“The white supremacist shooting has devastated so many individuals and families who have already struggled. We know that continued recovery and healing will require the cooperation of the entire community.” – Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown
Buffalo, New York (PRWEB)
July 21, 2023
Hundreds of locals attended an outdoor rally in a Buffalo grocery store just blocks from the scene of a tragic white supremacist shooting that killed 10 supermarket shoppers in the historic black neighborhood last May.
Dubbed the “Buffalo Still Standing,” the event was hosted by the Upper Room Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Food Pantry in partnership with Canisius College and the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in western New York. Buffalo Still Standing is a high-energy outdoor community activity that takes place at Canisius College Spielman Lot across from the church. Attendees will experience positive affirmations, dance performances, and inspirational music by local and national artists. The event began last year and promotes joy, healing and resilience on the east side of Buffalo.
“What happened to our community on May 14, 2022 was terrifying,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. “The white supremacist shooting has devastated many individuals and families who have already faced hardships. We know that to continue recovery and healing, the entire community must work together. We are one of the sponsors of this inspiring event that unites us in a meaningful way, and how we have each helped: “Others have become role models for the entire nation. In the same spirit, let’s unite again for the Buffalo Still Standing and show the world that we are a resilient, loving, peaceful community.”
Guests who attended heard songs like “The best is yet to come!” By Kurt Kerr. They triumphantly set out from the pantry with free food bags, home and health insurance papers, and balloon animals. The Buffalo Still Standing promotes strength and togetherness while sending a message to the world that Buffalo’s East side exists beyond tragedy and is filled with growing families, up-and-coming businesses and vibrant worship centers. The Upper Room COGIC Food Pantry plans to continue this program to let Buffalo and the rest of the world know that Buffalo is still standing after a horrific tragedy.
“The Upper Room Church of God in Christ is a service activity that has been active in the Jefferson Avenue community for over 50 years,” said Pastor Daniel L. Benning of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ. “We must feed the souls of those we meet. We do this through community service activities such as community days, movie nights in the Spielman parking lot, outdoor worship services, and basketball tournaments. Our food pantry, led by Cynthia Benning, is an extension of our service activities that allows us to nourish our bodies. We are working to continue.”
This year’s concert featured local gospel and inspirational artists Julian Groom, Jamie Henegan, Rachel McQuarrie, Reverend Tracy Foy-Green, Vibrant Strings and Caprice Butts. Additionally, attendees enjoyed performances by local celebrities, including Damarca Wheeler, best known as a season 7 finalist of BET’s Sunday Best Gospel Singing Contest, and Moe his Badger, one half of Buffalo’s viral singing cop duo. Headliners were Grammy-, Dove- and Stellar-nominated artists Tim Bowman Jr. and Faith City.
Canisius College President Steve Stout said, “Canisius is proud to partner with Christ Food Pantry’s Upper Room Church of God to present the Buffalo Still Standing Concert.” “This event provides an opportunity for our community to come together and express our collective strength and resilience through music and fellowship. Canisius will continue to embrace opportunities to work with organizations that support our local communities. One example is our long-standing partnership with the Upper Room Church of God in Christ, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Daniel and Reverend Cynthia Benning.”
In the wake of last year’s Tops Friendly Market shooting, the Food Pantry has increased days and hours of operation to meet the overwhelming need for nutritious food among families and local residents impacted by the closure of the only supermarket miles away. After weeks of collective anguish, Food Pantry staff members created the “Buffalo Still Standing” to encourage the community.
“Our community continues to recover and we look forward to a day of unity and expression,” said Maureen Hanagan, community affairs manager for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Western New York. “Highmark is proud to support the Buffalo Still Standing Event and our 1,400 local team members are committed to continuing to walk with the community and move forward together.”
The Upper Room COGIC Food Pantry is located less than a mile from the Tops Friendly Market, in the Fellowship Hall of the Church on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Florida Street. The organization is one of the oldest food pantries east of Buffalo, serving hundreds of families each year along Jefferson Avenue and throughout the neighborhood.
The 2023 Buffalo Still Standing Concert was sponsored by the Upper Room Church of God in Christ, Canisius College, New York City Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, City Councilman Ulysses O. Wingo Sr., Masten District, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Public Affairs Ari Parson, M&T Bank, Cricket Wireless, and Senator Tim Kennedy.
For more information on the Buffalo Stillstanding, visit buffalostillstanding.org.
About Upper Room Church of God in Christ:
The Upper Room Church of God in Christ (COGIC) was founded in April 1958 by the late Reverend Johnny Q. Edwards. Today, the ministry is led by the Reverend Daniel Benning and is located at 131 Florida Street, East Buffaloes, near the corner of Jefferson Avenue. The Upper Room Church of God In Christ has one of the area’s oldest hooded hens pantries. Since 1993, Food Pantry has served thousands of families in our communities. Together, the church and the Food Pantry host several free outreach and community-building initiatives, including outdoor movie nights in the Spielman parking lot, basketball tournaments, community days, and the Buffalo Still Standing.
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