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December 2023

The coming weeks will bring a crescendo of noise: holiday sales, ads, and jingles, the hustle-bustle of holiday preparations, subscription renewals and bills; internally, your seasonal, mental checklists of gifts to get,  snow tires to switch (which I usually remember to do in February), making sure your heavy sweaters, candles, and back-up batteries are where you can find them. Where’s the snow shovel? Your grocery store is about to convince you that you need to stock up on firewood (even if you don’t have a fireplace), rock salt (kitty litter works better), and vitamin D (not a bad idea). Never mind the thoughts that keep you up at night about the people you love who depend on you, or innocent, civilian casualties of war and terror, or that the cost of living makes you understand why you were taught exponents in 7th grade math. For some of us, the holiday season brings the dread of past family trauma and the grief of loss. 

Amidst all the noise, what do you choose to listen to? What demands your attention? 

In this newsletter, in addition to our updates, we’re sharing two poems by Clint Smith (author, How The Word Is Passed) that celebrate finding quiet in the chaos, celebrate the otherwise mundane moments of this busy, noisy life. This is our invitation to ‘pause’ the noise, listen to something that we hope makes you smile, and remember that one of the most beautiful things about living is the joy of noticing what it means to be human. (I don’t like poetry, you say? Try these anyway. They’re as good for you as vitamin D.) 

In 2024, the Levine Center To End Hate will be introducing new initiatives (keep an eye out for a Valentine's Day message that you'll love) that invite us to listen to one another and discover our shared humanity. The universal, communal, and simple practices of sharing food; the power of storytelling to help us identify in each other's commonalities; the discovery of the ways in which art can unlock and embolden us: we will utilize all of it to foster a Rochester in which every person is invited to be truly seen and can learn how to see another. Rochester is a place of varied lives and experiences. Building on the energy from our Concert to End Hate we will continue to embrace our rich diversity and the incredible talent in our community to spark conversations, open minds, and build bridges of understanding. 

We cannot do it without you. In this season of joyful and overwhelming noises, we ask that you pause to recognize the enormous potential in the Levine Center To End Hate, and in an act of love for our hometown, support our mission by making a gift. Your generosity will allow us to continue the outstanding programming you’ve enjoyed in the past, and to create new avenues for connection.  

Warm wishes for a season of peace and moments of joy.  

A poster for the Brave Spaces Annual Summit to End Hate. Different shades of blue make up the Rochester skyline.
A poster for "Brave Spaces". On the left there is a picture of a masculine presenting perso  wearing a pink shirt, necklace and an arrangement of colorful flowers on their head. To the right it reads "Keynote Speaker: George M. Johnson. Author: All Boys Aren't Boys"

Are you a business professional in Greater Rochester? The 4th Annual Summit to End Hate is for you. We will focus on how diverse storytelling, inclusivity, and authenticity enriches the workplace by fostering a community of acceptance and cultivating ideas. Engage in networking, knowledge-sharing, and professional development against the backdrop of the Memorial Art Gallery's groundbreaking collection of artwork.

Registration will open in early 2024. We hope you can join us at this program for the Rochester business community. In the meantime, please consider supporting this initiative with a donation. Your support (no matter the amount!) will help us to develop resources to expand these ideas to the community at large. It will also fund scholarships for underrepresented individuals to attend. You can be an active participant in building a more equitable Rochester for all.

We are so grateful to the crowd of more than 300 who joined us for an evening of love and joy. The sold out concert featured original compositions by Herb Smith and his orchestra, performances by the Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra and Strings for Success, with poetry readings from community leaders all in the name of “Coming Together”. 

A photo of an orchestra playing a concert. The group is made of black school children and they are covered in purple light. Behind them is a tall black man (conducter) holding a trumpet with a wide smile.

Comments from Attendees

"The music was excellent! It was a pleasure to see the little kids playing their hearts out."

"I thought about the Director's story many times since the event; the sign of a truly great story."

"I appreciated the thought that went into the selection of the music and poetry."

"A truly uplifting experience! Thank you for unifying our community through culture."

A photo of a concert hall fill with people. The walls are covered with abstract artwork. The lighting in the room is purple.

There was a palpable energy in the air that connected every soul in attendance. Performers aged 7-60 guided us through an evening of exuberant anthems and standing ovations to hushed moments of introspection from the words of Maya Angelou and Anne Frank.

We are bringing together people from disparate backgrounds to discover commonalities that help eliminate bias, foster solidarity and empathy, and build a more tolerant, non-partisan, Rochester. Our pilot program, called the Rekindle Rochester Fellowship, recently graduated its first cohort on October 3rd. Co-facilitators Monica Gebell and Taj Smith, are now looking for applicants for our newest initiative aimed at facilitating dialogue in the community.

A photo of a white man and a black man standing together. Both are wearing suits.
A photo of a crowd of people outside. People of all cultures are in the crowd and one individual holds up a tinsel decoration that reads ""love".

We know that we are stronger together but what can we do about it? For those of you who want to do something to address our cultural divisions but don't know where to start, consider joining our team as a love ambassador.

What is a love ambassador? Think of it as a volunteer or a citizen neighbor tasked with bringing our community together. Want to help but don't have the time? Show your support for Love Ambassadors with a donation!

Say hello to our 2023-2024 Youth Ambassador Council! They are partnering with schools, organizations, and agencies to develop initiatives focused on enhancing anti-hate strategies, social-emotional competencies, and health outcomes for youth in the Greater Rochester community. As of this writing, they have engaged with 970 community members and plan to meet their goal of 1,000 by the end of 2023!

A photo of 8 teenagers and our Youth Ambassador Coordinator. A few of the kids are sitting at desks with everyone else standing.
An image of a highschooler and some young children playing the game "Keep up" with balloons. Yellow smiley faces have been edited over the children's faces for privacy reasons.

Over Thanksgiving weekend our ambassadors joined Community Youth Development students at Nazareth in hosting youth from St. Michaels and Our Lady of Guadalupe! Over food and games, these future youth workers had the opportunity to practice hands-on youth engagement activities.

Looking ahead to 2024, the Youth Ambassadors are scheduled to give their Evolution of the Revolution: An Examination of Black Revolutionary Strategies presentation for Black History Month in February. They are also in talks to put on a digital presentation of Bullying and Mental Unwellness: Bullying As A Hate-Based Practice to a national mental health organization.

You can view previews of both of these presentations on the Youth Engagement page of our website. Want them to give the presentation to your group? Email us at

Thank you to our recent donors: Arlene Schenker, Sarah Fitzgibbons, Elizabeth Rennert, Louise and Satya Prakash, Remy and Alan Freeman, Leslie Schiff, Julie Nusbaum, Joan and Robert Clar, Sue and Michael Lococo, and Carolyn Garman. We so appreciate your support!

And our recent corporate sponsors Woods, Oviatt, & Gilman, M&T Bank, and The Gleason Works Foundation.

Welcome Ben Levy, Senior Vice President at M&T, to our Corporate Council! 

Thank you for believing in our work!

A photo of 5 people standing together holding a big check. The Check reads " The Levine Center To End Hate $2,500".

We are working to create a community founded on the principles of equality, respect, and understanding. Show us you believe in our work by giving a donation. A gift from you will help us continue to build on our momentum moving into 2024.

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