Kensington Village apartment community celebrates freedom
About 115 guests comprised of KV residents and their families attended despite the rainy weather to celebrate freedom and raise donations for soldiers abroad and their families. Partnering with the Connecticut Street Armory and working closely with Military Family Assistance Specialist Peter Pilc, the community raised enough care package donations to fill more than two large care crates.
“When we’re sending those care crates, we’re sending our love,” said Mary Jane Zak, property manager at Kensington Village. “Some people get no mail from home, so we send them messages of love from home. We’re connected through technology, but to get a real box – a nice box with all of this stuff in it – is a nice thing.”
“Celebrate Freedom: At Home, Across the Nation, Around the World” was planned by the KV Advocate Committee, a group of Kensington Village residents who see a greater purpose in the community and work year round to try to give back to it. Zak said that she created the committee to bring people together to help others.
“I wanted to give people the feeling of family, neighbor-to-neighbor,” she said. “I wanted people to come together as a community, and it’s something that has come together over the years. It’s been really great bringing the people together.”
And since the group has been together, it has worked to help the surrounding community and beyond through events and donation drives. The KV Advocate Committee collects donations throughout the year to send to troops abroad, with a goal of sending two large crates per month to Afghanistan. Zak calls the community
“They come together with management in a unified way of keeping alive the American way of life and respecting the sacrifices that are being made for us and our military people,” Zak explained.
And the works of the Kensington Village community have not gone unnoticed.
Erie County Legislators Thomas Mazur and Betty Jean Grant sponsored a resolution that designated June 9 at Kensington Village and the surrounding community as “KV Celebrates Freedom: At Home, Across the Country, Around the World.”
The City of Buffalo Common Council and Mayor Byron Brown offered proclamations declaring June 9 as “Courtyard Neighbors Coming Together to Celebrate Freedom Day.”
The New York National Guard Family Program recognized the Kensington Village community in December 2011 in a notice of gratitude, and Representative Kathy Hochul offered a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to the owners and residents of the Kensington Village Apartments.
“We are noteworthy for making a reality about caring for our troops, bringing communities together, and putting it into action,” Zak said.
It was a day marked by gratitude and recognition from all ends, but ultimately, it was a day that brought people together for a greater cause.
“We stood together as a family, a committed community, as we opened with a prayer given by Rev. Michael Payton, and the words he said were all-encompassing,” Zak said. “We said the Pledge to the flag and one verse to the “Star Spangled Banner. We were giving honor and appreciation to those who serve.”
And now that June 9 is officially designated as “Courtyard Neighbors Coming Together to Celebrate Freedom Day,” Zak says the KV Advocate Committee is already making plans for next year.
“I think that the fifth annual will be bigger and better than ever,” she ended. “The thought process has already begun to make that happen. It’s a lot of hard work, but the results and seeing the people happy is worth it.”