Charity & Grassroots in Buffalo

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Shadows dart across the wall, a strange voice emerges from thin air, and you get the eerie feeling that you’re being followed. This is no ordinary place. The Iron Island Museum's paranormal history has captured the minds of countless visitors and has been featured on TV programs such as Ghost Lab and Ghost Hunters. Originally built as a church in 1883, the house later became a funeral home in the late 1950s, during which time it hosted more than 1,000 wakes. The business eventually shut down, and in 2000, the building was donated to The Iron Island Preservation Society of Lovejoy, which made a startling discovery: 24 canisters of cremated remains had been left behind.

Today, an all-volunteer staff leads tours of the church's vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows, and themed rooms. The church showcases hundreds of historic relics, including military uniforms, railroad items, and a wooden altar that dates backs to 1896. However, the museum's biggest draws can't be seen, at least not most of the time. Guides and visitors stay alert for signs of paranormal activity and look for chances to communicate with what they consider to be some of the building's resident ghosts. The staff has even taken recordings that play back the voices of unknown figures saying things such as "I'm cold," and "Why don't they make pants for ghosts?"

998 E Lovejoy St
Buffalo,
NY
US

Each year, the SPCA Serving Erie County gives more than 15,000 dogs, cats, and exotic pets a new lease on life. Founded in 1867—making it the second-oldest humane society in the country—the SPCA’s compassionate animal rescue, rehabilitation, foster care, and adoption services have earned Charity Navigator’s four-star rating for extraordinary accountability and transparency, the highest rating available in all three categories. In the adoption center, furry faces peer from comfortable, clean cages as staff and volunteers evaluate customers’ needs and introduce them to compatible pets, decreasing the chance of conflict when adopters' favorite shows compete with Animal Planet specials. Before becoming eligible for adoption, pets undergo thorough health, temperament, and behavioral evaluations, and those who need extra TLC receive additional obedience training.

In addition to matching people with loving pets, SPCA Serving Erie County’s staff investigates more than 200 animal-cruelty complaints per month, and provides emergency animal-rescue services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rescued animals receive state-of-the-art medical care in the facility’s onsite surgical suite, and rehabilitation programs prepare them to thrive in loving homes. A local, independent humane society, the donation-supported SPCA Serving Erie County is not associated with the ASPCA and receives no government funding.

205 Ensminger Rd
Tonawanda,
NY
US

If a time traveler hopped from The Rapid Theatre in 1921 to the same spot in modern times, they would think their time machine was broken. Lovingly restored to its early 20th century luster, the former movie house dazzles visitors with columned walls, a sculpted ceiling, and a brick tapestry facade. All that has changed is what goes on inside. These days, the venue—which accommodates up to 1,700 entertainment enthusiasts or 3,400 stacked children in trench coats—fills its stage with major music acts. The handicap-accessible facility also slakes sing-along induced thirst with two fully stocked bars.

1711 Main St
Niagara Falls,
NY
US

The HSC works to protect animals and the environment through hands-on programs and investigative work, in addition to supporting animal shelters and wildlife-rehabilitation centres. In order to meet its goals of protecting animals, fighting cruelty, and educating others about animal rights, the HSC relies entirely on donations.

120 Carlton St
Toronto,
ON
CA

The National Ballet of Canada graces the nation's stages with classic and contemporary repertoire culled from across the globe, bolstering the emerging works of Canadian choreographers. Onegin sees the pairing of Tchaikovsky's rich harmonies with the plot of Pushkin's classic poetic novel, balancing the two with John Cranko's modern choreography and the Good Witch of the North's flirtatious cackle. Allow an orchestra seat ($123.74–$171.20) to envelop you as the melodramatic composition fills the room, or gaze upon the embellished costumes and coiling formations from a nestled seat in Ring 3 ($134.47) or Ring 4 ($94.92). Arrive early, as late callers will be forced to eat an entire ballet slipper before being seated at intermission.

470 Queens Quay W
Toronto,
ON
CA

On 134 acres of farmland outside of Fairport, the dedicated staff and volunteers of Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester care for thousands of stray animals each year. The open-admission shelter adopts animals of all breeds and species—including cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, horses, and pigs—and holds programs to educate visitors on the issues that contribute to the animals' overpopulation and difficulty in attaining advanced degrees.

The staff encourages families to visit the animals and enjoy the outdoor farm petting area, and oversees younger visitors as they build bonds with animals through education programs such as basic pet care for 3–5 year-olds. The Future Vets program teaches aspiring veterinarians in fifth–eighth grades how to conduct basic exams and begin working toward careers in animal care or pig-to-horse translation services. Summer farm camps also provide a hands-on experience as young visitors have fun feeding animals and caring for their own designated camp pets.

99 Victor Rd.
Fairport,
NY
US