Bonfatti cleanup crew steps up again

27-IMG_6788By Dan Herbeck

Our big old Guild buddy, John “Jay” Bonfatti, would have been thrilled.

Once again, a group of Buffalo Newspaper Guild volunteers got together in his honor and made an impact at the annual Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Spring Cleanup. The event took place on Saturday, April 23.

The “Bonfatti Cleanup Crew,” made up of 13 Guild members and supporters, joined a group of volunteers to clean up rubbish near the Ohio Street Boat Launch and Father Conway Park in the city’s historic First Ward.

“Your group is one we can count on every year,” said Doug Hopkins, who was the Riverkeeper volunteer site coordinator with his wife, Kyle. “This area along the Buffalo River is a spot that gets nicer and nicer every year. Good things are happening here. This is living proof that people in Buffalo can reconnect with their waterfront.”

Enjoying clear, sunny weather for a change, the Guild volunteers spent about 90 minutes picking up many bags of litter, mostly around the baseball and softball diamonds in the Conway Park.

06-IMG_6738They found cans, bottles, plastic grocery store bags, cigarette butts, a crack pipe and a few unmentionable items. Guild volunteer Jay Rey hauled a big truck tire and some big plastic pallets out of the woods. Donn Esmonde was surprised to find several heads of romaine lettuce, and he said they tasted much fresher than he thought they would. (Pretty sure he was joking.)

Guild retiree Bud Anzalone’s discovery of an old softball touched off a discussion about the glory days of the old News Media Chieftains softball team.

In addition to those already mentioned, the Guild volunteers included Aaron Besecker, Henry Davis, Dan Herbeck, Lou Michel, Barbara O’Brien and her husband, Rick Miller. It was a pleasure to welcome Rey’s young son, Parker Rey, 10, and Mike Pesarchick and his sons, Mike Jr., 17, and John, 15.

It was all part of a major effort involving thousands of Riverkeeper volunteers who cleaned up the land along rivers, lakes and other waterways all over the region. Toward the end of the event, Anzalone was asked what his old buddy, Bonfatti, would have thought of it all.

“By now, Jay would be saying, ‘OK, this was fun, now let’s go get a beer,’” Anzalone said with a smile.

If you’ve never joined the Guild’s cleanup crew, please consider giving it a try next year. We always have some laughs, the cause is a very good one, and it’s always a good thing when the public sees Guild members out in the community, doing a good deed.