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Going the extra mile for the Village of Lewiston

LEWISTON – For village resident Tasia Fitzpatrick, decorating has always been a passion, but she is not content to contain her talents to her corner of the world.

Instead, she has opened it up to include the entire Village of Lewiston, making her community a better place to live, work and visit.

She will be honored for her efforts as the 2015 Village of Lewiston Citizen of the Year on May 15 at the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Gala.

Fitzpatrick, 56, and her husband, Paul, fell in love with a house they discovered on Niagara Street in 2008 and were also drawn to the history and charm of the village. They made extensive renovations to bring back the original intent of the house, restoring it from three apartments to one beautiful farmhouse. The work included taking out walls, restoring woodwork and moving the original floorboards from the second floor to the first. The house was featured in the 2014 Tour of Kitchens showcase.

Though not a decorator by trade, she also has created decor for the Lewiston Tour of Homes and the Tour of Kitchens, where her design won an award in 2011.

Over the years she has worked with friends to create tablescapes and functional designs. Her decor is known as “Rooms Re-Created by Tasia.”

The style is casual and comfortable and she said she loves to take items that are already in a house and create a different look and style for them. She said she also loves to bring simple greenery inside.

“I am not a perfectionist,” said Fitzpatrick. “I am a doer. I love to see things through to their end.”

But she is not content to just work inside. She is a member of the Lewiston Beautification Committee and the Lewiston Garden Club. She enjoys bringing the extra touches to the village that people like to see, such as flowers and garland. She and a group of five friends have made it their mission to adopt a garden in the village across from Academy Park.

Her husband has been her willing accomplice.

She said they often take walks and clean up as they go along – or do whatever else needs to be done.

One weekend the couple even sanded and spray-painted all the garbage cans along Center Street. “It wasn’t something expensive, but it had a big impact ... and they looked brand new,” she said.

“It needed to be done,” she said of her philosophy of volunteering. “It’s about everyone taking ownership.”

The Fitzpatricks are lifetime members of the Historical Association of Lewiston and supporters of the Jazz Festival. They have two adult children, a son, Keith, and a daughter, Leah, and two grandchildren.

What is your job?

I work at M&T Bank. I am operations manager in the private banking division.

But it sounds like decorating is your passion.

I love it. I’ve been (with M&T) for 36 years, so I guess I like it, but my dream job really would be to do more decorating. I’m really a frustrated architect. I wanted to be an architect, but didn’t finish.

Are people getting to know you as a decorator and asking for help?

Yes. I do it for friends or friends of friends. I love to give my input or my advice, but not as a business. I am not asking people to pay me. I give my ideas to think outside the box.

I see that you are part of the Historical Society of Lewiston.

Once we moved here we joined. We wanted to be part of that whole movement.

Why did you choose to live in Lewiston?

We had been living in Lockport, a beautiful home we had built and had been living in for 10 years. It was great, but we were looking for a village setting where we could walk to things. Every time we went to events in Lewiston and we were walking to our car we thought it would be great to just walk to our house. We looked at every house that went on the market for three years. We wanted to be right in the village and we love to entertain. We also wanted to downsize, but this house doesn’t do that. It is bigger than our other house and has more land, but it is on the Artpark side of Center Street so we can hear the concerts and can hear the church bells chime. To me there’s this aura of relaxation when you go down the hill into Lewiston. You could have had the worst day, but it’s like the air changes. This is a great place and I almost have to pinch myself that I live here.

Were you surprised to be chosen as Village Citizen of the Year?

Positively stunned. I said, “Me? Why would I be picked?” I feel like I’m just someone who lives there. Although I have gotten actively involved in everything, that’s how I think everyone should be and I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary.

A lot of people are active in Lewiston, aren’t they?

It’s a very welcoming community. People walk down the street and if there’s a piece of garbage, someone will pick it up and throw it in the garbage can. There’s so much activity on Center Street. It’s a huge walking community. When you are walking you are looking around and thinking of ways to contribute.

What do you bring to the groups you are part of?

One of the things I bring is I love to bring up new ideas, but I also love to implement them. I’m a doer. I love to see something through to the end. And I have a group of friends here and that’s how we all are.

It sounds like you are your own army.

Yes. And I have a wonderful husband who comes along with me on everything.

I heard you had him out there painting all the garbage cans on Center Street.

Last summer we painted all the garbage cans on Center Street. They needed to be painted. It was something you could do that was not expensive, did not take a lot of time and would have a big impact. It took us two evenings, about five hours total, up and down Center Street. We had lots of compliments and people came out of their stores and said, “Why are you doing that?” and we’d say, “‘Because it has to be done.”

Know a Niagara County resident who would make an interesting question-and-answer column? Write to: Niagara Weekend Q&A, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240, or email niagaranews@buffnews.com.