Healing at Brady Market
The Brady Market will offer food access and healing services under one roof to both its workers and the residents of the Near Westside. | Provided Photo

Healing at Brady Market

New grocery store set to open offers more than food

By Kambui Bomani

Brady Faith Center Director Kevin Frank always viewed Brady Market as a place that could serve as “much more than a market.” In his vision, the space included a health component for workers and residents.

“Placing choices of supports and health services together, side by side under one roof increases individual and community health and workforce development at the same time,” Frank said. “The health of our Near Westside and South Side communities depends in large part on access and investment of essential resources.”

It’s About Childhood & Family assisted Brady Market in creating health and fitness classes. Set to launch weekly, class offerings include tai chi (1 to 3 p.m. every Friday), children’s yoga (4 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday) and physical fitness ( 9 to 10 a.m. every Wednesday and Thursday).

Kelsie Montaque, program director of It’s About Childhood & Family, was influential in establishing these classes. To her, it’s all a part of the holistic process that the market hopes to provide for a wide range of people.

“Brady Market started off as the premise of hope, health and healing,” Montaque said. “You provide them with all this work and training, but you help to heal them. We do a lot of therapeutic programming like health and exercise with a holistic approach, reducing anxiety and stress. When you look good, you feel good.”

Montaque implored that health and exercise is very important to mental help. This is why classes such as yoga and tai chi were included. She says the holistic environment also provides notable benefits such as team building within the job and access to an exercise hub. 

Montaque added the creation of a holistic environment within worksites is something she wants to continue doing. She feels the partnership could possibly be the domino that falls in the direction of progressing holistic health within Syracuse’s Near Westside.

“We want to not just do it in Brady, but we want to do it in other organizations as well,” Montaque said. “We recognize the need for holistic health with individuals.”

Jamar Clarke possesses a very similar mindset, too. As the founder of Flight Room Syracuse, Clarke wanted to give back to a community that he felt was devoid of impact in comparison to other cities. He’s been proactive within the community in many ways pre-dating his relationship to Brady Market. Most notably, Clarke delivered hundreds of hot meals door-to-door on Christmas morning with the Rescue Mission, and he plans to do so every year moving forward. Such efforts have helped him desire to formulate an uplifting identity within the community he grew up in.

“Growing up, I always felt Syracuse was behind in comparison to other big cities,” Clarke said. “So, I wanted to make an impact within the city. One, from a fitness side, because of passion. But two, just from being a trendsetter, by setting that big city vibe in a little city area.”

That perspective resonated in the eventual partnership of Flight Room Syracuse with Brady Market to offer weekly fitness classes. Clarke spoke of his connection with the Paul Nojaim, who ran Nojaim Brothers Supermarket formerly in the space, as being the convincing factor in making the partnership with Brady Market into a reality.

“I got into it because of the passion he (Nojaim) brings in person,” Clarke said. “Especially for the community at risk. I grew up in the city of Syracuse in a single-parent home with four brothers. So, if I could give back in any way, this was my way to do so.”

Clarke’s 45-minute class presents an opportunity to provide his clients an ability to enjoy themselves. From warm-ups, group exercises and stretching, he provides the right amount of music, interaction and sweat to create a healthy and enjoyable environment.

“The sole goal is to just make fitness fun,” Clarke said. “A lot of people don’t workout because it’s not fun …  I want you to be like, ‘Man you kicked my butt; but I had fun, and I’ll see you tomorrow.’”

Some Brady Market fitness classes are free while others are based on instructor fee. Additionally, expressive arts classes are offered also. To register, email Healing@bradymarket.org. COVID-19 precautions followed include: participants must wear a face mask, have their temperature taken and sign that they’ve not traveled out of the state during the past 48 hours. Equipment will be sanitized after every use and social distancing will be practiced.

Kambui Bomani is a Newhouse graduate student serving as an intern for The Stand