Sunday, July 27, 2008


It is with heavy heart and bowed head that I write this blog tonight. Tomorrow I am facing letting the culinary arts team from this summer's Young Entrepreneur Program know that their co-worker and friend was killed on Friday morning. It is such a sad story.

Jessica Avilas, age 15, was a young lady in our culinary arts team at this summer’s Young Entrepreneur Program. She was tragically killed Friday morning by her stepfather, who killed her mother, her and then himself on Warsaw Street in the city. You may have seen this on the news or on the front page of the D&C yesterday.

Jessica was head chef for the team making empanada’s for Hispanic themed food week last week. All the teams knew her when she took orders everyday for the cafĂ©. She was a quiet, respectful young lady who had straight A’s in school and always wore long skirts due to her family’s strict religious beliefs. She was just starting to come out of her shell, was friendly and well-liked by her co-workers. When she didn’t show up for work on Friday, her managers, Sarah Gullo and Farai Ashton, were very surprised because she was always early for work and there every day.

Tomorrow at ArtPeace we will be talking with all the kids, starting with her culinary team, to share the news and to do debrief. Sarah Gullo’s mom, a trained grief counselor and psychiatric nurse, will be in attendance to support us.

Calling hours for Jessica Avilas and Robert and Sandra Camacho will be Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Falvo Funeral Home, 1395 N. Goodman St. The funeral will be Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the funeral home, with a burial immediately following.

Donations to help the family pay for funeral costs can be sent to the First Pentecostal Church, 116 Campbell St. in Rochester, 14611.

ArtPeace would like to do something for this family. We are open to suggestions.

Prayers are always welcome...


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hello ArtPeace Fans!

This is my first post. Yipppeeeee.... I'm an official blogger!

The Young Entrepreneur Program (Year 4): Flavors from The ROC is fully underway! It is the best yet. Things are flowing along, kids are productive and they are learning how to be effective business people. It's the most fun job I have and the fine artists and people surrounding us bring a really cool energy to the place.

This year's business teams consist of:
  • VMD - Digital Studio
    with Twilight Design Graphics (creating a cook book and t-shirt designs) & LCAT (Lights, Camera, Action Team) Film Makers
  • Fuego Caliente - Music & Movement Team - they are writing and recording multicultural music and moving to the rhythm
  • The Mixture - Multicultural world cafe / culinary arts
  • The Creation - mural painters and mask makers
  • Phresh Art - visual arts / product creators
Please join us for the showcase event on Thursday, August 15 at 6:30pm at 35 South Washington Street in Rochester where the young entrepreneurs will present their businesses publicly and show off their work. It always proves to be an enlightening and fun evening with a few surprises.

In other news, ArtPeace has completed YEAR 1 of our pilot arts and technology integrated school at East High, ArtPeace@East! Students had a 96% attendance rate, 11% less behavioral incidents and reported a more positive school experience. Teachers reported more job satisfaction, a strong team and collaboration. Our promotion rate exceeded that of the rest of the 7th grade. All encouraging results and kids are more actively engaged in project-based, expeditionary learning. In the Fall, 80 more 7th graders join the 80 8th graders. We are excited but in need of supporting funds to make this happen!

Our team recently returned from a state-wide week-long arts integration partnership seminar and heard news from the state level funders (New York State Council on the Arts and their funding panel) and others that the work we are doing in arts-in-ed is truly innovative in its interdiscplinary scope. We are proud of this work and look forward to advancing it this coming year.

Soon, I will blog again...

Please send me a note at or check out our site at