Division of Criminal Justice Services

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Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Crime Victims Board
(518) 457-8906 or (518) 275-5508 – cell

To learn more about Rosa Gibson’s plans for the donated shoes, please contact Ms. Gibson, director of the Community Action Information Center, at (716) 885-5925.

For immediate release: Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Empty shoes to take root in memorial garden on Buffalo’s East Side

Some of the nearly 300 pairs of shoes used last week in a display in downtown Buffalo designed to call attention to crime victims’ rights will soon have a foothold in one of Rosa Gibson’s gardens.

Gibson, director of the Community Action Information Center on Buffalo’s East Side, will use the shoes as planters, creating a flower garden that will continue to carry the message about the importance of victims’ voices being heard in the criminal justice system.

The flowers will bloom in a memorial garden for crime victims, which is located next to the center’s offices at 103 Wohlers Ave. Gibson and her volunteers have been planting flowering “shoe gardens” since 2006, complementing the traditional gardens of vegetables, evergreens and fruit trees that have been planted in lots that surround the Community Action Information Center since its founding, on a lot that was once site of a junkyard, in 1983.

Last week, the shoes given to Gibson were part of “Making Strides for Crime Victims,” a display created to mark Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which had been designated as the week of April 26 through May 2 in New York State by Governor David A. Paterson.

Coordinated by the New York State Crime Victims Board and the Erie County District Attorney’s office, the display of empty shoes was designed to illustrate the steps that crime victims take on their path to justice and the strides made by law enforcement, victims’ assistance professionals, and state and local officials to assist victims, protect their rights and ensure their voices are heard in the criminal justice system. The shoes – all sizes and styles – were displayed from Tuesday, April 28 through Friday, May 1, outside the Franklin Street side of the Walter J. Mahoney Building, which is home to the Crime Victims Board’s office in Buffalo.  

Board staff learned of Gibson’s “shoe garden” initiative from police officers who saw the Making Strides display during their downtown mounted patrols, and decided it was a natural fit. Any shoes in good condition that are not used as planters will be donated by Gibson to those in need.

In addition to creating and maintaining the gardens, the Community Action Information Center runs a food pantry that is supported by the Food Bank of Western New York and the Food Shuttle of Western New York.

Established in 1966, the five-member Crime Victims Board’s mission is to “provide compensation to innocent victims of crime in a timely, efficient and compassionate manner; to fund direct services to crime victims via a network of community-based programs; and to advocate for the rights and benefits of all innocent victims of crime.” In addition to Buffalo, the board has offices in Albany, Brooklyn and Buffalo.

The board is governed by five members, all of whom are appointed for seven-year terms by the governor with the advice and consent of the state Senate. For more information, visit www.ovs.ny.gov.