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Big Brothers Big Sisters is the largest provider of one-to-one youth mentoring services in the United States. In Erie County, we have been matching caring adults with local children for more than 40 years and have impacted the lives of over 10,000 youth. These quality relationships are built on friendship and trust, and are proven to be a significant positive influence in the life of the child, and the volunteer. Learn More

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Women Who Move the City Wednesday- Congrats Cheryl Bird!

May 3, 2017

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County is honored to celebrate  Cheryl Bird as this week’s featured Women Who Move the City Wednesday (WWMTC) Honoree! Cheryl joined the Daemen College Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement in 2002 as Seneca Babcock Community Coordinator, was promoted to Director of Community Relations for the CSCCE, and in 2004 was asked to serve as the Executive Director. The CSCCE partners with three disadvantaged Buffalo neighborhoods, Seneca Babcock, the West Side and Broadway Fillmore, to address educational, economic and environmental needs. They sustain long term collaborations with community agencies in the three neighborhoods to benefit the communities, and Daemen faculty and students. The Center’s partner agencies provide service-learning sites for over 200 Daemen students every semester.

Cheryl founded, and serves as, Board Chair of the Seneca Street Community Development Corporation, a not-for-profit that provides much needed financial and human support to the disadvantaged Seneca Babcock community of Buffalo. This small not-for-profit provides a free after school program, enrichment activities and dinner for 65 children and teens daily during the school year, and weekly summer programming and field trips for children who would otherwise never leave their small neighborhood. The Seneca Street CDC also established the Babcock Community Garden and partners with the community on many activities.

Cheryl has been a very active member of the Seneca Street Church for the past 23 years, where her husband is the pastor. She chairs the Friends of Seneca Street (FOSS) group, and collaborates with many churches, companies and individuals outside Seneca Babcock to develop partnerships to strengthen the church and the people it serves.

Cheryl also serves as co-chair of the Somali Bantu Community Organization which works to benefit Somali Bantu refugees on the west side of Buffalo. Cheryl has become very close to this community through her work with refugees at Lafayette High School and with Jewish Family Service. She is a mentor and passionate advocate for those who are served by the organization. 

As shared in her nomination for this award, “Cheryl’s passion for working with the refugee community and with disadvantaged children is contagious! She is a strong advocate for refugees and the realities they face when they arrive in Buffalo with only a knapsack full of possessions. Cheryl is always inspiring people to work with the disadvantaged youth in Seneca Babcock, and encouraging them to work with a child or teen who has no adult role models in their lives.”

Cheryl’s background includes over 20 years of experience in the business world, including management, consulting and legal positions, in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo. She has a Master of Science Degree in Executive Leadership and Change from Daemen College, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from State University of New York at Oswego.

Cheryl was recognized by the South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce with a Community Service Award for her work in the Seneca Babcock neighborhood, and received the School/Community Partnership Award from United Neighborhoods Community Action Organization. In 2012 she was honored to receive the Daemen College Associates Outstanding Community Service Award and in 2013 received an award from the Daemen College Social Work Department for her contributions to Daemen College and the community at large. Cheryl was humbled and honored to be able to accept the Community Partnership Award in 2015 from Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County.  Cheryl resides in West Amherst with her husband, Brian and enjoys caring for 3 indoor and 5 outdoor cats.

Congrats Cheryl! We hope you will join us to celebrate Cheryl and our six other outstanding Women Who Move the City Honorees on Wednesday, May 10th at the Hotel Lafayette.  Tickets are going fast so click now to purchase before the May 8th at midnight deadline!


Women Who Move the City Wednesday- Congrats Deborah Tangelder!

April 26, 2017

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County is honored to celebrate  Deborah Tangelder as this week’s featured Women Who Move the City Wednesday (WWMTC) Honoree!  Deborah is the owner of The Perfect Gift & Clothing Boutique, located in historic Clarence Center. The storefront name, The Perfect Gift, was inspired by the Bible verse James 1:17 – “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” Deb considers it a privilege to make a difference and that there is a purpose in her store that goes well beyond beautiful things. It’s about touching lives and hearts, and inspiring others.

Since opening 14 years ago, she has used her business to help in multiple capacities as part of “The Perfect Gift Gives Back” project. From local causes, to schools, churches, and national organizations…she follows her heart & faith. Her theme is simple, Shop Local and Help Many. Countless organizations have been helped including: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County, Roswell – Jacquie Hirsch for A.L.L. FoundationCornerstone Manor, Stop the Clot Alliance, Women & Children’s Hospital , Let Them LOL, Wear ‘N Share and Flight 3407 Families

Each fall, Deborah’s store offers “The Gratitude Tree”, in conjunction with a local Clarence Center family. Community members complete and hang a tag with what they are grateful for.  During the holidays, it converts into “The Giving Tree” where visitors take an angel tag to help a person in need.  This past year, over 150 local WNY families received holiday gifts. Additionally, the store has housed a Women’s Bible Study, which has grown to over 100 women, representing dozens of churches across Buffalo. 

Deborah also has a true appreciation for local talent and has supported over 50 WNY artists through the years , serving as an incubator for their success.  She also strives to work with national brand companies that are equally philanthropic and purposeful in their business mission, such as her jewelry lines that fundraise to fight against human trafficking, homelessness, providing provision in crisis relief. 

Deborah is a UB School of Management Graduate with a background in Sales & Marketing. Deborah is a founding member of the Meet in the Center Merchants Association, that offers family festivals & community beautification projects.  She is a recipient of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce President’s Award for her role in community efforts associated with the Flight 3407 crisis in Clarence Center and also received the Clarence Chamber of Commerce Young Leader Award. Deborah resides with her husband Nick, and daughters, Brooke and Amanda in Clarence.

Congrats Deborah! We hope you will join us to celebrate Deborah and our six other outstanding Women Who Move the City Honorees on Wednesday, May 10th at the Hotel Lafayette.  Tickets are going fast so click now to purchase!


Women Who Move the City Wednesday-Congrats Susan Gastle!

April 19, 2017

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County is honored to celebrate Susan Gastle as this week’s featured Women Who Move the City Wednesday (WWMTC) Honoree!  This summer, Susan will be celebrating 10 years of friendship with her Little Brother, Josh, through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County. Susan’s role as a Big Sister is unique since typically BBBSEC matches Big Sisters with Little Sisters. However, due to a shortage of Big Brothers, boys under the age of 10 can be matched with a Big Sister. Susan gladly took on this role and has been an amazing Big Sister to Josh, who was just 6 years old when they met. Over the years, they have enjoyed trying new foods, attended numerous local events and participated in agency sponsored activities. They both love the outdoors, enjoy hiking together and also any type of activity that is science related or encourages them to use their reasoning skills. Susan has been a consistent positive role model in Josh’s life, encouraging him to achieve what he sets his mind to. She is proud of her now teenage Little Brother, who will be the first in his family to graduate high school and attend college!

Over the last 10 years, Susan has also supported BBBSEC’s mission in many ways.  Susan is always sharing with others what being a “Big” is like and has recruited numerous new mentors. As her professional life has evolved, she has always engaged the companies she’s worked for in supporting BBBSEC’s mission. She’s secured sponsorships, arranged for families to be adopted for the holidays, organized school drives and hosted career days. Susan has also participated in BBBSEC’s Fore the Children Golf Tournament and served on the Bowl For Kids’ Sake Committee. When the agency decided to replace the bowling event with another fundraiser, Susan served on the committee that created Women Who Move the City four years ago. In 2015 and 2016, she served as Co-Chair of the event. She assisted in growing the committee membership, secured numerous sponsorships and helped to shape the look and feel of the event. Through her leadership, WWMTC tripled in attendance and increased revenue each year!

As shared in her nomination, “Susan is an amazing Big Sister, friend and mentor to her Little Brother. Susan’s passion and belief in mentoring has inspired others to get involved, volunteer and donate to BBBSEC’s mission. She is an incredible ambassador for the agency in the community and her efforts have directly helped to raise the funds and awareness necessary to match more kids with a Big Brother or Sister.”

In addition to being an active advocate for BBBSEC, Susan has a history of involvement with many other local charities. She’s organized teams of volunteers to support Cooks for Kids and the annual 5k run for Ronald McDonald House, participated in numerous United Way of Buffalo & Erie County programs and arranged food drives for the Food Bank of WNY.

Susan graduated with honors from Niagara University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Finance and an MBA in International Management. She also has achieved her Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis Professional Certification. Susan has many years of experience in Financial Analysis at local companies in the WNY area; more recently, Susan was named Team Leader of Financial Planning and Analysis at Reverie. She is responsible for overseeing financial analysis, forecasting and reporting for the company. Susan resides in Boston with her husband Kevin and their two young daughters.

Congrats Susan! We hope you will join us to celebrate Susan and our six other outstanding Women Who Move the City Honorees on Wednesday, May 10th at the Hotel Lafayette.  Tickets are going fast so click now to purchase!


Women Who Move the City Wednesday-Congrats Danielle Lewis!

April 12, 2017

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County is honored to celebrate  Danielle Lewis as this week’s featured Women Who Move the City Wednesday (WWMTC) Honoree

Serving her community has been how Danielle has chosen to pay forward the mentorship and support she received while developing as a young person. Danielle recently completed a three-year term on the Compass House Board of Directors, serving as Vice Chair and the Annual Fundraiser Chair. In the latter role, she led the transition from a traditional fundraising dinner event to a weekend brunch with the goal of building a new generation of donors for the organization. Danielle is also a member of the Junior League of Buffalo and recently finished multiple terms on the Board of Directors, serving as the Secretary and then Executive Vice President. She most recently served as the Community Assistance Small Grants Co-Chair. In the past, she has served as a Big Sister and participated in the both the Big Mirror and Fundraising Committees of Big Brothers Big Sister of Erie County. In fact, Danielle was a member of the committee that helped to create the first Women Who Move the City event!

As shared in her nomination, “You will be hard-pressed to find a young professional who has risen to as many high-level executive board positions across organizations in WNY, and done so at such a young age. It’s a testament to her drive to improve situations for populations in WNY. Whether that be the college students she works with 9-5, homeless youth supported through Compass House, or the wide-ranging philanthropic impact JLB has, Danielle has led the way in making change happen in the organizations she has been committed to.”

Danielle is the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program Coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo. In this role, she supports graduate students in designing their own Master’s program. Additionally, she manages the Women in Science and Engineering program, where she provides support and guidance to female undergraduates in STEM disciplines. Danielle is also currently the Vice President Elect for Professional Development for the College Personnel Association of New York State. She has a passion for providing access to professional development resources to those in higher education and enjoys serving her colleagues in this role.

Danielle received a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Cortland and a Master’s of Education from the University of South Carolina.  She was named to the Buffalo Business First 30 under 30 list in 2013 and was an Athena Young Professional nominee in 2012. 

Danielle has also served as a Sunday school teacher at the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg and lead a bible study for married couples with her husband, Mike. The couple resides in South Buffalo with their daughter, Grace and dog, Ralph. They enjoy spending time outdoors as a family.

Congrats Danielle! We hope you will join us to celebrate Danielle and our six other outstanding Women Who Move the City Honorees on Wednesday, May 10th at the Hotel Lafayette. FLASH SALE: Receive $5.00 off your ticket from now until Midnight on April 13th when you purchase online. Click now to take advantage of the sale.


Women Who Move the City Wednesday- Congrats Gwendolyn Bork!

April 5, 2017

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County is honored to celebrate  Gwendolyn Bork as this week’s featured Women Who Move the City Wednesday (WWMTC) Honoree

A NYS Board Certified Addiction Recovery Coach and Trainer, Gwendolyn is the Vice President of In His Name Outreach (IHNO); a non-profit, faith-based resource center dedicated to building and restoring the spiritual, emotional and physical health of our community. The organization won Best in Business for the Town of Cheektowaga in the Counseling/Coaching Category in 2015.  As a member of the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Taskforce, she has been working diligently to spread the message of hope for families.   As shared in her WWMTC nomination, “Gwendolyn cares so deeply about people and has a soft spot for youth in need. She is constantly finding new ways to educate the youth of our area about the opioid epidemic.”

Gwendolyn regularly donates her time to provide education and encouragement in the community through seminars including Multiple Pathways to Recovery and Addiction Prevention to name a few. She shares, “My goal is to empower our youth with healthy coping skills, leadership training, communication skills and diversity training. If we can save our children, we can save our future.”

Gwendolyn is the founder and lead singer of The Red Revolution, that has performed throughout WNY with the mission of spreading the message of love and hope through music. She is a Supporting Partner of BB&G Charities and has been a speaker and performer at their fundraising events. Gwendolyn is also a published author of “Walking the Fine Line”, a book documenting the struggles in her life from ages 14-24 and a near death car accident that changed her life forever.

Gwendolyn is a Wealth Advisor at Custom Wealth Strategies and is an advocate for other women to successfully propel their current financial status towards future retirement goals. A single mother of two boys, Gwendolyn resides in Alden.

To celebrate with Gwendolyn and our six other outstanding Women Who Move the City Honorees on Wednesday, May 10th at the Hotel Lafayetteclick here to learn more & purchase your tickets today-they are going fast!


Women Who Move the City Wednesday- Congrats Lorna MacDonald Czarnota!

March 29, 2017

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County is honored to celebrate Lorna MacDonald Czarnota as this week’s featured Women Who Move the City Wednesday (WWMTC) Honoree

Lorna, an award-winning storyteller and author, has delighted audiences in schools, libraries, festivals and conferences throughout the United States, Canada, and Ireland with traditional and original stories since 1985.  She is the founder and executive director of Crossroads Story Center, Inc., a not-for-profit reaching at-risk youth through story, music and art.  The organization is dedicated to helping young people navigate troubled waters through the model of story by mentoring and forming productive adult/youth partnerships.  Lorna’s healing story work is recognized in national and international storytelling communities.

Lorna was the resident storyteller for nine years at Hopevale Residential Treatment Center and presents an annual eight-week program for girls at Teaching and Restoring Youth transitional home.  Among the impressive list of Lorna’s accomplishments, is the 20+ years she has volunteered every other Wednesday night for the residents of Compass Housewhere she is affectionately known by the clients as “Lorna the Storyteller”.  As shared in her nomination for the WWMTC Award, “Whether a tragedy or a romantic folklore, Lorna manages to capture the hearts of even the most challenging teenagers with her stories. Each week, she calls ahead of time, and speaks with shelter staff to get an idea of what major issues residents are struggling with, to determine which story she will tell. Lorna’s stories and illuminating positive energy leave clients and staff alike feeling peaceful and refreshed with new perspectives on life’s challenges. In her twenty years at Compass House, Lorna has impacted the lives of an estimated 6,000 teenagers.”

Lorna has developed, and presented, programs for abused women and their children. Her work also includes communities in disaster with a goal for rebuilding community focus and identity. She’s worked with the community at-large following the shootings on the Virginia Tech campus, and was honored to be the keynote speaker for a conference of educators of young children in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Among her many publications in the field, are a series of three new books, Dancing at the Crossroads, about using story to connect with at-risk youth. The series received a 2015 Storytelling World Award.

Lorna is a Teaching Artist with Young Audiences Western New York and serves as an Advisor to the Board of Directors for the Healing Alliance of which she was co-chair for five years.  She holds a Bachelor in Creative Studies for Young Children, a Masters in Special Education, and certification in Trauma Counseling.

Lorna resides with her husband, and their two rescue cats, in North Buffalo.  In her free time she plays fiddle, Celtic harp and sings Jazz.  She loves all things historical and has a particular interest in the Middle Ages.  She enjoys traveling to other countries and this past year drove cross-country, 10,000 miles, to see our great nation. When time permits, Lorna loves to cook and enjoy the gardens of her 1904 home.

To celebrate with Lorna and our six other outstanding Women Who Move the City Honorees on Wednesday, May 10th at the Hotel Lafayetteclick here to learn more & purchase your tickets today-they are going fast!


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