Thanks for neighbors, small towns


This is what’s left of Bruce and Amy Cleveland’s house in Bakers Mills.

This is what’s left of Bruce and Amy Cleveland’s house in Bakers Mills. Photo by Phillip Sherotov.

The Cleveland benefit was a classic example of neighbors helping neighbors, and it seems there’s a culture of giving in the town of Johnsburg. The J&J Foxx Lair Tavern regularly holds benefits, including the Halloween Bash for the North Country Hardship Fund, founded by Wayno Bukovinsky, another local resident.

In the spring of 2008, Wayno was in a coma after a serious motorcycle accident. Airlifted to Albany Medical Center, his prognosis, including recovery from traumatic brain injury, was bleak. Soon afterward, there was a widespread effort to help with family and medical costs.

“The North Country Community rallied behind my family,” he said. “Fundraisers were coordinated by childhood friends, fellow firefighters, co-workers and people I had never met before.”

And now Wayno’s paying it forward. After recovering, even in a wheelchair, he set up the North Country Hardship Fund to help neighbors in need throughout the region. In August, their Wayne Stock V benefit concert at the Ski Bowl Park in North Creek raised $22,000 for the Fund, which provides relief to families suffering a tragedy in Warren, Essex, Hamilton, Saratoga and Washington counties.

It’s this kind of pay-it-forward attitude in small Adirondack towns that makes us thankful. Whether we know them or not, our neighbors are willing to help in times of tragedy, and they treat everyone as though they’re family.

Tragedy can strike anytime, and it’s a blessing to know that people like Wayno and Tammy Bukovinsky and businesses like the J&J Foxx Lair Tavern and Wevertown Country Store are here to help.

Yet it’s not only disasters that cause distress in our neighbors’ lives. There are people who need our help every day, with clothing, food and fuel. We should also find time to help them as we look to help others in far-away countries.

So, if you haven’t had a chance to help a neighbor this holiday season, please consider donating to a local charity or food bank in your hometown. The North Country Hardship Fund could certainly use the help. So could the Clevelands; send donations to Community Bank, Main Street, North Creek, NY 12853 c/o the Cleveland Fire Fund.

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