The abandoned buildings and boarded-up storefronts that scar many sections of this city are an example of Western New York's poverty and stagnant population growth.
This was not a politician speaking, but close. Silda Wall Spitzer, wife of State Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer, told about 60 of the community's leading women in the exclusive Niagara Club here Wednesday that her husband is "the best person to lead our state and help put it back on top."
The wife of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate combined the political luncheon with a tour of nearby Carolyn's House, a shelter for women and children who have been victims of domestic abuse.
The Sixth Street facility, a former inner-city convent converted to a 19-unit apartment building, includes a day care center and state-of-the-art kitchen. The building is dedicated to Carolyn Van Schaik, a community activist and former executive director of the Center City Neighborhood Development Corp., who died in 2003.
"Carolyn's House is a great example of how the community can come together and help these women and children," Mrs. Spitzer said.
The Harvard Law School graduate and former lawyer is chairwoman of the board of directors of the Children for Children Foundation, a New York not-for-profit organization she co-founded in 1996 to foster community involvement and social responsibility in young people.
"When I go home this evening, I'll tell my three daughters that each of us could not get on without the support of others," said the Manhattan resident, whose children are 11, 13 and 15 years old.
Her trip to the Falls was arranged by Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Niagara Falls, who introduced Mrs. Spitzer as the state's next first lady.
"People from all walks of life know that Eliot is working for them," his wife said. "He loves travel and adventure, but he is rooted in his love for New York."
Mrs. Spitzer called for a renewed spirit of community action throughout Western New York.
She also called for support for her husband, noting that women account for the largest group of nonvoters in the country.