VILLA, 10 Franklin St, Rochester, NY 14604 [Photo: David Kramer, 6/2/20]
Until September 2015, I was the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle‘s Make City Schools Better blogger (scroll down on the link page to see all posts). My very last post featured Area Manager Rickey Hunley of VILLA, the clothing store on 10 Franklin Street across from the Liberty Pole. (ARTICLE BELOW).
Outside the store, I saw a sign asking people to Join the Movement: a campaign to revitalize urban communities by supporting economic investments, educational opportunities and exposure to multi-cultural experiences, heroes, and other inspirational figures.Rickey explained that employees sign up not just to sell attractive sports wear, but to literally join a movement. Voluntarily, employees participate in up to 25 hours of community service activities a month. “Project 1000″ is at the heart of the movement. Later, Rickey emailed a list of various “Project 1000″ programs that benefit school kids, young entrepreneurs, and high school students.
As the Make City School Better blogger, I was especially excited to learn that VILLA was joining the Adopt-A-School program where local businesses provide tutors for the Rochester City School District. VILLA was “adopting” East High School. I was ready to Join the Movement.
In A Black Lives Matter solidarity rally with commentary from Kholaa and a walk down Joseph Avenue, we reported on Saturday’s Black Lives Matter peaceful rally that celebrated hope, strength, community and empowerment. As we all know, after the rally looters struck several downtown stores, including VILLA.
That evening, deeply dissapointed, I read Ryan Miller’s “Looters storm Villa store in Rochester, leave with armfuls of stolen goods” (D & C, 5/30/20) and watched the video of the break-in.
In A Black Lives Matter solidarity rally, I wrote I was proud to be a Rochestarian. Watching — in Mayor Lovely Warren’s terms — these Rochestarians shamefully fall into the trap set by the violent instigators, I felt less proud.
No doubt, VILLA and its movement will be back. People need revitalized urban communities and exposure to multi-cultural experiences. Hopefully, looters and vandals never again will return.
Today, at the Liberty Pole, I met two women holding signs (five people in all had gathered to express solidarity).
Just as I arrived, I heard two men say to the women: “White Supremacy.” As the men passed, another man on the benches told the white men, “black people have rights too,” to which the men retorted, “if they don’t like it here, go home.” The women said that, except for a couple of middle fingers given by passing motorists, the public response was very positive. The men’s outburst was the most openly antagonistic commentary the women heard all day.
On my way home, I saw the men jaywalking on Mt. Hope Avenue talking about being on welfare. One man carried a half pint whiskey bottle of Jim Beam.
The Villa Movement: Adopting East High on the game plan in the near future (September 17th, 2015)• September 17, 2015
Cycling past the Liberty Pole Way and seeing a storefront sign for the Villa Movement, my Unite Rochester blog antennae beeped. As did my interest in sports gear and apparel.Inside the store, I got the very cool story of Villa: Join the Movement from Area Manager Rickey Hunley. The mission statement — while powerfully crafted — just sets the stage for what Villa is all about.
Fundamentally, as explained to me by Rickey, Villa employees sign up not to just sell attractive sports wear, but to literally join a movement. Fully voluntarily, employees participate in up to 25 hours of community service activities a month. In my short stay, I could tell these activities were more fun than work, watching Rickey and his assistant scroll though their phones containing abundant options for the post.
Rickey has taken part in programs benefiting school kids, young entrepreneurs, high school students, and others needing a helping hand:
Personally since my employment with Villa I have helped our “Project 1000″ where we measured the feet and supplied over 700 kids with Timberland boots for Winter of 2012. We’ve also are committed to our Homesewn project where we are giving local entrepreneurs an opportunity to have their clothing lines sold in Villa on a permanent basis. We did a food drive, we collected non perishable goods and donated them to the Rochester City Mission. Lastly, I most recently spoke at the 585 Peace Walk rally, I talked about our I Matter Scholarship where we gave away 5 Scholarships ranging from $1000-$5000 to local Rochester High Seniors Seniors who graduated June 2015. We are opening up our 2nd enrollment for another round of scholarship opportunities for the class of 2016.
As Rickey told the story, I could tell much of what he did at Villa is a labor of love.
I was especially interested in the Adopt a School program now getting started. I learned that Villa is about to “adopt” East High, joining the ranks of community members who have come forward to help the new East succeed.
As Rickey says:
Adopt a School simply gives each Villa location access to the kids we serve. We are committed as employees to do community service on a quarterly basis. We can do application writing, resume writing and practice interviews. Actually, whatever East needs. Soon to come!