BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Each week, we introduce you to a City Shaper - a person or a group of people in Western New York impacting the community.
This week, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik takes us to the Seven Seas Sailing School Clubhouse to meet Captain Bill Zimmermann.
For Zimmermann, community service has been a life-long passion.
"You don't have to be rich to be a community shaper. You don't have to be rich to contribute to your community. You don't have to have a degree or money. You can have an interest and a curiosity," says Zimmermann.
Since his days as a student at Amherst High School, Zimmermann has been a champion of community service.
"I started the first ecology club at Amherst High. First one in the area. And we did a play and took it around. Started the first teen center at the Northeast Y when I was 15, and by the time I was 18, I started the second rail trail in the country," he says.
Zimmermann is now the owner of Seven Seas Sailing in Buffalo, but his interest in beautifying Buffalo's waterfront began long ago. He helped renovate the South Buffalo lighthouse. He even wrote a book called "Celebrating Buffalo's Waterfront."
"What has been the biggest transformation? Is it a place or is it the way people are thinking," asked Dudzik.
"I don't think it's a place. The place has always been here. But, I think it's a transformation of belief," he says. "Millennials are really investing their dreams, and they're staying here. When I went to Amherst High School, I left in 1975 to go to St. Bonaventure, and I must've had 100 friends that when I graduated and came back to Buffalo, probably three came back. They had all gone off to Denver and Florida, Texas, Boston, other places, and people are coming back now. People are staying when they go to school here. It's just one of the best cities in the world and people are starting to realize it all over the world."
Zimmermann's friends are in awe of all that he's done for Western New York.
"Just to see his energy and his enthusiasm is kind of boundless," says Seth Pullen.
"I just think he's really dedicated to being in community service here in Buffalo. He's from here, which is a wonderful thing. I'm not, so to catch that vision that he has for the area is great," says Wesley Van De Water.
"All of the community work he's done inspires me to have come back actually. I had been away for some 40 years. Was here for our high school reunion and saw how it had been transformed and listened to the stories of his part in helping recreate it," says Dr. Yonina Andrea Foster.
"Looking a few years down the road, what do you think the waterfront will look like in Buffalo?" asked Dudzik.
"I think it's going to be a panoply of beautiful commercial and recreational nature walks with loads of accessibility. I have a guaranteed feeling in my gut that's what it's going to be."
If you would like to nominate someone to be a City Shaper, just send Kelly an email.
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