We’re excited to be partnering with 540WMain throughout December for our 540WMain & Hart’s Cares Fundraising Campaign! How does it work? All month long, when you check out at the register, you’ll have the opportunity to donate directly to 540WMain. For those who would prefer to donate a food or snack item directly, we’ll be collecting those items too!
If you haven’t heard of 540WMain yet, allow us to introduce them to you! 540WMain is a community event and education center located in the Susan B. Anthony district of Rochester, NY. Founded in May 2016, 540WMain is a safe, positive, and connected space vested in enriching the community through education, arts, health, wellness and special events.
We’ll let Founder and Creative Director Calvin Eaton tell you more…
Where did the idea for 540WMain come from?
The journey to 540WMain and my entire existence as an entrepreneur ultimately began in 2012 when I founded www.theglutenfreechefblog.com. Little did I know back then the eclectic and life changing journey that it would take me on. Four years later and the blog has transformed into an omnimedia brand. Today, my original mission; that of making gluten free living simple and accessible for all remains unchanged. Mainly my means and method of sharing this mission remains unchanged as well; however over time I’ve added additional methods to my arsenal and repertoire namely; The Rochester Gluten Free Guide, and now the brick and mortar space 540WMain. All platforms of the brand carry the mission of educating, enlightening, and empowering through holistic health and wellness.
What are your goals for 540WMain?
540WMain is a space for educational programs and events for all ages but we have a strong emphasis on working with Rochester youth. Our curricula is rooted in holistic and mindful education— especially through afterschool and college preparatory programs, arts, and culinary education. The main mission of 540WMain is to be a catalyst for transformation, empowerment, and the promotion of healthy living to the Westside sector of our city, our Susan B. District as well as being a connector hub for Greater Rochester through events, programming, and multi-cultural experience.
Tell us a little bit about your location- it seems like you have everything! A kitchen, cafe, meeting space and more!
The feature we had in City Newspaper said it best; 540WMain is a Swiss Army knife of a community center. Inside, there is a newly renovated community room, an art gallery, a commercial kitchen, and courtyard garden.
What services do you offer?
540WMain offers a plethora of programs and services. Our flagship program is The Rochester Afterschool Program for which we are recruiting for the 2017 Winter/Spring Semester. We also offer a community room and our entire first floor space to the public for rental. This can be for parties, birthdays showers etc. Soon we will have computer kiosks, fax, and a copier all available for free to the public. Wellness professionals and organizations are able to host classes, workshops and other presentations to the public, and we curate many events in house as well from a tour program to pop up indie maker events.
You have a variety of unique programs, like an oil collection program. When did you notice a need for the program and how does that work?
540WMain’s Used Cooking Oil Collection Program was launched this past summer and is a partnership with The Alternative Fuel Foundation. Restaurants, homeowners, and everyone else in between can deliver used cooking oil to 540WMain and it will be transferred to The Alternative Fuel Foundation for bioconversion and recycling. You can also schedule a pickup for a small nominal fee. I had a vision for the program after watching a Youtube documentary on the obscene amounts of cooking oil that are discarded all over the world. I aim to be as aware and sustainably focused as possible. A few Google clicks and phone calls later and I was talking to the CEO of AFF. Biofuel produces near zero emissions so every gallon burned offsets carbon that would have been generated from the use of traditional fossil fuels. This program is just one way we support working together to make the community and subsequently the world a better place; one positive action at a time.
The historical urban walking tour you hosted in August looked great! Do you have plans for more tours like that?
The Historical Urban Art Walking Tour at 540WMain was our first large scale tour program that I envisioned in early 2016. I wanted to create a tour that brought together youth, history, art, and highlighted the oft overlooked Susan B. District. It was a huge collaboration and co-design between 540 and 4 high school Rochester Works summer scholars. They literally had a hand in naming, designing, researching, presenting and curating every single component of the tour. The tour program is one of three that we will develop over three years and expand pretty significantly in 2017. Every tour at 540 will be co-designed by youth and led or co-led by youth from Rochester. Everyone should stay tuned for more details for the 2017 Tour Season and session.
How can people get involved in 540WMain?
Everyone is invited to visit Harts in December to support our December Cares fundraising campaign and donate when checking out or by donating a food item for the Afterschool Program. Our work is powered by voluntary support and donations by all members of the community. Folks can also donate right to our GoFundME campaign. Anyone can submit a volunteer application including college students, high school students and others. We have a new phone number debuting December 9, 1-855-540-WMAIN and inquiries can be submitted online at www.540westmain.org
Join 540WMain at Hart’s on Saturday, December 3rd from 2pm-4pm to talk to Calvin directly about about their programs, events and more!