Hearts for the Homeless Murals
On Tuesday morning, July 11th, at 9:00am the River Rock Community Coalition (RRCC) will unveil the newest additions to Buffalo’s public art movement. Adorning the Hearts for the Homeless Thrift Store building, located at 890 Tonawanda St, the RRCC will unveil two new murals created by local artist Vinny Alejandro. Alejandro, who honed his craft via street art in the city's First Ward neighborhood, now has an impressive catalog of public art on display throughout Western New York and beyond.
The first of these murals is “Welcome to Riverside” a postcard style mural on the front of the building. This mural features a beautiful Niagara River sunset over Strawberry Island, as well as a lighthouse and a street sign depicting the corner of Tonawanda & Ontario Streets, both landmarks in the Riverside neighborhood.
The second mural stretches the entirety of the building’s wall down Riverside Ave, featuring a stained-glass look, while resonating with the vibrant colors and positive messages of the “LoveU Buffalo” movement. The “LoveU Buffalo” movement aims to promote self-love and bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention. RRCC President and founder George A. Fitzpatrick was inspired to start the “LoveU Buffalo” movement by his daughter Gabriella. Fitzpatrick stated “There are so many people in our society that struggle daily with depression and other mental health issues, especially our veterans and our youth. We just want this movement to inspire positivity, and let others know that they are not alone; there is help available, and that it’s ok to not be ok.”
Both murals were funded by a New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) “Expanding Access to the Arts” grant, awarded to the RRCC in 2022 through the Cullen Foundation.
The RRCC is also in the process of commissioning two additional murals this summer. The first will be on the Riverside Branch-M&T Bank building also located on Tonawanda St in Riverside, and a massive mural at the corner of Hertel Ave and East St in the city’s historic Black Rock neighborhood.
LoveU Buffalo Movement Receives $5k NYSCA Grant Award
Promoting Self-Love - Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Awareness
Phase 1 of the LoveU Buffalo movement is currently in planning. Proposals have been submitted to Hearts for the Homeless for (2) mural projects to be commissioned on their 890 Tonawanda Street Thrift Shop location. The RRCC hopes to negotiate approval of these projects soon, with plans to begin them in Spring 2023.
Phase 2 of the LoveU Buffalo movement is also in the works. The RRCC has met with BestSelf Behavioral Health, proposing a community partnership that will bring "safe spaces" to the Riverside and Black Rock neighborhoods. The pilot "safe space" will be a community garden that will feature vibrant colors, community art, positive messages and a love lock sculpture. The community partnership plans to host regular events in these spaces, including holiday gatherings and community outreach; providing information and resources on behavioral health, suicide awareness and other issues.
Another recent proposal being explored for this project would be to acquire a multi-unit, city owned property and renovate it. The larger unit would then be utilized as affordable housing for veterans, and the smaller unit would be used as an office for our organization. The RRCC President is a disabled veteran, and has made sure to regularly include community projects for the benefit of other local veterans.
Pitch in Buffalo - Black Rock
Multi-Purpose Athletic Field Project
This project is a coordinated community revitalization effort that will bring a multi-purpose athletic field to the Black Rock neighborhood. The project will border the Scajaquada Creek, Wegmans and McKinley High School, transforming underutilized city property into a new community asset to be enjoyed by thousands of local youth. The project was a coordinated effort by Russel Andolina, the Buffalo Soccer Council, the River Rock Community Coalition and the city of Buffalo.
This project is now fully funded at roughly $300,000 and we hope to break ground in early 2023!!
A HUGE THANK YOU to the supporters who made this project possible:
Deputy Erie County Executive Lisa Chimera
New York State Senator Sean Ryan (Chris Jacobs)
Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY)
New York State Assemblyman William "Bill" Conrad III
North District Council Member Joseph Golombek
Children's Holiday Party
Santa Claus, gifts & treats for our community
In a coordinated effort, the River Rock Community Coalition (RRCC), the Riverside Business Association (RBA) and the Community Police Officers (CPO) of the Buffalo Police Departments (BPD) Delta District hosted a Holiday Party for all school aged children in the Riverside-Black Rock area.
The party was held on Sunday, December 18th from 10am-12pm at the AMVETS Medallion Post 13, located at 25 Review Place, Buffalo, NY 14207. The party featured photo opportunities with Santa Clause, refreshments, snacks and a gift for every child in attendance.
The event was made possible through a grant received by the RRCC from Target's "Heroes & Helpers" program. Treats and refreshments were donated by Paula's Donuts and the RBA.
We look forward to seeing even more smiling faces at next years event!!
AMVETS Medallion Post # 13 Project
Repairs to the building exterior & commissioning of patriotic mural
Through a coordinated effort with the Buffalo State Rugby teams, United Steel Workers, and various other local volunteers, the RRCC was able to complete Phase 1 of this project, which was to weather seal the concrete structure of the local AMVETS Post at 25 Review Place.
For Phase 2 of this project, the RRCC hired mural artist Vinny Alejandro to create a patriotic mural on the side of the AMVETS Post, facing Tonawanda Street. The mural design encompasses all four major branches of the United States military, and brings a sense of pride to the Riverside and Black Rock communities. This project was covered by multiple local media outlets and the AMVETS national organization., links to the stories are below: