Building Upon the Past

till-fritzschingTill Fritzsching of Rochester, NY, found his new home on Craig’s List three years ago. Although the house was set for demolition by the City of Rochester, he saw the home and felt that it was a metaphor for his own life journey – as he puts it “the home had been through hell, and so had I.”
In 2013, Mr. Fritzsching had hit rock bottom. He was divorced, and no longer employed at the successful mid-west company he had once presided over. His home of the past few years had been a jail cell due to addiction. A physical injury had set him back as well and he ended up living in his mother’s home.
When he first saw the 1920’s era house on Northview Terrace, he knew it had potential, despite years of neglect and trees growing through the roof. The only tenants for years had been rodents. As the building was scheduled for demolition the very next day, the price was affordable. However, there was much work to be done to save it from the wrecking ball.
A neighbor referred him to NeighborWorks® Rochester, as the organization had assisted several other homeowners in the neighborhood. While he had put in a lot of his own sweat-equity, and had to learn to negotiate a labyrinth of homeowner-assistance programs, he still had a long way to go to rehab the home. NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to assist on several fronts.
NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to provide Mr. Fritzsching with resources for lead testing and encapsulation in the his home, garage, and basement, a new roof, gutters and eaves, exterior and interior paint, a new porch. “The house went from the worst on the block to one of the best,” Mr. Fritzsching stated. Also added to the home were new windows and a water heater.

In the past 5 years, NeighborWorks® Rochester has invested $4,784,000 in loans to help 279 homeowners purchase or rehab their home. Many of these loans also had a grant as part of the assistance, which allowed homeowners even more capacity to fix their house, without having to finance all of the expense. NeighborWorks® Rochester will work with customers who may be turned away by traditional lenders due to credit issues or not having enough equity in their home. The organization is a resource to homeowners who may face losing their home or living in disrepair or unhealthy or unsafe conditions.

“NeighborWorks® Rochester left a great taste in my mouth, and was my first choice once my credit was cleaned up. The contractors were great and I’m really satisfied,” Mr. Fritzsching added.
In a neighborhood hard-hit by the city’s decades of manufacturing job loss, his home now stands out as one of the nicest on the street.
Mr. Fritzsching added, “I’m not done yet. I just built myself a new back porch, and it really satisfies me to look at where this house was and where it is now. I consider not only the house but the project as a metaphor for my own life recovery in the sense that I made a commitment to restoring a once beautiful thing, much like my own life, to not necessarily what it was before but rather a recreation of a new vision of what it could be. I believe that the past should always be recognized and the foundation on what we can build, but we should never be limited by it for its own sake. That to me at least, gives me the freedom to not only build upon the past but create a new reality from it.”

Healthy Blocks Celebrates its Landscaping Contest Winners

NW_hale04NeighborWorks® Rochester is delighted to celebrate the completion of a collaborative home improvement project in The Triangle, its current Healthy Blocks target neighborhood. Late last year, NeighborWorks® Rochester held a raffle contest for all homeowners in The Triangle who had closed on a home improvement loan in 2015. The winners of the raffle, Joyce and Neville Hayle, received $500 from Healthy Blocks for front yard landscaping material, which was matched by in-kind services provided by Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care. This landscape project was completed in August. The Hayle family made use of a NeighborWorks Rochester’s Home Improvement Loan to install a new sidewalk and to rebuild and repaint their porch, among other repairs. Now, with the added landscaping from Broccolo, they can enjoy a well maintained, beautiful home for many years to come.

Laurie Broccolo (pictured with Joyce and Neville left) and her family have been an enormous asset to the work of NeighborWorks® Rochester in The Triangle neighborhood and elsewhere. In addition to doing the work on the Hayles’ house, they contributed time and resources to the St. Mark’s & St John’s EDEN community garden at the entrance of Farmington Park, which produces hundreds of NW_hale02pounds of food per year and is regularly identified by rNW_hale01esidents as an important neighborhood asset.

NeighborWorks® Rochester invested over $150,000 in home improvements in The Triangle neighborhood in 2015.

NeighborWorks® Rochester welcomes new leadership

JPB editedNeighborWorks® Rochester is pleased to announce the appointment of Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, LCSW, as Executive Director. Ms. Panarisi-Bottone is an experienced professional with hands-on team and leadership development, having previously worked at several large area non-profit organizations.

“Joanne has significant non-profit leadership experience and brings knowledge and strength in managing efficiencies and developing employee talent. We are very excited to have her experience managing staff, as well as her high level of passion for the Rochester community,” stated Matthew McDermott, President of the NeighborWorks® Rochester Board of Directors.

Ms. Panarisi-Bottone has a Master’s degree from Syracuse University and earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. She is the Board Chair of NCBI Rochester and lives in Rochester with her wife, where they both share a passion for animals. Please join us in welcoming Joanne to the NeighborWorks® Rochester team!

Grant from Chase Bank to Support Financial Capabilities


NeighborWorks® Rochester is pleased to announce that they are the recipient of a $20,000 grant from Chase in support of its Financial Capabilities Program. The grant is part of the firm’s commitment to support innovative new products and services that leverage technology and insights from design and behavioral science to help consumers increase savings, improve credit and build assets. This investment will support NeighborWorks® Rochester in assisting low- and middle-income individuals within the Greater Rochester area, assisting them in improving their financial situations through structured education and strategic coaching. The program will help clients to increase savings account balances, improve credit scores and decrease debt load. Currently, more than 40% of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s clients are single female head of households.

“Through the use of improved technology, also funded by Chase, we’ve been able to identify those individuals who need coaching and have expressed the interest to succeed with their financial goals, but could use additional support in taking the next step toward changing their lives,” said Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester. “We’re extremely pleased to partner with Chase, utilizing an innovative approach to provide those in need with the tools and resources necessary for achieving personal financial success. In turn, this will also help to build strong neighborhoods in the Rochester community by providing educated, financially-stable, long-term homeowners.”

“The more we can do to increase the number of financially healthy people in our communities, the more we’ll see our communities thrive,” said Matthew Tipple, Market Executive, Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “We are proud to partner with NeighborWorks Rochester and support their essential work to help improve consumer financial health in Rochester.”

The support of community partners like Chase allows NeighborWorks® Rochester to continue to provide financial education services and more. Thank you to our friends at Chase Bank.

Healthy Blocks Announces its Bike Rack Artists!

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NeighborWorks® Rochester is thrilled to announce the local artists who have been chosen to design four bike racks to be installed in The Triangle of North Winton Village this August, via the Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative Program! The goals of this project are to create bike parking where there currently is none, to improve access to the businesses located at the apex of the Triangle neighborhood, and to enhance the neighborhood’s unique image. Two of the racks will be fabricated by MetalSomeArt, a collaboration of Clay Lieberman and Matty Soanes, and two will be created by Jesse Hughson, Skillhoarder and creator of CyrCraft Customs. These racks will installed by the City of Rochester in four strategic locations in the business district area of Culver-Merchants.

Beer Stein MSAMetalSomeArt was founded by Matty and Clay (pictured top) in 2013, though both have a decade of metal fabrication experience. Operating from their workshop on E Main, they create handmade belt buckles, metal-plated leather journals, custom sculptures, and more. Recently, they designed and constructed the trophy to be given to the winner of Rochester Real Beer Week’s “Best New Beer of 2015” (pictured right). Matty and Clay’s racks (without giving away the surprise!) will incorporate minimalist, industrial, functional and modern design concepts.

Immanuel Baptist Bike RackJesse Hughson lives in Beechwood and is an artist who specializes in metal fabrication, prototyping, sculptural work, CNC machining, electronics, woodworking, and more. Through CyrCraft Customs, he builds, engraves and adds LEDs to Cyr Wheels, a specialized type of full-body gymnastics equipment. His past work also includes a bike rack he built for Immanuel Baptist Church on Park Avenue (pictured left). His fabrications for the Triangle will bring creativity and life into the area.

Healthy Blocks looks forward to the completion of this project and the increased aesthetic appeal and bicycle traffic it will bring to The Triangle!

Celebration of Rochester Neighbors Winners!

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NeighborWorks® Rochester is thrilled to announce the winners of it’s Celebration of Rochester Neighbors Awards. The awards will be distributed on Monday,  June 6th from 5:00PM to 7:00PM at the Rochester Public Market. Like a city-wide block party, the event will feature live music, food and a chance to have fun with neighbors from throughout the city.

SouthWest Quadrant Community Champion 

Ms. Bessie Clifton, a founding member of the Cottage Street Block Club, is the Rochester Neighbors Community Champion Award winner for the Southwest Quadrant. Bessie Clifton croppedAt 88 years old, she remains an active advocate and participant in her neighborhood. Ms. Clifton has been a member of the Plymouth Exchange Neighborhood Association for 25 years and is also a member of the South Plymouth Avenue Business Association. In addition, she walks her neighborhood as a member of PAC-TAC and is often seen cleaning up litter on area streets. Two projects with which Ms. Clifton is closely involved are the Legacy Garden and the Legacy Park Station, sponsored by the Cottage St. Block Club. She helps plant and maintain the community garden that provides fresh vegetables for neighbors, and she provided input and historical information and continues to fundraise for the Legacy Park Station. On the “Street Voices” program on Rochester Free Radio 106.3 fm, Ms. Clifton provided listeners with more history and memories about life in Rochester. Described as resilient with a “youthful spirit,” she continues to inspire her southwest neighbors.

NorthEast Quadrant Community Champion

Vera Crumpler, organizer of the Citywide Youth Crusade, is the Rochester Neighbors Community Champion Award winner for the Northeast Quadrant. Carlos Santana of Action for a Better Community nominated Mrs. Crumpler calling her “a highly committed advocate for the less fortunate” in Rochester’s northeast through efforts that span nearly 50 years. She has tackled community issues of housing, injustice, public safety, employment and youth while sitting on the boards of various associations: Coalition of the North East Area (CONEA,) North East Block Club Alliance (NEBCA,) Sector 10, and North East Neighbors Association (NENA.) In addition, she gives her time to other local events when asked. Her 30-year involvement with the Citywide Youth Crusade includes organizing rallies in which public officials, police officers, clergy, lecturers and neighbors with positive messages are invited to speak. In an effort to keep the dialogue moving forward, Mrs. Crumpler continues to hold the events at her own expense and without compensation. Santana adds that Mrs. Crumpler displays “a caring, loving heart toward everybody she meets, without distinction,” treating everyone with respect and compassion regardless of age or ethnic background, making her a true role model and champion.

NorthWest Quadrant Community Champion

Described as a “quiet champion” for Charlotte, Pamela Postgate is the Rochester Neighbors Community Champion Award winner for the Northwest Quadrant. After moving to Stutson Street eight years ago, Ms. Postgate organized the Stutson Street Block Club and Charlotte Beach Clean-ups. Her most recent community project has been spearheading the Lakeside Farmers Market. Ms. Postgate organized the group of neighbors to put it together, then hosted meetings, sought out sponsors and vendors, and locally publicized it. After a successful first year in 2015, the market will open this month for a second year.

SouthEast Quadrant Community Champion

Aaron and Kelly Metras, winners of the Rochester Neighbors Community Champion Award for the Southeast Quadrant, are parents, entrepreneurs and community advocates. Their restaurants, Selena’s Mexican Restaurant and Nox Cocktail Lounge, are located in Village Gate Square. Aaron has served as the president of the Neighborhood of the Arts Business Association (NOTABA) for the past five years. According to the Southeast Quadrant Team, who nominated the couple for this award, they have volunteered much time and energy into building NOTABA into “one of the most successful and influential business associations in the City of Rochester.” Their popular Mexican restaurant, Selena’s, reaches out to causes beyond the southeast and sponsors the Monarch Butterfly Display at the Seneca Park Zoo, an important program to the growth and migration of monarch butterflies. Selena’s also sends a team to the annual Polar Bear Plunge which benefits the Special Olympics of Western New York. Last year the team raised $8,000. The latest project for the Metras is the Rochester Youth Culinary Experience, or RYCE. They are endeavoring to start a third restaurant, this one built around an immersion experience for youth interested in the restaurant business. Students will participate in all aspects of creating and operating a working restaurant with guidance from a management team. Their vision is to assist youth in acquiring skills and experience that will assist them in gaining employment or continuing their culinary education. The Southeast Quadrant Team notes that the couple is always “thinking outside of the box” for ways to move the neighborhood forward.


Community Leader Award

Ericka Jones, a Systems Advocate at the Center for Disability Rights, has been selected to receive the Community Leader Award for her work in improving accessibility. Ms. Jones has been instrumental in two city issues that have been vital to people with disabilities. As the leader of the Center’s Transportation Action Group (TAG,) she organized and empowered group members to contest the closing of several inner-city bus stops used by people with disabilities. She coordinated the campaign and utilized the media to voice concerns. The group’s efforts resulted in many of the stops remaining on the routes. Ms. Jones also worked on another issue important to all city dwellers: the amendment of a City of Rochester ordinance to keep the sidewalks clear during the winter. She attended neighborhood association meetings and organized a group of people with disabilities to make their voices heard at City Council meetings. The new ordinance passed, and city sidewalks will be more accessible for all residents during the winter from now on. She is an advocate in other areas, also, as a member of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley and participant in the Rochester-Monroe County Anti-Poverty Initiative.  A group of 15 people with disabilities that she gathered participated in Rochester’s Clean Sweep program. Stephanie Woodward, Director of Advocacy at CDR, nominated Ms. Jones for this award, saying she has “inspired others to get involved,” that she sets an “incredible xample” for people with disabilities, and has motivated more people with disabilities “to become active and involved in our city.”

Celebration of Rochester Neighbors

LOGO RectangleCome join us as we celebrate the great people that make our neighborhoods strong, on Monday,  June 6th from 5:00PM to 7:00PM at the Rochester Public Market. The event is called Celebration of Rochester Neighbors and will recognize volunteers who are making a difference at the neighborhood level, as well as leaders in the Rochester community. Like a city-wide block party, the event will feature live music, food and a chance to have fun with neighbors from throughout the city.

Rochester is a great place to live because of the caring, invested people who live in it. We want to celebrate those individuals and the neighborhoods that make up our city and kick off NeighborWorks® Week here in Rochester.

Celebration of Rochester Neighbors is supported by contributions from JP Morgan Chase, First Niagara Bank, Lamar Advertising, Greater Rochester Association of Realtors, Your Care Health Plan and Northwest Bank. Participants include food trucks from Marty’s Meats, Hot Rosita’s and The Daily Refresher, with live music provided by the Bureau Cats. Neighborhood Association and Block Clubs will also be there to share what it is that makes their part of #ROC a great place to live.

Tickets are $10 each (children under 13 are free) and available at NeighborWorks® Rochester or online at All proceeds from the event will allow NeighborWorks® Rochester to continue to build strong neighborhoods by educating and counseling new homeowners, providing resources to homeowners turned away by traditional lenders, energy-savings programs and targeted neighborhood revitalization through the Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative.

JP Morgan Chase receives Partner of the Year Award


Ron Sellers and Deborah Johnson of JP Morgan Chase, Kim Brumber of NeighborWorks Community Partners and Maureen Murphy of NeighborWorks Rochester.
Ron Sellers and Deborah Johnson of JP Morgan Chase, Kim Brumber of NeighborWorks Community Partners and Maureen Murphy of NeighborWorks Rochester.

NeighborWorks® Rochester presented its Partner of the Year Award at its 2016 Annual Meeting, held April 7th at the agency. The event was a celebration of a year of services provided to new and current homeowners in the Rochester area, as well as an opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations that were significant supporters.

 JP Morgan Chase was honored as the Partner of The Year in recognition of their collaboration, commitment and leadership. Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester, stated, “We are sincerely appreciative of JP Morgan Chase’s many years of support. They were selected because of the way their corporate culture supports us, allowing us to reach well over 1,000 neighbors in 2015. Whether it is through encouraging Chase employee to volunteer, providing financial support for our first-time homebuyer and financial education programs, their commitment to our team’s excellence with continued training or sponsoring our Annual Event, Chase is the strongest of partners.”

Close to 80 guests at the event heard about the impact of the previous year, including that 400 people attended NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Homebuyer Orientation in 2015.  At least 155 individuals were able to realize their dream of homeownership because of the organization’s Home Buyer Program. The majority of people who received loans used them to help purchase their first home while many existing homeowners were able to obtain funds to repair or upgrade their homes. Individuals who took part in Energy Services programs were able to save, on average, $30-$50 per month. More growth is expected in the coming year.

Ceremony to Kickoff Earth Day Celebration

11884952_465122370314642_1826571326288146815_oCollaboration Helps to Build Healthy Neighborhood 

NeighborWorks® Rochester is pleased to announce that, along with St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church and Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care, a ribbon cutting ceremony to kick off Earth Day will be held at the Merchants Road Community Garden. The event will be held on Friday, April 22nd at 10:00AM at the Garden, also known as the Garden of E.D.E.N. II, 622 Merchants Road, Rochester, NY.

The garden is a project initiated and maintained by the St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church community with support from FoodLink. Recently, NeighborWorks® Rochester secured a grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation for the Merchants Road Community Garden for enhancements, including a shed and garden tools as part of their Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative.

The garden is located within Rochester’s Triangle Neighborhood of North Winton Village. This community is the focus of the Healthy Blocks program, which seeks to stimulate changes that restore and sustain neighborhood pride and confidence by working together with residents, businesses, and landlords.

In addition, NeighborWorks® Rochester coordinated with the City of Rochester to remove and replace existing features like the entryway pillars, signs, and fencing. Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care has provided technical assistance and additional resources to create landscaping at the garden that promotes the plant and animal life while making the space more inviting.

Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester stated, “This garden is a perfect example of a cooperative effort of residents, merchants, businesses and the city to enhance a neighborhood that is in transition. The collaboration of all the parts will work to strengthen civic involvement, pride in the community and encourage reinvestment. We were especially thankful to St. Mark’s and St. John’s and Broccolo for partnering with us to make this garden a successful neighborhood project, which provides benefits beyond the growing season.“

“It was our pleasure to be involved with the Garden of E.D.E.N,” said Laurie Broccolo, President of Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care. “We want to help educate the community about growing food, including the plants that attract pollinators, which are necessary for success. Connecting people to nature is a personal passion and goal for me. Helping our community to enjoy the benefits of gardening and growing plants is near and dear to my heart.”

Last year, close to 850 pounds of produce was harvested from The Merchants Road Community Garden, with a portion of the harvest going to a local food bank. Local residents who volunteered received a $5 voucher each time they volunteered at the garden, to be used at any local farmer’s market.


NeighborWorks® Rochester Proud to be Part of Solarize the Flower City Campaign

RocSpot logoROCSPOT, an organization devoted to the implementation of solar technology to create jobs and reduce poverty in Rochester, announced today that that Solarize the Flower City 2016 is one of 31 Solarize campaigns across the State beginning this spring. Solarize the Flower City 2016 will kick off with a launch event on March 20, where local and state leaders will come together to celebrate with ROCSPOT, NeighborWorks® Rochester and other partners, and the local community. Governor Cuomo announced the program awards on February 19, funded through Community Solar NY, a NYSERDA program.
As a component of the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy and NY-Sun program, Community Solar NY makes implementing solar easier and more affordable by supporting locally-organized community outreach aimed at getting a critical mass of area homes and businesses to install solar and obtain competitive pricing, thereby lowering the cost. Historically, Solarize campaigns lower the cost of solar 10 to 20 percent.
Solarize the Flower City 2016 will be selecting designated solar installers using a thorough pre-qualification process. Residents and businesses who sign up for solar installations by September 15, 2016, will be able to take advantage of group rates below market prices. The more customers who sign up, the lower the price will be for everyone.
“New York is blazing the trail when it comes to transitioning to sustainable energy practices and building a clean energy economy,” said Governor Cuomo. “By helping communities across the state install solar technologies, we are opening the door to new opportunities that will lower household energy costs while protecting the environment years into the future.” “I am proud to partner with ROCSPOT and support the Solarize the Flower City Campaign,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “The citizens of Rochester are committed to protecting the environment and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Developing more sustainable and more affordable methods of energy production through solar power will play a critical role in that effort and help us create more jobs, safer more vibrant neighborhoods and provide all of our children with a quality education.” “More so now than ever before, the Finger Lakes Region is on the cutting edge of green and renewable energy development, with solar technology being an important part of the equation,” said Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport). “I thank ROCSPOT, NYSERDA, and all partners involved in Solarize the Flower City for helping to make solar generation more affordable and accessible for both residents and employers alike across our community.”
Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester said: “NeighborWorks® Rochester is excited to be a partner in the Solarize the Flower City 2016 campaign. Increasing Rochester’s solar capacity, and decreasing household energy usage, will help to reposition our community both by supporting households struggling to meet energy costs, as well as neighborhoods looking to become more sustainable”.
Additional partners and participants include NYSERDA, the Town of Brighton and the Town of Irondequoit.
Solarize the Flower City 2016 is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative as well as the City of Rochester, through the New York Power Authority (NYPA) Five Cities Energy Plan program. Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun will invest up to $1 billion in solar power through 2023 to significantly expand solar installations across the State, ultimately transforming New York’s solar industry to become self-sustaining. The City of Rochester is investing over $800,000 from the NYPA Five Cities program for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, positioning itself as a leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation.