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Community Organization Hopes to Cultivate Peace and Togetherness with a Day of Caring

By Tyronda James

Volunteers at S.W.A.N. at Montgomery Center on the Day of Caring.

Community. Togetherness. Peace.

Tiffany-D’Yan Owens, Executive Director at Southwest Area Neighborhood Association Inc., (S.W.A.N)  at Montgomery Center began with the organization in October 2020 and her desire is to bring the organization back to the hearts and minds of the community. 

Owens also wants to bring the organization and community together. 

“We wanted our presence to demonstrate to our community that we’re not just here concerned about our facility alone,” Owens said. 

She decided to participate in the United Way of Greater Rochester’s Day of Caring and reached out for assistance from the community. 

Owens said she reached out and connected with the Pike Company, who then reached out to several organizations on their behalf and was provided with volunteers and donors. “Just from my one call to Pike, opened the door for all those other things to happen.”

Owens said she wanted a visual improvement that would motivate residents to participate and maintain the care of the neighborhood’s appearance and continue to inspire throughout time.

So that’s why they turned out to be major contributors to events like what the United way put on today. 

And now that there’s an energy around it, I think that’s going to kind of open more doors for us as time goes on.”

She said it warmed her heart to see everyone coming together in a way they did. “We had over 55 individuals participate in 5 projects, volunteering to assist with interior painting of the upper and lower level of the facility to brighten and beautify the entry and hallways. Volunteers also cleaned and removed litter from our block and around the neighboring library,” she said.

Volunteers at S.W.A.N. at Montgomery Center on the Day of Caring.

“Pike Construction was a major contributor to the success of the interior efforts as well as some exterior work.” 

The Day of Caring partnerships included VRD Decorating Inc., Lecesse Construction Services, HBS Building Supplies, Home Depot, Lowes, Volunteers from Americorps, and more. These partnerships aligned with S.W.A.N’s effort, contributed time and supplies. 

Additionally, Broccolo Garden Center sent a team member to give some insight on selections of plants and layout plan, Owens said. Her plans are to incorporate an ongoing garden program for seniors and add programs for community infusing arts, culture, nutrition, mentoring and much more. 

The association was founded by the Honorable Willie W. Lightfoot (1940-2001), a community activist and County Legislator and runs a variety of programs and provides emergency services including rental and utility assistance.

“We had the senior nutrition program, which has been here forever and the seniors are hopefully going to be able to return to the building in June to start eating onsite again. Right now we’re delivering the meals to them twice a week, five days worth,” Owens said.

“We also have a home preservation group that works with people that qualify for assistance with minor home repairs.”

Owens said she plans to stay connected to the community and to those with ties to S.W.A.N and the neighborhood, like Uniting & Healing Through Hope of Monroe County, Clay Harris whose Stop the Violence. 

“It was the ties that I have to the organization, to this facility specifically that really made me want to come and help when I saw the disrepair that the building had fallen under.”

Owens said her grandparents were her original ties to the association.

The future of S.W.A.N at Montgomery Center is community and heightened awareness and Owens is determined to bring all plans to fruition.  

“To understand that we deserve a seat at the table and we need to just let people know what we need and what we deserve and fight for it. So all these other agencies that you see with these multimillion dollar facilities for their communities I’m really trying to have a seat at all the tables just to be sure that eventually this is really what the gold standard will be for here,” Owens said.

“So, that’s why I’m reaching out to the major contributors and to events like what the United way put on today. And now that there’s an energy around it, I think that’s going to kind of open more doors for us as time goes on.”

For further information regarding services, volunteering, or donations, please call (585)436-3090.