Sweet Sensations to benefit Franciscan Northside Ministries

By Claudia Mathis
      Staff writer

   A good time is assured to all who attend the Sweet Sensations event on Nov. 3 at The Franciscan Center in Syracuse. The fundraiser to benefit Franciscan Northside Ministries will offer a fun-filled evening of musical entertainment, sweet treats and fellowship.

   The cabaret-style event will be hosted by Brad Ozinsky and will begin with a performance by guitarist Karl Sperber. Local songstress Moe Harrington will sing under the musical direction of Jeff Unaitis. Special guests Frank Fiumano and Geno Parlato will also be featured.

   A sampling of desserts, pastries and confections, which include Nunnbetter chocolates made by the Sisters of St. Francis, will be served, along with fruit, cheese and a variety of coffees and teas.

   Door prizes and gift baskets will be raffled off.

   Karen Tifft, a member of the committee that plans the event, said that they expect between 225 and 250 people to attend the fundraiser. “It’s very popular and well-attended,” commented Tifft.

   The fundraiser got its start eight years ago when Sister Dolores (Dolly) Bush, OSF, organized it to raise financial support for the Poverello Health Center, an organization that offers free health care to people in the Central New York area who have no medical insurance.

   Tifft said that the funds raised from the event are used to promote the purpose of Northside Ministries, which is to create a safe, accepting and respectful environment to meet the physical, social and spiritual needs of all.

   Assumption’s Franciscan Northside Ministries follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi who realized that all of creation flows into sacred relationship with each other and the divine. The Ministries seek to embrace all as one in God and live as brother and sister to each other.

   The Franciscan Northside Ministries, with close to 100 active volunteers, administer a number of programs that greatly benefit the community.

   Sister Dolly and her cohort, Sister JP Ridgeo, OSF, head up the programs.

   “These are women who are truly dedicated to building a better neighborhood on the north side of Syracuse,” remarked Tifft. “They administer their programs with determination, commitment and a sense of humor that fortifies them and their volunteers.”

   Every Tuesday morning, the Franciscan sisters welcome people from the neighborhood to a house next to the Franciscan friary on the north side for free coffee and donuts.     

   Other programs include free legal assistance, advice and referrals to those in need, free pancake breakfasts, picnics at Onondaga Lake Park, ice cream socials, days of reflection for women and family reading parties at Christmas time.

   At Easter time, Peace Camp, a weeklong day camp is offered to children ages six to 11. Its focus is on peace, healthy relationships and peaceful alternatives within a violent neighborhood.

   The Poverello Health Center is also administered by the Franciscan Northside Ministries. Offering free medical care, it is staffed by volunteer physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses, as well as a chiropractor and an optometrist.

   Bill Irwin, a member of the Sweet Sensations committee for the last six years and a volunteer at the coffee meeting and at the Health Center, thinks the medical center is a vital asset to the community. “They provide a wonderful service,” Irwin said. “People with no health insurance come to the clinic from all over.”  

   Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the Sweet Sensations event and starting time is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $25 and veterans will be admitted free if accompanied by a paying guest. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling sister Dolly at (315) 423-9961.

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