Syracuse Sizzles!

By Zach Snyder and Esther Zorn. Photos were taken by John DeSantis

It’s All Here! At Believe in Syracuse, we believe that SYRACUSE SIZZLES! in the summer. That’s why we’re launching a summer digital campaign, for our community and in conjunction with our community partners, to promote the fun opportunities  Syracuse offers in the summer.

Here are just some of our top picks for places to spend the summer in Syracuse:

Parks & Nature

The Beach at Green Lakes State Park

Pictured above: The beach at Green Lakes State Park 

One of the best parts of Syracuse Summer is all the parks and outdoor activities. Some of our favorites are:


Pictured above: Ice cream from Crave Dessert Studio at the Taste of Syracuse

An iconic part of Syracuse summers is our festivals. Wherever they are in Syracuse, they bring together communities for a fun time for all ages. A few of our favorites still coming up are:

And of course, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t mention the greatest end to the Syracuse Summer: the Great New York State Fair. This year you’ll have even more chances to go since they expanded to 13 days! The fair runs from August 22nd - September 3rd. More details to come!

Arts & Culture

Pictured above: The AmeriCU Arts & Crafts Festival 

Another great part of Syracuse is the arts & culture. While many of these things you can do year-round in Syracuse, some are great things to do on a rainy day:

Food & Drink

Pictured Left: Beer from 315 Brewing. Pictured Right: Food and Beverages at Beer Belly Deli

There’s plenty of great places to enjoy summer in Syracuse and have a good meal. Some of the places our members like to go are:

Of course, we can’t forget about all the food trucks that pop up around Syracuse.

We hope you’ll be able to get out there and enjoy some of the things that we believe why

SYRACUSE SIZZLES! Watch on social media to see more positive things to do this summer.

Share the positive experiences you’re having with us at #SyracuseSizzles!  

Believe in Syracuse's Partners: Some of the Best of CNY

All throughout the month of May, Believe in Syracuse celebrated the first ever CNY Organization Month. We promoted all our sponsors and partners in the community that help enable us to do the work we do.

In total, our corporate sponsors employ thousands of people across CNY and contribute millions of dollars to our local economy. Nonprofits we partner with run local education programs for kids and help transition people out of poverty.

Do you know an organization that would like to partner with us? Click here for more info, reply to this email or give us a call at 315-657-7478.

BlueRock Energy is a proud supporter of Believe in Syracuse and the local community. For 15 years, BlueRock has been providing energy solutions for residents across the Northeast. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, BlueRock Energy offers electricity and natural gas options for you. Switch to BlueRock today and lock in a low fixed energy rate by visiting


AP Professionals of Syracuse, a full-service search staffing agency, has become an outstanding solution to both clients and candidates when hiring or looking for new positions. AP Professionals places individuals who have Accounting, Finance, Human Resources, Legal and Administrative backgrounds both on a permanent and contract basis. Click here to check out their website:

Our mission is to help our clients achieve their personal, business, and financial goals. Our firm is dedicated to core legal competency in each of our legal practice areas, prompt client communication, tireless improvement, unwavering ethics, and zealous advocacy. We treat each client with respect and measure our success by our clients’ success. To check out their website, click here:

We’re not just another place to grab bar food before the game. At Beer Belly Deli & Pub, you’ll find a creative menu inspired by the traditions of gastropub fare, as well as a unique beer and wine menu that is sure to suit any occasion. Comfort food with a twist. Check out this spot in the heart of Westcott Street and visit their website for more info:

The Finger Lake's #1 Casino just a 40-minute drive from Downtown Syracuse! We have the hottest slots, the most-thrilling table games, marquee entertainers & a 4-star resort-style hotel—excitement at a whole new level. Proximity to regional attractions is part of what makes Syracuse great. Check out their website

Providence Services of Syracuse: If your company has trouble hiring or retaining employees due to lack of transportation, contact Providence Services @ their Shuttle To Work program. 315-415-0165 - Deborah Hundley, President

Making it in CNY: Yes, there's still manufacturing in Central New York... lots of it! Making it in Central New York is an open-source integrated marketing initiative. They encourage manufacturers, their service providers, workers and the general public to engage in and continue to develop and promote our story. Check them out on Facebook at

ChoicePay Payroll: We are a payroll company in Syracuse that offers businesses a local alternative to PayChex and ADP. They are an easy and affordable service, especially for small businesses. We recently spotlighted them on our blog. Click here to learn more.

Hill & Associates Financial Services: We founded our practice with the desire to help individuals and families develop personalized financial strategies that can grow with them over the years. With over 117 years of combined experience, our team is uniquely positioned to bring this level of experience to you. We are dedicated to serving our clients first, last, and always. Learn more at

Michael Sgro, LLC: Michael D. Sgro is a business owner, a certified coach, an advocate, a college success expert and creative leader. His mission is to inspire and nurture extraordinary leaders. He is hosting Seven Strangers at Dinner, a new networking experience at il salotto. Click here to learn more and RSVP.

Woodbine Hospitality Group: The management group for the beautiful, sustainable, and industry-leading hotels in Syracuse: The Genesee Grande Hotel, Hotel Skyler, and The Parkview Hotel

Wegmans: Our commitment to you is simple: Every Day You Get our Best. Our customers tell us they choose Wegmans for the helpful people in our stores, help with delicious meals from our chefs, and the freshest ingredients possible. Offering choice, quality and value in every aisle is how we hope to make your shopping experience a genuine pleasure.

The Landmark Theatre: The Landmark's 2018 Gala is your opportunity to enjoy a spectacular evening of live music, fine dining, and entertainment at the historic Landmark Theatre. As we celebrate our 90th anniversary this year, artwork created by local artists and inspired by the theatre will be available for silent auction, as well as priceless theatre memorabilia. The 2018 Gala will be Saturday, June 23rd, with cocktails beginning at 7 pm, dinner at 8 pm, and an after party from 10 pm – midnight. Get tickets at

MIC - McCormick Internet Consultants: We are a locally owned & run computer & network services business. We support MAC & Windows Systems, Wired & Wireless Networks, and Website Design/Hosting. We are offering free systems/network analysis for Believe in Syracuse supporters. To learn more and sign up for a free aanalysis click here.

Esther Zorn at Keller Williams Realty Syracuse: I am your premier real estate expert and I am here to provide you with all the resources and information you need to buy or sell real estate. I work with buyers and sellers in I have had extensive training in the latest real estate strategies. I am confident that I can offer you knowledge and tools most other agents can’t. Take a look at my website, to see some of the great tools I have to offer.

Simon's Agency: They offer Consumer and Commercial Collections for the modern age using the most advanced technology and allowing for easy client interface and placements. Their marketing director John Viggiano was recently highlighted in this blog post on our website.

It's About Childhood & Family: A Central New York Not-for-Profit Agency Providing Mental Health Services for Children & Families. "We believe that children should not be defined by labels, but instead by their strengths and character." To learn more visit their website:

Commonspace: Commonspace is a new way of living, working and making human connections. It is no less than revolutionary in its simplicity but perfectly aligned with the human spirit.  We are all social creatures, and the best versions of ourselves are expressed when we do so in a group. To learn more visit

CH Insurance: CH Insurance specializes in protecting your business and what’s important to you personally. Because our roots are right here in CNY, with owners on site, immediate and accurate decisions are made on your behalf. We’re personally involved and in your corner. Learn more at their website

Museum of Science & Technology - MOSTThe MOST is a preeminent science and technology institution, inspiring all generations through hands-on education and entertainment. For information on exhibits and upcoming events, visit

Acropolis Development: A Leading Real Estate Brokerage And Development Company In Syracuse. Learn more on their website:

Integrity Cost Consulting: We help organizations improve cash flow by verifying, recovering, and reducing their waste, telecom, and utility costs. We work on a performance-basis. Learn more on their website

Do you know an organization that would like to partner with us? Click here for more info, reply to this email or give us a call at 315-657-7478.


John from Simon's Agency Inspired by Syracuse


John Viggiano and his father Dan Viggiano, Jr. 

Q&A with John Viggiano, Marketing & Communications at Simon's Agency

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself? 

I'm a lifelong resident of Syracuse and graduate of city schools. Born a Nort' sider and currently reside in Eastwood.

Q: What is your business and what does it do? 

I work for Simon's Agency, Inc. which helps organizations recover debts that are owed to them.

Q: Why did you go into this line of work? 

It found me! I was recruited by the owner when I was on summer break during my college years. It's a fascinating blend of analytics and psychology and has proven to be a challenging job from a marketing and communications perspective.

Q: Why do you believe in Syracuse? 

Because the community believes in itself and throughout my entire life has created positives in every way. The energy expended over the last three decades to make Syracuse great is impressive and inspiring.

Q: What do you love about living in Syracuse? 

In my opinion, it's one of the best natural beauties in America - the cleanest lakes and most pristine forests all within an hour of CNY. Pretty safe place from a geological and climate standpoint too.

Q: What makes Syracuse a great place for your business or organization? 

This part can be challenging but the people who work here are what makes it possible.

Q: How can readers learn more about your business and how can folks work with you/become a customer? 

Check out our website at and be sure to click on our blogs to learn more about our industry and our community involvement. From there fill out our contact form or give us a call!


Stories of Believe in Syracuse Fellows


Application Deadline: May 25th!

Pictured below, Molly was studying Graphic Design at Cazenovia College and wanted to put her talents to work and make a difference. Molly's contribution to Believe in Syracuse not only significantly built up her portfolio but also made a huge impact in helping us advance our mission through social media. She was a huge help in promoting our community events.


Pictured below - top right: Gwen was studying Marketing at Lemoyne and wanted to gain experience in fundraising. Her father works at Cornell and told her about how lack of funding can be such a challenge in non-profits and universities. While Gwen was with Believe in Syracuse she was able to get experience with exciting fundraising events. She successfully collected many corporate sponsorship donations and made our organization stronger.


Why become a Believe in Syracuse Summer Fellow?

  • Get Experience Working in the Non-Profit Sector
  • Be a leader in your community
  • Make a Difference
  • Build Your Resume
  • Join a Growing Organization

Wherever you are in life (High School student, College student, retiree or somewhere in between), if you have 15 hours/week to volunteer this summer, this is the opportunity for you. If not, please share this with anyone you know.

The application deadline is just one week away! Click here and apply now.


John DeSantis

P.S. FOCUS Greater Syracuse and Believe in Syracuse are hosting a forum next week about showcasing Greater Syracuse as a positive place to work and live. To learn more and RSVP to attend this free event, click here.


Matt's Story - Why he believes in Syracuse


Pictured above: John DeSantis and Matthew Grandjean

Q&A with Matthew Grandjean, Director of Sales, ChoicePay Payroll

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself? 

A: Born in Syracuse and grew up in Eastwood until moving out to Baldwinsville in third grade. Worked at Disney World through the Disney College Program. Graduated from the University at Buffalo. I recently got married and reside in the village of Cazenovia.

Q: What is your business and what does it do? 

A: ChoicePay Payroll – We are a payroll company in Syracuse that offers businesses a local alternative to PayChex and ADP.  

Q: Why did you go into this line of work? 

A: I enjoy solving problems and helping people in need when it comes to their businesses

Q: Why do you believe in Syracuse? 

A: Syracuse was once a powerhouse. I believe there are remnants of pride here that can bring it back to the glory days.

Q: What do you love about living in Syracuse? 

A: People think we are crazy for living in the snowiest city in the country. I love that! It is something to embrace and identify with.  

Q: What makes Syracuse a great place for your business or organization? 

A: This city is made up of many small to mid-size businesses with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. We can relate to many of them making it easy to understand the need and wants of their demands.

Q: How can readers learn more about your business and how can folks work with you/become a customer? 

You can follow us on social media platforms –Facebook-Instagram-Twitter. You can personally connect with me on LinkedIn, always looking to connect the dots in Syracuse over a cup of coffee. We also have a Podcast Let me know if you ever want to be on it!


Believe in Syracuse Spotlight: Deborah Hundley of Providence Services of Syracuse


Pictured above:

Bottom Left: The new van for The Shuttle To Work Program of Providence Services of Syracuse. Far right: Deborah Hundley. Top Left: Some of Providence's Riders.

Q&A with Deborah Hundley, President of Providence Services of Syracuse Inc

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself?

A: I have 4 Children and have lived in the Syracuse area over 25years. In 2014 I retired as a Financial Advisor and founded a nonprofit to help people to get jobs as a give back to the City.

Q: What is your organization and what does it do?

A: Providence Services of Syracuse is a nonprofit that helps low-income City residents get jobs by helping them overcome the transportation barriers that block them from most jobs. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to get a job and lack of transportation should not keep them from being self-sufficient. We offer a Shuttle To Work program that can provide affordable, reliable transportation to work. If a Company has difficulty getting employees it probably is due Transportation. A Company can sponsor a Shuttle for their employees or if there are 5-7 employees needing transportation we can begin a Shuttle.

Q: Why did you go into this line of work?

A: Early in one of our first Board meetings, a Director told us there were plenty of jobs but no transportation to get people there. After we researched this, we learned this is a primary reason for poverty across the world. We decided we would focus on the barriers to overcoming poverty.

Q: Why do you believe in Syracuse?

A: Across the Country, employers cannot get enough employees. Syracuse has a large untapped pool of job seekers. If 4000 people can get jobs because they have transportation, it would stimulate the economy with $80-$120 million by the spending their salaries. It will also attract new employers who will expand jobs and development.
Everything will improve.

Q: What do you love about living in Syracuse?

A: Summer and Fall are wonderful. The parks, Arts, Colleges and low cost of Housing are pluses. We are close to big Metros and Canada so a lot to see and do.

Q: What makes Syracuse a great place for your business or organization?

A: People in Syracuse really care about diversity and helping people in need.

Q: How can readers learn more about your organization and how can folks work with you?

A: Contact us on our website: Or email me at

5 Of The Best Parks in Syracuse

Upper Onondaga Park - Upper Onondaga Park Website

Located on the South Side / Strathmore, this park is a great place to spend time with your family, friends, dogs or just have some alone time! This 62-acre park includes picturesque Hiawatha Lake and the gorgeous Gazebo. The scenery is breathtaking, even when covered in snow!  Great photo opportunities for all occasions here!

Features of this park...

Hiawatha Lake and Band Gazebo - A must see!  This lake dates back to 1911, and the breathtaking Gazebo followed just a few short years later 

Swimming (Outdoor) Pool - 50 meters long, 6 lanes, children's spray fountain

Athletic Fields and Courts - 8 tennis courts and 3 basketball courts

Playground - Swings, slides, seesaws, and climbing bars

Firebarn - has been restored for community use (visit their website listed above for more info)

Barry Park -Barry Park Website

Nestled in the Westcott neighborhood, this park is perfect for family time! The park is 15 acres and packed with fun. 

Features of this park...

Athletic Fields and Courts  - A baseball diamond;4  soccer fields; 2 tennis courts; 1 basketball court

Trail that wraps the pond - Feed the ducks

Playground - Swings, slides, seesaws, and climbing bars

E.M. Mills Rose Garden - E. M. Mills Rose Garden Website

Located inside Thornden Park and near Syracuse University, this memorial rose garden was named for Dr. E. M. Mills in commemoration of his services to American rose-growing. The garden was established with an effort to meet three requirements: 1) harmony of color, 2) the hardiness required by our climate - See Syracuse weather brings about such beauty!, 3) such wide variety of types and kinds as to be educational to the rose-lovers who live in and visit our beloved Syracuse.

The very best time for a visit is in June when roses are in bloom!

Features of this garden park...

Stroll, stroll, stroll

Take photos for all your special occasions

Meditate or Read

A nice spot for a date with that special someone

Westminster Park - Westminster Park Website

Set in the Syracuse University area, this park makes it easy to just sit back and relax. While this park might not boast the family-friendly allure of a playground or basketball court, rest-assure (pun intended) it is a great location for those who need a little alone time. With 4 acres and lots of sidewalks, this could be a great way to get in your daily steps.

Features of this park...

Reflect and journal

Walk your dogs

Go for a run

Franklin Square Park -Franklin Square Park Website

Located near downtown where Plum and Solar Streets meet, this park is a city jewel!  Fountains and gardens and arbors, oh my! Beauty, beauty, beauty - did we mention the beauty of it?!  Fun Fact: This park's namesake comes from the H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company that produced cars in this area from 1902 to 1934.

Features of this park...

Enjoy the beauty of it

Read, relax, have a cup of coffee from the nearby cafe

Take photos for your special occasion - many use this park for wedding ceremonies or just as a photo backdrop 

Did your favorite park not make the list? Let us know what your favorite spot is in Syracuse!



Syracuse is rising because local businesses and non-profits help local people and our economy grow. Join in with us and become a sponsor by April 27th to help us get more people to believe in Syracuse.

On May 1st, Believe in Syracuse will embark upon a monthlong celebration and mass media campaign to promote local businesses, employers, specifically our sponsors who contribute to making Syracuse a more positive place.

This offers an amazing opportunity for new sponsors to sign up, existing sponsors to renew their sponsorship and take advantage of the following:

- Mass email to our 4,100 subscriber list and to our 700 member LinkedIn group that mentions your business or organization, info on the work you do, and promotes a call to action for your organization in the body of the email
- Article on announcing our active sponsors, mentioning your business or organization and the work you do
- Inclusion in a press release about our sponsors that will be sent to all local news outlets, likely resulting in local TV coverage
- Upon request, Believe in Syracuse will work with you to compose and publish an article on our blog, the entirety of which will be about your organization and will share this blog post to our Facebook Page (9,585 followers), Twitter (9,831 followers) and on LinkedIn.
- Provide access to a member of your team to post in our Facebook Group (2,061 members) up to twice per week for a month
- And more! Is there something your business has planned for May? Let us know and we can promote that as well!

Are you interested in learning more? Contact John DeSantis at or call 315-657-7478. 


Local Businesses and Nonprofits drive progress in this community and make it a great place to live. That's why leaders from their organizations make up our Advisory Council which helps Believe in Syracuse retain and attract residents to the Greater Syracuse Community. Join us!

Here are some of our current sponsors who are part of our Sponsor Advisory Council

  • Joe Convertino Jr. and David Graham from CH Insurance
  • Clifton Carden from Carden Dotzler Hammond - Attorneys At Law
  • Ben Tupper from Beer Belly Deli
  • Phil Van Horne and Mackenzie Naum from BlueRock Energy
  • Ann Marie Warner and Sue Wallace from AP Professionals
  • John Viggiano and Phil Bova from Simon’s Agency
  • Andrew Schuster and Edward McGraw at Ashley McGraw Architects
  • Jesse McCormick from McCormick Internet Consultants
  • Troy Evans, Real Estate Developer and Owner of Commonspace
  • Tison Kelley from Breakthrough Design
  • Michael Gilbert, It’s About Childhood & Family
  • Esther Zorn, Keller Williams Real Estate
  • Evelyn Carter, Wegmans Food Markets
  • Deborah Hundley, Providence Services of Syracuse
  • Del Lago Resort & Casino
  • Woodbine Hospitality Group - Tom Fernandez
  • Michael Sgro, LLC
  • Hill & Associates Financial Services - Charles Polka



Believe in Syracuse Mural RFP Deadline One Week Away!

Back in November, we announced plans to install a mural at 1022 W. Fayette Street. The official request for proposals (RFP) was released last year and the deadline for artists to submit proposals is Friday, March 16th. 

The total project budget is up to $20,000. There is up to $12,000 available to the artist in 2018. The remainder of the funds are budgeted for maintenance of the mural and to promote the artwork and its message across the greater Syracuse community.

Paul Colabufo, President of the Believe in Syracuse Board of Directors, noted a renewed interest in the arts in CNY with many projects and new venues. "Combined they change Syracuse drastically, and for the better, by making it a more beautiful and interesting place to live," Colabufo stated.

Complete details and the official RFP can be found on our website at

Artists must submit proposals no later than March 16, 2018. A panel of local judges will choose the winning submission on May 1. The project is expected to begin shortly after. The submission will be chosen based on a variety of factors focusing heavily on the artist whose artwork promotes a positive perception and inspires a sense of pride in Syracuse.

Believe in Syracuse is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote positive aspects of Greater Syracuse and help improve the quality of life for its residents. Artwork which helps spread the Believe in Syracuse message can increase the emotional connection to the area.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of Summer. The mural is in a high traffic area on Syracuse's West Side. The area has gained a lot of attention in the artistic community and is becoming a bright spot in the community.

"The Gear Factory and Lipe Art Park are drawing talented and creative people to the Near Westside," Colabufo said. "We want our mural to fit into this culture and help advance the wonderful changes they have already made possible."

High visibility and recognition will be great for any established or new artist.


Sponsor Spotlight: Wendy and BlueRock Energy

BlueRock Energy is a great locally owned business and a premier provider of electricity, natural gas, & green energy.

Wendy Hijos is their Director of Corporate Marketing. Take a look at what she had to say about their work as a sponsor of Believe in Syracuse.

Why do you believe in Syracuse?
I believe in Syracuse because I believe in CNY, I believe in supporting your community and keeping dollars in our region in order to support private business and create jobs.

Why did you become a sponsor of Believe in Syracuse?
Sponsoring this organization shows the people and the businesses in Syracuse that they matter, and we believe in restoring the community.

What do you like about our organization?
What I like most about this organization is that it keeps our newest graduates close to home. Our latest college and high school graduates see that living and working in the city they were raised in offers them opportunity, and that moving out of state, or downstate isn't necessary when there are job opportunities right here.

Has your organization benefited from partnering with Believe in Syracuse? If so, how?
Partnering with this organization shows we support the local businesses which gives us more credibility to us as we prospect and sell our services to them here locally.


Wendy recently represented BlueRock Energy at a press conference organized by Believe in Syracuse that was covered by CNY Central and Spectrum News CNY TV Stations.

Since July of 2017, BlueRock has been featured in more than 30 social media posts on Believe in Syracuse accounts. Those posts have been seen more than 32,000 times with more than 1,600 post engagements. In addition, their logo has been featured on every page of our website all year and that logo links to their website.

Are you interested in being a sponsor of Believe in Syracuse, helping us make a difference and gaining exposure in the community at the same time? A sponsorship could cost as little as $375 per year. Contact John DeSantis at 315-657-7478 or email him at to chat about your options!