Social gatherings with a focus on bettering Falls
By Terry Duffy
NF Pints for Progress continues to grow in interest and popularity.
A summery evening was the setting Thursday for Pints for Progress No. 21, held at Foley's on Buffalo Avenue. As evidenced by the dozens in attendance, which included Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, not to mention the enthusiasm voiced by many of the repeat visitors, it ranked as one of the best ones yet.
The event also marked the fourth anniversary nearly to the date of the founding of Pints, a social event presented by #LiveNF and Niagara Falls Community Development. Open to residents of the Cataract City and from throughout the area, it's an idea sharing as well as a social experience. Visitors pay a modest entrance fee - $5 for first timers, $10 for repeat guests. They are provided with a beverage and some eats, plus an opportunity to learn first hand of some rather exciting plans and ongoing movements by guest presenters - all with the intention of making the Falls a better place. Visitors then cast a vote on the winning presentation, who then receives the prize monies of the evening for their cause.
Thursday led off with an update by Willie A. Price of the Niagara Falls Track and Field Club - winner of Pints No. 20 held in February at the Hard Rock Cafe. Price spoke of the growing success of NFTF, an organization meant to provide purposeful athletic options to Falls youth.
"As a result of us winning, the Niagara Falls Track and Field Club was officially registered with the U.S.A.T.F. ... We have about 30 kids registered so far for the track club. With the money raised we were able to go but team jerseys for the kids ... all from what we raised. ... I just want to say thank you."
Thursday's presentations continued with the Pints focus towards betterment of the Falls. Topics included focuses on the Falls history and one on housing rehabilitation.
However, the winning presentation, as voted by attendees, would go to a program geared toward the Falls' leaders of the future - its youth.
Four years in existence, Little Wonders is located next to Niagara Falls High School. A year-round offering its purpose is on availing a range of services to teen mothers who are also students. Child day care services are provided, as are educational offerings, such as tutoring - all with a focus of enabling the young adult to focus on finishing her education in a productive fashion.
"We have seen overwhelming success with our program, far beyond our imagination of what we realized we could do," said Little Wonders Director Rose Ruh.
She went to speak of the many logistical challenges that continue to face the young student mothers - from transportation issues to childcare to family life, including medical issues. But Ruh also spoke of the "can do" attitude of her staff - a mindset that has also transcended to the student moms.
"It's more of a reality for them. They are trying to juggle parenting and going to school and Regents and all the hefty things that go on today," said Ruh. "We want to make sure that this (program) is seamless - not only from the time they come to us from high school, but into college."
"They are learning the parenting skills, really looking at others in the community ... without our vital services, this would go away," said Ruh.
As noted, Little Wonders went on to be deemed the most worthy of the Pints presentations Thursday. Its participants - all young mothers, some with their children and all seniors at Niagara Falls High School, with intents on continuing to better their life through college and beyond - expressed their thanks to the locals in attendance who lent their support.