Each year the Valley Community Association recognizes and honor individuals who have impacted the agency and the community and who passed on during the previous calendar year. The 24th Annual “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade is presented this year by Sullivan’s Brewing Company on Saturday, March 11th, 2017. The Parade begins at noon at the Valley Community Association
Ann Higgins started attending St. Stephens Church some years ago. Little did she know that the lady who sat with her in the pew was the Valley Community Association President Jerry Butler who served on the Valley board for over twenty years. Being her usual persuasive self, Jerry got Ann to participate in activities at the Valley Senior Center. Jerry passed away in 2012 and Ann was quickly nominated to replace her as the volunteer senior coordinator. Ann had been already been volunteering for a few years at this point and was familiar with the job. Ann moved into Jerry’s front desk welcoming seniors each and every day, taking attendance, and assigning chores to other volunteers. She helped plan their special events including seasonal parties, arranged for field trips, and set up honor guards at funerals. Her quick wit and one-liners kept everyone smiling. Ann took exceptional care of a group of developmentally disabled seniors from Heritage Centers that came every Tuesday. She also was active in Friday night Pinochle.
Ann, wife of the late Patrick Higgins, was the mother of Paul, Maryann, Joanne, Steven, Jeff, Trish and Donald.
Jim Keane, was one of 16 children who hailed from Kingston Place in St. Theresa’s Parish. Jim’s involvement with the Valley Community Association began back in 1980 when Jim served as the councilman for the area. Even though a grass roots group of Valley residents fought to have the Carmichael Center built, the City of Buffalo decided it would be operated by city civil service employees. The Valley Community Association operated from donated storefronts and leased space from St. Stephens. It was only several years after the new Carmichael Center was dedicated that it experienced problems with youth gangs. Councilman Keane helped negotiate terms that the VCA would operate sports leagues during the fall and winter months at the Center. The VCA conducted a crime comparison study comparing the months that they there with those same months of previous years. The results were dramatic with a 34% decrease in youth related police calls. With that ammunition, Councilman Keane helped the VCA negotiate terms with the City of Buffalo for a full takeover of the Father Carmichael Valley Center which happened soon after.
The St. Stephens Taxpayer Association, led by Joan Slattery (a former parade honoree), also worked very closely with Councilman Keane who allocated block grant dollars to redo the sidewalks and curbs and re-mill the streets throughout the Valley neighborhood.
Jim Keane was feisty when he needed to be yet a gentle soul known for singing his Irish songs and writing for the Irish Times. Nearly every week he was at the concerts at Buffalo River Fest Park with his clan. Jim is survived by his wife Margaret and children Sean, Katie, Jimmy, and Meg.
John Yuskiw hailed from a town called Outlook, Saskatchewan, Canada. It was the grain handling center of that region, so he felt very much at home when he finally settled in Buffalo in the Old First Ward.
As a merchant marine he met his late wife Bootsie, who was the Grand Marshal of the “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2004, at Maloney’s Bar which later became Milt’s Tavern on Louisiana Street. They settled down on Vandalia Street, raised five children – John, Beth, Tim, Norine, and the late Terry – and were very active parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church.
John was a master refrigeration mechanic who worked at Loblaw’s, Morgan Linen, Main Place Mall and retired from Tops Markets. Upon Bootsie’s death and being semi-retired, John became a member of the Valley Seniors and would come to enjoy lunch and conversation with the other seniors. Over the years John was the VCA’s “go to” guy to fix the many commercial refrigerators and freezers that accommodate the VCA food pantry and the ice machine that is used for special events. He always had the part in his garage and his invoice was $5.00. These kindnesses were extended to everybody fixing washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, water pumps in households throughout the community. It was just a few short years ago, when John was in his 80’s, that he was crawling around the kitchen floor at the Valley Senior Center replacing a blade in the cooler.
John was the father was John, Beth, Tim, Norine, and the late Terry.
The parade will kick off at 12 Noon from the Valley Community Center and will wind through the streets of the historic Buffalo River Community. Viewing of the parade is available along South Park Avenue (between Hamburg Street and Smith Street), Smith Street (between South Park Avenue and Elk Street), Elk Street (between Smith Street and South Park Avenue), Hamburg Street (between South Park Avenue and South Street), and South Street (between Hamburg Street and Louisiana Street).
Immediately following the parade will be the traditional grand Irish “Hooley” featuring live music by “Poor Ould Goat” as well as plenty of food and drink. The “Hooley” runs from 1pm-5pm at the Valley Community Center.
To Find Out More about the Valley’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities