NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — We are featuring the women leading Western New York's resurgence in our City Shapers reports this year. This week, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik shows us how Rebecca Vincheski is helping children in Niagara Falls make memories that will last a lifetime.
Vincheski rose through the ranks on a career path she never expected. She is now the chief professional officer of the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club.
"I forever wanted to be an FBI profiler," Vincheski said. "So I went to school, got my undergrad in criminal justice focusing on forensic psychology, but I went away to school in Ohio, but I really wanted to move back home after I graduated."
She ended up at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Buffalo working on gang prevention.
"... in the hopes that I would job search and find another job in my chosen career, and now I think 18 years later, I'm still with the Boys and Girls Clubs," she said.
Vincheski's held her current position in Niagara Falls since 2015 — she was brought in to fix the organization's finances.
One of her other goals was to renovate the club's more than 60-year-old building.
"We wanted you to know as soon as you walked in, that this was a place for kids," she said.
Besides re-configuring the floor plan, they also installed air conditioning, so the building can be used year-round. They also renovated the gym.
"All new lights," Vincheski said. "We tore out that back wall, because it was just this plastic shaded kind of material. So, we bricked it up and put actual windows in."
The kitchen was being used for storage. They converted it back into a kitchen where the adults can make healthy meals, and the children can learn how to cook veggies from the new garden.
"They can grow it, pick it, bring it in here, learn how to cook it, and then eat it," said Vincheski.
Offices took up a lot of the space upstairs before, but that's different now.
"We have our 3D printer, but we built out that back corner and installed a music recording studio," Vincheski said.
There's also a bigger art room, and the old wood shop will be used again.
Before, Vincheski and her staff were able to help around one hundred kids a day, now they'll be able to double that.
"There's something about just getting to know the community here in Niagara Falls that you just fall in love instantly," she said. "It's tight knit and people, they just want to do positive things. I feel like this city is really on the cusp of something amazing, so I want to be a part of that in any way I can."
If you would like to donate or sign your child up for a program, we have a link in this story on our website. And, if you'd like to nominate a Western New York woman to be a 2019 City Shaper, just send Kelly an email.