For many families living in Buffalo’s West Side neighborhood, autumn is a time of rich and diverse traditions. Seeing an opportunity for both youth and adults to learn about the different cultures that make up the community, West Side Community Services (WSCS), the West Side Promise Neighborhood (WSPN), and Rich Products came together to put on Fall Fest this past October—a celebration of community, shared values, and culture.
United by an interest in the wellbeing of the West Side, WSPN, WSCS, and Rich’s share a unique relationship that prioritizes actively listening to and communicating with local residents to understand their needs and wants (an area where WSPN and WSCS particularly shine). And when it’s time to convene with the community, it’s never across a boardroom table but on the ground, actively seeking to understand the intersection between needs and resources.
“WSPN serves as the door to the community for Rich Products,” said Talia Rodriguez J.D., associate director of WSPN. “Each event we put on, each effort, demonstrates the power of place-based commitment, collective action, and community caring.”
This idea of “place-based commitment” was very much on display on October 16, as West Side residents were invited to a celebration dubbed “Fall Fest” at WSCS headquarters. Upon entering the building, neighbors were greeted by Rich’s Kaleidoscope associate resource group, whose members shared bilingual books in celebration and recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month and Hispanic culture. The event also consisted of fun, safe, and warm fall activities for families like a make-your-own-jump-rope station, where Dawne Hoeg, founder and executive director of Stitch Buffalo, gave hands-on lessons.
Families were also encouraged to prepare for the winter months with hats and gloves supplied by WSPN and Rich’s Parent2Parent associate resource group. Other community partners, like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo, were in attendance as well, lending their support and adding to the spirit of neighborhood pride and goodwill on display.
“We’re proud to partner with Rich Products,” said Crystal Selk, executive director of WSCS. “Working side by side with Rich’s employees, especially during events like Fall Fest, greatly increases our ability to meet the needs of the community in a way that is respectful, dignified, and welcoming.”
And while Fall Fest might have only been one day, WSPN, WSCS, and Rich’s are continuing to listen to the needs of their community and find opportunities to bring people together.