Building up our community

Bridging the gap

Community Resource Collaborative and Imprintable Solutions

By: Hannah Smith

When we are young we are told that the world is our oyster, our options are unlimited, or we can be anything we want to be. The world is bright and shiny and full of hope when we are young. As wonderful and promising as this ideology is, this is simply not the case for everyone. Some people face a great deal of struggles in their young lives that either prevent or limit their ability to reach success in the future. Finding proper footing in life when you are fighting constant battles is a challenge, but it is possible to do with help. “Bridging the gap” between hope for tomorrow and a challenging reality is what Tina Paradiso, the owner of Imprintable Solutions, does for her young employees.

Paradiso’s knowledge of adversity stems partly from her personal experience. She dealt with domestic violence and experienced homelessness at just nineteen. But her knowledge also comes from the work she does every day at her company, Imprintable Solutions. Paradiso employs young people through her Community Resource Collaborative nonprofit. “My story will show you that I’ve been through it; I’ve just been through it differently,” she tells
Young adults who are chronically homeless, involved with gang activity, who are pregnant or parenting, are refugees, are English language learners, or differently abled are referred to Community Resource Collaborative by one of their fifteen partnering organizations. There are also individuals who come in as “street referrals.” Paradiso finds work for these walk-in individuals, and then she connects them with an outreach agency.
Through the nonprofit, they are then given a job at Imprintable Solutions where they create marketing material for other organizations through promotional product printing and apparel decorating. A variety of jobs are offered to these young people including: direct to garment and film printing, embroidery, shipping and receiving, warehousing, and fulfillment. They are also given the opportunity to choose what they want to do, and there has never been any issues with overstaffing in any department. As these young adults learn new skills at Imprintable Solutions, they are also given the opportunity to learn general information about personal finances.
Paradiso says that there were a lot of things that she assumed that everybody else knew, because she’s already lived through the experiences. She soon realized that a lot of these young adults have not had the same opportunities to learn what she has. Paradiso said she is doing her best to foster a safe space for questions she wouldn’t have thought of herself.
“They bring up gaps and questions, right? Then we make sure that everybody has the information,” she says.
Taking care of oneself is the first priority at Imprintable Solutions. There are hygiene products, a washer, a dryer, a fully stocked kitchen, and a bathroom with a shower. There is also safe transportation available through Uber and Lyft. They also offer childcare.
Paradiso wants to make these young people feel comfortable before their day starts, and that includes a full stomach and a clean body if that’s what they need. Dress code is also another rule that she has done away with. She only asks that workers’ extremities are covered. When asked why she doesn’t enforce a dress code, she made it clear she did not want there to be yet another hurdle for these individuals to face. You never know what they have and what they don’t, and Paradsio doesn’t want to further impede her employees. Her biggest concern is how everyone is treated.
Paradiso made it clear that, “respect is number one and that starts with respect of self. We respect everybody in here. We have lots and lots of orientations and identities.”
The respect that she asks of these individuals is also something she gives them in return. She is often asked if she is afraid of being taken advantage of. She says this as a “dumb question,” because there is no reason to be afraid of people taking advantage. She is willingly handing them an advantage. She wants them to have a greater chance for success, and that requires the trust that they will make the most of the opportunities she provides them. She does say that mistakes are made, but she gives them the chance to make up for it. One example was the time a bike went missing from the shop.
It was a bitter cold night in Rochester, and since the shop is open twenty-four hours some of the employees stayed later. As the night went on more and more people left. At the time, there were a couple of bikes laying around in the print shop. The next morning someone noticed that one was missing. Once Paradiso was made aware, she immediately texted the group and made sure they all knew that the bike needed to be returned to the shop.
The young man that took the bike texted her individually right away after she sent the message and explained his situation. He said that it was late by the time he left the shop, and the bus was no longer running. He was left with the choice of walking home in the pitch black and freezing cold or borrowing the bike. For his safety, he made the decision to take the bike. Paradsio knew there was no reason to be angry or think of this individual as a thief as long as the bike was returned, which it was. He did something out of necessity, and because of that, Lyft and Uber rides have been made available.
Because of the regard Paradiso holds for these young employees, they are given opportunities to explain their reasoning and make better decisions in the future. Her biggest concern for them is their safety, and she hopes that their willingness to be honest in the future may prevent issues like this one. She only wants the best for them and hopes for their continued growth as people.
She wants them to experience big changes in their lives and tries to give them the skills and knowledge to achieve their goals. She implements workshops or invites mentors to speak with all of these young people in order to instill a greater sense of stability. Whether you relate to this community or just feel a strong need to help, becoming a mentor is likely your best opportunity to do so. Wherever it is you have a passion, you can use that area of strength to help bridge the gaps in these young lives and create hope for their futures.

Looking good and doing good

Fashion Week Rochester makes dreams come true

By Daniel Curry

Twelve years ago, Center for Youth executive director Elaine Spaull received a phone call asking if the center would like to be a part of a new fundraiser. It would be called Fashion Week Rochester (FWR), a three-day event that would feature local businesses, designers, and artists, all while bringing attention to youth homelessness. Spaull saw an incredible opportunity and excitedly agreed to the new partnership. In its first year, FWR raised over $35,000 for the Center, and in 2019 they raised over $1 million.
Now in its thirteenth year, Fashion Week Rochester will include six runway shows spanning three days, each day with its own unique theme; and will continue to bring awareness and financial support to the Center for Youth. The Center is a not-for-profit youth-serving organization that reaches and assists over 30,000 young people annually. The Center helps those struggling with food insecurity, unemployment, legal issues, housing problems, and other types of struggles. Last year, the center used over $10 million in funding to help young people in the community. The center supplies, food, shelter, occupancy, travel, and many other services to those in need.
FWR has become an event that helps shine a light on these issues and helps bring communal and financial support. By empowering local youth and including them in the shows, the event is also directly impacting what Spaull says are some of the most at-risk youth in the community.
“It’s impacting those who struggle with homelessness, those who have food insecurity, those who find themselves in criminal justice situations, and those who are unemployed or underemployed,” says Spaull.
She also believes that Fashion Week Rochester is a unique and invaluable opportunity for people in the community to come together and do some good.
“What happened was the community began to embrace the idea of looking good and doing good. It’s impacting the most vulnerable young people in our community, and it’s the source of thousands of dollars for programs that are not funded by traditional means.It’s not government funding or foundational funding, it’s just the goodwill of people” Spaull says.
“We find ourselves in a very unusual circumstance, we can actually bring all kinds of positive energy to our community and at the very same time we’re trying to bring attention to these issues, social issues, economic justice, poverty, trauma, disenfranchisement, violence”.This year marks FWR’s thirteenth year of operation, and it might just be the biggest one yet. As always, it will be a three-day event, and each day will have its own theme.
The first night—Restore the Energy— is Thursday, October 13. This night will be the show’s “edgiest night” featuring gritty, urban, and innovative designers. The second night, Friday, October 14, is titled Restore our Community. This special night will showcase working men, families, kids, couples, and other incredible area locals. The third and final night, Saturday, October 15, is titled Restore the Grace. The most elegant night yet, the show will feature brides, suits, and other high fashion.Fashion Week Rochester is a show that focuses both equally on the clothes and the models that wear them. Spaull stresses that FWR doesn’t restrict who walks on the runway and who doesn’t. She says it’s a show that includes everyone.
“You’re gonna see models of all shapes and sizes, whether they are big, small, brown, white, young, and old people alike. We want everyone to feel comfortable, so that people can look at the models on the runway and say, ‘Hey, I could wear that.’”
This year FWR will be located at The Dome Arena in Henrietta. With a million-dollar air filtration system and 25,000 square feet of space, the venue brings the outside indoors. Spaull says that there will be available parking, restrooms, and “all the good stuff to keep the show going.”

For more information visit Community Resource Collaboration and Imprintable Solutions

24-Hour Youth Crisis Line (585)-271-2720

ROC reaches across the ocean

Rochester gives medical aid to Ukraine

By Lenora Kasper A community that is an ocean away from war is pulling together to send necessary medical aid to Ukraine. The Ukrainian community in Rochester has been working countless hours a week to get donations over to the war stricken country. RocMaiden was established in the city in 2014, after the traumatic events of EuroMaiden. Their goal is to get Western Medicine, such as military grade tourniquets and blood clotting gauze over to the victims of war in Ukraine.
“RocMaiden is centered around immigrants and first-generation immigrants- which is me. The majority of our families are in Ukraine,” says head of I.T. at RocMaiden, Dennis Pavlyuk.
Volunteers have been working tirelessly to keep in contact with organizations overseas for donations and supplies. Pavlyuk’s father, Volodymyr Pavlyuk is the founder and coordinator of RocMaiden. He met with Monroe County Executive, Adam Bello, to discuss medical supplies Ukraine needed most. After the battle at Kyviv ambulances were essential, so they were trying to chip in and raise money to donate ambulances from Italy to Ukraine.

“That’s when the idea came to mind, like why can’t we just ask for them here? My dad’s philosophy is it never hurts to ask,” says Pavlyuk. “He just asked if they could get us ambulances and you know, [Adam Bello] asked his little intern can we get these guys ambulances? Two or three days, and we got them. They were towards the end of their life, but it’s a big spreader van and it will work great for the front lines.” 

The Rochester area has strong connections to Ukraine. Irondequoit is the sister city of Poltava, Ukraine and Nazareth University has a partnership program with the National University of Ostroh Academy in Ostroh, Ukraine. So when the country was invaded, local businesses did what they could to help. 

“In the beginning, we didn’t have a warehouse. Xerox donated a warehouse for us to use in the next six months in Xerox Park, Webster to hold all of our humanitarian aid that we’ve collected.

Different communities are helping with the connections that they have,” says Pavlyuk.

The first day after the invasion, the Ukrainian Culture Center held a meeting. The media was not allowed to attend, but the room was filled with community representatives.

“We had people from Buffalo and from different faith communities, which is very extremely rare, come in and sit in at this meeting. We’ve had this kind of split in the faith community here. We come from the Orthodox, we had the renaissance 250 years after the west did.  We’ve never experienced that cultural diffusion there and I think that was really amazing the way that came together,” says Pavlyuk.

The idea of misplaced Ukrainians hits close to home for many people in the area. However, it may be some time until refugees make it here. 

“Sometimes the refugee chain takes a while or function before we see arrivals. At least at this point we have had a couple of emails, but we have not yet dealt with any [Ukrainian] arrivals,” remarks executive director of Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services, Mike Coniff. 

The Ukrainian Cultural Center offers ways to donate and help Ukraine for anyone willing.

Our latest updates delivered straight to your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign up for Our Newsletter - (585) Magazine

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Subscribe to our newsletter