The Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo is celebrating its centennial year by giving away $1 million.
Tuesday night at Kleinhans Music Hall, the foundation had gathered a dozen selected finalists for the top prizes. Four local leaders - anti-violence advocate Rev. James Giles, Peace of the City founder Diann Takens, Gerard Place President and CEO David Zapfel and Mona's House founder and Director Kelly Diane Galloway - received $200,000 each. Half of each grant will be used to create an endowment with the foundation, which will be used to make forever grants to other nonprofits in the name of each leader.
Galloway was a winner for her efforts against human trafficking.
"A lot of people think that human trafficking doesn't happen in our own backyard, which is why we work so hard to do something, what we call Mona's Outreach," she said, "and that's basically when we educate the community. This is where human trafficking is. This is what it looks like. This is what you can do to stop it and this is how you can help us join the fight. But it does occur right here in our community."
The other eight finalists - Jill Jedlicka, Karen Nicolson, Michael Martin, Marixsa Sanchez-Feliciano, Fajri Ansari, Jessica Bauer Walker, Dawne Hoeg and Megan McNally - received $25,000 each to donate to an area nonprofit of their choice.
Community Award Endowment finalist Fajri Ansari, imam of Masjid Nu'man and basketball coach at Buffalo State College, lost out to Gerard Place President David Zapfel. Ansari said he would give to a good cause.
"I would just look to try to continue in providing some kind of service in making Western New York a great place, like the foundation has done for so many years, and to plant seeds that we hope that will bloom in many years to come," he said.
The Community Foundation holds around $500 million in trust for charitable purposes, accumulating generations of philanthropy. Foundation President and CEO Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker said it started with one man and a quest to help children.
"Through the leadership of George F. Rand, the foundation began to look at children early on and the needs of children, understanding that children are the future of our community," she said, "and that continues to be an important interest of many of our clients, but our role is to support the charitable goals of our clients."