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News from the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation Winter 2022-23

Buffalo Renaissance Moves Into 2023 With New President

As I take over as President of the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, I can’t help but marvel at what this group has become. To think that in 1981, a group of young men thought to start this organization to help build a better Buffalo and move our community forward is nothing short of amazing. As of today, we currently have 39 Active Directors and 32 Sustaining Directors. The fact that 71 members are still involved, and we continue to grow after 42 years really speaks to the commitment and their love for the Buffalo Community.


I would like to welcome our newest class of Directors: Kurt Felgemacher, Patrick Keating, and Matt Miller. I also want to welcome back Joe Kreuz, who rejoined as an Active Director. I know I speak for the rest of the Directors when I say we are excited about working with them to continue to move the organization forward.

This year is already off to a great start, with all our committees fully engaged. This year we are honoring the contributions of Ralph & Mary Wilson at our Spring Luncheon on May 3, 2023, our Annual Golf Classic is back at Crag Burn on September 14, 2023, and our Veterans & Uniformed Services Committee is hosting the Veterans Luncheon on November 17, 2023.

I want to thank outgoing President Michael Modrzynski for his outstanding leadership over the last three years. He led this group through the pandemic and the challenges that it brought to all of us. As the new leader of this distinguished group, I am optimistic and excited about what the future brings to our community.


Three New Directors Invited to Board

In October, the Board invited three local leaders to join the Board of Directors of the Foundation. Kurt Felgemacher (Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney), Patrick Keating (Five Star Bank) and Matthew Miller (Rupp Pfalzgraf LLP) have joined the group and we look forward to their stewardship in the years to come.

Golf Classic at Brookfield CC Dodges Raindrops

The annual Golf Classic was held in May at Brookfield Country Club in Clarence where we were challenged by the weather. The Classic is the second oldest charitable tournament running in Western New York, the inaugural event being held in 1982 at Crag Burn. Event chair Dr. Gilbert chaperoned a day of comradery at one of Western New York’s finest golf venues, raising over $80,000 in revenue to support WNY charities.

Special thanks to our event sponsors:

Flag Sponsors – Hoffman Hanifan, Allied Mechanical and D.V. Brown and Associates

Putting Contest Sponsor – Uniland Development

Longest Drive – Newman Properties

Closest to the Pin Sponsors – Premier Gourmet

BRF Outreach Program

We held our Annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation Community Center on the East Side of Buffalo. Youth from area schools were treated to gifts, candy and a big easter egg hunt.

UB President Satish Tripathi Honored at BRF Luncheon as Man of the Year

Appropriations in 2022 Provided Grants to Six Area Charities

Our Appropriations Committee awarded grants to Buffalo String Works, Gateway-Longview Foundation, UB School of Architecture, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, Service Collaborative of WNY, Inc. and Gerard Place totaling $60,000.

Major Commitment to BRF

In October, the Board designated $100,000 of its Endowment Funds to the renovation of the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation Community Center. More to come on this in 2023 as our signature project is in the planning stages of the initiative. After the racially motivated in May shooting at the Tops on the East side, the BRF Community Center became a beacon of hope and a safe place for those needing groceries and assistance after the incident. We will continue to support the efforts in this neighborhood by helping modernize the Community Center.

Veterans and Military Committee Rebranded in 2022

We rebranded our Veterans-based committee to the Military & Uniformed Services Committee during 2022.

Our annual Veterans Luncheon, an event that continues to grow and support our local Veteran community was canceled due to the November storm. We have rescheduled our keynote speaker, Chipp Naylon to the 2023 event scheduled for November 17, 2023 at the Buffalo Club.

Our Committee remained active making local donations in 2022 to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park (Save the Sullivans and the Challenge Coin Project), and the Travis Manion Foundation. We also hosted three luncheons for the Buffalo chapter of the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) during 2022.

The annual Gary M. Stott Scholarship was awarded to Nanna K. Ellowitz. Ms. Ellowitz is a Personnel specialist First Class First Class Petty Officer at the Navy Reserve Center in Buffalo and has been in the Navy for 12 years.

UB Athletics Scholarship

Sculptural Art Initiative

In 2010 the BRF explored the idea of creating a series of sculptural art installations dedicated to the “Spirit of Buffalo.” We began by asking ourselves the question: does public art really matter? According to research by the National Association for Public Art:

  • Art in public spaces plays a distinguishing role in defining a community’s history and culture.
  • It reflects and reveals our society and provides enhanced meaning to our civic spaces.
  • Public art humanizes the built environment and assists in providing links between a community’s past, present, and future.
  • Public art provides cultural, social, and economic value, and its proliferation is a clear sign of a community’s vitality.

With these goals as our objective, the BRF provided foundational financial support for this initiative and enlisted like-minded benefactors to help underwrite the costs of placing a series of both contemporary and traditional 3-D art throughout the city.

2023 marks the conclusion of this initiative with the June 1st dedication of the “Spirit of Inspiration” at the new reading park located outside the Central Library at Lafayette Square. Dedicated to buffalo poet Lucille Clifton and designed by artist Olalekan Jeyifous, the ornamental stainless-steel bench with interference coating provides a wide spectrum of color in changing light and is inscribed with Clifton’s poem, Let There Be New Flowering.

Working with various property partners who are committed to maintaining and caring for these installations, the BRF has placed the following public art:

  • 2011 – The Spirit of Life – by Valaria Cray Dihann – Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
  • 2014 – The Spirit of Transportation – by Sarah Fonzi – Pierce Arrow Transportation Museum
  • 2015 – The Spirit of Leadership – by Toby Mendez – Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Site
  • 2018 – Spirit of Community – Daniel Shaffer – HH Richardson Campus
  • 2020 – In cooperation with The Junior League of Buffalo – Do Not Mistake My Softness for Weakness, by Shasti O’Leary Soudant – Burchfield Penny Art Gallery
  • 2023 – The Spirit of Inspiration – by Olalekan Jeyifous – Buffalo Public Library

The BRF would like to thank our major benefactors for helping to make this art initiative possible: The Vogt Family Foundation, Victor & Corrine Rice, Schneider Services, Barclay Damon, LLP.

It has been extremely satisfying to witness the meshing of so many talents during the realization of this project: the BRF leadership team, artists, benefactors, and the dedicated staff from the various property partners who represent the institutions we’ve collaborated with. It is our hope that the Spirit of Buffalo Sculptural Art Series will enrich the daily experience of life in Buffalo for generations to come.

Jake Schneider, Chair

In Memoriam

In July 2022 we lost one of our own with the passing of Charles G. Jones, Jr. (pictured below second from the right), one of our long-time directors. Chip was part of the fourth group of BRF directors and joined the group in 1989 and served as President in 1996. He remained active with our group as part of the Appropriations Committee and will be missed dearly.

Founded in 1981, the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation (BRF) is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to moving Buffalo forward, to help our future generations realize the best opportunities to enjoy a high quality of life in Western New York.

Copyright (C) 2023 Buffalo Renaissance Foundation. All rights reserved.


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