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.”
HELPING KIDS SEE: Town of Niagara Lion's need help to purchase new eye exam camera
When little kids with sight problems finally get glasses, learning becomes a lot clearer.
“It opens up a whole new world for them,” said Shawn Licht, executive director of the Niagara County Head Start program.
It’s a big job screening the nearly 500 children in the area program but the Town of Niagara Lions Club has been helping in the effort for the past 15 years, using a camera that provides images that can be assessed by an eye doctor.
Unfortunately, the camera has broken and the Lions are seeking support from the community to match a $3,500 grant from the Lions Club International Foundation, to buy a new one. The cost of the new camera is $7,000.
A TASTE OF HOME: From apples to chocolates, there's no lack of food gifts from the Niagara Region
Let’s admit it: When much of the world thinks of Buffalo, N.Y., the first thing that comes to mind — except for, perhaps, snow and certain Super Bowls — is a certain eponymous food item. And Western New York has certainly embraced the chicken wing and its associated sauce(s) in all their forms.
But when you look past the obvious, the Niagara Region in particular has produced many unique food items, from candy and baked goods, to wines and ciders and barbecue sauces. And with Christmas time approaching, they can be a way to give a small taste of home to a Western New York expatriate or someone who simply doesn’t need more knick-knacks.
NATURAL HEALTH: Tips to fight the winter blues
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that affects many individuals especially in regions that experience longer and colder winters. The farther north you are from the equator, the higher your incidence of suffering from this very real form of depression.
In most cases, SAD occurs each year around the same time. Common symptoms include depression, sadness, inability to concentrate, lack of motivation, increased carbohydrate cravings, weight gain and longer sleep patterns. Many become frustrated because they have a difficult time “snapping out” of these feelings.
- IN BUSINESS: The Topper celebrates first anniversary Some people placed bets last year that The Topper wouldn't survive.
IN BUSINESS: FMC, Tops make invest into local community
FMC is making a $5 million investment in its Middleport plant on Telegraph Road.
- TOM'S CORNER: Time for a litte diesel engine 101 The Gazette has partnered with local automotive expert Tom Torbjornsen to publish his weekly national column. Tom's Corner will appear in Thursday's editions.
FOREVER HOMES: Sisters are 'angels' of adoption
Two Niagara County sisters are honored for their efforts to care for area children
AGAINST THE ODDS: Doctor describes how he beat lung cancer with alternative
HEALTH Q&A: Author says he's longest surviving lung cancer patient
THE CRIB: New residence reaches out to homeless teen moms in Niagara County
Some people scoffed when Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
She may have been wrong. In some cases, it takes a whole nation. The evidence: A new residence for homeless teen moms, which opened in October in Niagara Falls, was born through a vibrant service network locally, with funds that came through state and federal channels.
- TOM'S CORNER: Major auto repairs? Ask a service adviser for options The Gazette has partnered with local automotive expert Tom Torbjornsen to publish his weekly national column. Tom's Corner will appear in Thursday's editions.
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- HELPING KIDS SEE: Town of Niagara Lion's need help to purchase new eye exam camera