Before arriving, a number of people commented how wonderful the people in Buffalo are and whilst here we have seen a strong sense of community and neighborhood – the people are indeed friendly, welcoming and wonderful. One of the city’s moniker’s is actually the ‘City of Good Neighbours’.
We saw this wholehearterdly in action today during the weekly Save our Streets (SOS) Clean Sweep. The purpose of this program is to empower residents in the community and improve the quality of life in the City of Buffalo. So every week, the SOS taskforce comprising of various law enforcement and government agencies as well as volunteers, descend on one designated street and do a big clean up, whether it be fixing pavements, getting rid of rubbish, trimming trees, even demolishing condemned homes.
Simultaneously, a door to door knock occurs during which residents are made aware and offered a variety of services and benefits including dental services, ensuring smoke detectors are fitted, employment readiness programs etc.. There were literally 70-100 council and city workers and volunteers involved – who all wanted to be there demonstrating a huge amount of pride in being able to help their neighbors.
We could have stayed and helped out all day but more interviews and data gathering meetings beckoned.
After stocking up on some caffeine at a local coffee chain, Spot Coffee, we headed back into City Hall and met with City Council, Christine Carr and Dr Steven Harvey, from Computers For Children, Antoine Thompson Director, Buffalo Employment & Training Center and Pamela Henderson.
We have learnt so much over the last 2 days and already starting to form concrete thoughts and ideas.