Two women from Niagara County & Grand Island featured in unique coffee table book
In celebration of March being Women’s History Month, Suneel’s Light Foundation has released “Women in the City of Good Neighbors,” a unique coffee table-style book that showcases 42 remarkable women who are dedicated to making Western New York a better place to live, play and work (while often going unrecognized for their selfless service).
The list of women includes Sandra Lahrache (Lockport) and Judi Nolan Powell (Grand Island). Other honorees include Michele Agosto, Karima Amin, Michelle Barron, Lana Benatovich, Molly Bethel, Amy Betros, Cyndee Billoni, Sister Susan Bowles, Sheila Brown, Barbara Carr, Ginger Davis, Mary Lou Dietrich, Elizabeth Donatello, Eva Doyle, Shannon Filbert, Linda Flowers, Rhonda Frederick, Dottie Gallagher, Alicia Granto-Estonez, Eva Hassett, Kelly Hayes McAlonie, Raziya Hill, Barbara Howe, Cheryl Hunt Lepsch, Juanita Hunter, Joanne Janicki, Jill Jedlicka, Bernice Johnson Kelley, Yolanda Martinez Rodriguez, Susan McCartney, Mary Murphy, Beverly Newkirk, Dr. Norma Nowak, Margaret “Peg” Overdorf, Sandra Prentice, Marlene Roll, Kitty Lambert Rudd and Cheryle Rudd, Theresa Schuta and Amy Vossen Vukelic.
The local nonprofit foundation hosted a sold-out book launch event on Thursday, March 14, at the Buffalo History Museum. To commemorate the book launch, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul made a special appearance to make a ceremonial first purchase of the book and to praise the featured women for all they do for the community.
“Women in the City of Good Neighbors” is a self-published book by Suneel’s Light Foundation written and photographed by local, award-winning photographer Jackie Albarella. The book features artistic portraits of the women with in-depth biographical content of their unique and selfless pursuits to enhance their communities and the lives of others.
Featured women include those who are working for the incarcerated, create peace circles in schools and communities, as well as fight to create change through words and peaceful actions.
“The board was inspired to publish this book by the countless amazing mothers we have encountered around the world, who have dedicated their lives to their children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” said Dr. Neera Gulati, founder of Suneel’s Light Foundation and mother of Suneel Ram, the foundation’s namesake. “These women tirelessly fight to advance medical treatments and help gain access to new lifesaving medications without receiving or wanting any recognition, which is very similar to many women in our community. So, we wanted to celebrate some of these extraordinary women for all they do every day to make our community a better place. We at Suneel’s Light are very proud to release ‘Women in the City of Good Neighbors’ and to be able to spotlight such amazing women in our community, as they are truly some of the most impressive individuals in the region.”
Inclusion in the book was determined by an independent and diverse committee of women selected by the Suneel’s Light Foundation board, as well as based on recommendations from community members, religious and civic leaders, and program participants. More than 100 women were considered for the first edition of the book, which has led to Suneel’s Light Foundation already considering a second edition in 2020.
“I was both humbled and excited to be chosen by Suneel’s Light Foundation to write this book,” said Albarella, book author and photographer. “As the foundation fights to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the women in this book are fighting for their own causes and share a purpose and a passion for helping others. Their stories, some known, some unknown, exemplify the best in all of us and prove that Buffalo is the ‘City of Good Neighbors.’ ”
“Women in the City of Good Neighbors” is available for $40, plus shipping and handling, with all proceeds going to Suneel’s Light Foundation’s mission of supporting the discovery of treatments and a cure for DMD. Currently, the book available exclusively at the Suneel’s Light Foundation website, www.suneelslight.org, or by calling 716-243-0882.
Established in 2002, Suneel's Light is a charitable foundation whose namesake is a young man from Amherst who lives with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The foundation was established to raise awareness and to fund critical research for treatments in search of a cure for DMD, the most lethal, genetic childhood disease, which targets mainly young boys, without regard to ethnicity, and leads to death from respiratory or heart failure by one’s early 20s. At present, more than 20,000 children in the U.S. – and more than 100,000 worldwide – suffer from DMD. There is a statistically higher number of identified cases in Western New York than the national average.