DUNKIRK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Finding needs in the community and making a change. That’s what the group Small Town Big minds is all about.
“We love it because when we were kids, we didn’t have anything like this, we didn’t have role models like us four,” said AJ Morales, Co-Founder.
Founded by Raul Rosado, Chris Rodriguez, Evon Hernandez and Morales, the group hosts a local podcast and works on projects to improve their hometown.
“Instead of waiting for someone else to change our community for us, we started making it happen,” said Rodriguez.
Their first project aimed at celebrating diversity, creating this mural at the old Regent Theater on Third Street.
Their second project was about bringing something fun for kids to do during the winter.
“In this ward here, we have a nice big park here, but it only has a playground and it wasn’t being utilized,” said Rosado.
And because of COVID-19 restrictions, there aren't as many opportunities to skate in the area. So the Small Town Big Minds group hosted a kickball tournament and started a GoFundMe page until they had enough money to build the ice rink all by themselves on East Tenney Street in January.
“We thought it was awesome, we can come up here literally every day and just skate, that’s what the kids like to do so,” said Bryant Watts, father of two young skaters.
It took $4,000 of fundraising and about 5-6 days to build, but seeing their work bring smiles to kids in their community makes it all worth it.
“You see the kids here, they love it. Who knows, that might be the next Jack Eichel,” said Morales.
They help the community and the community gives it right back. For their next project they’re getting help from a familiar face, 11-year-old Dunkirk celebrity DJ KV Baby.
7 Eyewitness News brought you DJ KV Baby’s story in December. He used his talent and platform to help this group raise more than $100 during his last live stream.
“We get so much love from the community for doing this, but they don’t realize it’s them too, they’re a big reason it’s getting done,” said Rosado.
They’ll use that money to start youth programs in the city with the non-profit Kids at Promise. They say doing projects like this is about group economics, bringing the community together to raise funds and make change.
“It’s a big pick me up, because Dunkirk gets a bad reputation,” said Watts.
Which is exactly what these four hope to change.