Pints For Progress celebrates third year
By Terry Duffy
Pints for Progress staged perhaps its biggest event yet last week Thursday.
Celebrating its third year, Pints For Progress returned June 9 to its roots where it all began: the Park Place Market on Main Street. There, a crowd of about 145 area residents gathered for an enjoyable and enlightening evening of a few beverages, some good food, and good ideas for a better Niagara Falls community.
"It's great to see such a crowd," said Seth Piccirillo, director of community development for the City of Niagara Falls. "One hundred and thirty-plus people at an event that started with 20 attendees three years ago, at an outdoor market that was once a parking lot. Good stuff."
Pints for Progress is presented by #LiveNF #NiagaraUSA and the Niagara Falls Business Association. Piccirillo, along with organizers Philip Mohr, Lana Perlman, Tom Lowe and Daniel Lusk, teamed up for yet another informative affair that featured seven Falls organizations, including a few return visitors, stopping by to share programs with attendees.
Pints, you see, serves as a happy hour-type gathering where, for a donation of $5 for first-timers ($10 for regulars), visitors can get a free beverage along with some grub, join in for some socializing, enjoy entertainment and become informed on the latest goings-on in the Cataract City.
The presentations are informative, enthusiastic, and there's plenty of opportunity for questions. At the conclusion of the roughly two-hour event, attendees are requested to cast their votes to determine the winning presenter, who is awarded the proceeds of Pints for Progress for his or her cause.
Last Thursday's Pints featured Flying Bison Brewing Co. beers on tap, hot dogs, hamburgers and more by Shelly's Café and Grill, the entertaining sounds of Nineteen Sixty's Nick Spaccone and Naomi Langworthy, and a host of information.
The winning presentation that evening went to "Footprints on the Future," an organization headed by Falls resident Sandy Quinn, which assists young parents toward attaining a brighter, more productive, self-sufficient future.
Other presentations were equally informative, all with programs of interest to area residents. They included:
•"Weekend of Winning," with presenters Justin Gilmore and Falls basketball great Greg Gamble of XVII Ent.
The two discussed plans for the second annual XVII Elite Football Camp, set for Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25, at Niagara Falls High School.
"We want to give back to the youth of Niagara Falls," Gilmore said of the event that will bring professional athletes to Niagara Falls in a weekend training camp environment with area youth. Open to boys and girls in grades 4 to 12, the "Weekend of Winning" camp, now in its second year, will have its focus on not only football, but also basketball, and introduce area youth to what being a college athlete is all about.
"Our collective goal is to help further develop student-athletes by putting them in a simulated collegiate football/basketball experience," read the XVII online post. "Not only will we develop their football/basketball skills and knowledge of the game, we will also illustrate real-world concepts learned through athletics to help young boys and girls become men and women who are assets both in sport and in society.
"The campers will get the opportunity to learn on an interactive level from some of the most successful collegiate and professional athletes."
Expected at this year's camp will be such NFL names as Preston Brown of the Bills, Marcus Smith of the Eagles, Devante Parker of the Dolphins, Senorise Perry of the Bears, Bryon Stingily of the Texans and Gerod Holliman of Buccaneers, plus women's basketball stars Asia Taylor and Jude Schimmel.
For more on the "Weekend of Winning" event, including registration, visit www.facebook.com/JGXVII.
•The College Simulation Experience, with presenter April Baskin.
A second-time visitor to Pints, the College Simulation Experience seeks to better prepare young men and women for a higher education environment.
"Eighty-six percent of our community's residents age 25 and older have high school diplomas. Of this, only 16 percent have four-year college degrees," Baskin said. "This must change. We want our current youth to qualify for leadership roles and careers that will advance our city."
Baskin announced the first College Simulation Experience in Niagara Falls would take place Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Doris Jones Family Resource Building, 3001 Ninth St., Niagara Falls. Hosted by Falls Councilman Ezra P. Scott Jr. and the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, the full-day workshop will aim to assist high school students with what Baskin called their "soft skills development."
"Students will re-enact simulation activities focused on banking, paying bills, healthy meal planning, job interviewing, applying for college, buying books, choosing classes and much more," Baskin said.
The seminar is open to all high school juniors and seniors from Niagara Falls. It includes food, prizes and an opportunity to obtain a $2,000 scholarship.
Visit www.collegesimulation.com for more information.
Other events at last week's Pints had their focus on promotional events in the city, including:
•The Niagara Falls Garden Walk USA, taking place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 23, is described by its organizers as a self-guided educational and garden tour, sites of interest will include the Niagara Falls Library, Oakwood Cemetery, the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center Schoellkopf Gardens, the Children's Garden at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, and Memorial Park gardens in the Falls.
For more information, visit 2016 Garden Walk USA on Facebook.
•"Vow Sweet it Is," a first-time wedding vow renewal ceremony, taking place on Sweetest Day, Saturday, Oct. 15.
" 'Vow Sweet It Is' will offer Western New Yorkers and visitors to Niagara Falls the opportunity to celebrate their love with family and friends in a nondenominational group vow renewal," said Melissa Morinello of Sparkle Marketing & Events.
Morinello said she is seeking up to 100 couples to participate and hopes to make "Vows" an annual event.
For more information, call 716-799-4240 or email Melissa@sparkeleventswny.com.
•An All Souls Day celebration, taking place Wednesday, Nov. 2, at the Oakwood Cemetery.
Presenter Andrea Gailand described the event as a "practice of recognition of all who have lost," and invited visitors to participate in the event, which will feature a candlelight of gravestones, music, poetry readings, recognitions of Niagara Falls architecture and more.
"It's a beautiful event," Gailand said.
For more information, visit the Oakwood Cemetery page on Facebook.
Pints for Progress organizers offered high remarks for last week's event, which saw a record crowd on hand, with $600 in proceeds going to the winning "Footprints on the Future" organization.
"The largest crowd to date for the third anniversary of these events," read the Pints Facebook post. "One-hundred-forty-five or so residents came out to vote for the best community project to give the proceeds from the door. 'Footprints' from Bacon Memorial Presbyterian won this one. Congratulations!
"Thanks to everyone that came out and to our friends at Shelly's Cafe and Grill for slingin' out the food. We hope to see everyone back at the Market sometime soon!"
For more, visit Pints for Progress on Facebook.