Making Buffalo Home
Community Filmmaker Series

Making Buffalo Home’s Community Filmmaker Series arestories filmed by community members. The video series gives community storytellers a platform to share their unique perspective on culture, identity, traditions, community and making Buffalo home. And they share these perspectives in their own voice.

By turning the role of filmmaker over to individuals we are able to capture the diversity our community from the perspective of the residents. The Community Filmmaker Series is also a meaningful way for WNED | WBFO to more closely connect with the community and involve the public with Making Buffalo Home.

Want to become a community filmmaker?
We are looking for community filmmakers to help capture the diversity of our community. Whether you have a little experience in video production or are an accomplished filmmaker, we'd like to hear your ideas. Call the Making Buffalo Home Community Filmmaker project coordinator Beth Fronckowiak at 716-845-7006 or reach her by email at
Community Filmmaker | Lisa Khoury
Making Buffalo Home

Community Filmmaker | Lisa Khoury


Community filmmaker, Lisa Khoury, shares her family’s love of their Lebanese culture.

Keeping our culture alive in Buffalo

I had never been more mortified.

I was in fourth grade, sitting at the lunch table at Eggert Road Elementary in Orchard Park when I pulled out what my mother had packed: a pita bread roll-up.

My friend, who was eating a Lunchable, looked over and grimaced.

It was 2001, just after 9/11, and I wasn’t just embarrassed by my lunch. I was embarrassed to be Middle Eastern.

My father and mother are Lebanese immigrants. In the 1970s, my dad’s parents, Michel and Loulou, fled the Lebanese civil war. They emigrated to Buffalo with their 11 kids so I wound up with 48 first cousins.

Our parents raised us all in a bubble -- speaking to us in Arabic; feeding us Lebanese food, and taking us to the local Lebanese church.
Every Sunday after church, we’d pack into Tayta Loulou’s small South Buffalo home. Grandma, who we called Tayta, would cook in massive quantities -- making Lebanese staples like kibbeh nieh (raw meat), lahem meshwi (beef kabobs), and, of course, her homemade flat bread.

Bread was Tayta’s specialty.

When she first came to Buffalo, she started baking flatbread in her basement for her 11 kids. The smell was so delicious and strong -- it drew in neighbors. Her neighbors turned into customers. Fast forward a few years, and Tayta started a business -- selling pita out of her side door.

What us little ones didn’t realize was our grandparents and parents were building something monumental for us: a foundation. Eating Lebanese food and speaking Arabic gave us a passion for our culture; raising us together gave us an indestructible bond, and witnessing Tayta’s hard work gave us an entrepreneurial spirit.

Now, my cousins are grown up. We have our own lives and families. And we have a choice: Do we continue living our Lebanese heritage and sharing it with Buffalo? Or do we assimilate into American life and move away?

Well, all those years our parents and grandparents raised us together paid off.

Despite feeling like outcasts in school, my cousins and I are *adamant* about keeping our Lebanese culture alive. And we’re just as adamant about sharing it with the City of Buffalo.

This is the story of how my cousins are continuing Tayta Loulou’s legacy -- by connecting with Buffalo through Lebanese food -- and, specifically, pita bread.
- Lisa Khoury
Community Filmmaker | Tom Gadelrab
Making Buffalo Home

Community Filmmaker | Tom Gadelrab


Tom Gadelrab from Lewiston, NY talks about how closely his faith and culture mix, and takes his own camera to document weekend traditions practiced in his Egyptian Christian Coptic faith including the making of Orban, the Eucharistic bread, and the Agape meal celebration that follows each Sunday liturgy in this video for Making Buffalo Home.

Learning about the Making Buffalo Home Project immediately flipped a switch in my mind. What better way to give people a taste of the Coptic faith than to visually show them a “day in the life.” An ancient faith with young origins in Buffalo, few people know just how rich our traditions are and how important they are to us. By showcasing visuals of these traditions, I hope to dispel misconceptions some may have towards an Egyptian-Christian church. At first glance many things about a young immigrant church may seem strange; the language, the food, maybe even the people. But I believe it’s by explaining these unknowns that we can fully appreciate the diversity that many cultures provide.

The Coptic faith prides itself on being a church with rich longstanding traditions, but beyond that it is a faith rooted in love. This sentiment is exemplary within our humble church here in Buffalo. Despite hundreds of congregants ranging over fourteen diverse nationalities, we are one big family with a unified heart. This spirit is ubiquitous regardless of whether our family lives down the street or halfway across the country. As our priest Father Mark puts it, “While the people may leave, St. Mary & St. Moses Church never leaves their hearts.”

Whether it be the Coptic church or any culture, I hope by sharing our differences and our stories, we can continue to make Buffalo home. A city with rich immigrant roots, we would be foolish to lose sight of this in the face of new, younger immigrant cultures - cultures that provide beauty and love if we take the moment to learn more about them.

- Tom Gadelrab

Making Buffalo Home is a two-year, in-depth WNED | WBFO engagement initiative to inform and raise awareness of immigration for our entire community. The project aims to help the region develop a better understanding of the shared opportunities and challenges we face together as long-time residents and new immigrants and refugees.

Making Buffalo Home is funded by Rich Products Corporation and Rich Family Foundation.