Stop the Violence Community Luau

Tomorrow PUSH Buffalo will throw a small celebration at the Massachusetts Avenue Park to keep the peace and kick off the start to the summer. Well, actually, now that I think about it, our celebration will be more than just some small party; we'll be gathering for a commencement of sorts to come together in harmony.

Not too long ago PUSH Buffalo helped transform a park on the West Side of Buffalo. The park in question was the Mass Ave Park (Massachusetts Avenue Park) located on Massachusetts Avenue between Lawrence Place and Winter Street. Years of neglect did not make the park the most inviting public space in the community. Neighbors had concerns about the lighting, liter, unscrupulous activities, and safety.

Members of PUSH who lived in the parks vicinity suggested that we do something to help immediately. The community could not afford to have a public space that big in their own back yard disintegrate into dust. Our members knew that the park could be brought back to life so that future generations of parents and youth could make use of the space. To date, youth living in the surrounding area have only ever heard about the park's “glory days.” Because of the work of our dedicated staff, members and community leaders, our youth can now experience all that the park has to offer (and will offer) for themselves; not the other way around.

A few preliminary planning sessions and several meetings later here we are. The Mass Ave Park is reborn. On Friday, June 22 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., PUSH will hold our “Stop the Violence Community Luau” to celebrate in grand fashion all of the hard work that our community members and leaders – thank you Councilman David Rivera and Mayor Byron Brown – have put into reviving this historic space. Join us as we show people what great organizing and real power look like.

Our “Stop the Violence Community Luau” will also address the rash of violence that our community has experienced toward the end of May. Now, I don't know if it had anything to do with drugs, a gang dispute or because we had a few days of hot weather, but our neighborhood suffered great losses – losses that we don’t want to experience again this summer.

So, we’re speaking out and taking a more proactive approach. At the end of May, members of the community held a candle light vigil in remembrance of Jay Nieves who sadly went on to a more beautiful place a year ago. His family and friends decided that his legacy needed to be lifted up for those who use violence as a way to solve their problems. No one’s life should be taken in vain; there are better ways to solve your problems and Nieves friends and family agree.

Inspired by the vigil, the "Stop the Violence Community Luau" was conceived as a way to officially coronet the newly rehabbed park and shed light on a much bigger scourge facing the community. The Luau will feature great music from TNT Productions, games for the whole family and awesome barbecue. Just as community leaders stepped up to save a park from oblivion, we must step up to save our young men and women from senseless actions of violence.

What good is a brand new park in an area that still deals with issues of violence? Join us on Friday June 22, (@ 5pm) as we celebrate family, friends, our children, and our future. "It takes a whole village to raise a child” and we look forward to seeing you there!