One of the things I love most about Casimiro “Cas” D. Rodriguez, immediate past President/Founder of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York Inc. (HHC), is his selfless nature. As if Cas didn’t have enough things on his plate with orchestrating the creation of a new Cultural Center, as project chairman, he also continues to pitch in with a number of beautification projects along the lower Niagara Street corridor.
In preparation for the annual Garden Walk (a growing urban initiative under Gardens Buffalo Niagara), this past Saturday volunteers from the Hispanic Women’s League, WNY Hispanic American Veterans Memorial, Gabriel A. Rodriguez American Legion Post 1928, Pucho’s Inc., and the Hispanic Heritage Council weeded, planted flowers, fruits trees, and mulched “Buffalo Square,” at the corner of Virginia and Niagara Street (Avenida San Juan).
One would think that Cas and the HCC (under the direction of its new president, Esmeralda Sierra) would be laser-focused on the Niagara Street corridor, due to the limited resources that are available for projects, but during the pandemic a decision was made that it was time to partner up with a second heritage corridor that was in need of some help.
Led by gardener Sharon Danna, the lower West Side gardening crew joined together with the staff at the African American Heritage Corridor (AAHC), where they jointly added a flower bed at the corner of Michigan and Goodell. The effort was fortified by community volunteers, and members of the Jesse Clipper American Legion Post 430.
Cas told me that the hope would be that these two new garden-laden locations would both be added to The Garden Walk in July. He also said the collaborative effort could not have been accomplished without support from a Marvin Lunenfeld Beautification Grant and Home Depot, as well as the Department of Transportation Regional Office, Mayor Brown’s Impact Team, and Director of Sanitation – Wilmer Olivencia.
“The effort was accomplished with the help of veterans and volunteers,” said Cas. “This was the first time that these two cultural corridors came together to join forces. The partnering had tremendous results.”