A nonprofit civil rights organization working to assure fair and equal housing for all will be honoring Jamestown City Council's president later this month.
Gregory Rabb, At-Large councilman, will be receiving the 2014 Sarah G. Metzger Human Rights Award from Housing Opportunities Made Equal, which is also known as HOME. Rabb, who is also a professor at Jamestown Community College, will receive the honor during HOME's 51st Anniversary Gala on April 25 at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center.
Rabb, who once lived in Buffalo, was the first executive director of West Side Neighborhood Housing Services in 1980. From there Rabb worked with HOME and was a member of its board of directors. Rabb said knowing the work HOME does first-hand adds to the honor.
"I've been with the organization for more than 30 years. HOME is one of the most effective anti-housing discrimination organizations in all of the U.S.," he said. "So to get an award from HOME means a lot to me personally and professionally, and encourages me to continue doing what I'm doing to fight against any discrimination. I admire everyone who works at the organization, and I know what they mean to the people they fight for. They have made a huge difference. This really is an honor. This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me."
Even though HOME is based in Buffalo, Rabb said the group does work throughout Western New York. He said when he has housing issues in Jamestown, he will consultant with HOME officials.
"They are a lifeline to give me expert advice," he said. "They have been helpful for everything I have done down here."
"This really is an honor. This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me."
Jamestown City Council president
Scott W. Gehl, HOME executive director, said the Sarah G. Metzger Human Rights Award is an honor only given every other year by the organization. He said it was first given in 1997.
"First a word about Sarah G. Metzger, who was known to her friends as Sally. She was a HOME founding member in 1963," Gehl said. "For 38 years she was a most committed board member. Although she was soft-spoken, she was HOME's moral compass. When she left the board, we wanted to preserve her memory so we created this award for her work in the arena of civil rights."
Gehl said he has known Rabb for more than 30 years. He said Rabb is a dedicated public officials who has always fought against discrimination.
"(Rabb) has been the only openly gay public official in Western New York. What he does is not govern by his sexual orientation, but, nevertheless, he does not hide it," Gehl said. "He is a positive example in his roles as college professor and as a public servant. He has come up against public criticism, but yet he has persisted and continued to do his good work undeterred by criticism. That spirit of dedication is what we at HOME want to celebrate."