Embracing Buffalo

Embracing Buffalo Part 2 coming in September!

Please check back soon for more details. Donate to Embracing Buffalo here.

Embracing Buffalo is a collaborative effort between two trios of women healers – three who live in Buffalo, and three who simply love the place that you call, “Home”. 

Embracing Buffalo is not only a response to the May 14th shooting– it is an attempt to address the horrors that preceded it, and to serve in addressing the myriad of symptoms that will continue to emerge in the massacre’s painful aftermath.  

Our Intention

The Embracing Buffalo team understands the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll of service on the servants.  Our intention is to replenish community leaders and healers, contributing to expanding their capacity for continued service to humanity.

The Plan

We are proposing healing circles/workshops for the following groups:

  • Wednesday, August 3, 2022
    • First responders plus (police, fire, and healthcare professionals, community) 12-3pm, Frank E Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave, Buffalo 14208
    • Survivors of the shooting (victims’ families, Tops employees and shoppers, and neighbors) 5-8pm African American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave, Buffalo 14209
  • Thursday, August 4, 2022
    • Individuals and members of the multiple communities and faith-based groups who have responded to the massacre 10am-3pm, Unity of Buffalo, 1243 Delaware Ave, Buffalo 14209
    • “Let It Flow” – A workshop combining music, movement, and expressive art. All ages and experience levels welcome. 6pm-8pm, Unity of Buffalo, 1243 Delaware Ave, Buffalo 14209
  • Friday and Saturday, August 5th and 6th
    • A 2-day retreat for Black healers/leaders 10am-4pm, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, The Center of Excellence Bioinformatics Life Sciences (CBLS), 701 Ellicott Street, Room B2-209, Buffalo 14203

Children are also welcome.

The Curriculum

The Embracing Buffalo experience lies at the intersection of spirituality, science, and service. Our curriculum is largely based on the research and application of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s model for community healing and growth.  Meditation, mindfulness, and living in the present moment lie at the root of our teaching. 

Each experience will begin and end with the breath.  The space in between will be referred to as, “Moments:” The moments that we will spend with each of the aforementioned groups will be contingent on time.  However, we will ensure that every audience will have a meaningful experience, regardless of the amount of time that we are together. 

  • An Artful Moment
    • Participants will tap into their right brain, to answer a question about purpose, vision, and their current reality
  • A Moment of Silence
    • Heeding the messages that can only bloom from pausing, participants will be led in an imagery exercise, followed by silence, and if time permits, writing.
  • A Heartful Moment
    • Following a brief discussion of the three main hurts of the heart, participants will engage in a meditation focused on reconciliation and renewal.
  • A Body-ful Moment
    • Based on the reality of our bodies keeping “score”, participants will engage in movement activities to liberate the nervous system from patterns of overthinking and tension.
  • A Bountiful Moment
    • Participants will learn a little about the connection between the stress response, food intake, and nutrition.  They will be led in a brief mindful eating experience designed to both nourish and decrease inflammation.
  • A Sacred Moment
    • Participants will learn about the significance of ritual, and the healing properties of creating some with their community and themselves. 
  • A Beautiful Moment
    • Given our tendency to focus on what is missing, this “moment” will make room for the reality of what is here.
  • A Moment of Laughter
    • As our smiles manifest as charity, participants will engage in the healing power of our universal language
  • A Moment to Remember
    • At the end of our time together, participants will engage in a ritual of closing, and in turn, opening…

Our Team

Embracing Buffalo is the work of a diverse, multi-disciplinary team of leaders in their respective fields of family medicine, social work, community organizing, and mental health education.  

Dena Adler, M.A ATR is a Registered Art Therapist. She has over thirty years of experience with children and families living with loss, grief, and life hardships. In the last 15 years, Dena worked as an in-home family therapist with communities on Buffalo’s East Side and Niagara Falls, specifically for those in the child welfare system. The compassionate work focused on building circle of supports to increase permanency. Dena is Faculty and a Certified Practitioner of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and facilitates groups and trainings for those healing from trauma and stress. For the past three years, Dena has been a part of the Mind-Body skills community initiative in Broward CO, FL supporting healing and resilience from the school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.  Since 2005, Dena has been a volunteer providing art therapy for Project Life: War Orphans Rehabilitation Program for children and families in war-torn areas around the world. She currently resides in Rochester, NY.

Deidra EmEl is the Executive Director of the Western New York Peace Center. Deidra has been a spiritual counselor and mentor for over 20 years through the Congregation of Israel (COI) Cultural Center, of which she is a co-founder. She is a Community Health Worker, Maternal-Child Health Specialist, herbalist, childbirth educator, and doula. Deidra infuses her love for dance and the arts through her work as a community healer and activist. She believes in the interconnectedness of all living things and in the harmony and balance that must be continually worked out to maintain optimum health.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Sociology and a Certificate in Applied Sociology from Buffalo State College(2003). Deidra has been certified as a Childbirth Educator through The International Birth and Wellness Project and The International Childbirth Education Association(2009/2010), Certified Doula -Life Cycles Center(2009), and Maternal Child Health Specialist (2014). She is holistic birth activist and family advocate, and proponent of International women’s rights for over 20 years.

Kathleen Heim, LMSW is the Director of Continuing Education for the University at Buffalo’s School of Social Work. Kathleen is also an adjunct professor for the University at Buffalo’s Community Organization and Development undergraduate minor. Kathleen has previously worked at Neighborhood Health Center as the Manager of Community Health, developing and maintaining partnerships and innovative programming to address the social determinant needs for 23,000+ patients, and the Service Collaborative of WNY (WNY AmeriCorps) as Program Manager of Opportunity Corps, leading a multi-county financial literacy program that provided financial education and economic empowerment services to more than 35,000 economically disadvantaged Western New Yorkers.

Kathleen is the co-founder of Project Homeless Connect Buffalo and has been involved in the WNY Homeless Coalition since 2008.

Carol Penn DO, MA, ABOM, FACOFP is doubly Board Certified in Family Medicine and Obesity Medicine and Master movement, meditation, and mindset coach. Additionally, she has a 500 hour certification in yoga from Soma Yoga and is certified in Organ Cleansing QiGong.  She also brings her artistic sensibilities to the marriage of the arts and medicine with her background as a professionally trained dancer and choreographer with the world famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Teaching Fellow. Dr. Penn is a Fellow in the American Academy of Osteopathic Family Physicians and is Clinical Faculty with Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, the Center for Mind Body Medicine, and the Medical Moguls Academy. 

Her best selling book, Meditation In a Time of Madness, launched in 2019 as a number 1 best seller in the category of meditation and alternative medicine. She is a medical correspondent for WURD Radio in Philadelphia where she is a frequent guest and Podcastor as well as the host of her own weekly show and podcast:  Weightless in Mind, Body and Spirit.  A creative forever, she continues to direct her all volunteer women’s dance ensemble Core of Fire.

Dr. Penn sees racism as a chronic illness, and has committed her life toward its treatment and elimination. 

Sabrina N’Diaye, PhD, MDiv, LCSW-C is a therapist, storyteller, peacebuilder, and the founder of the Heart Nest Center for Peace and Healing in Baltimore, Maryland. Her approach to mental health healing is a blend of wisdom, science, and ancient spiritual practices. She is a proud lead faculty member of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, where she teaches the art of self-care to healthcare professionals and first responders around the globe.  As Center faculty, she has responded to community trauma in Las Vegas, Houston, the Pine Ridge Reservation, New York City, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and the Capitol insurrection.  She is currently serving the Center as a teacher and guide for healing professionals in Central Asia, in the aftermath of multiple terrorist attacks. 

In the ten years prior to the pandemic,  “Sister Sabrina” landed  in Buffalo each Spring, where she was honored to teach countless mental health professionals on addictions, racism and health, and the art of self-care.

Victoria Ross, QCSW, LMSW, MALD, Dip, DHL is a justice/peace activist and social worker. Now board chair at the WNY Peace Center, she began working there in 2008 and was Executive Director 8/15-6/21. She’s previously worked as a family therapist, as well as working in economic development. Vicki’s life-long emphasis on children, families, and communities includes a focus on healing our “broken alert systems.” Her community-building work includes addressing the power imbalances and policies that must be changed for racial, economic, gender, and environmental justice. 

As an interfaith practitioner, the mind-body-spirit connection figures prominently in her healing work, as do music, dance, and the arts generally. She’s thrilled to be a part of the team, Embracing Buffalo.