Update 19 – January/February 2020

President’s Message Zola Brown

The 19th Ward Community Association celebrates 55 years of activism and strong community participation in 2020. During our annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, we received Governor Cuomo’s statewide proclamation for contributions for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The proclamation will hang in 19th Ward Community Association office.

February is Black History Month and we had one of our history makers as the keynote speaker at our annual MLK program. The Honorable Ruth Scott was first woman and person of color as president of 19th Ward Community Association. During her speech, she spoke about our charge for the education of our children and their success. Think about it—55 years later we are still fighting for good education and economic justice for our future leaders.  

Our Candlelight Dinner event is coming up on February 8, 2020.  It’s also Square Fair time! We have started our planning process and we can use your help. The next meeting is February 19, 2020, at 216 Thurston Road,  6pm to 7pm. We  hope to see you there.  Tax time is here and the Empire Justice Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope Program will launch on February 10 , 2020, to  help low income families with free tax preparation.

February is also the month the 19th Ward will launch a new website thanks to our communication team, Kate Phillips, and students at University of Rochester.  The membership has new “Proudly 19th Ward” yard signs coming to your doorstep soon. This a great way to  promote the pride we have in 19th Ward and building our membership. Sign up today! We are always looking for more volunteers. 19th Ward Association has a great group of folks who really care about our neighborhood and we welcome everyone ready to serve.  We should always prepare ourselves for change and teaching the next leaders to carry on the legacy and rich history of 19th Ward Community Association.

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and the world better than you found it.”

Black History Month Quote by Marian Wright Edelman

Zola Brown President 19th Ward Community Association

Rapids Cemetery Generous Funding Matching!

Eagle Scout project (2016)
Uncovered tombstone of Amelia Smalley (1811-1896)
Congress Avenue resident JoAnn Belle-Isle

For a limited time, your donations to our 19WCA Rapids Cemetery fund will be matched 

An anonymous donor has stepped forward and offered to match Rapids Cemetery donations, for a limited period of time, and up to a total of $500. Even small amounts are very welcome. $5 that you give becomes $10, $20 becomes $40, etc. 
To take advantage of this exciting matching offer, simply earmark your contribution by mentioning, when you call the office or when you send in your check, that the donation is for the Rapids Cemetery Fund. 19WCA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
If you are not familiar with this 19th Ward pioneer cemetery on the north side Congress Ave near Genesee St., do take a walk over there some day. Much restoration work has been done in the past few years, all on a volunteer basis. 
Some of the ways the Rapids Cemetery funds might be used:

  • Interpretive signage that will instill neighborhood pride and stability
  • Professional IT development work to complete the virtual tour of the cemetery that was begun in collaboration with RIT
  • An ongoing need to purchase a few items to support volunteers, such as shovels, hoses, probing tools, gardening gloves, buckets, clippers, a wheelbarrow
  • Engage youth in paid supervised prevocational skills
  • Consult with a specialist on food forests and edible gardens
  • Develop the site as a heritage tourism stop 
  • Design commemorative floral gardens alongside a rebuilt entryway that will invite passersby to enter, explore and reflect.

Speaking of heritage tourism, it is perhaps not well known that Susan B. Anthony lived nearby on Brooks Avenue from 1840 through the mid-1860s. Her Temperance Movement interest coincided with the Castle Town period of drunkenness and rowdy behavior. The Sunday afternoon tea sessions with abolitionist Frederick Douglass took place here in the 19th Ward at her father’s home. Asa Anthony, a distant cousin who harbored freedom-seeking slaves, lived in the 19th Ward also. Close by the cemetery itself is the Underground Railroad safe house owned by Susan’s Voting Rights colleague Rhoda DaGarmo.

The Rapids Cemetery Restoration project stakeholders include:

  • Office of the City Historian: Christine Ridarsky
  • Veterans Groups including VFW, American Legion, Legion Auxiliary, Chapter 20 Vietnam Veterans, Buffalo Soldiers and others
  • 19th Ward Community Association (and its History & Archives Group)
  • City of Rochester Department of Planning & Zoning
  • City of Rochester Department of Environmental Services
  • City of Rochester Department of Parks & Recreation

Recent Events

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Check out some amazing images from our annual Luminary Night and Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at Arnett Library. You can see more of the events on our Facebook Page and check out this local news article about our events!

Skating Party

Good times skating at the Genesee Valley Park Ice Rink on February 1.

Upcoming Events

Candlelight Dinners

  • The annual Candlelight Dinner neighborhood event is coming soon, and will probably be a fond memory when Update 19 is published.   The 2020 dinners are being hosted at 7 different homes across the 19th Ward.  Look for photos and comments in the next Update 19.
  • As of January 31st we plan to have 55 adults and 2 children participating in this year’s dinners.  Some of the groups will be intimate gatherings of 6 or so people. Other, larger home are able to have groups of 10 – 12 people.  Every year these dinners bring neighbors together in an effort to mix up young and old, newcomers to the neighborhood and long term residents for a nice meal and lively conversation.  If you are lucky enough to share the evening with Mitzie Collins and Tom Bohrer you might even get to sing! 
  • If this sounds like fun (and it is) keep it in mind for next year.  Sign up sheets for guests and hosts are available at the annual convention in November, and we take names of interested people right up to the end of January.  Hope to have even more neighbors join us next year!

Spelling Bee

  • March 28, 2020. Check out the video from last year!

Palm Sunday Breakfast

  • April 5, 2020. Get in touch to help us prepare!

Square Fair

  • June 6, 2020.
  • Vendors, download your applications now:

Delegates Council

  • February 13
  • March 12
  • April 9
  • May 14
  • June 11
  • September 10
  • October 8
  • November 12
  • December 10

Check upcoming issues of Update 19 for more information about our summer and fall events!

Committee Updates

Reach out to our office manager if you would like to get involved.

Delegates Council

Delegates Council continues to meet at 7:00 PM the 2nd Thursday of the month at the Arnett Branch Library. Our next meeting is on Thursday, February 13, 2020. See full list of dates above!

Garden Committee

The Garden Committee is looking forward to spring!

Communications Committee

The Communications Committee meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 6pm at Arnett library.


The Communications Committee is getting ready to share some fun new merchandise with our members. Stay tuned for updates soon

New website coming soon!

Housing Committee

The 19th Ward Housing Committee meets the third Thursday of each month at 1 pm, at the Neighborhood Service Center, which is located at 923 Genesee St. Our meetings generally last about an hour. A City representative from Buildings and Code Enforcement attends to work with us on specific properties, concerns/issues, code enforcement, etc. 

The Housing Committee is actively seeking new members – join us!

Schools Committee

The Schools Committee meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7 pm in the association office.


The 10th annual 19th Ward Spelling Bee will be held on Saturday March 28, at University of Rochester.  Students from grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 and schools 10, 16, 19, 29 and 44 will be practicing at the Arnett library Saturdays from 10-11.  If you know children who are eligible to compete please encourage them to join the competition. 

At the February committee meeting we addressed the issue of the RCSD budget shortfall. One of the factors contributing to the shortfall is the reduction in enrollment. One of the actions which has been proposed by the Superintendent is the repurposing of two facilities from  elementary schools to pre-K centers.   One of those is school #44 on Chili Ave.  Although we are disappointed that a school in the 19th Ward has been slated for closure, we support the Superintendent’s plan.  The Rochester pre-K program has received kudos for excellence. The south west area of Rochester has many more young children than slots, so this is expansion is needed to serve the community.  There are many details to be worked out, and a meeting with Superintendent Dade will provide more information.

Other news:

Genesee Valley River Walk

Click here for more info!

Thurston Village Apartments Tour

Invitation to Frederick Douglass’s 201st birthday events!

Still time!

Work Camps Home Repair – Application Deadline March 31, 2020

Empire State Trail Survey

Photo courtesy of Empire State Trail
Click here to see the presentation

There’s still time to take the Empire State Trail survey. “Common Ground Health based in Rochester, NY is currently conducting a Health Impact Assessment on the Empire State Trail – located on the Erie Canal. They are seeking to learn more about how neighborhoods interact with the trail, if you are from the 19th Ward and have a moment to share your experiences please answer this short survey to help us learn more about your community!”