Author: Sara Ali

Sara Ali

Sara is a freelance writer living on Buffalo's West Side. She works full time in human services, part time in freelance, and is currently working towards her endeavor to create a nonprofit focused on telling the stories of the refugee and immigrant communities.

Senior Residential Supervisor for People Inc, Adaia Wheeler has been matched with her Little Sister Ajayla for over three years. Adaia was inspired by her mother to become a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County (BBBSEC). “My mom was a big in the 1970s, around the time it first started. She was with her Little Sister for years and they are still in contact with each other,” she said. Adaia’s aunt was also a Big Sister. Becoming a positive role model for at-risk children was something near-and-dear to the family. Adaia said the most enjoyable aspect…

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Sitting in an office surrounded by glass walls, Big Sister Susan Gastle showed me a four-year old picture of her and her Little Brother Josh. The picture sat in a beautiful wooden frame, a gift from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County (BBBSEC) to celebrate their five-year anniversary. The two have been matched through BBBSEC’s Community Based Mentoring program for the last 10 years. Susan wears many hats; she is the Team Leader of Financial Planning and Analysis for Reverie, a full time mother and wife, a Big Sister, and one of the founders of Women Who Move the…

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Big Sister Emily Felmet has been matched with her Little Sister Quinn for about seven years in our Community-Based Mentoring Program. During this time Emily, who is the Social Media Strategist for BlueCross BlueShield, has experienced many changes in her life, including marriage. Emily decided to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County (BBBSEC) because she was looking for an opportunity to give back to the community by impacting a child and their family. Emily and Quinn enjoy cooking dinner together and walking her dog. They also enjoy roller-skating, playing games, and bowling. Emily said she loves how genuine…

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Interior Design Resources (IDR) is Buffalo’s only wholesale design center. The business recently moved from its original location and relocated into a gem of a building in Black Rock. The building, once home to D. B. Schunke Furniture, has been refurbished by owner, Buffalo attorney Tom Eoannou. Eoannou moved forward with the vast interior and exterior improvements with IDR specs in mind. The result is an absolutely marvelous makeover that thoroughly accommodates the business needs of IDR (as you can plainly see).  Carrol McMahon, owner of IDR, has been a decorator since 1985. IDR started in 1990 at the Pierce Arrow Building.…

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Patrick Duffy is matched as a Community Based Big Brother through a partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County (BBBSEC) and Buffalo Promise Neighborhood (BPN); a unique public/private partnership seeking to improve academic performance at Buffalo Promise Neighborhood Children’s Academy, Highgate Heights Elementary and Westminster Community Charter School. Through this partnership, M&T Bank employees volunteer to serve as Big Brother and Big Sister mentors for children from the BPN schools.  Patrick was matched through this unique partnership with his Little Brother Gregory in June 2016. Patrick works as a Senior Credit Analyst for M&T Bank. He was looking for a way…

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Economic access to daycares has been a challenge for working families living on a budget. It is even more difficult for families who do not speak English. If a child does not speak English, they may not get accepted into daycare, problems refugees in Buffalo have run in to. Solange Niyigena has conjured a solution to this. As I walked into the Angel’s Family Group Daycare on Massachusetts Avenue, a little girl from Rwanda greeted me. With a smile on her face, she runs up to me and gives me a big hug. “It has been a long journey to…

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As I approached the property at 794 Potomac, Bart Melchiorre, a local electrician and builder was standing in the driveway smoking a cigarette. The snow is falling as I make my way up the driveway, and he begins to give me a tour of the property. Two bricks from the chimney lay lonely in the lawn, the roof is deteriorating, and the paint is peeling off the exterior. The vinyl siding on the aluminum windows does nothing to help this scenery. This house is falling apart. I make my way inside to be greeted by the smell of incense. I…

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We’ve all been told how important it is for children to have a positive role model in their life. A plethora of studies have shown that mentoring relationships has a positive impact on a child’s life; young adults who have been identified as at-risk but have a mentor are more likely to enroll in college and become contributing members of society. Buffalo equips us with a slew of mentoring opportunities to introduce children to a new world and new experiences. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County (BBBSEC) directly impacts the lives of hundreds of children in the Buffalo area…

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The walls around me were made of solid milk chocolate, and there was a river of caramel flowing into an ocean of ganache. The smell of sweetness filled the air, and sugar was falling from the rich, soft sky and into a bank of sweet, creamy milk-creating a cloud like Dulce de Leche. I’m floating on the white chocolate clouds and enjoying the process – at least this is how I felt when I made a visit to Whimsy Confections at Queen City Pop Up. This little shop is adorned with artsy, decorative chocolates created by ‘chocolaterian’ Michele Ogden. When…

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The quote was at the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t remember it verbatim. She was so ardent about this quote that she got up from her seat, walked over to a filing cabinet, and shuffled through papers for her copy of an article from what was once known as The Buffalo Times. Upon retrieving the article, Jennifer Koch, Executive Director of Buffalo’s Community Music School (CMS), began by saying, “In March of 1931, The Buffalo Times printed a quote from our first president, who stated ‘during the present economical depression, it has been rather difficult to raise money…

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