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Cooper Kowalyk: I’m so lucky to live in a great community

Our Western New York community had a pretty rough winter. Our home in Cheektowaga was one of many that got hammered by the record-breaking November snowstorm. If we weren’t shoveling, we were shivering for months on end. Cabin fever hit a fever pitch for most of us last winter.

So when spring finally arrived, I was fiercely yearning to get out of the house. I am thankful to live in a community where water is a 15-minute drive from the Land of the Crabapple. I had literally been itching to get down to the water to enjoy what the Queen City has to offer: cool water, mild temperatures and, most important, cold beer. Fans of Elvis have Graceland. Baseball lovers flock to Cooperstown. For me, my inner peace can be found at Canalside.

I’m a social butterfly, most definitely not a shrinking violet. Just like many other Buffalonians, I can make friends with anyone over a pint and a painted deck chair along the water. Unfortunately, during a trip to our waterfront on a beautiful May day, my peaceful visit temporarily turned into one of angst and anxiety.

While taking some pictures for Facebook, I set my purse down next to a park bench at Canalside – and then went home without it. Later on, I told my husband that there was only $20 in my purse and none of my ID. That is what some politicians call “a stretch of the truth.” They’re good at that; not me.

I just didn’t want to worry my family, and I figured the big wad of cash was gone forever. Some lucky guy or gal could have ridden waterbikes at Canalside for the whole summer with this windfall. Or, as I would prefer, one could enjoy a few pitchers of cold brew along the water.

But as poet and writer Bill Copeland once said, “When you stretch the truth, watch out for the snapback.” Believe me, I’ve never been more touched and humbled by the snapback of honesty received when my family got a call a few hours later that my purse was found.

Not only did a good Samaritan security guard find my purse, he turned it in with every single dollar still in it. My name was on a financial statement from our Dnipro Ukrainian Credit Union, so the very honest security guard who found it looked me up in the phone book and called my house.

Just a few hours after I believed my purse and cash were long gone, an incredible Canalside security guard found it, turned it in and tracked me down to get it back to me. This simple act of honesty restored my faith in people and cemented our region’s reputation as the City of Good Neighbors.

Buffalo is such a great place because of gritty, honest people who like to work hard and play hard at places like Canalside. It melts my heart knowing our natural resources are finally being maximized to bring people together.

What makes me feel even greater is the thread of goodness and honesty that binds us together in the fabric of what defines us Western New Yorkers as a one-of-a-kind community.

So thank you very much to the honest Canalside security guard who found my purse and returned it with every single penny. The next time I venture to Canalside, the first of many beers is definitely on me. That is, as long as I’m able to remember where my purse is.