December 20, 2014

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Greater South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce honors community leaders

The South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce 2014 Honorees pause for a moment during the 2014 Awards Dinner

BY: Catherine Miller | April 18, 2014

SOUTH BUFFALO - The Greater South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce’s [GSBCC] annual Business and Community Awards Dinner held April 10 honored several businesses, community leaders and civic groups that have led the way to the betterment of our local community over the past year. 

Towne Automotive received the 2014 Big Business Award, and Imperial Pizza received the 2014 Small Business Award, each for their continued support of local events, sporting organizations, and community efforts. Each business has rose up to the challenge of supporting our community for events that would not have been possible but for their assistance.

“Towne Automotive is very deserving of the Big Business Award,” stated Chairman Charlie Brant, “They continually call our office to donate resources. They donate to our largest fundraiser, the annual golf tournament, every year helping to make it a success.”

“This is awesome,” Imperial Pizza owner Jim Bouris stated regarding being honored at the event, “Dave and I are blue collars guys that work hard and believe that we have been very blessed with our success. We are fortunate to be able to help out the community.” Dave Powers and Jim Bouris have been the proud owners of Imperial Pizza for over twenty years and have continued to assist in the community throughout that time.

The 2014 Business Community Award was received by South Buffalo CREW [Concerned Residents Engaged in Work], and was accepted by CREW members Susan Strickert and Nancy Ogorak. CREW, a total volunteer-based organization, has led efforts to promote small businesses in the area including a Cash Mob for Dog Ears Bookstore, a Can Mob for the South Buffalo Community Table, and will be promoting a Dance Mob in the near future. Their upcoming cleaning effort on May 10 will be held in conjunction with Senator Tim Kennedy’s office and initiate at 2239 South Park Avenue.

Desiree Desiderio, Mt. Mercy Academy young alum, sang the opening prayer for the awards dinner, and then took the podium again with the honor of awarding one of her past teachers and mentors with his 2014 award.

Fred Kirisits, Mt Mercy’s music director, received the Educator of the Year Award. Kirisits has over thirty-five years of experience in his current position and has traveled cross-country with numerous Mt. Mercy music groups, winning national titles for the academy throughout his years as the school’s director.

“I could not imagine anyone other than Mr. K receiving this award,” admitted Desiderio, “We would never have won all the awards we did throughout my years at the school without his help and guidance.”

The 2014 Public Servant Awards went to Christian Cunningham and Billy LaRusch. Cunningham and LaRusch are civic servants with eighteen years of service in the Buffalo Fire Department. In their down time they continue to help out the community, volunteering for community and non-profit events, assisting where ever and whenever needed. When they do have free time Cunningham flexes his culinary muscles making his popular “Buffalo Fire Sauce” and LaRusch and friends are seen around town making music and making fun happen.

The Greater South Buffalo Chamber’s Annual Awards Dinner gives the Chamber the opportunity to recognize these outstanding leaders in our local community that make our area a great place to work and live.

“The honorees here tonight are members of our community that do not wait to be called on to serve,” stated Chamber Chairman Charlie Brant, “They call us. They ask what they can do; what help do we need with an event. Dedication on that level is what helps to build and strengthen our community.”

The Greater South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce was initiated in 2002 and is presently governed by a Board of Directors and staff including Brandon Minsterman as vice-chairman and Deborah Cammarata as treasurer and secretary.

Founded by now City Comptroller Mark Schroeder in his first term as an Erie County Legislator, the Chamber was formed to spur and strengthen the local businesses and communities surrounding South Buffalo, and to aid in building a more dynamic area as a whole.

The South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce continues to flourish and welcomes new members as individuals or businesses. For more information contact them at 826-1519 or at

July 7 join the GSBCC group at the annual Golf Tournament at Brierwood Country Club for a day of fun and to find out more about the Greater South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce. Sponsorship opportunities for the event are also available.

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