Niagara Gazette — It might takes Janet Billingslea a little longer than some to conquer momentous challenges. But, she eventually gets the job done. After six years of relentless pursuit — despite a car accident and the death of her mom — she received her degree in social work from Niagara County Community College, with two awards for her outstanding efforts. Buying a home took a little longer, but working with Niagara Falls Neighborhood Housing Services, she was able to get her finances in shape and purchase a tidy little bungalow on 81st Street. She now lives there happily with two dogs she recently rescued. Fortified by her successes, she plans to continue her education at Buffalo State and eventually become a doctor of social work. That’s what can happen sometimes when a person has a little help when reaching towards their goals. On Wednesday, those like Billingslea, who just need some guidance to reach their homeownership goals, can learn about the many types of assistance available, through a Home Buyers Fair sponsored by Niagara Falls Neighborhood Housing Services. Kathy Steinman, executive director of NHS, said the non-profit has helped hundreds purchase homes in the region, but she and her staff still struggle to get the word out that help is available. “We’ve been around for 34 years but people really don’t know we exist and that’s challenging,” she said. Those who are able to find the agency, are often rewarded with home ownership. “Last year we had 64 new homebuyers throughout Niagara County,” Steinman said. “We keep trying to tell people we’re still here, this is what we do, this is what we have and we can help you.” The agency, located at 479 16th St. in Niagara Falls, provides homebuyers with tools and incentives, including helping them repair their credit. NHS also buys area homes, renovates them and then sells them to those who are seeking a home. “We’re creating a lease-to-own program,” Steinman said. “It’s kind of a pilot program but it has worked very well, so far.” The fair, which is being held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Doris Jones Family Resource Building, 3001 9th Street , Niagara Falls, will include free credit reports for the first 20 people (photo identification is required for the reports), according to Danielle Rice, a housing counselor for NHS. She described the fair as very informal, with vendors giving out information at various tables. “People can just walk around and gather information,” Rice said. “Bankers, Realtors and other people will talk about different programs available to assist those who attend.” As for Billingslea, the 50-year-old new homeowner is grateful for the assistance of NHS. “I was blessed to find them,” she said. “And now I have a beautiful home.”
- Singing her heart out: Newfane woman wins prestigious apprenticeship twice. Rebecca Witty says she started singing in the womb. That might be an exaggeration, but the Newfane woman's love of music began at a very early age. "Music has always been in my life since I was a kid," she said. "My family is made up of musicians so that has played a big part of my love for music since the beginning."
- F-BITES: Celebrity chef Bobby Anderson wants kids to learn more than just cooking. As a loudspeaker played "Waiting for the World to Change," Chef Bobby Anderson was busy changing it, just the other day. For Anderson, the cooking lessons he's conducting with local students this summer on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls are entertaining crowds and giving young chefs life-changing exposure to new foods, new flavors and new experiences.
- More than rides and food at the Niagara County Fair
NATURAL HEALTH: Taking a closer look at migraine causes and treatments
Headaches come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a mild tension headache to a migraine that has you locked up in a dark room afraid to move. Migraine and cluster headaches are by far the worst.
Behind the tattoo gun — Niagara Tatoo Expo coming up
Tattoos can be a touchy subject. Of course, people have heard they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; still, people continue to report being denied jobs and being judged harshly for proudly displaying their ink.
JENNINGS: It's the end of an era for fans of The Ramones
Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Thomas Erdelyi formed one of the most influential bands in music history in 1974 — better known by their stage names Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone. The last surviving member, Tommy, passed away July 11.
Local woman honored for weight-loss success
After Carolyn Sherman’s husband passed away, she became depressed, and her weight ballooned to more than 300 pounds. Wheelchair-bound, she ended up at Odd Fellow & Rebekah Health Care Facility in Lockport.
- IN BUSINESS: ReNU director named to '30 Under 30' list Tom Lowe, director of ReNU Niagara, has been named to the 2014 class of Buffalo Business First's 30 Under 30 honorees. The award recognizes 30 Western New Yorkers in the early stages of their careers who are achieving at high levels at work and in the community.
Lexi's Place: A safe haven for teens battling suicide, sexual abuse and depression
In a perfect world, a 14-year-old wouldn’t know exactly how it feels to try suicide.
An 11-year-old who reaches out to the unwanted kids at school would not be thrown against a locker and bullied by other teens trying to make her feel small.
And surely no teen would have a father who, when she was small, would give her to his friends for sex.
All those things happened to the teens at Lexi’s Place.
- Sip the Niagara Wine Trail's best in one location The Niagara Wine Trail reveals it's sweetness slowly, and only to those dedicated enough to spend the time. There are 27 wineries and to sample a taste of each requires much driving through the backroads of the Niagara region, and far too much sipping to make driving a logical possibility. That's what makes the trail's 6th annual Wine and Culinary event such a good idea. Wine lovers who've always wanted to explore the new and unusual offerings of the 14-year-old wine trail, can do so next weekend, all in one place.
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