In a city known for eating wings and drinking beer, it’s good to have a balance. For me this balance is in the form of Phil Haberstro from Buffalo Welfare Institute.
I was fortunate enough to work with Phil on many occasions, and if I may say one thing, it meant that he forgave Buffalo every day of his life instead of making life healthier. And when I say “forgiven,” I mean is dedicated. His goal was to promote ways for people to walk more, eat healthier, or exercise in all kinds of sports.
Whether it was a tourist trip, an increase in travel benefits, or an encouragement to the International Behavior Summit, Phil was the guy leading the conversation. He also led significant changes in society.
My friend Mike Billoni told me that Phil was a half-footballer. “He was a ruthless defender,” he said. “He was never sick one day in his life until last summer when he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.”
Although I was always in touch with Phil, I never knew he was sick. Cancer could have accelerated his retirement, but it has never prevented him from actively pursuing his lifelong goal – educating people about the benefits of being healthy. In fact, just the next day he reached out and said it would help to throw up community physical education campaigns promoting the walk in January through Project Best. I also learned that he was teaching the students just a few hours before the transition. He could have had it another way.
It’s hard to believe that a few days later Phil is no longer here to guide us – to tell us how many steps we need to take, the best health practices we need to follow, or even to show future leaders how to set an example. did it himself.
“Phil was a few years older than me, but we both grew up in Kenmore, attended Cardinal Ohara High School, and when I started high school in 1970 as a sports writer, Phil was going to leave – to the person with questions and stories about health and fitness, ”he said Mike Billoni, managing partner of Billoni Associates. “Over the years I’ve watched him build and grow the Buffalo Welfare Institute, which gives him a lot of blood, vodka and tears and a lot of money. He was a real Mr. Buffalo who made Bill’s blood red, white and blue. the leader of the struggle to get All America City status was for the Queen of the City. Her real passion was to make the community healthier by walking. What a simple but very effective exercise. For me, excuses are over. The first thing that will happen every morning is “behavior. with Phil “, who I know gives me the strength to fight mines and other people’s excuses. RIP pal.”
The elephant was full of advice and words of wisdom. At the same time, he never preached, although there was always a sense of urgency. But it was never as horrible here – instead, it was always a good joke. And that was how he lived his life.
“Today, our society mourns the loss of one of our health, civic and environmental advocates, with the exception of CSCR’s No. 1 champion, ”said Jackie James, Citizen Science Community Resources. “Phil was the chairman of our original board and served for 4 years. His guidance, inspiration, and counsel were invaluable. He believed in the power of civic science and dreamed of continuing our work by building a Center for Environmental Education in Tonavanda. We will continue to strive to make his vision a reality. We love you Phil and I miss you! ”
“Phil was a well-to-do fellow in western New York who had a heart of gold,” said WBBZ director Cat Miller. “The work he has done on behalf of our community is immeasurable. WBBZ will broadcast the full Big Picture Memorial interview I did with him last year on Sunday at 11 p.m. He was a dear friend, mentor and colleague. I will remember him more than the words he can express. ”
On his Facebook page, someone said he was humble. Never has a more accurate word been said. Although Phil was an experienced organizer, he always put everyone first and at the center. He never wanted credit – he honestly just wanted people to live in a healthier world.
During the pandemic, I decided to start walking every morning in the Delaware Park – three miles a day, seven days a week. I was always somewhat active, but this behavior changed my life. It pushes me out more, makes me bleed, and I realize it’s a good time to think. Over the next few days, I think about Phil and his desire to walk. Over the years, I’ve talked to Phil about this “urgency” to create a buffalo pass. Now that I’ve started to “walk,” I feel like I’m walking in Phil’s shoes – shoes that no one can ever fill. But that’s the least I can say for the humble guys, who only wish the best for all the people he met and those he wanted to be the best.
Hopefully the city will rise and create to walk in honor of Phil, the legacy of his legacy will continue to grow with every step we take toward greatness.
Main Picture (LR): Mayor (Town of Town Rick Davis), Phil, former GI Supervisor Nate McMurray, CSCR board member (and GI resident) Jenn Pusatier and Jackie James (Civil Society Resources)