Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Koi Sushi in Williamsville

I love the concept of Groupon. It's the perfect way to market your business and get people in the doors. I bought a handful of Groupons in the past few months, including one to Koi Sushi in Williamsville. I had previously tried to order from Koi Sushi when I was teaching at Curves in the same plaza (they are located on Hopkins across the street from Williamsville North High School). I walked down there after a class to get some take out, and they were closed for remodeling. When I saw the Groupon pop up this month, I was excited to finally try it out.

The restaurant is small. There are no more than 10ish tables in the restaurant and the space itself is pretty simple. Our waitress greeted us promptly and tried to woo us into getting the "all you can eat" sushi special for $22.95 a person, but we asked for the regular dinner menus instead. I was hungry, and almost thought I could eat my way through $22.95 worth of sushi, but chose to pick a few different items out instead.

They have a huge menu of traditional and specialty rolls, starters and kitchen entrees as well. It was honestly hard to narrow down and my boyfriend and I went back and forth a handful of times deciding what we were going to have.

This is what we settled on: Pork Gyoza, Yakiudon veggie stirfry noodles, California Roll, Shrimp Tempura Roll, Philadelphia Roll, and Spicy Tuna Crunchy Roll. Everything was reasonably priced and on par with every other sushi place I have been to. The rolls average around $5 each and the Yakiudon was $9.

Everything listed above was delicious, although the California roll didn't blow either of us away. We really enjoyed our Pork Gyoza and the Yakiudon noodles were awesome. The sushi all came out on one big plate so it was easy to share! I hardly ever get anything tempura, but thought I'd splurge and it was delicious! I'm not a spice fan, but my boyfriend really enjoy the spicy roll as well.

My only gripe about the restaurant is their website. Online some of the items are listed a little cheaper and a lot of the items were not on the menu in the restaurant (ex: hibachi entrees). I was a little disappointed when I got there and a few things I saw online were not there.

They are open for lunch and dinner and offer lunch specials as well. They are open until 10pm (1030pm on Fri/Sat) and do deliver as well.

If you are a sushi lover looking for a new place to try out, Koi Sushi is worth the stop.

For more reviews on Koi Sushi, check out:

Koi Sushi on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 30, 2012

Buffalo Soupfest 2012

I was lucky enough to score a free pair of tickets to Buffalo Soupfest at The Millennium Hotel in Cheektowaga (right next to the Walden Galleria Mall) so we made it a family afternoon and went down to check it out! Thanks to Yancey's Fancy for the pair of tickets.

This event is relatively new to the Buffalo food festivals, and is always held in January (and this year was on the perfect snowy Sunday!). Admission is $5 to get in the door, (children under 10 are free) and then you purchase soupbucks which cost $1 each. All the soup samples run between 1 - 2 soup bucks for small but filling samples. Most of the participants also have the option to purchase bigger containers of soup to take home for around 5-6 tickets.

All the restaurants/participants were in the ballroom area, and also another atrium area in the hotel. We bought in for $20 worth of soup bucks, and were able to get a ton of great samples.

My overall pick for top soup of the day was: The Wellington Pub's "Steakhouse Cheddar & Ale". It was absolutely nomtasic and it was a kid favorite too, as Jacob wanted another sample!! (We also took two quarts of it home with us) I was excited to see there was a pierogi soup, but the broth and flavors fell flat. Some of the other ones we all enjoyed were "Beef on Weck" from Danny's Restaurant, "Poutine" from Torches, "Spicy Artichoke and Pepper" from Brodo, "Chicken Dumpling and Noodle" from Savory's, and "Black Truffle Creamy Mushroom" from Crooked Door Tavern.

Overall, the atmosphere inside The Millennium was great. It was a fun afternoon and another great way to showcase the delicious food Buffalo has to offer. The only gripe I heard about the day was that it was too cramped, which I agree with, and the restaurants did not always have their soup types displayed properly, makig it was hard to see what each place had until you were right up to their table.

Soup Fest organizers should be proud of this newer Buffalo tradition and I'm sure in the years to come will continue to expand.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Niagara Ice Wine Festival 2012

I love wine...like LOVE wine. I’m a white wine girl, and can always go for a good glass of Reisling after a long day, or if I’m being totally honest, after most days! I host a wine tasting party with my girlfriends every year where each person brings a wine and we sample, play games, have lots of good food, and rate all the wines. Not to brag or anything, but my bottle of wine wins every year as favorite wine! I make it my mission to scour the area for a local winery to pick as my choice for the party. I typically go on a few wine tasting outings during the year and one of my favorite spots to tour is Niagara On The Lake in Canada.

Earlier this month, my boyfriend and I ventured up to the North to attend the Niagara Ice Wine Festival. During our Sunday excursion we stopped at eight different wineries (five new ones) and I continue to fall more in love with the region (and the best part, it's less than an hour drive!).

Here are some of my highlights from the day:

My absolute favorite stop when we get up there is Vineland Estates Winery, located at 3620 Moyer Road, Ontario L0R 2C0, CA. For the past two years we ended up tasting at the same spot, with the exact same man, Joe. He has an outstanding personality and is the person you need to ask for if you get up there. The previous year Joe told us about a sparkling Riesling they were going to be coming out with, but when we were there last it was not yet available for tasting. I was extremely excited to taste it this year, and it did not disappoint. Basically every wine we tried (both ice wine and an assortment of other wines) were great, and we left there with a few different bottles. The property itself is gorgeous, with a restaurant, chapel, tasting room, and small marketplace upstairs with cheeses and other products. If you are a white wine drinker like me, try the 2008 St. Urban Riesling, the 2009 Semi Dry Riesling, The Sparkling Riesling Methode Cuve Close, and the Cabernet Sauvignon Ice wine (although all the ice wines are delicious)!

Two other wineries we went back to for the second time were Tawse Winery and Flat Rock Cellars. Tawse has fantastic wines and I was excited to try the latest Riesling. The tasting specialists (for lack of a better term) and Tawse were friendly and fun, and we enjoyed the chit chat with them. They are surrounded by pretty scenery and I love the large glass room divider that shows off where the wine is made, behind the tasting room.

Flat Rock is one of the most fun places to hang out and enjoy the scenery. Their tasting room has huge windows that overlook their vineyard and on a clear day (which it was when we were there) you can see Toronto in the distance. They sell huge homemade marshmallows and have a big fire pit outside to roast them. We had to get them, and they were delicious. They have a good selection of wines and I'd suggest trying their "Twisted" wines mixing together a few different wines to make up this line.

As for the new places we tried we ventured out to Angel's Gate Winery, Organized Crime Winery, Crown Bench Estates Winery, Creekside Estate Winery and Stone Church Vineyards. I wasn't much of a fan of the last three. Crown Bench Estates is pegged the "most innovative" winery branching out and making flavored ice wines including hot ice (combining five different hot peppers), vanilla ice, and ambrosia chocolate ice, among others. We tried a few but weren't impressed with any. On the plus side, Crown Bench Estates sells these awesome ice wine glasses that I had to have, $7 each. Stone Church was our last stop of the day and I wasn't a huge fan of any wine, but they have pretty awesome spreads and dips for sale - try the caramelized onion and maple. As for Creekside, I just wasn't a fan of anything there.

Angel's Gate and Organized Crime were fun additions to our tour! While the tasting experience at Organized Crime wasn't my favorite; the tasting room is tiny and I mean TINY, and the owner's dog was in the room next door scratching on the door, they had my pick for favorite wine I tried of the day - their Reisling. Angel's Gate was our first stop of the day, and the winery is super cute. They had a pretty great patio and would be perfect for a summer night, overlooking gorgeous scenery.

The Niagara Ice Wine Festival offers a pass that includes food pairings at some of the wineries along with your tastings for $30. While it's a good deal, we've never purchased it. We typically purchase a bottle or two at most wineries we go to, and if you do that, in most cases, the winery will waive the tasting fees. During this trip we didn't end up paying for one tasting, but we did come home with 8 bottles of wine and a gorgeous set of ice wine glasses!

This weekend is the last weekend of the Ice Wine Festival, but if you can't make it up there soon, plan a day trip with your significant other or close friends, and explore all the great wineries just over the border! Red wine drinkers, don't worry, there's plenty of awesome red wines available for tasting too!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Embrace The Difference" by Robyn Zimmer

"I love Buffalo because it is small enough that there is always a connection to be found!" - Robyn Zimmer e-mailed me after perusing my Facebook page and realizing that my boyfriend taught both her kids English in high school.

I had been put in contact with Robyn a week or so earlier when I was investigating her "Embrace The Difference®" jewelry line available at Reeds Jewelers. Since the initial contact we had been exchanging e-mails for a few days, and it didn't take long for me to see what an incredibly successful and giving woman Robyn Zimmer is. Not to mention, a LOCAL talent!

But first, let’s talk about Embrace The Difference®! As a Board Member for danceability Inc., I am always looking for ways to help fundraise for the organization. Someone mentioned that Reeds donated a portion of a jewelry line to charities so I hopped on the site and contacted them immediately. Robyn was thrilled to have danceability Inc. join.

When I spoke with Robyn she told me more about the Embrace The Difference® line of jewelry. “Embrace The Difference® is an idea close to my heart. I came up with the idea because my son, Sam has grown up with disabilities. I realized along the way that Sam was lucky enough to have many people who accepted him for who he is. The people that have “embraced” Sam’s differences have made all the difference in his life. Everyone should have the same opportunities. I designed this jewelry to show acceptance and support no matter what difference someone has, and to help raise funds for many charities in the community.”

The original symbol for Embrace The Difference® is interlocking circles connected by a square. The square represents the difference. As Robyn said, “It doesn’t matter what difference we have, we are all linked together.” The line includes pendants, rings, earrings, bracelets, tie tacks, lapel pins and cuff links. They range in price from $95 - $175. (There are also a few all gold and diamond pieces for $795). When a piece is purchased, the buyer is asked to choose a charity from their list (currently there are 24 charities) and $30 of the purchase is donated to the charity. For the big ticket pieces, $100 is donated.

So who is the lady behind Embrace The Difference®? Robyn Zimmer, grew up in Roslyn, Long Island (alright, so she wasn't BORN in Buffalo, but she chose to make it her home and raise her kids here so she's LOCAL enough for me!). In 1978, she went to UB and then Buffalo State College. After graduating in 1982 she returned to NYC with a degree in design. She came back to visit a friend in 1985 and was introduced to her husband, Jeff Zimmer. After six months of dating she packed up her apartment and moved to Buffalo and has been living here since! Robyn and Jeff also have a daughter, Rachel who is 18 in addition to their son Sam, who is 21.

Robyn’s passion has always been to create products that solve common problems. She has invented many products and just signed a licensing agreement to have her first patented product manufactured and brought to the market. The product, Window OrigamiTM was featured on the television show "Homemade Millionaire" with Kelly Ripa.

Our conversations quickly turned to Buffalo, (as they do with most people I talk with for this blog) and I asked her what her favorite parts about the city are."People from Buffalo are genuinely nice! People have good, down to earth values. When I first moved here from NYC I went into a Wilson Farms to buy a newspaper. The cashier said, "have a nice day" and actually meant it. I wasn't used to that living in NYC!"

Robyn recently completed the Leadership Buffalo program and was amazed to learn so many new things about Buffalo. She said she can't get enough of the architecture and historical sites, and the restaurants here are "amazing".

Robyn's husband Jeff is the owner of Reeds Jewelers. Reeds Jewelers and Jenns Decor combined their stores and jointly own the property. 2012 is a big year for Reeds Jewelers! The family business will be turning 100 year this!

One of the greatest parts about the City of Buffalo, to me, are the people. This blog has put me in contact with so many great people like Robyn, and I plan on sharing more of their stories throughout the coming months.

If you haven't checked out the Embrace The Difference® line, please visit www.embracethedifference.org today! With Valentine's Day just around the corner, purchasing a piece for a loved one will not only support a local family, but help out a great WNY organization as well.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mercy Flight

Since January 1, 2012, Mercy Flight has posted on their Facebook/Twitter pages SIX times that their services were needed to help accident victims on the slopes, and in car accidents throughout WNY. In times of crisis, getting a victim to the hospital quickly is of utmost importance. It can mean life over death, and Mercy Flight does it best.

Mercy Flight was started in 1981 by Douglas Baker. Doug began working on an ambulance when he was 13 and being an EMS was in his blood. He established LaSalle Ambulance prior to 1981 which served the area for many years before being bought out by Rural/Metro. Doug also served as a combat medic in the military and when he return back to civilian life he began to explore the military concept of medevac, and knew it could work in WNY.

Since it’s inception in 1981, Mercy Flight has safely flown more than 19,000 patients to receive treatments (about 900 alone last year). Mercy Flight celebrated their 30th anniversary this past year, and are an asset our community cannot do without.

Today, Mercy Flight is one of only a few of the truly not-for-profit air medical operations in the country. Nowadays most as for-profit companies and are operated by hospitals.

When an accident happens, about half of all calls Mercy Flight receives are to go directly to the scene of the accident or emergency. The first responders on the scene will make the decision as to whether or not the services of Mercy Flight are needed, and they make the call. In other cases, hospitals will contact Mercy Flight with a request to fly a patient in critical condition to another hospital to receive advanced care.

What amazes me about Mercy Flight is that with their upgraded fleet of helicopters they can reach most of the service area in WNY within 15 minutes of takeoff. If they think they may be needed after an accident they can be put on “stand-by” and get there even quicker. Mercy Flight has three helicopters staffed 24/7/365 with a pilot, critical care paramedic and a critical care nurse. The three helicopters are stationed in Buffalo, Batavia and Olean. In addition to the helicopter staff, Mercy Flight has an administrative team of eight plus seven aircraft mechanics and a communications center that is manned 24/7 as well. In total, they have 13 full time pilots on rotation throughout the week at the different locations. While some of the paramedics and nurses are full time, most work part-time for the organization. They employ around 24 of each (paramedics/nurses).

During one year, it typically costs about $9 million for Mercy Flight to operate in WNY. After services are utilized they will bill the patients’ insurance carriers, and while those revenues bring in the majority of funding, they are left with about a $1 million gap to fill each year. They receive no funding from NY State and receive very limited funding totaling less than $50,000.

When speaking with Mercy Flight Director of Development & External Affairs Jeffrey Mendola, he said, “We could not do what we do without community support. We recently introduced the opportunity for people, families and organizations to sponsor a flight for a donation of $842. After the flight, we will send them a note to let them know about the flight they sponsored. We also accept on-line donations on our website www.mercyflight.org and host a few fundraisers throughout the year to raise the additional funds.”

Their website is a wealth of information about the history of medevac, Mercy Flight and many great patient stories.

Mercy Flight is one of those organizations we hope we never need to use, but are thankful is there should an emergency arise. They truly are "a beacon of hope, when minutes matter."

Mercy Flight is another organization that is part of the "12 Missions in '12" campaign. Stay tuned for more details about the fundraiser.

Check out this public service announcement they put out last year called "Eyes Out" with Buffalo Bandit Mark Steenhuis. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xpgUrsUeAY.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hospice Buffalo

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my Grandma, Carol Sondel, who passed away in November 2001. After finding out she had pancreatic cancer early in November, it took just a few weeks before she passed. It was a painful time for her, a heart breaking time for my family, and for me personally, a time where I hit “rock bottom.”

During the few weeks after the diagnosis to her passing, my family utilized the services of Hospice Buffalo, and we couldn’t be more thankful for their support both physically and emotionally during this very hard time.

According to dictionary.com, the word hospice means a “house of shelter”. In medical terms it is defined as a “health-care facility for the terminally ill that emphasizes pain control and emotional support for the patient and family.”

Buffalo, NY is extremely fortunate to have Hospice Buffalo, the only licensed hospice program in Erie County. If you asked me to define “Hospice Buffalo” I’d tell you it means “Supportive family.” In its’ most basic sense, Hospice Buffalo is a “house of shelter” for hundreds of patients throughout the area, but Hospice Buffalo is so much more than a “health- care facility”.

Hospice Buffalo began as a grass roots, voluntary effort in the homes of dedicated professionals and local civic leaders who wanted to make a difference in the lives of terminal patients and their families. In 1978, under the direction and leadership of Charlotte Shedd, RN, MS, the organization began.

Hospice Buffalo’s health care professionals serve more than 700 patients a day in homes, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living residences, group homes, hospice inpatient units and hospice residences.

When I began to research more about Hospice Buffalo and dig deeper into their history, I spoke with the Director of Public Relations & Community Relations, Rosemary Collins. From the moment I began talking with her, I could see how deeply she cared about the mission of Hospice Buffalo, and she was gracious enough to spend a lot of time answering the many questions I had.

Hospice Buffalo is available to ANYONE who is facing a serious illness. They are available 24 hours, 7 days a week and anyone is able to call them and schedule a visit. Hospice is a fully covered Medicare benefit and most insurance plans cover hospice services as well. “Hospie care is based on the patient’s need, not the ability to pay.” Rosemary told me.

Hospice Buffalo offers comprehensive medical care to the patient, but above and beyond that, emotional and spiritual support is provided to the patient and their family. Hundreds of caring professionals offer medical and nursing services, home health aide services, social work services, pastoral and spiritual care, assistance with legal and other issues and bereavement counseling. Inpatient care for symptom management is also provided. In addition to all of that, Hospice also provides prescription medications related to the patient’s admitting diagnosis and medical supplies and equipment.

Just typing all those out, I am beginning to tear up. For someone who has seen a loved one struggle through a painful disease, they know the costs related to it, and the stress it can place on family members. Hospice Buffalo is there to help from A – Z and they don’t fail. With over 620 employees locally and an additional 1,000 volunteers, they are well trained and educated to provide patients and their families with everything they need to handle a very difficult time.

Since becoming “Hospice Buffalo” in 1978, they have served and helped more than 45,000 patients and their families throughout the Western New York region.

While much funding for Hospice Buffalo comes from health insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid, Hospice Buffalo needs to raise many additional funds to cover the uninsured, underinsured, and services that are not covered. “Our greatest need is funding for patient care, as Hospice Buffalo’s cost of caring for a patient is typically not fully covered by insurance.” Rosemary told me. “We raise money in the community to help support our care including bereavement support for up to a year, pastoral care for support and guidance to patients and their families as well as expressive therapies (music, massage, child life therapy) and more.”

According to the March 2007 Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, clinical studies on hospice care have shown that hospice patients typically live longer than those who do not receive hospice care.

This past holiday season I attended my first “Light-A-Life for Hospice Buffalo” tree lighting ceremony outside Ctg Inc. on Delaware Avenue in the City of Buffalo. As a part of fundraising efforts you can purchase a silver bell engraved with a loved one’s name who has passed away, or purchase tags that are placed on a handful of trees and lit up for the holiday season. The short ceremony had a profound impact on me, and I plan on making this yearly event a new family event to honor and remember (although that’s not very hard for me) my Grandma’s memory.

When I asked Rosemary what she thought the BIGGEST accomplishments of Hospice Buffalo have been, she said opening The Center for Hospice & Palliative Care’s Mitchell Campus (Hospice Buffalo’s parent company) in Cheektowaga. This facility, opened in 1995, has enabled Hospice Buffalo to reach a greater number of people in our community. The Center is a beautiful 27 acre wooded site that has 22 beds for inpatient Hospice visits that help with short-term pain/symptom management as well as end-stage care and respite. It also serves as a 10-bed Hospice residence.

Hospice Buffalo has been nationally recognized as one of the 20 largest hospice and palliative care programs in the United States and was awarded with the prestigious Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association this past year.

To schedule a visit, learn more about Hospice Buffalo or utilize their services, you can contact them at (716) 686-8077. Their website has a wealth of knowledge and you can check it out at www.hospicebuffalo.com.

Hospice Buffalo is truly a gem in the Western New York area and I am one of their proudest supporters. Hospice Buffalo will be one of the organizations I will be fundraising for as part of my “12 Missions in ‘12” campaign. Stay tuned for the details in coming months!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wanakah Grill in Hamburg

Aside from hitting up Ralph Wilson Stadium for Bills games, I don't get out to the southtowns very often. A friend recommended I try out a new restaurant in Hamburg called The Wanakah Grill and since my boyfriend Geoffrey is always up for a drive, we decided to try it out last Thursday evening.

The Wanakah Grill is situated off a main street not far from The Wanakah Country Club at 2293 Pleasant Avenue. The brick exterior with a large fireplace outdoors immediately made me wish we were visiting for the first time in the spring or summer. Behind the restaurant there is an area where tables can be set up outside and it looks like a great place to enjoy a summer night.

Once you get inside, it's an inviting space that has a very "neighborhood hangout" feel to it. One wall is dedicated to All Western New York athletes which really caught my attention.

The sign told us to find a seat, so we found a table and caught the waitress' attention. She said she would be with us in a minute, but unfortunately it took her almost 10 minutes to check in with us and take our drink orders. 10 minutes later she came back with our drinks and took our orders. The menu is small (in total there are less than 15 items). They have a handful of wraps, wings, fingers, a fish fry on Fridays and dinner specials each night; Thursday's special was a meat loaf dinner. We settled on a bowl of soup - roasted red pepper bisque, a chef salad, a large order of the chicken fingers (made fresh daily) with fries and a chicken Caesar wrap.

It didn't take long for the soup to come out (and the soup was absolutely delicious), but the soup came and went and we still hadn't been brought our salad. Our waitress kept telling us it would be out in a minute but it didn't get to the table for about 15 minutes, and then our dinners came out a minute later. The salad was small and underwhelming for the long wait, but the chicken fingers looked amazing so I dug right into them. They didn't disappoint! The fingers were crispy, just the way I like them, and the BBQ sauce was delicious. The fries were good too! Geoffrey said his wrap just okay, and he too was underwhelmed by the salad.

The prices are on par with most bar/grills in WNY, and it is definitely a place you can take the family to and not break the bank.

I spoke with one of the owners of the restaurant, Jim Healy, prior to coming out to try it, and what really made me want to get out there was the fact that opening this restaurant was really a whole community effort. When the owners (Jim Healy & Jim Rath) purchased the space in March of 2011, it needed a lot of renovations and work before opening. The residents of the area came out in full force to help with cleaning, painting and renovating.

"Jim Rath and I always thought we could make a run at having a local place that had good food, sports and some history. We only would have done this in our town where we have a good base of friends and family." Jim Healy said.

I was only in there for a couple of hours, but you could tell there were many locals who were catching up and enjoying a few drinks with friends. They have a handful of big flat screen tvs for sporting events and a fully stocked bar.

While they are a new place (officially opened in October 2011), and have some kinks to work out, it's a place to try and support local WNYers. I spoke with Jim Healy after our visit and he assured me that service problems would be promptly attended to and was thankful for the feedback.

For more reviews on The Wanakah Grill check out:

Wanakah Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mayback's Deli in Tonawanda

One of my favorite meals is a chicken finger sub with lettuce, tomato, onion, provolone cheese and lots of bleu cheese. Since it's not the healthiest thing out there, I usually limit myself to getting one a few times a year (it's almost always my lunch on my birthday...April 4th can't get here quick enough).

I've tried subs from all over WNY, but hands down the best chicken finger sub is from Mayback's Deli on Niagara Falls Boulevard at Glenalby (across from Barnes & Nobles).

Mayback's Deli has been a family owned and operated Deli/grocery stop since 1970. With the tagline, "Let my family serve yours", they keep the prices lower than most and don't skimp on the quality.

The 12" chicken finger sub with bleu cheese is only &6.99 and they don't charge you extra for cheese, or bleu cheese like most places.

They have daily lunch specials (which are always a great deal), pizza/wing specials and even serve breakfast. In addition to the food they make, they also have a small grocery storefront that has basic necessities (deli meats, pop, beer, condiments, packaged and canned foods, ice cream, etc...)

In addition to subs, they also have appetizers/starters, soups, salads, tacos, sandwiches, pizza, chicken wings/fingers and a few dinner options. I've had plenty of other things on the menu including sandwiches, chicken fingers and other subs and everything has been great!

They are open Monday - Saturday from 10am - 10pm and on Sundays from 12pm - 6pm (the kitchen closes 30 minutes prior to the store). They accept Master Card and Visa. To place an order you can reach them at 716-835-0115. They do have some tables to eat in if you want somewhere to sit down.

If you are doing some shopping on the Boulevard, or need a quick meal for your family, make a stop at Mayback's Deli and let me know what you think!

For more reviews on Mayback's Deli, check out:

Mayback's Deli on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

10th Chance Animal Rescue

I’m a cat lover. I have two cats of my own, Max (Brown/black striped 4.5 years old) and Daisy (Black, 2.5 years old). I adopted both my cats at the SPCA in Tonawanda, but since I have found another cat shelter that does some amazing work locally; 10th Chance Animal Rescue.

10th Chance Animal Rescue was founded in 1989 by Michelle Rott. Michelle has been rescuing cats for over 20 years and finally decided the best way for her to help would be to create a non-profit, no-kill shelter where the multitude of cats she saved would increase greatly.

Michelle is the sole owner of the non-profit, and has various volunteers including Laura Clary, who I interviewed for this article.

I first heard about the organization when a co-worker adopted her cat Panda from them. I fell in love with the story of the organization and the deep passion they have for cats, and made it my mission to find out more.

The actual physical shelter for the organization is in Lockport, however all of the “adoptable” cats are in foster care for their entire stay with 10th Chance. The only cages they see are during adoption events. Laura said the shelter is more of a sanctuary. In the shelter Michelle houses about 20 feral cats that she took in from the outside almost ten years ago. The majority of the cats are from a house that the SPCA raided. Unfortunately, they could not accommodate the cats so Michelle took them in. Michelle’s very caring personality doesn’t allow her to say no to any cats who need a place to live, especially ones who were living in horrible conditions.

If you have been thinking about getting a cat or kitten, it's always a great time to surprise your family with one. All of the adoptable cats and kittens are posted (with photos) on their website: http://www.10thChanceRescue.org. They also hold adoption events every weekend at Pet Smart.

Here are the adoption fees:
Kitten under 5 months: $110
Kittens over 5 months: $85
Young adults: $65
Older cats: Have a very minimal rehoming fee if they do a home visit and believe they are going to be in a safe and loving home.

The adoption fees include: Deworming (2 rounds), de-fleaing, two distemper vaccinations, rabies vaccine and spay/neuter.

When talking with Laura I could clearly tell that she is extremely passionate about the organization and so is everyone involved with it. “10th Chance is very different from the SPCA, and every other shelter I personally have volunteered at. We are a no-kill shelter, so a cat could live its entire life with us if need be. We do not euthanize any animal unless they are physically suffering and a vet recommends it. The greatest difference from other similar organizations is that we do not use cages. ALL of our adoptable animals are in foster care so they have free run.”

If you are interested in donating to this great organization, your donation will go almost exclusively to medical costs to test, treat and keep the cats healthy. Another great benefit of adopting with 10th Chance is they will cover vet bills for the first five months for kittens. They will not allow a cat to be adopted if it is sick, and they will use what funds they have to nurse it back to health and work with the adoptable family to ensure a smooth transition.

Michelle and her volunteers have tirelessly given their time and money to make sure all the cats are treated great and most of the time it isn't enough. In addition to monetary donations they are always looking for donations of cat/kitten food, cat toys, scratching posts, litter, and other supplies to care for the cats. Any donation you make is tax deductible!

Laura wanted me to point out that ALL donations REALLY do make a difference. A donation of just $10 is enough to get a shot into a cat, and $20 can almost cover costs to test one.

If volunteering is more your thing, 10th Chance is in need of foster homes and advocates for the organization. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent you can contact Laura at lkclary@buffalo.edu. If you are able to help spread the word about events, or can set up a small fundraiser for the organization, every little bit is always greatly appreciated.

The organization also has a Facebook page. I encourage you all to "like it" and share their updates on your personal pages. The link is: www.facebook.com/10thchancerescue.

One other thing I want to mention is that 10th Chance offers low cost spay/neuter options for people in the community. They can offer this service for a little less than $60, and also offer advice on caring for cats and working through issues you may be having at home. Many times people want to give up an animal because of a behavior issue or small health issue that can easily be taken care of with a little help. 10th Chance is always available to answer questions and work you through any problems you may be having.

While there are many options when adopting a cat, 10th Chance should be the first place you contact. They really go above and beyond for the cats they serve (in 2011 alone they were able to save 250 cats/kittens), and make the transition to adopting or fostering so easy.

10th Chance will be one of the organizations I will be helping out this year in my "12 Missions in '12" plan. If you are interested in helping out the organization, stay tuned for the details.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bodyshaping By Sandy

So now that the holidays are over and many of us are carrying around a few extra pounds, I'm giving a plug for WNY's largest fitness company, Bodyshaping By Sandy.

There are people who love going to the gym, and then there are people who are either scared of it, don't want to spend their time on a treadmill or elliptical or don't want to spend the money on the membership.

Bodyshaping By Sandy provides an awesome alternative to those who don't want a gym membership. But above that, the classes are really a great way to meet new people, share a few laughs, and get into the best shape of your life.

For 22 years Bodyshaping By Sandy has been offering group fitness classes for individuals and businesses in the Western New York area. Currently they are offering Zumba, Pilates, Yoga, 20-20-20, Tai Chi, and The Wet Workout to get you in shape in the new year!

Owner Sandy Mannella rents space at over 40 locations throughout Western New York, so there are classes in your neighborhood today! The classes run in ten week semesters, with the next semester beginning up the week of January 9th. Bodyshaping By Sandy is offering some great New Year specials so check out the website www.bodyshapingbysandy.com today to see what fits your schedule. Descriptions of each of the classes are given on the website as well!

Even better - depending on your health insurance, classes may be free. They accept plans from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Independent Health and others. To see if your plan is accepted, please call 716-568-0246 today! The office is open Monday - Thursday from 10am - 4pm.

So how do I know they work? Well, to be honest, I work for Bodyshaping By Sandy...BUT, before working for them I took the classes and it helped me kick start my weight loss (35 lbs!). I've taken fitness classes all over WNY, and while I've enjoyed many of them, the classes Bodyshaping By Sandy offer have been the best. Getting to meet a ton of new faces every semester has really given me a great network of new friends. I always love seeing my classes evolve over the 10 week semesters. People come in shy, by themselves, and within a few weeks I have to quiet down the class to get it started because everyone is gabbing away!

Getting to see things from the "teacher" point of view, I have been so impressed with the difference the classes have made for my students. I've seen ladies come in with little self confidence and after ten weeks they have broken out of their shell. I've seen some tremendous weight loss and most importantly I've seen people leave classes with a smile on their faces and the energy and strength to keep going.

So what class do I recommend? Well, I'd be lying if I didn't say that ZUMBA has changed my life. It's a latin based dance fitness program that incorporates rhythms from all over the world. During the hour cardio class you will be taken on a trip around the world, exploring salsa, cha cha, merengue, cumbia, belly dancing, tango, quebradita, and more! It's the highest impact class Bodyshaping By Sandy offers, but it is an absolute blast, and a great class from beginner to the advanced exerciser.

If you want to loosen up the joints, and stretch out, the Yoga, Pilates Fusion and Tai Chi classes are tremendous. To build your muscles and get a great overall workout try Total Body Boot Camp. If you want a lower impact but total body workout, try 20-20-20.

If you are looking for a fun way to get fit in 2012, consider trying out Bodyshaping By Sandy. I promise it will be the best decision you make this year!