Category Archives: News

Where Have We Been?


You might have noticed that Vision Niagara hasn’t had a meeting recently. Well, that’s cuz VN’s Board of Directors has been very busy with defining our vision and developing a 3 year strategic plan.

We started out as a pretty loose group of stakeholders several years ago. More recently, we organized our structure and successfully applied for not-for-profit status. We are an all volunteer group and yet we’ve accomplished so much! Now with the neighborhood developing at practically break-neck speed, the time is ripe for us to really focus our energies.

This determined and committed board of directors (and a few close friends) have carved out major chunks of time from busy schedules so that we can devote ourselves to identifying shared values, developing a vision statement and mapping the road ahead. It’s incredibly hard work and we are very grateful to have professional help, thanks to the generosity of Rich Products.

You’ll hear soon from us about our direction and…. how you can be part of it!

November Interview – Stitch Buffalo

What is Stitch Buffalo? “Utilizing the textile arts as our catalyst, Stitch Buffalo creates opportunities for cross-cultural community experiences and economic empowerment for resettled refugee women in Buffalo, NY. Each week a growing group gathers to weave and embroider.  It is a time of laughter, socialization, curiosity and learning.  Colors and patterns are chosen, beads are strung and women on the edge of society redefine their identity while building bridges of confidence and community.

Initially starting with a single refugee woman, it has now grown into a thriving community of over 55 women from Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Thailand and Angola. Each week these women come together to form a Refugee Women’s Workshop, sewing handcrafted goods for sale within the community.” (

Dawne Hoag (pictured above) founded the organization in 2014 and they’ve been growing ever since. Hence, the need to have a new and larger location.

They now have a beautiful working space and an opportunity to show off their handwork because they moved to 1215 Niagara Street, a location with a long history for the neighborhood. Although nondescript as a building, this little structure goes back many decades as a butcher shop and neighborhood store. The interior has original equipment including an oak walk-in cooler.

Jospehina Rizzo is pictured above in the same location, ca. 1930. The cooler pictured in the foreground will now have the enameled trays filled with embroidered works. They will be open for retail on November 25th!

This is an exciting development for our neighborhood because the building has been vacant for several years. Kudos to Rich Products for helping this project move forward!
We spoke with founder, Dawne Hoag recently.
VN: What four words describe your project?
DH: Beautiful textiles women refugee
VN: Describe the work you do and the impact you’re trying to make
DH: We’re trying to bridge communities, provide financial empowerment for women. We encourage women supporting women. We’re building a local community and a circular economy through the textile arts.
VN: What brings you to the Niagara Street Corridor?
DH: We need to be on the Westside to serve the woman that we work with and Rich Products has donated the space.
VN: What are you noticing in Buffalo that deserves more attention?
DH: I’m noticing a lot of homes that need repair
VN: What’s your favorite number & why?
DH: 7 The cycles of seven

Meet VN Board Member Dionne Williamson!

You might wonder who some of the folks are directing Vision Niagara. We’re pleased to present Dionne Williamson who is one of this  year’s honorees at the 45th Annual Buffalo Black Achievers awards, a well deserved and prestigious distinction.

Ms. Williamson is a native of Western New York.  After graduating from Lackawanna Sr. High School she joined the United States Army Reserves, served eight years and earned the enlisted rank of Sergeant.  In her military position as a Personnel Records Specialist, she maintained personnel records-specifically beneficiary and life insurance policies, for enlisted members.  During this time she attended Medaille College and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration/Management.

Ms. Williamson is no stranger to the world of entrepreneurship as well.  She owned and operated a handmade greeting card business for six years and pursued other entrepreneurial endeavors.  During this time she participated in the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program.  She is also a Certified Interior Design Consultant and received this certification from the New York Institute of Art and Design which has allowed her to further enhance her already creative design and organizational talents.

Ms. Williamson is currently the National Sales Director at Visit Buffalo Niagara.  She has been on the VBN team for 13 years.  In her position, she promotes Buffalo as a meetings and convention destination.  She has worked primarily with the fraternal and religious meetings markets as well as the military and family reunion markets.  Ms. Williamson was recently promoted and now handles the corporate and national association markets specializing in education, environmental, insurance, multicultural and cultural/fine arts just to name a few.

Vision Niagara is grateful for all the advice and hard work that Ms. Williamson donates to our efforts!

September Interview!

We are thrilled to present another important business #onNiagaraSt: West Side Pet Clinic! Joe Speranza, Office Manager, told us a bit about their work.

We love Dr. Susan Sickels, Co-Owner and Head Veterinarian. And we are grateful that co-owner Dr. Reed Stevens established the clinic here.

You can find them on Facebook.

What four words describe your project?

Low Cost Veterinary Clinic

Describe the work you do and the impact you are trying to make

We are a walk-in, pet wellness clinic on the West Side of Buffalo. When we began, our goal was to provide quality, affordable pet care, and educate clients on how to be responsible pet owners.

What brings you to the Niagara Street Corridor?

When we started this project in 2013, Niagara Street wasn’t booming quite like it is now. We wanted to open a brand new type of pet clinic: walk-in, high-quality, low-cost. There have been wonderful advancements in veterinary medicine, but as equipment gets better, prices get higher. Rising prices, unfortunately, left a lot of pet owners behind. We chose Niagara Street specifically because we recognized that the Upper West Side was a densely populated area underserved by Veterinarians, filled with well-intentioned pet owners who were quite frankly scared to take their pets to the Vet because of cost.

What are you noticing in Buffalo that deserves more attention?

The entire West Side deserves more attention. It is such a vibrant community and we are absolutely thrilled to be a part of it. Resurgence Brewing right across the street gets plenty of deserved attention, but lesser-known gems like the West Side Bazaar, and to a greater extent Ranchos Venezuelan restaurant need to be recognized!

What’s your favorite number and why?

13. It’s been my favorite number since childhood but I’m not sure why

We are the Tesla Corridor!

It’s official! Buffalo Common Council has designated Niagara Street from Busti Avenue to Vulcan Street as the “Tesla Heritage Corridor“.

The cultural and industrial history of our neighborhood includes groundbreaking research by Nikola Tesla proven here. In1896, the lights turned on in Buffalo for the first time powered by the mighty Niagara through AC currents. Tesla’s theories, research, and work changed the world. Kudos to Bill Zimmermann for pursuing this designation.

Bike Share on Niagara Street?

Bike lanes are on their way to Upper Rock & Black Rock on Niagara Street. We can’t wait! Plans include a cycle track for much of that distance. about a transportation hub that includes bike shares? Reddy Bike has reached out to us and will be figuring out the best locations. Yay!

Can you see Buffalo on this list someday for Best Bike Share Programs? We can!

Blue on Blue: thanks to Wastewater Treatment

Blue skies, river and wastewater treatment – it’s all connected and of utmost importance to our environment and health.

We were treated to an exceptional tour of the Sewer Authority Wastewater Treatment Plant by Alex Emmerson including an introduction to overall operation by plant supervisor, Mike Letina. Participants on the tour came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including a chemical engineer student at UB, employee of the Land Trust and curious city residents. It was fascinating to all.

We learned about sludge vs FOG (fats, oils, grease), WAS (waste activated sludge) and Mixed Liquor. Interested? Check out this messaging video made by New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA). And/or stay tuned for our next Vision Niagara tour later this year!

July Interview – Sports City Pizza Pub

We’re pleased to showcase our neighbor, Sports City Pizza Pub! Mike Rizzo and his son, also Mike Rizzo, created a great spot on Niagara Street with possibly the best chicken wings and pizza as well as an impressive line up of beers on tap. With multiple wide screens, it’s a great place to view sports events with friends and family.

What four words describe your project?

Pizza, Wings, Sports, & Beer

Describe the work you do and the impact you’re trying to make:

We provide a neutral location where anyone from the blue collar worker to the company CEO can come down, enjoy a simple meal and relax with a cold beer and friends.

What brings you to the Niagara Street Corridor?

The growth and potential for an area that’s had so much to offer.

What are you noticing in Buffalo that deserves more attention?

The historical corporation into what is being newly built and the preservation efforts without standing in the way of growth

What’s your favorite number & why?

1407, that’s where you’ll find the best pizza on Niagara St!

June Interview #onNiagaraSt

This month, we present our interview with new neighbors: Love In Motion Yoga!

Located at 1250 Niagara Street.

VN: What four words describe your project?

yoga, movement, community, collaboration,

VN: Describe the work you do and the impact you’re trying to make:

We bring yoga to the community – from basics to upper level classes, we make yoga accessible and fun, and collaborate with other business to share different ways to move with our students and promote the buffalo business community.

VN: What brings you to the Niagara Street Corridor?

We love the feel of the neighborhood.

VN: What are you noticing in Buffalo that deserves more attention?

The collaboration of small businesses – this uniting of places that could normally be competitors, and their owners recognizing that we’re stronger when we’re allied together. Also the idea of paying it forward – from long term partnerships with local charities to contributing to charitable and community-boosting events, people are looking for more fulfillment and a higher purpose, and using whatever platform available to make that happen.

VN: What’s your favorite number & why?

108 – it’s an auspicious number in yoga