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April 14, 2013        OutcomeBuffalo > News

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2013 honorees from right to left. Attorney Shari Jo Reich, Unity Fellowship of Christ Ministry and Jamestown City Council President Greg Rabb.

Annual Buffalo Brunch Honors Four

Buffalo— Nineteen Years ago four volunteers who had just finished organizing and leading the first and only political campaign that elected an openly lgbt person to an elective office in Wester New York organized a brunch in Buffalo to raise money for the Empire State Pride Agenda.

In the 19 Annual Buffalo Brunches since 1996, the event has seen many changes in both purpose and venue. The very first Buffalo Brunch saw about 100 people come together at the Mid-Day Club atop the Liberty Building in downtown Buffalo. The event is now attended by approximately 500 people a signifigcant growth in dollars and attendees has been achieved in their 19 year history.

The Buffalo Brunch is the signature fundraiser for Embrace WNY. Embrace annually makes grants to local organizations in their effort to build and strengthen the social infrastructure for lgbt people in Western New York. Embrace also makes scholarships available to lgbt students that attend college at local institutions.

The annual Buffalo Brunch continues its proud tradition this year at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in Depew, New York. The event is scheduled at 12:00 noon, Sunday, April 28t Organizers expect 500 people are expected to attend.

This year, the Buffalo Brunch will present its community service awards to two local organizations and one individual. Shari Jo Reich will be honored for her long time community activism. WNED-TV for consistently televising shows regarding issues that affect the LGBT community. Unity Fellowship of Christ Church for being a welcoming and inclusive congregation. A community citation will go to Greg Rabb, the Jamestown, New York City Council President and the only openly lgbt elected official in Western New York.

A native of Buffalo, Shari Jo Reich is a 1983 magna cum laude graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, where she received simultaneous honors from the Political Science Department. She earned her law degree in 1986 from the SUNY at Buffalo School of Law, and was awarded the Order of the Barristers. She also received the Law School Award for Proficiency in Estates and Surrogate’s Law. She is currently Managing Partner at Kenney Shelton Liptak Nowak, LLP . Shari Jo is a long time supported of the LGBT community. She has given of her time, talents and treasure in such ways as: GLYS Board, “Gay Community Center” on W Ferry, WNY Aids Program, lectures and support for Marriage Equality and many other issues important to the LGBT community, and legal representation to many in the community. Shari Jo and Sheryl were married in 2010 and are raising their two children.

WNED signed on the air in 1959, the first public television station in New York State.  After joining in the transition to PBS in the late 60’s, WNED produced some ground breaking series that had national distribution including drama’s like “Longtime Companion”, the ground breaking documentary “Tongues Untied” and the first series highlighting the lives of Lesbians and Gay men, “In the Life”.  We have also shared the stories and told the history of the Gay Rights movement with great documentaries like “Before Stonewall” and “After Stonewall”.  Along with stories from the past like “Coming Out Under Fire” and “The Naked Civil Servant”.  And the list continues to this day where stories about alternative families are included in such children’s series like “Arthur” where we visit a family in Vermont with two moms who produce maple syrup.  And documentaries like “Out in Nature: Homosexual Behavior in the Animal World” that sheds light on a subject that had been long suppressed. 

Unity Fellowship of Christ Church(UFCM) – Buffalo . UFCM was founded in 1982 by the then Rev. Carl Bean to not only address the scourge of HIV within the black community but to also provide for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color an inclusive place of fellowship and worship.

Unity Fellowship Church has the distinction of being Buffalo’s only progressive and inclusive fellowship for people of color that worships in the black church tradition. As they are coming upon their fifth year anniversary Unity Fellowship Church – Buffalo is proud of their record of progressive theology and social justice within the Western New York area.

Greg Rabb is in his third two year term as the only openly gay elected official in Western New York. Rabb is President and Councilman-at-Large in the Jamestown City Council. He serves on the Finance Committee of the Council and is the Public Co-chair of the Jamestown Strategic Planning Commission, Vice Chair of the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency, and member of the Board of Directors of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. With the legalization of marriage equality in NY Greg also became a City Marriage Officer having presided over 75 same-sex marriages in Jamestown for couples from around the nation and even Taiwan. He recently was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Tickets are $50; sponsorships are also available and will support projects, organizations, causes and people that impact the LGBT community in Buffalo and Western New York. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased by calling Judy Dumitru at 716.983.9212 or visiting www.buffalobrunch.org. —Staff

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