochester area, as well as an opportunity for us to recognize individuals and organizations that were significant supporters.

First Niagara Bank was honored as the Partner of The Year in recognition of their collaboration, commitment and leadership. Luis Burgos, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester, stated, “Our relationship with First Niagara has been a solid one from the beginning, when we first connected with them for our First Home Club. They are a great resource for potential home buyers and for NeighborWorks® Rochester, as well.” We are so pleased to partner with them in making Rochester a great place to live!

The Edline Chun Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Kim Mitchell, of Rochester, who serves on our Marketing and Development Committee and donates her considerable decorative talents and materials to all agency events. As a homeowner who has received NeighborWorks® Rochester services, Kim actively promotes the programs and acts as an ambassador for the organization, whenever requested. “This award is given to honor the legacy of Edline Chun, an extraordinary volunteer who gave of herself selflessly to achieve our mission of strengthening neighborhoods. Kim embodies many of the same characteristics that made Edline special,” Burgos said.

Also recognized at the event as Employee of the Year was Operations Manager Greg Stefl, of Rochester. As the point person for the recent facility renovation and technology upgrade, Stefl’s “exacting standards have improved many aspects of our organization and his passion for our mission has made a difference for the communities which we serve“ said Burgos.

We are so grateful for the support of our partners, friends, volunteers and staff. They allow us to provide great customer service to our community and to help make Rochester a great place to live!

For more pictures, check out our Facebook page.