Temple Israel Open House


North Side ‘Mobile market’ extended to end of 2016

The North Side Fresh Mobile Market program will extend past its 14-week pilot stage to the end of 2016, Mayor Richard David announced Monday.

Under the program, which began in June, the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), spends part of every Monday, Wednesday and Friday selling fresh produce on the North Side, an area of the city that hasn’t had a full-service grocery since Grand Union left in 1996. The city has spent $4,950 over the past three and a half months to allow CHOW to sell produce at discounted prices, and will spend another $4,950 until the end of the year. The city is currently exploring extending the program into 2017.

“The City is committed to expand access to healthy foods to North Side residents,” David said Monday in a news release. “We must break down transportation barriers to fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables. While this program started small, we have seen it grow successfully in a short period of time.”

Since June, more than 2,500 North Side residents have benefited from the program, which operates under what CHOW Director Mike Leahey called an “ice cream truck model.”

From 1-3 p.m., the mobile market is staked out in Binghamton Plaza parking lot, and then moves to the Lee Barta Community Center from 3:15-4:15 p.m.. It then delivers directly to disabled and elderly residents at their homes.

The announcement of the extension comes amid frustration from the North Side community about the city’s progress on bringing a full-service grocery to the area. When Big Lots, which took over the space in Binghamton Plaza from Grand Union, left, the city announced it was planning to bring Grocery City Market into the location.

But those plans changed when engineers said in May 2015 that the space was “in imminent danger of collapse” and “should be condemned to keep the general public safe.”

The county has since sold the property to the Binghamton Local Development Corp., and the building has not been demolished.

“This is a really important step to address the food desert issue on the North Side,” said Conrad Taylor, D-4th District, whose district includes the North Side. But, he added, “it is by no means a substitute for a grocery store of any sort. We can’t stop working on redeveloping the Big Lots plaza or the Binghamton Plaza.”

Though the program primarily focuses on providing produce, it has also begun to occasionally bring milk and eggs to residents, said CHOW Director Mike Leahy. The program also gave out USDA lunches to children this summer.

Residents interested in home delivery from CHOW can call 607-724-9130.

To see the full article, go to:  http://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/new-york/2016/09/26/north-side-mobile-market-extended-end-2016/91121224/

One path to recovery for addicts: Helping others

Larese Isaacson spends her Saturdays building ramps as a way to help others — and to help herself recover from drug and alcohol abuse.

“It gave me purpose,” she said of her volunteer work. “For me, it made me feel like I was a person again. I was back in the community.”

Isaacson is a client of Fairview Recovery Services in Binghamton who volunteers for the Ramp It Up program, which builds ramps for people who use wheelchairs and may not be able to leave their houses. She also volunteers for Faith in Action, which provides visits, transportation, grocery shopping and other services for older people. Both programs are run through the Broome County Council of Churches.

Volunteering is part of the treatment for Fairview clients, said Kelli Morris, vocational program coordinator for Fairview Recovery Services. They can choose between 20 different volunteer sites including the council of churches, the YWCA and Trinity Memorial Church in Binghamton. Many clients eventually get paid jobs through the agency they volunteered at. Or they can get references and experience to help them get a job elsewhere, Morris said.

“It’s important for them to gain additional skills and experiences,” she said. “It’s great for them to be able to give back to the community and help out agencies that may have helped them get on their feet.”

That’s why Isaacson was eager to join the Ramp It Up program.

“I love working with my hands,” she said. “It was a perfect fit.”

But getting to this point wasn’t easy, she said. She started drinking at the age of 10.

“My home life wasn’t great,” she said. “I just wanted to escape and not feel anything.”

As she grew older, she eventually began using drugs as well, including cocaine and heroin. Still, she was able to graduate from high school and work as a manager at Target for 10 years.

But while she functioned well for years, her addiction kept getting worse. Her wake-up call came in May 2015 when she overdosed on heroin and was twice revived through Narcan.

“That’s when I knew I had to stop because I was going to die,” she said. ”I had to change my life.”

Isaacson tried to get sober but relapsed. Then she turned to Fairview for help, starting last November.

Today, she is looking for a job in a nursing home. She hopes to eventually return to school, earn a degree in social work and do recreational work with the elderly.

“That’s what I love to do,” she said. “I love helping people and making people smile.”

Isaacson said she is grateful for all the help she receives from Fairview, and to the Council of Churches for allowing her to volunteer with them.

“There’s such a stigma with addiction. Some people have a hard time looking past it,” she said. “But we do recover. We can help in society. We can be normal people again.”

To see the full article, go to:  http://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/connections/giving-back/2016/09/25/one-path-recovery-addicts-helping-others/90837738/

Ministry brings worship services to senior citizens

Volunteers from the Broome County Council of Churches are bringing the word to older people who are no longer able to get out and hear it on their own.

Approximately 22 volunteers conduct worship services at eight facilities throughout the area, mostly nursing homes, as part of the council’s senior living ministry. About half are ordained clergy, while the other half are lay ministers — people who are not ordained but perform the same function, said Sue Spencer, director of the Faith in Action program for the council, who oversees the senior living ministry.

They conduct brief worship services that include the singing of hymns, preaching a sermon and reading the Bible for those who live in nursing homes and other facilities, Spencer said.

“Since mobility is often an issue for many of these residents, this enables them to continue to practice something that was probably a constant in their lives — something very dear to their hearts,” Spencer said. “It keeps them spiritually as well as socially connected.”

Many of the residents used to be active members of their congregations but can no longer leave the facility they live in to attend church, said Rev. Joseph Sellepack, executive director of the Broome County Council of Churches.

“Senior ministry gives us the opportunity to remember them and to remind seniors living in these homes that they are loved by God,” he said. “When we reach out to those who are shut in or in a nursing home, we help the body of Christ to be more whole.”

In place for at least 40 years, the senior living ministry is one of the oldest programs run by the council, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Sellepack said.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, 15 residents of Good Shepherd Fairview Home on Binghamton’s East Side gathered for a service led by Rev. Carol Leach, of Port Crane. They sang hymns including “In the Garden,” “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds” and “Were You There.”

An 11-year volunteer minister, Leach read aloud some passages from the Bible and then preached about turning to God in times of trouble. A widow, she recalled taking a walk through Chenango Valley State Park on a dreary day shortly after her husband died. She was feeling down but then recalled a Bible passage about how people can rise above their difficulties by “hoping in the Lord.”

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength,” she said. “Do you hope in the Lord?”

A member of Calvary Love’s Assembly of God Church in Johnson City, Leach got involved in the ministry because of her lifelong affection for senior citizens. She is a senior citizen who will turn 77 in November but has no plans to give up her volunteer work for the senior ministry.

“It just lifts me up,” she said. “As long as the Lord gives me the capabilities and strength to do it, I would like to continue.”

For more information

Contact the Broome County Council of Churches at (607) 724-9130 or on the Web at broomecouncil.net

The council is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The council provides several programs to help people who are hungry, homeless, elderly, young, disabled and imprisoned.

To see the full article, go to:  http://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/connections/faith/2016/09/19/ministry-brings-worship-services-senior-citizens/90699394/

Hundreds step out to defeat hunger

Hundreds of people came to Binghamton University Sunday to participate in the annual CHOW Hunger Walk.

“Annually this event provides about 100,000 meals in our community,” CHOW Director Michael Leahey said. “This is where the community comes together to support those with food insecurity in our area.”

This year WBNG-TV took park in being a sponsor of the CHOW Walk.

Chief Meteorologist Howard Manges and evening anchor Candace Chapman led the walk for participants around the campus.

“The main goal is to help eliminate hunger in our area,” explained Executive Director of Broome County Council of Churches Joseph Sellepack. “We’re right now about 1.2 million pounds raised for the year. Our goal this year is to get over 1.7 million.”

But Sellepack isn’t the only one defeating hunger in Broome County. Even students are trying to make a difference when it comes to helping those who go without meals.

“I work with a special learning community called ‘Feeding the Hungry World,’ we work on projects in the Binghamton area that deal with food access, sustainability and poverty,” said Binghamton University senior Jordan Musante.

Event organizers said this event would not have been possible without the sponsors, volunteers and the community.

For every dollar donated to the CHOW Hunger Walk, CHOW can purchase $7 worth of food or provide four additional meals to people in need.

For the complete article, go to:  http://www.wbng.com/news/local/Hundreds-walk-to-defeat-hunger-in-Broome-County-393902771.html

Mega-Food Packing for Refugees

Upcoming Mega-Food Packing for Refugees will take place at St. Michael’s Recreation center on Sunday, Sept 25 from 1-4 pm.

In April, we had more than 400 volunteers from faith communities and friends all over the area who came to make a difference in the lives of refugees.  To the say the least, the day was a blessing.

Volunteers who would like to help pack the grains can register for one of the 45 minute time slots available by logging onto:


Folks who might like to contribute to help cover the cost of our anticipated 30,000 meals can do so by logging onto:


Checks can be made out to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation with “COA Meal Packing Event” in the memo line. (Mail to: Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 183 Riverside Drive, Binghamton, NY 13905.)

Back on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, the local Encounters tv program of the Broome County Council of Churches focused on a Meal-Packing program for Syrian Refugees in Greece which will take place at St. Michael’s center on Sunday,Sept 25.

The half hour segment has now been put on line.. so the links are:




Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant All-Star Golf Tournament tees off

The 15th Annual Jim “Mudcat” Grant All-Star Golf Tournament kicked Thursday morning at Links at Hiawatha Landing in Apalachin.

Grant is a former Major League Baseball pitcher and current member of the Black Aces, a group of 15 black pitchers who won at least 20 games in a single season. Dozens of other All-Stars, including former MLB Player Al Downing are taking part in the tournament.

This year, the tournament raises money for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, the Broome County Urban League, the Boys and Girls Club of Binghamton, and Catholic Charities of Broome County.

“The charities are very appreciative for this event,” said CHOW Director, Michael Leahey. “Last year, all of the charities received $10,000 and they all went for local causes that helped our local community. For CHOW specifically, it provided about 40,000 meals for our community.”

Additional funds from this year’s event will also be used to aid homeless veterans in Broome County.

“In this country, we all want to give back,” Security Mutual CEO Bruce Boyea said on Wednesday. “We all want to help people and this is the greatest country in the world.”

The Maine-Endwell Little League Team was honored at the start of Thursday’s tournament. WBNG Sports Director Larry Burneal and Sports Reporter Tyler Feldman also took part in the opening ceremony.

To see the full article, go to:  http://www.wbng.com/news/local/All-Start-Tournament-helps-local-charities–391961221.html

Volunteers build ramps and give back to the community

Ramp it Up volunteers spent their Saturday building a new ramp for a good cause.

“It feels nice to help people because you want to, and not to ask for anything in return,” Hannah Holden, 15, of Vestal said.

Holden is one of the youth volunteers of the Broome County Council of Churches Ramp it Up program. The crew built the ramp at 84 North Hudson St. in Johnson City.

A group of 17 people helped build a ramp and platform to replace the old one that did not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act’s standards for the handicapped resident at the home.

The program consists of volunteers from the Calvary United Methodist Church in Vestal. Clients go through an application process to apply for a ramp, and if approved they are completely funded by the Broome County Council of Churches. Depending on the client’s income a donation is sometimes requested.

The program coordinator, Robert Bundy says, not only is the program great for the people that need the ramps, but it is also a great way for the community’s youth to learn about construction.

“They will construct the ramp, set the ramp, put the the railings up and we do it in a day,” Bundy said.

Chad Jablonka has been volunteering with the program since it’s creation 9 years ago.

“Before this I knew nothing about carpentry or construction in any bit,” Jablonka said. “And now I’m supervising some of the adults.”

Volunteers started working at 8am on the project Saturday. Bundy says the success of the program would not be possible without help from the community.”

“It’s very fulfilling for everyone involved,” Bundy said. “You’re able in a short period of time to really make a difference in someone’s life.”

The program starts building ramps each May and continues every weekend until winter weather conditions prevent them from working outside. They average 20 ramps a year.

For the complete article, go to:  http://www.wbng.com/news/local/Volunteers-Ramp-It-Up-and-give-back-to-the-community-390806082.html

Perplexing Personalities

Fliers for Perplexing Personalities for Clergy

Remote control plane event glides into the Southern Tier

Remote control pilots from all over the world are gliding into the Southern Tier this weekend to fly at the 31st Annual Giant Scale Fun Fly at the Chenango Bridge Airport.

The Fun Fly is free and open to the public. It kicks off at 10:00 a.m. Saturday and goes through 3 p.m. Sunday.

Organizers say it will be fun for the whole family and will be comparable to a full-scale air show.

The Fun Fly is sponsored by the Binghamton Aeros, which is a group of giant scale RC pilots from around the Southern Tier.

“An air show on a little smaller scale. A little more confined space — no less beautiful or no less capable than the full-scale aircraft. And we’ll actually have a controlled tower set up with a PA system, so we’ll be announcing what the airplanes are, who the pilots are, and as they go through aerobatic maneuvers and that sort of thing, just like a full-scale air show,” said Binghamton Aeros President Tony Jensen.

This year’s event will support the local Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) and pilots from all around the world are showing off their giant scale remote control planes.

“[The fun fly] attracts people from as far as Ohio and we have a lot of people from Canada, you know, Pennsylvania, Southern Jersey, that come here, so it’s almost like old homecoming,” said pilot and Yonkers resident Daniel Carozza.

There are wide open corn fields, a grass runway, and not a lot of people to disturb when some of the planes can get pretty loud, which makes this the perfect venue to host the 31st year of the giant scale fun fly.

“You’re gonna see replicas of World War I. You’re gonna see the Golden Age, 30s and 40s replicas, then you’re gonna see World War II airplanes, we call them War Birds — they’re very fast, very exciting — a lot of aerobatics, and everything in between. Maybe a jet or two,” said Litchfield, CT resident Mike Mirabilio.

There will be nearly 60 different remote control aircraft.

To see the full article, go to:  http://www.wbng.com/news/local/Remote-control-plane-event-glides-into-the-Southern-Tier-389921122.html