2018 Celebration of Rochester Neighbors Awardees

NeighborWorks® Rochester and the City of Rochester are pleased to announce the winners of its 2018 Celebration of Rochester Neighbors Awards. At a news conference on May 31st, Executive Director, Joanne Panarisi-Bottone and City of Rochester Mayor, Lovely Warren announced this year’s awardees at the City of Rochester Public Market.

The awards will be distributed on Monday, June 4thfrom 5:00PM to 7:30PM at the City of Rochester Public Market. Like a city-wide block party, the event will feature music, food and a chance to have fun with neighbors from throughout the city. It is FREE and open to all. The awardees are:

Southwest Quadrant Community Champion : Dorothy Hall, is the Southwest Quadrant Community Champion, embodying the award’s criteria as someone who exemplifies a vision for a better, brighter Rochester, starting with their own neighborhood. Mrs. Hall’s love and commitment to her community led her to become one of the original organizers of the PLEX (Pymouth / Exchange) Neighborhood Association. She often represents her neighborhood at city and local meetings and diligently works with families in need, organizing events such as clothing give-aways. Improving relations within her diverse community is a focus for her, as well. She has been a long-time member of the Common Council and Quad team, as well as the Southwest Riverfront Committee. Recently, she raised funds for School #9 students to travel to Washington, DC to perform at the offices of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. Ms. Hall was nominated by Donna Hodgins of the PLEX Neighborhood Association, who feels that the awardee exemplifies the PLEX Neighborhood’s motto: Together, we can make a difference.

Northeast Quadrant Community Champion: The Northeast Community Champion is Martin Pedraza, a long-time resident and member of the Marketview Heights Neighborhood Association. According to Rochester Police Department’s Officer Erique Gomez, one of two who nominated him, “Martin has been the un-praised backbone of the organization and the go-to-guy for the neighborhood, and can be seen everywhere in that neighborhood doing landscape work on vacant lots and for property owners who have asked for help in their gardens and privately owned yards.” Martin is a graduate of the Citizen’s Police Academy and often attends the Clinton Section PCIC meetings and offers to play a pro-active role in helping law enforcement whenever he is able. As a proud Vietnam Veteran, he shows no fear in working, usually by himself, in violent, high-crime areas in the northeast part of the Rochester. He consistently displays leadership by taking a pro-active approach in cleaning up and maintaining the area around the Public Market, displaying a sense of pride in his neighborhood. Officer Gomez stated, “without people like him, our jobs would be more difficult on a daily basis and the community of Marketview Heights would be undervalued not only economically, but with a lesser quality of life.” Co-nominator Lt. Cheryl Fridley is impressed with the quality and volume of Martin’s volunteer work, sharing that not only does he maintain gardens in his neighborhood, but also plants and maintains flowers at the Rochester Public Market, creating a positive image of our city for visitors from around the country. He also has helped with a community garden located at the NSC office that has produce a literal ton of food, donated to the residents of the northeast. “Martin is one of the hardest working community members I have encountered in my 27 years with the Rochester Police Department,” Lt. Fridley stated in her nomination of Martin.

Northwest Quadrant Community Champion: Kim Hare, who lives in the Maplewood Neighborhood, is our Northwest Community Champion. Kim is a long-time resident and a member of the Maplewood Neighborhood Association. Currently she heads the Maplewood Code Committee. This committee works to make sure that the Maplewood area continues to have a high quality of life standard. Ms. Hare and her committee members volunteer to go out into their community and monitor vacant properties, blighted properties and report their findings to the committee and then follows up with the City of Rochester, the State of New York and any other entities that would be responsible for maintaining a high standard of living. Ms. Hare was nominated by the Northwest Neighborhood Service Center, where they recognize how hard Kim works to make sure that Maplewood remains a viable family oriented community in the City of Rochester.

Southeast Quadrant Community Champion: Emily and Guy Zeh were nominated as the Southeast Quadrant Community Champions because they exemplify what it means to be committed and supportive neighbors, friends and community members. As the parents of 3 young children, they have dedicated their lives to the betterment of their community. Emily is currently President of the PTO at Frank Fowler Dow School #52 where she selflessly devotes her time to organizing meetings, events, parents’ fundraising efforts and more. Emily celebrates the commitment of teachers and other parents – acknowledging their work, lending an ear and bringing a smile to the day. The same energy and selfless outreach to care for others extends throughout their neighborhood – always the first to ask “how can I help.” Whether it’s someone who needs their car dug out of the snow, or a meal dropped off dinner during a family illness, Emily and Guy are always there to lend support. Guy is the volunteer Commissioner and a coach of the Eastside Little League and the couple spends countless hours preparing fields, organizing registration and schedules, working the concession stands and supporting all the other volunteers and participants. Nominated by several of their neighbors, here’s what they had to say:

“Emily and Guy are compassionate, empathetic and loyal. From helping us move furniture on a dark, rainy night to inviting us over for safe meals with our food allergic son, they have made helping others a way of life.” – Kate and Zach Olsen

“We love our neighborhood in North Winton Village…You can always count on Emily and Guy. They are the first people you think of when you need assistance, be it helping out with your kids of a helping hand in the community.” – Dave and Sandy Walsh

Community Leader Award: The Community Leader Award recognizes volunteer leaders who spark change by engaging others in improving their community. Chris Jones, who owns Historic House Parts, and Carrie Laughton, owner of Lux Lounge, have “given time, energy and resources to get the Southwedge to be one of the most vibrant neighborhoods and commercial corridors in the City.” The organization which they co-chair, the Business Association of the SouthWedge Area, has one of the largest and most active memberships in the City, and includes their own magazine, The SouthWedge Quarterly. They have kept the vision of a vibrant neighborhood alive and have given untold hours of volunteer time to make sure this vision continues to be a reality. Some examples of the work they have done in the area includes:

  • Creating a non-profit organization to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of Nathaniel Square Park, which is both an uplifting art installation, as well as a park.
  • Raising funds for the commission and installation of artwork and decorative waste containers along South Avenue
  • Development of events to generate traffic and encourage shoppers and visitors to the area

The two were nominated by the Southeast Neighborhood Service Center because they have witnessed what an “extraordinary team and voice of positivity” they are. Chris and Carrie are involved in development in the area, creating awareness and opportunity for residents and merchants to be engaged and have a voice with the planning of SouthWedge area development. Chris also sits on the Rochester Police Departments Chief’s Police Citizen Interaction Committee to support public safety in the area.

They are a team that holds the City responsible for taking action on properties that are not properly cared for or that create unsafe circumstances. Chris and Carrie embody this award’s criteria of investing energies and talents to bring about specific change that positively impacts their community.