For some, Rochester is identified with its bustling avenues: Park, Monroe, University, East, Lake, and South. For others, Rochester is identified with its suburbs: Greece, Henrietta, Brighton, Gates, Chili. For many, Rochester is identified with one word – poverty. On Monday, a study concluded that poverty continues to increase in the city and some of the surrounding regions. Ranked 2nd when compared to similar cities of its size, and first for child poverty despite anti-poverty campaigns and efforts the situation isn't improving. Agencies have pledged to shoulder the burden and alleviate pains and sufferings.
One such agency is The Center for Youth. Led by Elaine Spaull, the organization seeks to ensure all youth in the region have access to opportunities and development to better their lives and, through them, their communities. I cannot underestimate Elaine’s dedication to the organization. She has given her own phone number out to staff and some runaway youths, creates and responds to emails in the middle of the night, and continues to serve the community in her capacity as a councilwoman. Since 2010, she has co-coordinated Fashion Week of Rochester - a week-long series of events and runway looks. From local talent to international designers, Fashion Week is not only about the art of fashion but also the art of philanthropy. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Center for Youth's crisis nursery, shelters, and a house for young mothers. In 2015 alone, they were able to raise $300,000 towards the organization. Truly an inspirational woman.
With the blessing of Elaine, the help of Miss Deelicious, and the support from members of the community, I decided to coordinate Cover Girl: Put Your Best Heels On! It's more than just a project - it's a dedication to helping others. For almost a decade I worked with youths who have been abused and abandoned by their families or communities. I have seen the pain and terror in their eyes. I have listened to a few who opened up, sharing stories that are too hard to bear. But I have also watched those who, with a bit of strength and courage, overcome the obstacles laid before them. You don't have to be a public official, you don't have to be of the élite class, but providing just a little bit of assistance can go a long way. If you're reading this I hope you can help.
If you are in the area and available, the event will be held on Friday, October 7th at Edibles Restaurant (704 University Avenue). If you can be so kind as to bring in much-needed supplies your support is much appreciated (list is below). If you can't, and still wish to donate, please visit the event site linked above. ALL proceeds will benefit Center for Youth. Beyond the glitz and glamour, beyond the catwalk, Fashion Week attempts to build bridges and support the future generation of Rochesterians. In a city that is increasingly becoming gloomier - at a time when the shroud of darkness seems to surround us - there are those willing to show there's light at the end of the tunnel.
Items in Need for Nurseries & Shelters: Many thanks to Elaine and Kathy Cummins, Volunteer Coordinator for supplying the list.
- Hats and Gloves
- Socks (for teenagers/young adults)
- Underwear (for teenagers/young adults of varying sizes)
- Hygiene products, such as body wash/soap, shampoo, deodorant.
- Flannel pajamas
- Hooded sweatshirts
- Gift Cards ($10-$20 for grocery stores, Walmart, Target)