Thursday, December 8, 2011

'Flood the Tier' fundraiser features music and more

Since Tropical Storm Lee hit the region with flooding rains in September, plenty of fundraisers — large and small — have been held to help those affected get back on their feet.

But local musician and businessman Scott Freeman felt that something was missing.

"We all know how badly this community has been devastated by the flood, and the community has come up so wonderfully to try to support those affected and different organizations — you figure a million dollars has been raised just from that," Freeman said in an interview last week. "You had a lot of the taverns and bars and neighborhoods do fundraisers, too. But nobody stepped forward to do the big one."

So, he decided to use his experience organizing the Binghamton Jazz Festival for the past couple of years to put together Flood the Tier with the Sound of Music, set for Sunday afternoon at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton.

The event will feature not only music, but also a variety of entertainment such as dancers, jugglers, clowns, the Binghamton Zoo's Zoomobile, the Magic Paintbrush Project, holiday craft vendors, even a visit from Santa Claus himself. In addition, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Broome County Mental Health Association, the Broome County Council of Churches and other support agencies will be on hand to offer information and assistance to those who have been hurt by the flooding.

Proceeds for the all-ages event — sponsored by Merrill Lynch, Wendy's and Southern Tier Harley Davidson — will go to the Council of Churches and its Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse food pantry. CHOW will collect nonperishable food items as well.

Freeman hopes the funds raised through the $10-per-person admission charge will help those who have fallen through the cracks. (Those whose lives have been affected by the flood can get in for free; call the council at 724-9130 for more information.)

"The churches are in all those neighborhoods, and they've really been on the forefront of all the recovery, mucking out basements and tearing out the damaged goods, because they know who the people are in those communities," he said. "One of the nice things about the Council of Churches is that it's not a large bureaucracy, so they can verify somebody in need and get money to that individual or family in a day or two."

The day's music lineup will include local favorites such as Zarni de Wet, Jared Campbell, Randy McStine's Lo-Fi Resistance project and Eric Ross, with headliner Shawn Gallaway.

"Shawn is flying in from Nashville on his own expense just to help out the community," Freeman said. "This guy plays all over the world. He's like a Harry Chapin or a James Taylor as a singer/songwriter, and he talks about positive energy and healing and getting through difficult phases of life."

In the weeks leading up to Flood the Tier, community support has been overwhelming, Freeman said: "I'm still getting five phone calls a day of people wanting to volunteer and help out for the event. I've never experienced this before."

While he clearly hopes that lots of folks turn out Sunday to give their neighbors a much-needed hand up, Freeman also sees the celebration in a larger context.

"It's not just about raising money — it's the big event where we can get 10,000 or 15,000 or 20,000 people together over the course of the afternoon into the Arena, all about music and crafts and food and information and some healing and maybe some spiritual health. Across the board, we'll have it all there," he said.

Main stage music
» Noon-12:45 p.m.: The Cheating Intention
» 12:45-1:15 p.m.: Zarni de Wet
» 1:15-1:30 p.m.: Broome County Pipe & Drum Band
» 1:45-2:30 p.m.: Shawn Gallaway
» 2:30-2:45 p.m.: GleePAC
» 2:45-3:30 p.m.: Scott Freeman Band & the Revival Horns
» 3:45-4:30 p.m.: Eric Ross
» 4:30-4:45 p.m.: Binghamton High School Steel Drum Band
» 4:45-5:25 p.m.: Lo-Fi Resistance
» 5:30-6 p.m.: Jared Campbell

Flood relief gift registry

BINGHAMTON — Flood victims who suffered catastrophic damage are invited to apply for the Thanks for Giving gift registry campaign, created by Broome County Council of Churches, its Faith in Action volunteer program and the local Boscov’s.

The campaign relies on the generosity of individuals and groups in the community to buy gifts on a flood victim’s wish list or contribute money — and 100 percent of all donations will go directly to the family or person with the greatest flood-incurred needs.

Flood victims must be already be sponsored by a Thanks for Giving coordinator or can call (607) 724-9130, ext. 318 to learn more. Donors can call the same number, log on or and enter Registry # 480011031925, or mail checks to Broome County Council of Churches, Attn Thanks for Giving #010 (in memo line), 3 Otsinengo St., Binghamton NY 13903.

— Valerie Zehl

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ramp It Up Trailer

The Broome County Council of Churches' Ramp it Up program has received some good news.

It has received a $1,500 grant from the Binghamton Rotary Club Number 64 and from Rotary District Council Number 7170. The money will be used to help buy a lumber and service trailer. Ramp It Up is a program where volunteers build handicapped ramps for people in need.

Rev. Dr. Joseph Sellepack says, "Now what this does for us is it allows us to buy lumber when it's on sale and store it and be able to bring it out to places. Or else do a bulk order on one place where you have some left over product at the end and you can bring all the left over products back to our little lumber yard, triage it all, put it all together and be able to bring it out to another work site. So, you can save costs.

"The Ramp It Up program is also a way to teach young people how to build and learn needed life skills.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

State providing $1.6 million to food banks

ALBANY -- The state is giving $1 million in grants to eight New York food banks, as well as an additional $620,000 to food pantries in flood-hit areas such as Broome, Chemung and Delaware counties, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, the governor launched a statewide initiative called "Help Your Neighbor" to encourage New York residents and businesses to donate to regional food banks. The food banks distribute goods to 5,000 soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and other emergency programs, reaching about three million people a year.

"The economy has been very difficult, as we all know. We're all suffering through it. Some people are suffering more than others," Cuomo told reporters during a conference call.
"The demand on food banks is very, very high, and I encourage all New Yorkers to remember that and think of that this Thanksgiving," he said.

The prolonged poor economy in New York has boosted requests for food assistance, Cuomo said. The need for help is particularly great in parts of the state that were damaged by tropical storms Irene and Lee in late August and early September. Some donors have pulled back on their contributions because of the tough times.

"We're especially cognizant of our fellow New Yorkers who are in communities that are still rebuilding from the flood and storm damage that we had," he said.

One of the emergency allocations announced by Cuomo on Wednesday will go to the Broome County Council of Churches, which gets $60,000 for a food recovery program that had faced possible cutbacks after losing a state grant.

"This is good news," said Deacon Ed Blaine, of the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. "This will give us time to look for other funding without threatening Broome Bounty."

Broome Bounty collects fresh food from restaurants, groceries and other suppliers that would otherwise go rotten. In turn, the food is distributed to local religious and other organizations for their soup kitchens and community meals.

In late June, the state Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program rejected an application from the Broome County Council of Churches for $70,000 a year -- one-third of its annual operating budget -- for the next five years to help fund the program. The loss of funding raised the possibility of cutbacks to the program, which the Council of Churches estimated feeds 10,000 people a month at 60 different soup kitchens and other locations.

The $1 million is from a federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Contingency Fund grant the state received in October. The $620,000 is from the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program in the current state budget, Cuomo said.

The funding is welcome, but it doesn't get to the crux of the hunger problem, said Mark Dunlea, executive director of Hunger Action Network.

"We certainly always appreciate more charity at Thanksgiving time and there's certainly a lot of need out there, so we appreciate the governor finding some extra money," he said. "I think many of us believe the solution to hunger remains economic justice and not charity."
Dunlea said the state should spend more money on hunger prevention. Hunger Action wants a $4 million increase in the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program.
Foodlink of Rochester found out Wednesday it would receive $107,000, said Julia Tedesco, director of development and strategic initiatives for the organization.
"It'll have a huge impact on the agencies and the individuals that they serve in our 10-county region," she said.

Soup kitchens in Monroe County that are member agencies are serving about 30 percent more meals than they did at this time last year, Tedesco said.
The growing need isn't isolated to urban areas, she said. Many people are turning to emergency-food providers for the first time in their lives.

Written by
Cara Matthews
Staff writer William Moyer contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weis and its customers donate $39K to CHOW

WEST CORNERS -- Peanut butter. Pasta sauce. Box after box made its way into the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse's truck in front of the West Corners Weis Market.

Weis officials joined Broome County Council of Churches Executive Director Joseph Sellepack in the effort -- and not just with the loading. The Sunbury, Pa.-based supermarket chain gave CHOW a $14,000 corporate donation Monday.

The chain's Southern Tier customers also made $24,828 in donations to Southern Tier hunger organizations during the four-week Fight Hunger campaign. The nearly $39,000 total is expected to generate about 31,200 meals for the needy, said Weis District Manager Mike Umstead.

CHOW, a program of the Council of Churches, also gets price breaks for purchasing food pantry items at Weis, Sellepack said. "They give us wholesale, which adds to the gift," he said.

The donation is particularly appreciated in light of the September flooding, which ravaged the Southern Tier -- including the neighborhood near the West Corners store.

"A lot of fallout from the flood hasn't even been felt yet," such as its effect on the region's economy, Sellepack said.

Weis operates 161 stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia, including 11 in the Southern Tier.

Written by
Jennifer Micale

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wreath festival to benefit charity

ENDICOTT — Door D├ęcor, a wreath festival and silent auction benefiting the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, Mom’s House and the Daughters of Columbus Scholarship Fund, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 27 at the Sons of Italy, 126 Odell Ave.

Door Wreaths are donated by area businesses, organizations and individuals for the event, which features free refreshments and music by guitarist and singer Mark Trojnar. Cash or checks only will be accepted for the wreaths and gift baskets.

For more information, contact Mary Jo Roberts at, or chairwomen Sue Bock at (607) 258-0331 or Jackie Sands at (607) 797-4222.

— Jennifer Micale

Monday, November 14, 2011

Flood the Tier Fundraiser

Some local companies are putting on a day of entertainment for people who were affected by the flood and those who want to support them.

"Flood the Tier with the Sound of Music" is a day-long event scheduled for Sunday December 11th at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. In addition to a lineup of local musical acts, there will be bagpipers, a clown, belly dancers, the Big Guy and Santa taking pictures with kids on top of a Harley. Merrill Lynch, local Wendy's and Southern Tier Harley Davidson are covering the overhead for the event so that all of the 10 dollar admission fee can go to the Broome County Council of Churches to help flood victims.

Scott Freeman is an organizer. Freeman says "I've never experienced this before but everywhere I go I run into people saying let me know what I can do, I want to help. We don't normally get that in Broome County and Binghamton.

"The benefit runs from noon until 6 at the Arena on Sunday December 11th. Children 12 and under are free. Flood victims and relief workers can request special free vouchers at the Council of Churches offices. Tickets are available at the Arena Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations.

JFS to perform ‘Annie Jr.’

ENDICOTT — The Jennie F. Snapp Middle School music department will perform the musical “Annie Jr.” at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18 in the Union-Endicott High School Auditorium.
“Annie Jr.” is a shortened version of the Broadway musical “Annie.” A donation for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse will be collected at the door from those attending the show.

The musical is directed by JFS music teacher Joe Brainard. Joe Roma is the assistant director.

— Jennifer Micale

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kenny Rogers to play benefit concert at Arena

BINGHAMTON -- Flood victims and volunteers who lent a helping hand will be treated to a concert by legendary singer Kenny Rogers during a benefit concert Dec. 15.

Proceeds from the concert, which will be held at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, will also benefit the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, Catholic Charities and the American Red Cross, which have been providing flood relief.

"I think this is going to be a healing event for the community," said Bruce Boyea, chairman, president and CEO of Security Mutual Life Insurance Co., the event's lead sponsor.

He noted that 1,700 seats will be reserved on the Arena floor for disaster clients and volunteers. Tickets for those seats will be distributed by the flood-relief agencies, he said. For everyone else, tickets are $27 and will be available at the Arena box office.

People are still dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Lee, officials noted. More than 1,000 buildings still have no power in the county, Broome County Executive Patrick Brennan said."We have a good portion of our people who aren't back to normal yet," he said.

Written by
Jennifer Micale

Food-A-Bago returns to the region

TOWN OF CHENANGO — The annual 99.1 The Whale and Wild 104 Food-A-Bago for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse will return to the region Nov. 7 through 14.
The goal is to fill a fifth-wheel camper provided by Jim’s RV with non-perishable food to benefit Broome County families. It will be parked in front of the Weis Food Market at 1290 Upper Front St., across from the Route 81 south entrance ramp. Lee Ann Taylor from the Whale Morning Show and Louie G from the Wild 104 Morning Show will live in the camper throughout the week, along with other radio personalities.

Louie G also has agreed to DJ a free dance for the school that brings the most non-perishable food, by number of items, and a free holiday party to the office or workplace that does the same. For more information, call Don Morgan, program director of WAAL, at (607) 772-8400 or Louie G at (607) 343-0874.
— Jennifer Micale

A Concert for Flood Victims at Davis College

The NEED continues to be great! The LOSS has been staggering! The COST will continue to escalate! The CALL for help goes out! Saturday, November 12th, 2011.'The Provision' a flood relief concert and benefit sponsored by Transition Records, will be held at Davis College Gymnasium beginning at 6pm, doors open at 5pm. This is a FREE event and is for the sole purpose to PROVIDE for the needs of our friends and neighbors whose lives have been suddenly and drastically changed by the flood. You will have the opportunity to be an encouragement and directly help those with needs. Our hope is that you can connect with someone in need, befriend them, and help them get reestablished. If you have experienced great loss due to the flood, come and find information for help and encouragement to carry on!

Enjoy a concert with the bands Reasons Fail, Cry of the Scapegoat, and singer/songwriter Kraig Moss as they bring a message of Hope! Several local flood relief and mission organizations such as CHOW (bring non-perishable food items to donate), Binghamton Rescue Mission, and Broome County Council of Churches will be attending and providing information and help. If you are an organized group helping flood victims and would like to attend this benefit so people with needs can find you, please call 607-651- 6382. 'The Provision' is an exciting way to be a part of the CALL for help. Even if the only thing you can provide is a hug and a listening ear, it's important to be there!

Friday, July 22, 2011

'Mudcat' tournament to benefit CHOW, others

The 10th annual Jim Mudcat Grant All-Star Golf Tournament will be held Sept. 1 at The Links at Hiawatha Landing in Apalachin, Security Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York announced. The shotgun start will occur at 10:30 a.m. that day.

The tournament is being cosponsored by Security Mutual and The Black Aces -- African-American Major League Baseball pitchers who have won 20 or more games in a single season.
The event will benefit the Broome County Urban League, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton, Catholic Charities of Broome County and the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

Among the many guests joining baseball legend Grant at this year's tournament will be Major League Baseball pitcher Gaylord Perry and Black Aces Fergie Jenkins, Vida Blue and "Gentleman Al" Downing, who played for the Binghamton Triplets in 1961 before joining the New York Yankees.

For more information about the event, including golfing, advertising and volunteer opportunities, go to

-- My-Ly Nguyen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cruisin' Pallooza roars to life this weekend in Whitney Point

Hey, car lovers: This year's Cruisin' Pallooza has added a new day and a new feature. The event, now in its 11th year, will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Broome County Fairgrounds on state Route 11 in Whitney Point.

Cruisin' Pallooza will still feature its customary hot rod and custom car show, flea market and swap meet. New to the schedule is "Bike Night During The Day," to be held on Sunday. The Tri-County Collision Cruise-in will be held Friday. Custom cars, not-so-custom cars and motorcycles are invited to meet at 5 p.m. at NYSEG Stadium, 211 Henry St. in Binghamton, to take part in a cruise up Front Street; through the towns of Chenango, Barker, Green and Triangle; and ending at the Broome County Fairgrounds, where visitors will be treated to live music by Distant Thunder, food, fun, vendors and the movie "Wild Hogs" under the stars.

On Saturday, more than 400 show cars are expected to vie for the Best of Show trophy, including rat rods, street rods, muscle cars, lead sleds, drag cars and antiques. Gates open at 9 a.m., with judging starting at 11 a.m. and an awards presentation at approximately 3 p.m. Pre-registration is $7 in advance and $10 the day of the show. In a new twist, anyone who registers for the car show will be eligible to win a pair of tickets to the Pennsylvania 500, to be held in August at Pocono Speedway.

Sunday, will feature the inaugural Cruisin' Pallooza Bike Night During the Day. All bikes are welcome to participate. Gates open at 8 a.m., and the day will feature a pig roast, bike games, vendors, the Miss Cruisin' Pallooza Bikini Babe Contest, and live music by Distant Thunder, Hover and Outer Reef. A poker run will leave Southern Tier Harley Davidson, 1152 Front St. in Binghamton, between 9 and 10 a.m.

Admission and parking for the Cruisin' Pallooza is free all three days, but organizers are asking visitors to bring a nonperishable food donation or cash to help stock the pantries of the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wheelchair Ramps

BINGHAMTON — The Broome County Council of Churches is seeking donations for its wheelchair ramp summer building project, “Ramp It Up 2011.”

Through the project, free wheelchair ramps are built for people who cannot easily get in or out of their homes, according to the council. Currently, the council only has enough funds to complete nine of the 13 planned ramps. New construction tools are also needed.

Sponsorships for the tool trailer that will be located on site are also accepted. For more information on donations or sponsorships, call Greg Jenkins at 768-4475.

— Lisa Kashinsky

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Year-end service learning celebration Friday

May 11, 2011

BINGHAMTON — Binghamton University students and leaders of nine local non-profit agencies will meet at 6 p.m. Friday at the Roberson Museum and Science Center, 30 Front St.

They’ll celebrate students’ work through their LEAD 353 service learning course, wherein they partnered with the Broome County Council of Churches and Urban League, Binghamton Youth Bureau, Mom’s House of Endicott, The Humane Society, A Room to Heal, the Roberson and Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments in a variety of projects.

Students scrutinized each group’s strengths and weaknesses to formulate plans for future activities. One of the projects will be chosen for a $2,000 award, allowing the winning team to implement the plan for the organization.

Support for this annual service learning experience is provided by Manley’s Might Mart, which over the course of the program’s 10-year history has committed more than $150,000.

— Valerie Zehl

Church group honors three volunteers

Written by Valerie Zehl
May 7, 2011

As services for America's aging population hang on budgetary tenterhooks, the Broome County Council of Churches has an answer already in place.

The Faith in Action (FIA) program is a network of caring people from local congregations, and about 300 community members gathered Friday morning to celebrate their generous spirit at the Binghamton Riverwalk Hotel.

Three volunteers were honored at the annual Lives of Commitment Awards Breakfast: Anthony Russo, Gloria Kranefuss and Sam A. Lupo Jr.

Russo, a junior at Newark Valley High School, has been a driving force in the FIA's Ramp It Up program, where young people build access ramps for those with disabilities.

Lupo, president of Sam A. Lupo & Sons, was honored for the scope of his community service.

Kranefuss, at age 84, has a long list of services she still enthusiastically renders. Too overwhelmed to address the audience directly, she read a poem she wrote about her activities and received appreciative chuckles in return: "I've delivered food to people/breakfast lunch and dinner/I try to keep the thin ones/from getting any thinner" and "I'll take you where you want/I don't mind one iota/Just call me up, I'll be right there/you'll hop in my Toyota." The shy, tiny, selfless woman received a standing ovation.

Keynote speaker, Rabbi Rachel Esserman, noted that because of a severe hearing disability, she too needs help sometimes, and hasn't yet encountered a stranger who refused to render it. "Life can be precarious," she said. "We may all need a helping hand" at some point.

More caregivers, fundraisers, mentors and other volunteers are always needed, as is material assistance to build more ramps for local people with disabilities. To learn more about the BC Council of Churches' Faith in Action program, log on or phone (607) 724-9130.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

CHOW Advisory Meeting


I - CHOW Farm

Plans are being made for the planting season. Seeds have been order. Pruning of the orchard will occur in March. A 7 foot fence will be put in surrounding the tilled area. A bee hive and several bird houses will be place on the property by a local couple. Pumpkins will be planted this spring as a cash crop. Manley’s Mighty Marts has agreed to sell the pumpkins in their stores.

II - HPNAP Grant

The five year cycle HPNAP (Hunger Prevention & Nutrition Assistance Program) grant for our food recovery program Broome Bounty was submitted on February 10th. HPNAP is a program of the New York State Health Department. The grant was for $125,000 and includes funds for a farm manager. This year, the last of the last cycle, Broome Bounty will receive $76,000 from HPNAP.

III - Relationship with Food Bank of the Southern Tier

Negotiations have begun with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier on improving our relationship with them. We are exploring the possibility of becoming either a Redistribution Organization or a Partner Distribution Organization. A meeting will take place in March with Dr. Joe Sellepack, Ed Blaine, and Pat Regan, President of the Council’s Board of Directors, and representatives from the Food Bank and Feeding America.


A. Lupo’s Car Pit on State Street will give half of the cost of spiedies that are purchased on Monday, February 21 to CHOW.

B. Spring Craft Fair – March 19 – BU West Gym

C. Chili Championship – May 7 at BU

D. Cruisin Palloopza – June 24, 25, 26 at Whitney Point Fair Grounds


We are still looking for a 17’ refrigerated truck to replace one of our Bounty trucks that is no longer usable.

V – Additional Items

A safe food handling workshop for soup kitchen volunteers will be held at the Council on either May 19 or 26. Ellen DeFay from the Cornell Cooperative Extension will conduct the work shop.

Next Meeting – March 15

Lupo's Promotion

Okay spiedie lovers. On Monday, Feb. 21, when you buy spiedies, either cooked or uncooked, at Lupo's S & S CharPit on State Street in Binghamton, Lupo's will donate have the cost to CHOW.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

M&T Bank donates to food banks

M&T Bank said it donated a total of $8,500 to various food banks to help them with their efforts to fight hunger during the holiday season.
Donations were provided to Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse; Meals on Wheels of Western Broome; Food Bank of the Southern Tier; the Cortland County Area Agency on Aging nutrition program; Roots and Wings program of Chenango County; Loaves & Fishes of Tompkins County; and T.A.C.O. Food Pantry in Bradford County, Pa.
To obtain a charitable grant application, go to
M&T, based in Buffalo, has regional headquarters on Exchange Street in downtown Binghamton. The regional headquarters provides management and administrative support for 11 counties in New York and Pennsylvania.
— My-Ly Nguyen

Blog Archive