Gary Lynn is a big, driven man with a shock of white hair and a determination to prevail - in a conversation, in his business dealings and in every move he makes.
His company, Community Development Associations LLC, has brought benefits to Jamestown in innumerable ways. In addition to Willow Bay Center and the renovation of Falconer Park and other industrial efforts. Probably his most laudable achievement has been the resurrection of part of Water Street called the Gateway Center. It was 2006 and in many ways, Gary Lynn was showing himself for be a force to be reckoned with. And with it all, he unabashedly states that he walks with God.
Gary Lynn was born in Detroit in the late 1940s and came to Jamestown in the fourth grade. The family of mom and dad and six children moved to Frewsburg in 1967 and Gary graduated from Frewsburg High School. He attended Jamestown Community College and received a degree as a mechanical technician. He went to work for Sandberg Sprinklers and, in 1975, formed his own company, Allied Fire Protection. He proceeded from there to buy and sell companies as opportunities occurred. He says about himself: ''I'm into God and also a risk-taker.'' And so came the chance in 2006 to buy the Chautauqua Hardware building and he founded Gateway Center.
Gary Lynn is pictured in the Gateway Center while renovations to the center were ongoing in 2006.
P-J file photo
Gateway Center, formerly an abandoned factory building where Chautauqua Hardware was located, has been beautifully restored to serve as a site housing several ministries and organizations that provide help to those in need. Community Helping Hands, St. Susan's Center Soup Kitchen, the Food Bank of WNY and dozens of other service providers comprise the sprawling and accessible and inviting Gateway Center. Making a tour of the facility you can see all manner of needy persons seeking individual assistance. It satisfies the heart to know that services such as those available are on-site for those who need them. Printed on informational materials for Gateway Center is ''Serving Christ and the Community.'' For example, Love in the Name of Christ (Love INC) partners with local churches and agencies to find resources and professional resources for clients who may need them. Family Ties is another service at the Center. Substance addiction and other forms of mental health diagnoses are addressed with medications, counseling and support systems. Family Learning Zone is another service, providing education and workforce development initiatives, with programs and activities to improve the quality of life for participants. These ministries and organizations are just some of the more than dozen housed at the Gateway Center.
Community Helping Hands is one of the most visible, most important non-profit organizations at Gateway Center, functioning under the direction of a board, which includes volunteers who serve the community in this way. Their mission statement is: Comm. Help. Hands helps meet the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of people while showing them the love of Christ thus showing them how to help themselves and others.''
They operate under a simple idea: He is rich or poor, according to what he is, not according to what he has. Such common sense ideas flow around Community Helping Hands and to be there and see the interaction between Amy Roehler, director, and her volunteer staff is inspiring, though not a new idea since it is long established that people can help people. Their ministry is three-fold: they provide no or low-cost furniture, goods and clothing to low income individuals; they provide job skills training and work experience for those required to work for public assistance programs; and, they provide a fun, safe place for community youth. Volunteer opportunities abound at Community Helping Hands. They urge you to call for a tour so that you might see ways that you yourself can serve. It is an awesome experience to be there and see what help and service can be provided with volunteering. Donations, too, are always welcome.
Gary Lynn still walks with God and he and his wife have 10 children, part of a well-knit blended family. His three older sons, Christopher, Scott and Jason, are close with him in his business dealings and function at his side with many operations and investments and all that accompanies a life of risk-taking and adventurous financial endeavors.
A family man, an entrepreneur, a visionary and a fiery, ambitious man are compelling attributes for a fine man such as Gary Lynn.