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'A-OK Acts of Kindness Weekend' to galvanize Central New Yorkers for communitywide weekend of good deeds Sept. 11-12

September 07, 2010

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

Picture the greater Syracuse community coming together for two days of service to make Central New York a kinder, safer, more hospitable and attractive place to live.

aok “A-OK! Acts of Kindness Weekend” will do just that Sept. 11-12. Facilitated by the interfaith group Women Transcending Boundaries (WTB), and with initial funding from the Central New York Community Foundation, this exciting weekend invites participants and volunteers of every age and from all sectors—faith-based, civic, educational and business—to join in dozens of projects happening all over the greater Syracuse area.

These include projects as diverse as painting the classrooms in a learning center for immigrants, building a community garden, collecting and delivering food to food pantries, reading to older adults, sprucing up neighborhoods, planting trees and daffodils and writing letters to those affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Activities and volunteerism will radiate from activity “hubs” located around the Syracuse area during the weekend. These hubs will be full of helpful activities like health screenings and legal advice, and fun activities like drumming, singing, chair massage and more. For a complete listing of projects and the location of the hubs, visit http://www.wtb.org.

Volunteers are needed to carry out these projects. Those interested in volunteering can sign up http://www.wtb.org or by e-mail at aokvolunteer@syracusenewtimes.com. Participants can share as much or as little time as they want.

“’Acts of Kindness’ is a weekend to celebrate our greater community,” says WTB Vice President Daryl Files. “There are so many wonderful individuals and groups that do so much for others. When we each ask one other neighbor, family member or co-worker to join us and collaborate, the volunteer train gains momentum. Volunteer—your community will be a better place because you steppep up!”

Activity hubs open on Saturday and Sunday will include the University United Methodist Church, 1085 E. Genesee St. (Downtown); Assisi Center, 800 N. Salina St. (North Side); and Sunnycrest Park, Robinson Street (Eastwood). Activity hubs open Saturday on the South Side will include Hopps Memorial C.M.E. Church, 1100 South State St.; Mary Nelson’s Youth Center, 2849 S. Salina St.; and the Rahma Clinic, 3100 South Salina St. Activity hubs open Saturday only on the West Side include St. Lucy’s Church, 432 Gifford St.; and the Huntington Family Center, 405 Gifford St. All are welcome at the hubs to participate in the activities, to take a break from volunteering at a project or to sign up to volunteer at a project.

At the close of the weekend, from 5-7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12, the public is invited to a closing celebration at Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University campus that will include music, dance, performances and food.

“A-OK! Acts of Kindness Weekend” fits in with a national movement toward transforming the date of Sept. 11, associated primarily with the World Trade Center attacks of 2001, into a national day of community service, says WTB President Gay Montague. “Fear tends to disappear when people work together,” Montague says.

WTB decided to launch “A-OK! Weekend” after learning about a similar effort in the Los Angeles area called Big Sunday. To see how the interfaith women’s group SARAH helped make that day an ongoing community event, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OMoX_FxnYA.

Imagine Syracuse is an organization that works to bridge the gap in equal access to arts and enrichment for children living in poverty. During “A-OK Weekend,” the organization will showcase and collect instruments for its Young Musicians Project at the five hubs throughout the city. A wide range of musical entertainment will be featured at the St. Lucy’s/Huntington Near Westside hub on Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

“Imagine Syracuse got involved with ‘A-OK Weekend’ because if there is one thing we believe in, it’s the power of collaboration to make a difference and effect real change. Women Transcending Boundaries put this positive idea out there and everybody jumped on board. It’s a beautiful thing,” says Imagine Syracuse’s Jessie Keating. “In giving, we receive, and a youth orchestra for children who don’t get this kind of opportunity benefits the child, the family, the neighborhood, the city and beyond. Imagine Syracuse’s one goal is to find out what inspires every single child who comes through our program. If it’s dance, we provide classes and mentors; if it’s art, same thing; if it’s music, what better outlet exists than a community of aspiring young musicians learning to work together as one with the added benefit of creating something beautiful for the world.”

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