In recent months, a new term has entered every American household:“essential worker.”

These are the brave people we are counting on right now to see us through a global pandemic. They are front-line workers in all industries keeping our world running and our bellies full.

But despite their important work in Western New York, many families don’t have adequate access to nutritious food. This includes 20 percent of our area’s children.  

Buffalo’s Own Inc., a local gallery and artist collaboration,  wanted to be part of the solution to the massive problems caused by Covid-19 and decided to organize a exhibition/fundraiser to feed families in  need,  while highlighting the stories of those essential workers  risking their lives in the line of duty every day. 

Yves Richard Blanc, an extraordinary photographer  with a wealth of experience spanning 35 years, was out  documenting  essential workers around the city. He had been laid off since March 23 due to the pandemic. 

“I noticed that during the crisis Richard was out capturing pictures of workers and everyday people as they were trying to cope with what was happening,” recalled Lisa Brown, vice president of Buffalo’s  Own Inc. “ I reached out to him and asked  him  if he  would  help us by photographing pictures of essential workers.” 

Richard agreed.

photographer Yves Richard Blanc

“This pandemic has affected so many of us in different ways and this was  my way to support the community and give back by sharing the story of these essential workers and how kids are affected by this crisis,” Blanc shared.

 As a result  a  select group of Buffalo “essential workers” became the subject focus captured by Blanc’s brilliant  lens and  the show -his first  solo and virtual  exhibition – “On the Front Lines” – ultimately became a reality.  

“On the Front Lines” opens July 25 and runs thru August 8.

 This unique experience allows the viewer to engage the heroic portraits of the workers shot in real time paired with audio recordings   by the workers  , that will illuminate their personal account of what they experienced while working on the front lines during Covid-19.  

The core goal of this unique visual and audio experience is to help raise funds for those affected by the pandemic . 

BUFFALO’S OWN: Among those pictured (l-r) artist James Cooper, Shantelle Patton, Jay Hawkins,  Lisa Brown, Jalen Law and Dorthea Edwards.

“Our goal is to Raise $10,000,” said   Ms. Brown,  “this will allow us not only to Feed 100 families but also to continue our efforts to help our community through creating opportunities for children and adults to be able to have a place to exhibit and show their creativity  that they have not been given the opportunity to show.”

To participate in this inner active multi-media exhibit visit Buffalo’s Own Facebook Page where the Exhibit will be posted. You will be able to click on The Artwork/Photo to hear audio recordings and also make your donations. The donation is based on what you wish to spend. 

For more information, please email us at BuffalosOwn716@Gmail.com

The list of featured essential workers for this virtual event include: 

   •Dawnette Leftwich / Dispatcher ( City of Buffalo, Division of Water)

    •Betty Milbrand- Williams / Licensed Practical Nurse        

    •Manuel Lowe / Material Handler at McKesson Medical-Surgical Corporation

    •Sherry Sherrill  / Community Activist ( We are Woman Warriors)

     • Betty Jean Grant /Community Activist (We Are Women Warriors)

     •Lazairick Waller / Direct Support Professional (Community Service)

     •Justin Brazelton/Lab Courier ( Kaleida)

     •Avis Daniels / Lead Production Associate ( Tessa)

    •Otis Stephens / Buffalo Fire Lieutenant (City of Buffalo)

     •Michael Gould / Security Guard (Dupont)

    •Kimberly Slaughter / Registered Nurse (ECMC)

     •Tiffany Woods / Personal Care Aid/ Cashier ( Wegmans)

     •Jason Robinson / Service Man ( National Fuel Gas)

   •Derrick Norman / Fire Fighter ( City of Buffalo)

     •Mimi Sysomboune Robinson / Owner/Chef (Taste of Siam Restaurant) 

 Additional images of  four local children are also in the  exhibition.  

Among one  of the most heartfelt messages participants will hear from essential workers, came from Betty Milbrand- Williams.

 “ It spoke volumes thatBetty is a very loving and selfless person,” recalled Lisa. “ In her message she stated that her patients at the nursing home need her. And she chose to come to work because she wanted to give the younger health care workers the opportunity to stay home with their young children because all of her children are adults now.”

She said that it is very  important that the community support  this fundraiser.

“This pandemic affects all of us,” concluded Lisa. “It  has touched many of our families in ways that we will never forget. We have suffered a great loss of so many,” said Brown, “that’s why we must all come together and fight this beast that has changed what we once knew as a normal life. We must come together within our community and help one another. It takes a village to conquer and uplift, so this is Buffalo’s opportunity to make a blueprint in our community by reaching out to people who look just like us.”

-About Buffalo’s Own-

  Buffalo’s Own is not your ordinary artist collaborative. It was founded in 2018 by  artists Jalen Law (President) who  teamed up with Lisa Brown (V.P),  Camilla Hobbs Lee (treasurer), and Shantelle Patton ( Secretary) along with  Board members Dorthea Edwards and Jay Hawkins and others with a vision to provide a go-to resource for emerging creatives who desire to take their work as professional artists to the next level. Since their gallery’s grand opening in 2018 at Chateau Buffalo Winery 1500 Clinton St. in the Niagara Food Terminal, they have hosted a number of successful local and out of town art experiences, exhibitions, community service and creative based experiential events.