New York State In-depth

Buffalo is a city with great neighbors

Now that the generational storm is happily behind us, I reflect on the stories of bravery, resilience, and community that I have experienced and read or heard on the news.

Karen Wiseman

I am heartbroken and filled with sadness that our WNY community has lost more than 40 citizens in a terrible and tragic manner. In our recent worship service, we offered prayers of hope for their families and loved ones.

Although on December 23rd I was afraid that we would lose power and heat, just 48 hours later I was filled with hope and gratitude that my family and I are living in WNY. On Sunday, the calm after the storm, we ventured outside for the first time, with blue skies, bright sun and stillness in the air.

As we snowshoeed through the neighborhood, we saw neighbors helping neighbors, blowing snow down each other’s driveways, shoveling sidewalks and porches. Then a great collective cheer erupted as two gigantic front loaders came and cleared the road for us. After that, it seemed as if the stories of miracles, bravery, courage, humanity, resourcefulness, and kindness came into our consciousness one after the other, balancing the stories of tragedy and loss.

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Do you remember the dentist and his wife who rescued the South Korean travelers from their bus and invited them to Christmas dinner? How about the owner of a major automobile company who sent a generator to VIVE on Wyoming Street to warm the asylum seekers who had lost heat and power?

We were overwhelmed by the community in Bangladesh who provided hot meals to anyone in need and delivered them while violating the driving ban, costing thousands in ticket costs. Who can forget the 27-year-old mechanic who broke into a school in Cheektowaga and likely saved the lives of 14 stranded people? Target employees invited, fed, and housed latecomers to the Walden Ave store. A Facebook group led a single working mother to safety and then back to where her two children were anxiously waiting at home. The stories go on and on.

I’m a Buffalo, born and raised. I love living here. I love the friendliness of the community, the good neighbors that surround us, the ease of getting around, the lack of impossible traffic. Everything is good. But I especially love the warmth of the community in general and our courage and determination to uphold our City of Good Neighbors motto. I think of the May 14 tragedy when 10 of our people were mercilessly gunned down by a white supremacist in Tops on Jefferson Avenue. How quickly did our community provide groceries, diapers, baby supplies, fresh fruits and vegetables, money, and services to the families and neighborhoods near Tops? It was wonderful. Everywhere I turned there was a call to help families living near Jefferson. It was neighbors helping neighbors personified. Keep this motto alive!

Just recently I’ve been a bit frustrated with living in Buffalo because it’s so far west of a lot of places in NYS that I’d like to visit, maybe for a weekend. But when I think back over the past year of horrible losses to our community, I’ve looked at the bigger picture and seen what an amazing, great city Buffalo is. We pull each other out of the darkness into the light.

Buffalo, you never cease to amaze me and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

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