St. Joseph's Neighborhood Center

The Two Rules

We have what we call “the two rules” at the Neighborhood Center. We joke about them, but they really have their basis in being creative and being good community members. The first rule is, “If you think of it, you do it.” Whoops, some people say. Did I really say that idea out loud? Am I responsible for that idea now?

The gist of the rule is that an unspoken idea does no one any good. We encourage everyone to share the ideas they have, especially about how we could do something better or new in terms of services and care. Our commitment is to take each idea, play with it a bit, add to it, measure its feasibility and how it measures up to our mission, and then, together go forward with it. For some ideas their time has not come yet, and we tuck them away for the right time. The important thing is voicing the idea and weighing its merit.

The second rule is “If you don’t know what to do, vacuum.” Look around the Center, which is shared by over 200 people, and do what you see needs to be done. Empty or load the dishwasher, make a pot of coffee, empty the trash, bring in a treat, help sort donations, sit down and fold a few letters for a mailing, take the recycle cans and bottles back…there are so many things that can and need to be done for the sake of the community that shares the space, and we all need to pitch in.

These two rules keep us creative and clean. What else do we need? As you can guess, these rules really are about community and connected-ness. When we look outside of the Center, the same two rules apply. More and more we find ourselves at community tables where people are striving hard to tackle health care and social barriers with new and creative ideas. If the ideas of the wider community are not shared and developed and owned, we will be seeing the same disparities, divisions and despair in a year’s time; in five years’ time. If we only critique ideas and efforts, rather than try to engage and improve them, we have added nothing to the conversation nor to our community.

We are blessed to live in a community known for its commitment to volunteerism. It is all about rule number two. So many opportunities are out there for us to participate in: be a mentor, be a tutor, sort medical supplies at InterVol, sort donations at Foodlink, be a volunteer fireman, be a docent at the museum, arrange a neighborhood clean-up, collect food for a food pantry, cook a meal, visit someone young, old, sick. So many things, and, of course, we always have opportunities for you at the Center.

The point is we have so many ways to make and keep our community strong and strengthen relationships among us. What is coming up at the Center? We are planning for our June 1st Annual Event. The theme this year is “Heaven & Hell; Halos and Horns,” a fun way to look at the angels and devils in all of us. Our Spring Fundraising Appeal is launching and we hope you can participate, or think about donating through the community United Way campaign beginning now. Our donor option number is 2017.

We also need your help in letting people know about our services. If you know of anyone who is struggling with getting health care or counseling, please tell them to call the Center. If you know of any place where we could place cards or brochures to let people know about us, please call us with your idea, or write a note on the return envelope in your Newsletter. We will follow up.

Collectively, you are the “might of little forces” which gets big things accomplished. You have sustained the Center for years. Thank you, and we ask that you stay on the journey with us.

–Christine Wagner, SSJ


St. Joseph's Neighborhood Center
417 South Avenue • Rochester, New York 14620
(585) 325-5260 Fax (585) 325-3017
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