Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Personal Reflection - To the People of Buffalo

The Buffalo Convention Center

Something that I have learned about Buffalo, since I moved here, is that there is a strong sense of pride for the community. Those who were born and raised here love this city. It is known as the City of Good Neighbors and I can testify that when I moved here my neighbors greeted me in a very kind and friendly manner and that has not changed.

Recently, Buffalo’s Professional Ice Hockey team, the Sabres, made it to the playoffs. The pride and enthusiasm that the local’s felt for their team was contagious and even I (a non sports fan) found myself rooting for a win. Thousands showed up for the games in downtown Buffalo and people were happy. I’m sorry to report that the Sabres lost their place by 3 wins and 4 losses. The fans were sad but immediately were saying things like ‘We will win next year.”

Why am I mentioning these things? Well, the recent U.S. Census statistics revealed that many people had moved from this area in the past ten years. Yes, I expect that there are some that moved because of the extreme weather in the winter months, but I believe that many more moved away because they just could not find employment here.

The photo above shows some of the almost 5,000 people, who recently showed up to take the application test for the job of being a police officer in Buffalo. The streets of downtown were filled with applicants on that Saturday morning as they waited to take the three-and-a-half hour police department exam. Police salaries are between $48,000 and $64,000. Long lines were seen at the Convention Center. It has been reported that there will be about 120 jobs available for the 5,000 applicants, which means that only one out of every 41 applicants will be hired.

People in Buffalo want to work, they want to continue to live here and raise their families, just as their parents did before them. The reality is that there is not enough employment available and many more will have to make the decision to move away. Many more houses will be left abandoned and many who love the Sabres and the Buffalo Bills will have to support their favorite teams from afar because they were forced to move away.

It is sad to watch adults who wish to work being turned away. It is even harder to observe the youth who have no job skills. and no chance of apprenticeship programs, becoming despondent about not getting hired at all. I am so sorry that people who love this City will join the migration to other places where employment is available, and even those places are becoming few and far between.

To the people of Buffalo – I love your spirit and your perseverance – I pray that better times are coming.


photos from the Buffalo News


Chuck said...

Thanks, Lesley. Buffalo has also been called The City of no Illusions. As long as the corporations control economies, and buy off governments to do their bidding, the spiral downward will continue, especially for the poor and marginalized. Let's hope that down the road 5000 applicants might show up for 5000 jobs that offer real hope and meaning in their lives. Happy May Day! Chuck Culhane

Karima said...

I am a native Buffalonian who believes in miracles.

peacesojourner said...

I know that you do - what I neglected to mention in the reflection is that, as you know so well, so many are working towards positive change in the city.

Peter K. B. said...

Thank you so much for keeping on the bridge to help pilot us toward realizing the beauty among us without forgetting the challenges that we face and can overcome in some instances, but a good spirit and hope sets the foundation. I too agree with your reflection of the Buffalo people. I am now explaining the same in one of my book manuscripts UNFORGETTABLE: REFLECTIONS ON FIELDWORK IN BUFFALO NY, THE CITY OF GOOD NEIGHBORS

Your Partner in Peace. Peter K. B. St. Jean