Spring Revival- New Community Garden & Community Kick-off Event

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After a long vacancy, the empty lot at 622 Merchants Road recently became a community garden once again. The garden is a result of a partnership between St. Mark’s & St. John’s Episcopal Church, Foodlink, Covenant United Methodist Church, the City of Rcohester and Healthy Blocks. The garden contains 16 raised beds, flower garden, a picnic table and a tool shed in the near future. Our United Way Day of Caring volunteers from Paychex and New Directions helped clear the lot and build the raised beds all in a day!

This garden is the church’s second growing site after a very successful initial effort on church property. With the generous donation of materials by Foodlink, a portion of the food produced goes to those in need. Food is distributed locally through various food pantries, including the one found at St. Mark’s & St. John’s.

Neighbors are encouraged to participate in the community garden throughout the growing season. Volunteers may join Mike Finn, lead garden coordinator, this Friday at 10am to plant seeds in the raised beds. The garden will have scheduled harvest days where the food is weighed before being distributed. Gardeners also reap some rewards for their efforts by taking fresh produce home with them!

Gardening plus several other eco related topics will be featured at “Taste of the Triangle” on May 31st, from 11am-3pm. This event will feature free food tastings from local restaurants, live music, as well as community and “green” resources. The Merchants Road garden coordinators will be at the event ready to chat about the project.

For more information about the garden or “Taste of the Triangle,” please send me an e-mail or give me a call: mkraines@nwrochester.org 325-4170 ext. 317.

Happy Gardening!

Michelle Kraines

 

 

HOME

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Whether you have recently decided to purchase a home or have been looking at the market for some time, there are multiple variables and steps involved in the homebuying process. It is important for you to educate yourself and your family; here are a few pieces of advice for you to consider when buying a home:

Homebuying team- understand what they mean to you:

Many families or individuals want to go into this process on their own because they are afraid of the costs behind having a homebuying team. Keep in mind that a team may actually help lower your costs in the long run. It is invaluable having experts on your side to make sure you are not taken advantage of during the homebuying process; professionals will know the ins-and-outs in ways that you won’t even realize.

Organize yourself and understand the homebuying process:

It may seem like a no-brainer, but buying a house on a whim can end up causing you to shell out extra money. Know what you want, know what you need and know what you can afford; writing a list will help you become a savvy homebuyer. Even if you see a house that you love, there will be additional needs that you have to ensure are stable, for example, a poor foundation or septic issues can cause thousands to replace or repair. Know what you are getting into and make sure that the basics of the house are in good condition or at least know what kind of investment you will be getting into.

Mortgage options- know your options and finances:

Make sure you have a good chunk for a down payment on a house, but know that everyone ends up taking out credit to buy their own home. When it comes to lending, make sure you know what kind of payments you can afford and what kind of lending services are available to you. When thinking about loans, make sure to ask yourself a few questions: What is the TOTAL cost of credit? Are there any fees? What is the annual percentage rate (APR)?

Educate yourself on the difference between what you “qualify” for and what you can “afford”:

It is easy to think that you know what you can afford. There are several formulas to use in order to understand the loan amount and interest broken down into monthly payments as well as the maximum house payment. Find out if you prequalify and make sure that it is within your means and personal budget!

 

NeighborWorks® Rochester is a nonprofit that offers homebuyer services and flexible term loans, if you have any questions, please call one of our homeownership advisors at 585.325.4170!

Staff of the Month: Sarah Brundage

 

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As the newest employee of NeighborWorks® Rochester, Sarah Brundage was welcomed aboard on April 21st, 2014! We are happy to have Sarah here and think that she will fit right in with the team. Her prior experience landed her in the current role of accountant; her role fits perfectly as she loves having any opportunity to work with numbers and accounting.

Mrs. Brundage comes packed with knowledge as she graduated in December with a Bachelors in Accounting. In addition to her education she worked at home for ten years, attending to her four children. Prior to this season she worked at Jackson Hewitt Tax Services as an assistant manager and on the side as the treasurer for a local cub scout pack.

Sarah spends her spare time with her husband and kids stating, “I am a big family person.” Camping, playing board games, reading books, spending time outdoors and watching movies together are just some of the family activities they enjoy.

“Home to me means family and love.”

 

Energy on a Budget!

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Photo Courtesy of: Andrew Nusca

Whether you are a renter or a homeowner, you at least have one thing in common {with some exceptions}: paying your energy bill once a month. Do you have a limited budget? Or maybe you just don’t want to spend loads of cash on paying an energy bill.

Here are a few tips for lowering your energy bill without breaking the bank!

  1. Unplug it!

I am sure this isn’t new advice; in fact, you have probably heard it time and time again. We sometimes need to hear advice over and over before we actually do it! Unplug, unplug, unplug. Better yet, use a power strip and “unplug” several appliances at once.

  1. Time it!

Set up a timer for your lights…and use new bulbs. This tip is two for the price of one. Do you sometimes forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room or your home? Using a timer can eliminate overuse of lights by setting the timer to work with your routine.

As for bulbs, CFL bulbs may cost a little more upfront, but they will be more cost-effective in the long-run. Traditional halogen lights can play a role in a larger energy bill. In addition to replacing bulbs, if you have a light dimmer and a particular room can function with less light… let’s just say that lower light=lower bill!

  1. Plug it!

This may seem like opposite advice from tip #1, but I assure you, it is not counter-advice.  This tip is about leaks. This isn’t just advice for individuals living in older homes; don’t think that because you are in a newly built home you are safe. To save on heating and cooling costs, make sure to check around the house for any cracks where air is entering or escaping. These are easy fixes, check cracks or the gaps around windows, doorways or fireplaces.

There are seemingly endless ways to save on energy. Ultimately it is what works for you, your routine and your budget. Invest where you can and see your energy bill go down! Interested in finding out more or learning about resources to help you save? Come visit us at 570 South Ave on Monday, April 28th from 5-6pm. For more details call 585.325.4170.

Utility Scams: How to Stay Safe

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Every year, there seems to be more scams concerning energy companies than the previous year. According to NYSEG & RG&E, “Utility customers can be a convenient target for these scammers because unlike retail business customers, most everyone is a customer of an energy company and pays utility bills.” Some scammers approach people at their homes, others do so by phone or e-mail. Customers are then asked to pay current or past due charges. If customers are taken in by the scheme, the scammers pocket any “payment” given.

To stay safe from these traps, NYSEG and RG&E recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Always type the NYSEG or RG&E Web address when making an online payment; do not rely on email links. At nyseg.com and rge.com, customers can check account balances and any past-due amounts.
  • When making a payment by phone, always confirm the NYSEG or RG&E phone numbers. Customers should not make payments by phone to anyone who has contacted them or asked them to dial a number other than a NYSEG or RG&E number.
  • Don’t trust links in emails when paying NYSEG or RG&E by credit card – go directly to nyseg.com or rge.com to complete credit card transactions.
  • If paying by mail, the addresses are: NYSEG, P.O. Box 11745, Newark, NJ07101-4745; RG&E, P.O. Box 11747, Newark, NJ07101-4747.
  • NYSEG and RG&E bills may be paid at an authorized pay agent, at a Walmart location or at a company walk-in office.
  • If paying using an online payment service (for example, through a bank), always follow the payment service’s instructions to ensure account security.
  • Never provide Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank information to anyone requesting it (over the phone or in person) unless the customer has initiated the contact and feels confident that the transaction is legitimate.
  • NYSEG and RG&E will never ask customers to purchase a debit card to make a payment.
  • To confirm the identity of any NYSEG or RG&E employee: ask for a photo ID card (if in person) or ask for their employee number. Then contact NYSEG (1.800.572.1111) or RG&E (1.800.743.2110) to verify the individual’s identity and the nature of their business. NYSEG and RG&E employees are happy to comply with an identity confirmation request.

For more information, visit their website at: http://www.rge.com/OurCompany/News/2014/020414scamalert.html

 

Have you had a scam experience? Share your story below.

A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

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Photo : Graphics99.com

This three part series will offer ways to engage your neighbors whether you have never spoken or you’ve already exchanged house keys. Check out last week’s article if you haven’t already!

Part III: Friends Forever

By this time, you have met, shared meals and probably bought something from  your neighbor’s yard sale. It’s time to be real friends. Think of how convenient it would be to live next door to your close friends. You can visit easily, borrow a tool or drop off the kids in the blink of an eye.

  1. Parents Night Out- Drop the kids off and hit the town. Keep it just the two of you or have a few couples come out and enjoy a local restaurant. Maybe the group can hire a few babysitters and have all the kids at one location.
  2. Field Day- If your neighborhood has a lot of kids, it’s a good bet that they are looking for something to do in the summer. Try hosting a field day with different challenges. This can be located right in your yard or team up with your neighbors for various locations.
  3. Porch Fest- If your home has a porch, what better way to enjoy the summer than a comfy chair and an iced cold beverage! Your porch allows you to interact with neighbors passing by easily. You can take this practice to the next level by organizing music or bard game stations from each porch.

Michelle

Article written by Michelle Kraines, Healthy Blocks Program Assistant at NeighborWorks® Rochester. You’ll find Michelle out and about in the neighborhoods of Rochester, working through Healthy Blocks to implement neighborhood revitalization! 

A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

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Photo : Steve Coffey

Remember that your off campus neighbors live just feet away. Maintain a

This three part series will offer ways to engage your neighbors whether you have never spoken or you’ve already exchanged house keys. Check out last weeks article if you haven’t already!

Part II: Getting to Know You

The next level of engagement with your neighbors goes beyond learning names and general information. One way to do this is through different group activities. Group activities are a great way to interact with several neighbors at once. It also takes the pressure off any one individual or couple.

  1. Garage Sale- There is nothing like a neighborhood garage sale to bring people together. Everyone is outside, bored and ready to chat by 2pm. Maybe you can bake some treats for the sellers to get through the day.
  2. Movie Night- Movies are a great way to get a group together. This is less intimidating for some folks because the focus is on the movie. Offer popcorn or sundaes before the movie starts; it gives people time to mingle. Movie night scan be done inside a home theatre or projected outside in a park or backyard.
  3. Cook-Off- From chili to pie to cheese burgers, everyone loves to sample all the contenders in a food cook-off. Cooking is a great way to get to know your neighbors. It can lead to shared recipes and future dinners together.

 

Michelle

Article written by Michelle Kraines, Healthy Blocks Program Assistant at NeighborWorks® Rochester. You’ll find Michelle out and about in the neighborhoods of Rochester, working through Healthy Blocks to implement neighborhood revitalization! 

A wonderful day in the neighborhood

In today’s busy culture, one hardly has the time to notice shifts in the neighborhood, let alone having the time to say hello to neighbors. However, community has been shown to be an incredible force in people’s lives. Building relationships with your neighborhood promotes the stability of the community; people want to stay where they feel accepted and supported. In case of an emergency, your car won’t start, a babysitter backed out last minute, or maybe you do need to borrow that cup of sugar, community can make all the difference. Having a sense of belonging and importance resonates for every age, with the potential to lead healthier and happier lives.

This three part series will offer ways to engage your neighbors whether you have never spoken or you’ve already exchanged house keys.

Part I: New Neighbors

  1. Knock, Knock- For most of us, the first time you approach your neighbor’s door is always intimidating. There’s no trick or good advice, except do it! Set a date and break the ice. Make sure you set up a “next time” so that it isn’t two years later, and you can’t quite remember their names. Ask them to have coffee or tea. Introductions are important, but establishing that next step is even more critical for growing relationships.
  2. Attend Neighborhood Meetings- Many neighborhoods have organized meetings on a regular basis. Look into the active organizations in your neighborhood. Information about this can be found through the Internet or local services such as libraries, businesses or local government institutions. Then, you can stay in contact with the group via newsletters and other social interactions online.
  3. House Tour- Opening your home is a great way to get to know your neighbors. This gathering can be after you have settled in or maybe after a kitchen renovation. Providing lite refreshments or hosting a potluck is also a great way to win everyone over!

Article written by Michelle Kraines, Healthy Blocks Program Assistant at NeighborWorks® Rochester.