Batavia City School District Community Schools leaders announce the first official Community Expo, set for Nov. 9 at Robert Morris. Photo by Howard Owens.
Ever since Batavia City Schools District landed on the idea of having a central place for family support earlier this year, the effort has grown in scope and reach.
Julia Rogers is coordinator of the new effort, called Community Schools. It is based out of the Robert Morris site at Richmond Avenue and Union Street, and serves as the umbrella for the Family and Community Engagement Center, Integrated Student Supports, Enhanced Enrichment, and Leadership initiatives. It’s all about providing help where it's most needed, Rogers says.
“That’s what we’re here to do, is to help,” she said during an interview with The Batavian. “It’s very individualized.”
Say one family is struggling to make ends meet, and could use some groceries. District Social Worker Julie Wasilewski identifies the specific needs and works with Rogers, who oversees the financial end, to get that family assistance. If there tends to be an increasing trend for Batavia families to obtain groceries, the scope will expand to help additional families beyond that first one identified.
There have been donation drives at various locations in the city and a blood drive so far. The first major event is set for Nov. 9. Community Schools Expo, offered in conjunction with Business and Education Alliance, will run from 2 to 7 p.m. with several employers there to recruit, answer questions and discuss potential job opportunities. Job-seekers are encouraged to attend, and masks are required inside the building.
Job fair vendors include Batavia City School District, Batavia High School for student working papers, City of Batavia Fire Department, Genesee Valley BOCES, Land Pro, Liberty Pumps, Lifetime Assistance, NY Army National Guard, Horizon Health Services, Student Transportation of America, Community Action of Orleans and Genesee and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
A second vendor fair, aptly titled Warm the Night, is set for 5 to 7 p.m. and will feature a variety of organizations with information and interactive games to engage and inform visitors about the local services available. There will be a selection of free winter items — hats, scarves, gloves, coats — for families to shop.
Warm the Night vendors include Hillside Children’s Center, Healthy Living, Genesee County Park, Genesee County Office for the Aging, Valu Home Centers, SUNY Brockport ROTC, The Manor House, United States Navy, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Genesee Orleans Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse and Literacy West.
Familiar faces from the district — Nate Korzelius, Heather McCarthy, Trisha Finnigan, Kellie Marciano — will be serving up grilled hotdogs outside. Students will receive a “passport” to take around to vendors for a mark to confirm they visited, and prizes will be given out for those that visited each site. Winners need not be present to win a prize.
If transportation is an issue for families, a district bus will be making loops to specific destinations for pick-ups of students and families and drop-offs later in the evening. There are several pick-up sites that begin at 4:30 p.m. at 679 East Main St., and include Jackson Primary School, City Church at St. Anthony’s, 193 South Main St., 200 Oak St., 4371 Federal Drive and John Kennedy Intermediate School. Departures are to begin at 6:15 p.m. and drop event visitors off at the same pick-up sites.
A clothing closet, chock full of donated clothes, accessories and new hygiene items for all ages, will be open for viewing in the Family and Community Engagement Center. There’s also everything from diapers, bedding and DVDs to purses, blouses, canned goods and toys. It often goes as quickly as it comes in, Rogers said.
“If someone wants to donate, there’s always a need,” she said.
The center has a washer and dryer for clothing donations that need some freshening up. If district families are in need of laundromat facilities, help may also be available to get that done, Rogers said.
“We look at all the options,” she said.
Those interested in shopping for all of the free goods during a quieter time can make an appointment by calling Wasilewski at 585-409-9508.
This event is open to the community. The parking lot at Vernon and Richmond avenues will be closed during this time, and parking will be available across the street at Van Detta Stadium. Look for the balloon clusters to indicate the event entrance at Robert Morris on the Vernon Avenue side. Warm the Night is scheduled for outdoors, weather permitting.
For more information, go to bataviacsd.org and click on Community Schools, or call Rogers at 585-343-2480, Ext. 1004.