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Casper Farm donates farm-raised meat to new Pantry of Blessings at Cornerstone Church in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
casper farms cornor stone church
Carolyn Casper, Marianne Fish, Brandon Ramirez, Caleb Baker, Crystal Casper, and Jason Casper.
Photo by Howard Owens

For the second time, the owners of Casper Farm, a farm and retail meat shop on Route 5 in Stafford, have made a substantial donation of steaks, roasts, ground beef, and other cuts of meat to Cornerstone Church in Batavia.

"This has been such a blessing," said Marianne Fish, a member of Cornerstone who helped pick up the donation at the farm on Tuesday evening. "We just started the Pantry of Blessings and were lacking in meat."

Fish said the pantry is open to anybody who needs food assistance. Many people in Batavia access the pantry, she said, and the church makes deliveries to people being housed in local hotels. There are also people from Rochester and Buffalo who come to the pantry for assistance. 

"They're helping the community tremendously," Fish said.

The Batavian just happened to be in the shop when the folks from Cornerstone stopped by to pick up the donation.

"We do this because we want to help the community with product we have an abundance of, and if this community is in need, we want to be able to help the community out," Crystal Casper said.

This donation had a retail value of $1,000.

"We feel that this is a good thing to do, to give back to our community," Casper said.

BHS senior Brendan Burgess wins Mr. Batavia 2023

By Steve Ognibene


The Mr. Batavia event -- in its 10th year and featuring 10 contestants on Friday -- has been a great tradition at Batavia High School, said Lisa Robinson, chairperson of the annual contest. 

Not only is the event a source of local entertainment featuring Batavia High School students, but it also serves as a fundraiser for charities, mostly right here in Genesee County. 

"I am so incredibly proud and very appreciative of all past and present hostesses, contestants and committee members, as well as the amazing staff who has supported myself and everyone involved over the years.  I could not do it without them," Robinson said.

Friday's event surpassed $5,000, bringing the 10-year fundraising total to nearly $38,000.

Each contestant performed their best in different categories, such as group dance, talent, swim strut, lip-sync, tux walk, and question and answer.

Brendan Burgess will get 50 percent of proceeds to donate to his charity, Volunteers for Animals.  When they read his name, his first thoughts were "all the money for the charity for such a good cause."

"I was thinking of my fellow contestants on how much work we all put in.  My coaches, my family, on how much they all supported me through the process," Burgess said.  "I really strengthened my friendships with my close group of friends, and some I have not talked to over a couple years. It helped bond us together even more.  It’s really awesome to come together and make new friends and strengthen those connections."

There was a tie for second place.  They were Cooper Fix (Ricky Palermo Foundation) and Fabian Vasquez (Golisano’s Childrens Hospital).  They will each get 25 percent of the proceeds to donate to their charities.

Vasquez said it was a "shell-shocking, amazing feeling" to win. 

"I was really impressed with this and we all put a lot of hard work and dedication into this," he said. "I don’t feel like there (were) any flaws and we put on a really good show tonight, and I hope it’s loved for many years for those who attended."

Fix had similar positive sentiments about the experience, regardless if he won or not.

"I was so excited and happy, I didn’t expect to place. There were so many talented guys out here that it could have gone either way, so I was so excited especially to share it with one of my friends; it was a great feeling," Fix said.  "We were all friends coming into this, but we got so much closer, seeing each other every day before school, working hard with each other every day it’s like building a new family."

Other contestants and their charities were:

  • Garrett Schmidt – All Babies Cherished
  • Ifran Armstrong – Crossroads House
  • Aidan Anderson – Batavia VA
  • Aden Chua – Genesee Cancer Assistance
  • Alex Johnson – Dave McCarthy Foundation
  • Shawn Kimball – Habitat for Humanity
  • Michael Marchese – Batavia Community Schools

Judges were Michelle Gillard, Batavia Business & Professional Womens Club; Christian Yunker, Owner/Managing Member at CY Farms/Batavia Turf; Jay Gsell, retired Genesee County Manager; Carly Scott, hostess of Mr. Batavia 2015; and Jordan Fluker, winner of Mr. Batavia 2015.

Hostesses were seniors, Clara Wood, Maya Schrader and Lucy Taggart.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

To view or purchase photos, click here.










Bob Harker named director of Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern

By Press Release


Press release:

Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern announced today the appointment of Robert (Bob) Harker of Clarendon as the agency’s new Executive Director. Bob brings with him the skills the Board of Directors believes will promote agency growth, and expand services, allowing it to be of even greater service to people in need in the Genesee / Orleans County areas.

“I could not be more excited about the opportunity to help guide and grow Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern in its role as the “agency of last resort”. We strive to provide services to individuals and families that for one reason or another are not being served by more conventional community assets. ”

Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern was formed in the 1950s, serving immigrants that settled in the area. In 1968 the Ministry was incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and began serving the poor and working poor that are facing hardship or crisis. Donations are tax-deductible.

Donations, volunteers, and ideas are always welcome. Bob can be reached at (585) 589-9210.
121 North Main St. Suite 311
Albion, NY 14411

Noah Burke wins ninth annual Mr. Batavia competition

By Steve Ognibene


Mr. Batavia returned last evening in-person to Batavia High school for the first time since 2019. 

The event was canceled in 2020 and held virtually last year due to COVID-19.

Lisa Robinson, chairperson and event coordinator, said it raised over $4,170, bringing the nine-year total to $33,000.

Each contestant performed their best in different categories, such as group dance, talent, swim strut, lip-sync, tux walk, and question and answer.

Noah Burke took it away with a first place win after everyone's performances.

"It was one of the best experiences of my life getting out here with the guys," Burke said.  "I have really come out of my shell and had never done anything like this before. My heart just sank when they read my name and it was an amazing feeling.  I chose the Arthritis Foundation, which will get 50 percent of tonight's proceeds, because of my little sister Lilyanna, 15, who has juvenile arthritis. More than 18 of her joints are in pain daily, and I have seen her struggling with pain since she was little, and figured this is the best way I can give back to help other kids that are in the same position that she is in."  

Matt Smith was the runner-up.

"This was one of the craziest experiences of my life," Smith said. "I woke up this morning and threw up. The nerves got to me along with the heat in the tuxes and trying to stay calm and cool due to the heat all day.  Getting to know these guys over the last two months has been an incredible experience and starting on day one none of us had any dancing experience.  For it all to come together in a short amount of time and putting the show on, it's honestly insane.  I want to thank Olivia Halpin and Olivia Hussar for being my coaches. Without them, I honestly could not have placed second here today.  I chose the Michael Napoleone Foundation because Mrs. Napoleone was my teacher through the health academy at BOCES, and I learned about Michael's story, what the family went through and what every family who is fighting cancer right now, so I decided there was no other charity I wanted to represent, and thankful to raise 25 percent towards the foundation to fight cancer."

Nicholas Grover was the first runner-up. 

"It was the best decision I have made in my high school career. I am not a very outgoing person but I really wanted to do something that I really didn't think it was in me, and wanted to prove to myself that I could.  It was so fun, and loved the guys I did this with.  The most important thing was to have fun, and I think anybody who has ever tried this or has been in this event in the past, or tonight, is still a winner even if they did not place.  I chose Habitat for Humanity and Habitat will get 25 percent of tonight's proceeds."

Sponsors and people to thank were Charles Men’s Shop for donating the use of tuxedos, Batavia City School District Foundation for distributing the winnings to charities, Vic and Brenda Marchese from Main St. Pizza Company for helping to award the winner with the top prize, Blink of an Eye Photography for the banners, Steve Ognibene Photography for capturing the photos during the performance, Extreme Streetwear for the T-shirts and Beverly's Florist for the beautiful flowers, organizers said.

Judges were Bonnie Hoag of the BCSD Foundation, Nathan Korzelius Batavia Middle School principal, Krista Shamp John Kennedy School reading teacher, and Stacy Squire Jackson School clerk typist.

Hostesses were seniors Ella Houseknecht, Sophia Fulton, and Olivia Hussar and many student coaches and committee members who helped with this event.

Top photo: Noah Burke receives the Mr. Batavia sash from Ella Houseknecht. Photos by Steve Ognibene.

To view or purchase photos, click here.












Show by Springsteen tribute artist at Batavia Downs will benefit Palermo Foundation charities

By Press Release

Press release:

We are honored to be partnering with Batavia Downs gaming to host the first of its kind fundraising concert that will benefit our local UMMC Hospital (Rochester Regional Health), our new YMCA, Strong Memorial Hospital and research at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Now in its fifth year as a concert venue, Batavia Downs has been averaging about 3000 to 5000 concertgoers per show as part of their Rockin The Downs Concert Series. Although our Concert is not part of this series and tickets must be purchased separately, we are hoping to draw the same kind of crowd with our Nationally recognized headliner Bruce In The USA and local guests including 97 Rock’s Dave “DJ” Jickster and Comedian Nick Marra. As an added bonus from our friends at Batavia Downs everyone that buys a ticket will receive a $15 free play. . “Wouldn’t it be amazing if a bunch of the concertgoers went back inside at the end of the night and won lots of money, with their free play”?

This concert will be the largest event that we have ever attempted and we are very excited to bring so many people together for yet another fun fundraising event. Sponsorship opportunities include special seating, tickets to the show, $30 of free play, signage, verbal promotion, and shout-outs during the concert. For more information about our three sponsorship tiers, visit RickyPalermoFoundation.

Tickets are selling nicely so if you want to look into joining our concert you can go to my site OR go to EVENTS while looking at the Batavia Downs concerts. You could also look for our QR code, which will also guide you to the information needed to buy tickets.

Special thanks to Batavia Downs CEO Henry Wojtaszek, Concert Manager Ryan Hasenauer, Kathy Paradowski and so many others who have been great to work with.

Master Gardeners book drive

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Master Gardeners are excited to announce that we will be collecting NEW, unwrapped BOOKS for the annual Toys for Tots campaign in conjunction with the Harvey C. Noon Legion. Collecting new books is a goal of the Toys for Tots Literacy Program. Books enhance a child’s ability to read and to communicate effectively. The books that are collected will go to children and youth ages preschool through high school. A gift of a new book delivers a message of hope and instills self-confidence to children in need. You can drop off books at the Genesee County Cooperative Extension office, Monday – Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. We will have a collection bin set up near the reception area. Book donations can be made at the CCE office through December 6.

Batavia business owner continues his health battles, including a rare cancer

By Billie Owens

Jeff Houseknecht, whose 42 birthday is the 26th of this month, continues his battle with a terminal stage 4 cancer so rare fewer than 100 people on the planet are known to have it.

He lives on Garden Drive in Batavia, with his wife of almost 15 years, Carolyn, and their two children, 12-year-old Zachary and 10-year-old Lily.

Jeff has had health problems since he was 20, starting with epilepsy, but was able to soldier on because of his strong work ethic and upbeat attitude. Soon after the birth of his daughter, he was hit with multiple health problems, some of which went largely undiagnosed. These ranged from pneumonia and gastrointestinal problems to a spinal condition that caused his spine to slowly fuse together.

The physical problems steadily piled on.

He eventually was also diagnosed with Crohn's disease, which in turn brought on Parkinson's disease, according to his neurologist, and the resulting impediments to movement and speech that had to be overcome. He nearly recovered but some Parkinson's symptoms remain to be wrestled with.

To continue to be mobile and able to work, he was given twice-monthly shots of Humira, an immunosuppressant drug.

But in 2014, a softball-size lesion developed on his spine, which turned out to be MRSA -- methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus -- an infectious "super bug" that's difficult to treat and eradicate.

It found an opportunity in Jeff because of the Humira regime.

More such lesions would crop up and jeopardize his health further. A golf-ball-size lesion on his forehead appeared to respond to antibiotics at first, then one morning he woke up looking like he endured the bad end of brawl and doctors told him he might lose his right eye.

When Zachary was 6, he told his family his birthday wish was for daddy not to die. The child's heart-wrenching plea was a turning point, prompting Jeff to take time from his work to support his family and instead focus on his health so he could live and resume his responsibilities.

All the while, of course, there are bills and co-pays, plus travel and living expenses that mount as does the emotional toll.

Things were looking better last year before coronavirus struck. The Houseknechts opened Farmers Insurance Agency at 214 E. Main St. in Downtown Batavia and the ribbon cutting with the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce was Feb. 20, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown came almost a month later. They are open now with the expected health and safety protocols in place, but like most small business owners will tell you, it's been a tough year.

And that's without the deep water the Houseknechts have had to slog through. 

But it hasn't been all bad.

"The outpouring of help and support has been probably one of the best things to come out of all this," Carolyn said this afternoon.

Sounding a little choked up, she added, "This community has helped us with housework, helped rake the yard ... we didn't expect to need this much help so soon, but we're very, very grateful for everyone's help."

Jeff said he grew up here and that's just the way people are raised -- they help their neighbors, they give to their community.

They hold basket raffles, meat auctions, 50/50s, chicken BBQs, donate farm produce, give away clothes, boots and mittens, and stock food pantries with goods, donate blood, recycle old electronics for a good cause, pray for you, enlist small armies to craft greeting cards -- you name it.

(We know firsthand they'll pull your vehicle out of a snowbank. (If you're a newcomer with California plates, your wintertime predicament may concurrently prompt the briefest faint smile, but then that could just be your imagination...))

If you'd like to help Jeff and Carolyn Houseknecht and their family monetarily, there's a GoFundMe, established by Carolyn on April 7. To date, $24,510 has been raised toward the $50,000 goal.

Read more at the GoFundMe partner site, CaringBridge.

And/or help the family out by providing them with prepared meals via Meal Train.

File photo of the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Houseknechts' insurance agency in Batavia a year ago February.

Saturday morning photo op with Easter Bunny in Le Roy will benefit Maple Street fire victims

By Billie Owens

Jenna Read and Ally Scofield will host a charity event with the Easter Bunny on Saturday in Le Roy.

All proceeds will benefit the family that suffered catastrophic loss of all that they owned, not to mention their beloved pets, in a house fire Tuesday on Maple Street in the City of Batavia.

So if you'd like to help them out and have a moment of socially distanced springtime fun, there will be a photo op with the Bewhiskered One from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the gazebo on Wolcott Street across from the elementary school.

All are welcome to come and take pictures and make a donation for this family of six in a time of great need.

Previously: Fundraising effort underway to assist family who lost everything in house fire

Previously: Family loses everything, including three dogs and six cats, in house fire on Maple Street

Previously: Working house fire on Maple Street in the city

Pals of Jessica Newton hold drive-thru chicken BBQ fundraiser March 6 and walk-thru basket raffle

By Billie Owens

Jessica Newton -- wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and nurse -- needs the community's help as she struggles to regain her health and her strength.

After being diagnosed with COVID-19 and spending six days in the hospital, she returned home only to suffer a stroke a day later. She went back in the hospital and though is again back home recovering.

"One thing she isn't is a quitter. ... staying strong so she can come home to her husband TJ and her two sons, Maverick and Emmett," according to a note sent to The Batavian by the Newton and Johnson families.

They are holding a drive-thru chicken BBQ for her from 12 p.m. until sold out on Saturday, March 6, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Roman Catholic Parish, located at 8656 Church St. in East Pembroke.

Tickets for "Racing to Recovery" are $12 each. There will also be a walk-thru basket raffle at the church that day.

Money raised will help the Newton family offset their medical expenses and help them now that Jessica, for the time being, is unable to work.

You can buy tickets, and/or drop off monetary donations or a raffle basket at:

Jess's friends and family say they appreciate the outpouring of love and support given to the frontline healthcare worker and her family.

The note continues: "This road the family is about to go down is unpredictable and may have bumps and turns, but one thing is for sure -- it will never be a road they travel alone."

Ascension Parish now accepting preorders for takeout-only pulled-pork dinner, deadline is Jan. 27

By Press Release

From Terri King for Ascension Parish:

Ascension Parish is hosting a takeout-only pulled-pork dinner from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30.

Dinner are presale only/$10 each, take out only. Cut off date to preorder is Jan. 27.

Dinner is pulled pork, roll, mac & cheese, and baked beans.

Payment due prior to pickup either by (mail, collection basket or office door slot).

To order call Parish office at (585) 343-1796 and leave a message. "To order electronically see your flocknote email." 

Pick up at Ascension Parish Hall parking lot, located at 19 Sumner St. in the City of Batavia.

At UMMC Tuesday: a selfless act of coworkers' charity to benefit 'a selfless soul'

By Press Release

Submitted image and press release:

There wasn’t a dry eye in the parking lot of the hospital on Tuesday, Jan. 12, as one hardworking United Memorial Medical Center employee received a life-changing gift.

Catherine Weatherbee has worked as a secretary at the hospital for 20 years. She thought she was going out to lunch for her 60th birthday, until she was greeted by six cameras in the hospital parking lot. Next thing she knew a 2016 Subaru Legacy with a big red bow on top was pulling up beside her.

Dr. Nicholas Loffredo, Orthopedic surgeon at United Memorial, got out and yelled “Surprise!” as he walked toward her to hand her the car keys. Weatherbee’s astonished response, “No, you didn’t?!”

Ever since her car broke down two years ago, Weatherbee has been receiving rides to work by a friend or taking a cab. Her caring nature prompted Dr. Loffredo to start a GoFundMe for the United Memorial staff to donate money toward this gift. That goal was reached in mere days. 

Excitement grew as the big day approached, but there was a setback. A week before her birthday, Weatherbee got COVID-19.

“We were going to give this to her as soon as she got back and we’re just happy she’s back with us," Dr. Loffredo said. "She’s such a selfless soul and gives to everyone around her, you can’t help but love her."

Weatherbee said “I’m numb. I have no words to describe this. This is my family. I don’t have a family out in the public, but I have a family here."

She may have arrived to work in a taxicab Tuesday morning, but she went home in style.

DSS Director of Services moved by 'amazing generosity' of local businesses & employees at a 'very difficult' time

By Press Release

Photos and information from Ben Dennis, director of Services, GC Department of Social Services:

There's an amazing generosity in the people and businesses that exist in this community. Each year, I am contacted by local businesses who want to be able to help their fellow citizens by sponsoring a family for the Holidays.

These businesses are really amazing -- how they come through with gifts for the kids and the parents who ordinarily could not afford to have a nice Christmas.

This year, the employees at O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative, Inc., and Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) and Tompkins Bank of Castile (408 E. Main St.), each separately reached out to me and sponsored a separate family.

The employees themselves did all the shopping and wrapping of the gifts for each member of the family they sponsored.

Last week, the DSS caseworkers delivered the gifts to the families and they are overjoyed and incredibly grateful for the donations.

Times are very difficult right now for many families trying to make ends meet.

We have hard-working people that have had to quit their job in order to stay home and help their children with their remote school work, or we had folks who were laid off due to business closures or downsizing.

"I have to say that the way that this community comes together in a time of need is really heartwarming to me personally," Dennis said. "This community is really amazing."

Main St. Pizza Co. once again steps up to help GC CASA for Children, despite hit from COVID-19

By Press Release

Submitted photo and press release:

When so many small businesses are taking a hit this year due to COVID-19, it hasn’t stopped Main St. Pizza owner Vic Marchese from continuing to give to others in need.

He has generously helped Genesee County CASA for Children by once again donating “Main St. For a Year” to their organization.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates and is a nonprofit that advocates for abused and neglected children involved in the family court/child welfare system. CASA typically uses this donation as a grand prize for their annual CASAblanca Casino night at Terry Hills.

However, like so many other programs, CASA was unable to have any in person fundraisers this year. In order to continue raising funds, they decided to put Marchese’s generosity to good use by holding a raffle for the grand prize.

A total of 275 tickets were purchased for $5 each. This first time raffle was such a huge success that tickets sold out in only a week!

A live drawing was held on CASA’s Facebook page, and Patricia Wormley, of Batavia, was drawn as the lucky winner of 26 large pizzas and 26 spaghetti dinners for two.

CASA for Children would, once again, like to thank Vic Marchese for his kindness and unwavering support. 

Photo, owner of Main St. Pizza Vic Marchese, and prize winner, Patricia Wormley, of Batavia.

McCarthy foundation and Gilmartin team up to provide 300 meals from D&R Depot to UMMC staff

By Press Release

Submitted photo and press release:

The Batavia-based David M. McCarthy Memorial Foundation, in conjunction with Gilmartin Funeral Home & Cremation Company Inc. and food provided by D&R Depot, provided 300 meals to the employees at the United Memorial Medical Center this morning.

This year has been so difficult for so many, especially the doctors, nurses, first responders, aftercare workers, kitchen staff, office staff, maintenance staff and administrators.

We thought what better way to show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication than by providing a nice meal for all who are trying to keep this community healthy and safe and get back to some type of normalcy.

Our foundation, which formed in 2007, after David passed away has committed to helping all types of youth athletics in the Genesee County area. Through our annual golf tournament at Batavia Country Club and Bowling Tournament at T.F. Brown's, the foundation has donated more than $65,000 in total to youth athletics.

Partnering with Gilmartin, which has seen firsthand the toll this coronavirus pandemic has taken on the local community, we hope this small gesture will bring a morale boost to everyone at the hospital.

Photo, from left: Pete Stevens, Mike McCarthy, Brian McCarthy, TJ Woodward and Matt Meyer.

North Bergen Food Pantry and Rose Garden Bowl partner to help bring Christmas to more than 100 area youths

By Press Release

Press release:

The North Bergen Community Food Pantry and the Bergen business, Rose Garden Bowl, have worked together to assure that more than 100 area children experience some of the magic of the holidays in the form of Christmas stockings this year.

This is the second year that the two organizations have collaborated on their Christmas Angel Stocking Program, soliciting donations of stockings filled with toys and personal items.

Donations are being made by bowling league members and patrons of Rose Garden Bowl, members of the North Bergen Presbyterian Church and the First Presbyterian Church of Byron congregations, and local families.  

The number of stockings donated has more than doubled — from 45 in 2019 to 109 stockings in 2020. In all more than 60 generous donors have gathered items for the stockings that will be distributed to 47 families. Recipients of the stockings are largely families that are clients of the North Bergen Food Pantry.   

 “We’ve seen a 100-percent increase in patrons visiting the pantry since March,” said Dave Fish, pastor at the North Bergen Presbyterian Church that organizes the Pantry services. “There has always been, and will always be, need in our community but the impact that COVID is having on families in our region is devastating.

"It’s the pantry's mission to lessen that impact by feeding both body and spirit. Assuring that children experience some of the magic of Christmas is an important ingredient of that mission.”  

“We believe in giving back to our community and was encouraged by the response of our Rose Garden Bowl family of patrons to our request for stocking sponsors this year” said Christina Sardou, co-owner at Rose Garden Bowl. “Initially I was concerned that the number of people who could participate might be affected by the pandemic, but the opposite was true. Peoples’ eagerness to assist has been both humbling and inspiring.”

The program started in 2019 when Sardou suggested the idea of partnering on the program.

“Dave and I had had a few conversations about the Food Pantry and we had stored some surplus frozen foods for the pantry at times when their space was limited,” Sardou said. “During these conversations, I asked if he had considered doing something for local children at Christmas, and described how the Church and the Rose Garden Bowl family and friends might collaborate to create a Christmas stocking drive. The rest is history.” 

The North Bergen Community Food Pantry — North Bergen Presbyterian Church, 7068 N. Bergen Road, Bergen. Pantry hours: the third and fourth Wednesday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. and the third and fourth Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information visit the Pantry’s Facebook page.

Rose Garden Bowl and Viking Valhalla Restaurant — 21 Buffalo Road, Bergen. (585) 494-9900). Family-owned and operated since 1954. For more information about banquets, bowling and volleyball, visit or on Facebook.

Chiropractor and City Church team up to help 25 local families with your donations

By Press Release

Photo, Ryan Macdonald, left, a pastor at City Church, and Batavia chiropractor Tom Mazurkiewicz.

Submitted photo and information.

Batavia chiropractor Tom Mazurkiewicz continues with the tradition of Don Carroll's Toy Drive for the 28th year, accepting unwrapped Christmas toys at his office for distribution to local children ages 2 to 15.

If you'd like to donate something, his office -- Mazurkiewicz Family Chiropratic -- is located 184 Washington Ave. Donations can be made during regular business hours through Dec. 18.

"Dr. Tom" is offering a complementary office visit to those who donate.

He is partnering with City Church once again. They have selected 25 families based on need and will distribute the toys individually to the families' homes.

Mazurkiewicz and City Church thank everyone once again for their support of local families in need this year.

Food boxes packed for local families thanks to farmers, American Legion Post 626, and charitable people

By Press Release

Press release:

For at least the past 10 years, the American Legion, Post #626 of Oakfield-Alabama, has offered food boxes to those who might welcome a little extra help this time of year.

Information on families who might need these boxes was shared by our local schools, churches and community members.

The boxes were packed earlier this week with help from the people in the top photo, from left: Jessie Underwood, Fred Henry, Ed Mileham, Skip Cornelius, Jim Zasowski, and Rev. Robert Elkins.

The boxes included canned fruits and vegetables, cabbage, squash, eggs, apples, pie crusts, cake mixes, frosting, cookies, a ham or turkey, cereal, pickles, gravy mixes. Everything needed for an amazing holiday meal!

Food donations were gratefully received from: 

  • Alabama Holley Farm (the Alexander Family) -- Alabama
  • James Piedimonte & Sons Produce (all the trimmings) -- Holley
  • Kreher's Farm Fresh Eggs (eggs) -- Clarence
  • Bonduelle USA Inc. (turkeys) -- Oakfield
  • John Starowitz -- Star Growers Inc. (onions) -- Elba
  • Ronald Bruckner (stuffing) -- Medina
  • Roberts Farm Market (apples) -- Medina

Monetary donations were also received to assist with purchasing additional food.

"We at the American Legion wish to give them (contributors) all our special thanks and appreciation for without them, none of this would have been possible."

The Legion would also like to acknowledge that any food not needed for the boxes will be shared with the Corfu Food Pantry to assist them with their mission to the community.

We wish you and your family all the best this time of year and good fortune for 2021.

American Legion Post #626 is located at 6554 Alleghany Road, Basom.

Photo submitted by Ed Mileham.

Batavia Rotary Club's popular Corvette raffle is back this year, get your tickets now

By Press Release

Press release:

Looking for that perfect last-minute gift? A stocking stuffer for that sports-car buff in the family? How about a new ‘Vette? 

OK, so a chance on one. And more likely, just in time for Valentines’ Day. Either way, the odds are decent. 

Batavia Rotary Club has reintroduced its popular Corvette Raffle.

“We took a break for several years, but realized it was time to bring it back” says Rotarian and event chair Lisa Ormsbee. “The raffle raises money for all of Rotary’s good causes locally and worldwide. And we sell only up to 3,999 tickets.” 

Tom Turnbull, 2020-21 Rotary president, adds We’re thrilled to be able to bring back this project after several years’ hiatus. 2020 will surely go down in history as one to remember. We are happy to be back doing what we do best: supporting our communities. All proceeds support Rotary’s charitable causes, which this year included $20,000 in direct COVID-19 relief, in addition to support of a dozen or more community nonprofits who take care of so many needs right here in Genesee County.” 

Tickets are $50 each or three for $100. Donations are fully tax deductible.

First prize is a new 2021 Corvette or $40,000 in cash, with 10 second prizes of $500 each. The drawing will be held on Feb. 6. Tickets may be purchased from any Batavia Rotarian, or online.

“Or ask your Rotarian friend to mail you one or three tickets, and take care of it that way,” says Ormsbee. “Either way you’re doing a lot of good, and who knows, you might be driving around in style next Spring!” 

'The Quiet Fund' sends out a clarion call to help city schools' neediest kids

By Press Release

From the Twenty-five Neediest Children's Fund Committee:

With the chill in the air and the hours of sunlight diminishing each day, it is a reminder that the days of winter and the Holiday Season are nearly here. But this is a far different year in so many ways. And no doubt, but that for many of us 2020 is a year far different from any that we have ever experienced. With these thoughts in mind the Twenty-five Neediest Children’s Fund Inc. makes its annual appeal to the many good people in our community and beyond.

The Twenty-five Neediest Children’s Fund Inc. came into existence during another very difficult time -- the days of the Great Depression, about 1933. It was then when Batavia City School District physician, Dr. Dexter Pierce, saw a need that was the inspiration to the founding of the Twenty-five Neediest Children’s Fund Inc. The intent of the fund was to help the 25 most needy children in the Batavia City School District.

At that time, the cost of having tonsils removed involved an overnight stay, which cost families $7.50. The physicians graciously waived their fee but the cost of the overnight stay still proved too much for some families. It was then that the Twenty-five Neediest Children’s Fund Inc. came into existence.

While the original intent of the Twenty-five Neediest Children’s Fund was to help the 25 “most needy” students, over the past 80-plus years we have always helped as many as possible. There are no efforts made to apportion the funds equally among the schools. We simply help when a child’s need exists.

Traditionally our fund has assisted with medical and dental care, eye exams and glasses, prescription drugs, clothing, shoes and sneakers, counseling, and other educational needs. However, this year has challenged the fund to stretch ourselves beyond our usual assistance and we have additionally helped with food, air mattresses, beds, and educational toys to help children who are in need throughout this coronavirus pandemic. The purpose of this fund remains to provide for the needs of children in the Batavia City School District when no other means are available.

As students’ needs are identified by teachers, their school nurse, or Julie Wasilewski, the district’s social worker, the concerns are conveyed to Mrs. Nancy Haitz, R.N., C.P.N.P., Batavia City School District’s Office of the Coordinator of Health Services. Mrs. Haitz contacts the child’s parents and if it is determined that they aren’t able to provide what it is that their child needs and if the family does not qualify for any special services or assistance that is available, the Twenty-five Neediest Children’s Fund Inc. steps in to help.

The parents then select what care is to be provided, and by whom, in order to provide a remedy. Bills are then submitted to the Twenty-five Neediest Fund for payment. There is no red tape, no publicity, and there are no strings attached, as the only purpose is to serve the child in need. No one helped by this fund is ever identified by name, it is strictly confidential, and the name of the child receiving services is not known by the Twenty-five Neediest Children's Fund.

This fund has been dubbed “the Quiet Fund” as we only make one annual appeal at the Holiday Season and it seeks no public acknowledgment or fanfare for the work which is done for the children of the Batavia Public School system. The Quiet Fund is a true charity in every sense of the word. There are no administrative costs! 100 percent of the donations received are used for the benefit of children in need.

We are fortunate that this good community continues to remember the Quiet Fund during the season of giving, and some kindly remember us throughout the year. Every gift is a gift of love and is an affirmation that no child should go without.

Anyone interested in contributing to the Quiet Fund may make their check payable to the Twenty-five Neediest Children’s Fund Inc. to be sent to:

Nann K. Zorn, 12 River St., Batavia, NY 14020

To assist a child, and their parent, in this way is a wonderful and immeasurable gift. On behalf of the children, and their parents, helped by your generosity and gifts of love, we extend to you a most sincere thank you and warm holiday wishes, and blessings to you and yours in the hope of a better 2021! Stay Safe and Stay Strong!

Twenty-five Neediest Children's Fund Committee,

Sara Zorn Schroeder, Chairperson,

Nancy Arras,

Benjamin J. Bonarigo, Esq.,

Nancy Haitz,

Virginia Tiede,

Nann K. Zorn

Hillside Family of Agencies moves its Special Santa Program online due to COVID-19

By Press Release

Like so many parts of our lives, Special Santa has moved online due to COVID-19. And the Hillside Family of Agencies is calling on the communities we serve to help make this program successful once again.

Hillside has an office in Batavia, which serves children and families in Genesee County.

For more than 35 years, the Special Santa program has brought together countless thousands of generous individuals, businesses and volunteers in a shared act of community spirit — to ensure many children served by Hillside can enjoy toys and gifts during the holiday season. Last year alone, the program put more than 12,000 gifts in the hands of 4,500 children and families in need in New York and Maryland.

COVID-19 prompted the 2020 program to shift to an all-online model that asks the community to use Amazon Smile Charity Lists (pdf) that have been created by Hillside staff this season. Each of the 19 lists features specific gift requests made by youth in our programs. As the gifts are ordered throughout the season, they will be delivered to specific program locations for Hillside staff to get them to families.

“We couldn’t let COVID-19 stop Special Santa,” said Maria Cristalli, president and CEO. “This online model will help thousands of young people served by Hillside get the happy holidays they deserve. And community support is the real holiday magic that makes it all happen.”

Supporters can also make monetary donations to help defray program costs. 

Hillside is profoundly grateful to our community partners who have helped to ensure the success of Special Santa 2020, and especially our sponsors, the Glover-Crask Charitable Trust, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust and Lamar Advertising.

About Hillside Family of Agencies

Hillside Family of Agencies provides comprehensive health, education and human services for children and families whose challenges threaten their ability to realize their full potential.

It is guided by a deeply held belief that healthy children and strong families with opportunities to succeed are the foundation of a thriving community.

Hillside Family of Agencies is one of the oldest family and youth nonprofit human services organizations in Western and Central New York. The agency started as Rochester Female Association for the Relief of Orphans and Destitute Children in 1837. The first year 46 children were served.

It is committed to delivering the right care, in the right setting, to ensure success — whether in residential treatment, schools, homes or the workplace, Every year more than 13,000 youth, adults and families benefit from over 100 coordinated programs that provide comprehensive, cradle-to-career services in areas including child welfare, mental health, youth development, family development, juvenile justice, special education, developmental disabilities and safety net services.


LIVE: Interview with Bonnie Birkmeyer, Hillside Family of Agencies

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