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Year End Newsletter 2023

Looking back, and moving forward!


2023 has been a difficult year for LGBTQ+ communities around the country, as increasing attacks on our transgender and nonbinary loved ones have made large areas of our country unsafe. In Western New York, states like Florida and Alabama can seem far away, but we’ve seen attempts at banning books for mentioning queer issues, and other hateful rhetoric popping up close to home. 

We are proud of the work GLYS has been doing to stand up and fight for LGBTQ+ youth across the region: serving over 500 youth at our spring Youth Leadership Conference; expanding drop-in programming and support groups; and ensuring schools across the region are safe and affirming for their LGBTQ+ students. 

Throughout the year, our programming has served over 1,000 youth and expanded partnerships to almost 150 schools across all 8 counties of Western New York. We have continued expanding partnerships with other community agencies, like BestSelf Behavioral Health, Just Buffalo Literary Center, Planned Parenthood and more. 

But more than anything, we finally have a home again. We are thrilled to be at 741 Main St in downtown Buffalo, ready and able to serve youth in a comfortable space that we can call our own.

40th Anniversary GAYLA

Through your unwavering support, we reached and surpassed our goal of $30,000! We want to especially thank The Imperial Court of Buffalo-Emperor Thomas Branscum-Empress Coco Latique-Reign 31 for their generous sponsorship at the Philanthropist Level of $10,000+ We could not have accomplished such success without you!

We would also like to thank First Student Inc., and M&T Bank, for their support at the Benefactor Level. James Mack & Markus Ranney, Rosina Food Products, Neil Pawlowski Esq. of Duggan & Pawlowski, Evergreen Health, The Pride Center of WNY, Jewish Family Services, KeyBank, and Buffalo Gay Bingo/AIDS Plus Fund for supporting at the Sponsor level. Supporter Sponsors include: Michael Mroczka, Crowley Webb, Wegmans, Khristopher Decker MSW, LCSW-R, CASAC, Summit Healthcare Solutions, Councilmember Mitchell P. Nowakowski, E-ville Wine & Spirits, Shari Jo Reich, Hodgson Russ LLP, BestSelf of WNY, and Horizon Health Services. Ally Sponsors include: Howard Henry & Lee Ann Grace, Candice and Louisa Fletcher-Pacheco, Alan Block & Jerry Fischer, Mental Health Advocates of WNY, Buffalo Jewish Federation, Michael Boucai & Douglas Brown, Joel Mahakian of Premium Mortgage, Sheri Scavone, Crisis Services, Highmark BlueCross BlueShield, Roswell Park, and the UB Alberti Center. We would like to especially thank BestSelf Behavioral Health, Alan Block & Jerry Fischer, and E-Ville Wine & Spirits for donating their sponsor tickets for both youth and Government officials to join us at GAYLA! Thank you!

We Moved!! We Found A Home at 741 Main Street!

The most significant advantage of our new permanent space is that our youth finally have a safe and consistent place to call their own. Our new space offers an environment that fosters creativity, learning, and personal growth, where youth can feel comfortable expressing themselves, and building relationships with each other and adult mentors alike. 

We have a living room space for video games, and movie showings, a library, a free clothing closet, and of course, a kitchen with snacks and meals available for youth whenever they come by! 

Board Member Spotlight

Neil Pawlowski Esq.

"I grew up in Syracuse, New York, but have loved to call Buffalo my home for over 15 years. After graduating with my law degree from the University at Buffalo Law School, I started a small law firm in downtown Buffalo where I focus my practice on Real Estate Law, Wills and Estates, and small business formation/consultation."

Why did you decide to join the GLYS WNY Inc Board?

Prior to attending law school, I was a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher in Brooklyn, NY with the Teach for America program. Between my personal and professional experiences dealing with students who were struggling with their sexual and gender identities, I wanted to find a way to continue helping students in our community who are able to use the vast resources GLYS WNY is able to offer.

How does your experience (professional and personal) help GLYS achieve its mission? Throughout my career as a lawyer and in personal life, I have worked closely with families, community activists, our elected officials, and other prominent community members to bring awareness and support for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, I have had the amazing opportunity to help a family adopt a trans youth who was struggling to find acceptance while in the foster system. I have also acted as legal advisor to local gay establishments with designing and implementing gender-inclusive restroom policies to make sure that all members of the community are represented and accepted no matter what their gender identity may be.

What is something about GLYS that you’re passionate about? I have always wanted to help students and youth throughout our communities thrive and live their best lives by providing a safe space. GLYS of WNY provides such important programming that helps the students/youth, but also adults, learn to be inclusive and accepting of everyone.

What do you like to do when you’re not working on the GLYS Board? When not working, you will typically find me at a local theatre show, playing kickball when the weather cooperates, traveling, or playing with my dog Lenny.

Thank you, Neil, for your hard work on the GLYS WNY Board, and in our community!

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