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Frances G. Frances Empowerment Awards

April 19, 2021 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in YWCA, news, Frances G. Frances Empowerment Awards.


The local chapter of the YWCA celebrated 110 years of service to the community by honoring three people and another organization that have helped make Genesee County's recent history a bit better on Saturday evening.

Receiving Frances G. Francis Empowerment awards were Dorothy "Cricket" Avery, Nancy C. Brach, Jill Kratz, and the Rotary Club of Batavia.

Francis was the founder of the YWCA in Batavia.

The event was held at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Caledonia.


Photo: Jill Smith with award winner Dorothy Avery.

Dorothy (Cricket) Avery

Dorothy Avery has been employed for 21 years as the Exhibits Manager for Guilford Press, based in New York City.

Before Guilford, Avery worked for the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services, Planned Parenthood of Northern New York, Tennessee Protection & Advocacy, and the New York State Child Care Coordinating Council.

She graduated from SUNY Cobleskill with an AA degree in Social Science, and from the University at Albany with a BA degree in Political Science.

Avery is a founding member and president of GLOW Women Rise, which is an all-volunteer organization committed to elevating and empowering women in the GLOW region. GLOW Women Rise (GWR) started in August of 2018 and since that time has become an incorporated 501c3 not-for-profit organization.

GLOW Women Rise’s goal is to raise our collective voices supporting all women while recognizing the need to center our work on Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latinx, Trans, and other groups of women who have been ignored and perpetually left out of conversations.

GWR has assisted women from the YWCA Domestic Violence Program, has provided court support for women and their families, cosponsored anti-racism community discussions, and facilitates an annual Empowerment Forum.

During COVID-19, GLOW Women conducted numerous food drives and collected personal care items for women and families in need. After being on the sidelines for much of 2020, GWR looks forward to a robust calendar this year.


Photo: Millie Tomidy-Pepper with award-winner Nancy Brach.

Nancy E. Brach

Brach is vice president and co-owner of Brach Machine Inc., a worldwide supplier to the high-pressure die-casting industry. The business was started in 1985 and incorporated in 1993. It currently employs 19 people.

Her background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Buffalo School of Management, several years of retail banking experience, and more than a decade of tax preparation.

In addition to her career, Brach served as treasurer for the Batavia First Presbyterian church for 14 years and is currently on their personnel and finance committees. She also sang in the choir for the last 20 years!

Brach volunteered at the YWCA from 1997-2007, serving both on the board of directors and as a member of both the finance and personnel committees during that time.

She is currently a member of the North American Die Casting Association, the Genesee Area Personnel Association and she serves on the Perkins Advisory Committee at Genesee Community College.

When you don’t find Brach at work or busy with one of her volunteer pursuits, you may find her riding her bike somewhere within a 30-mile radius of her home.


Photo: Lucille DiSanto with award winner Jill Kratz.

Jill Kratz

Husband: John
Children: Colin, Kaylie, Kaitlin
College: Fredonia State and Buffalo State College Business: Owner and Operator Commit to Well (local meal-prep company)

Commit to Well was founded three years ago to fill a need in our community for easy access to fresh, nutritious, prepared meals. Being a family living with various autoimmune diseases, we wanted our meals to fill a void in our area for people who wanted to keep up with their nutritional needs in their busy lives.

Our mission quickly became clear: reach out to as many people in our community and give them access to overall better health and wellness with our prepared meals. We have clients both young and old. Some have special dietary restrictions and some just want to maintain better overall health and wellness.

Since its founding, Commit to Well has been out in the community donating to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, United Memorial Medical Center, the YWCA and its Safehouse.

Commit to Well has also reached out to our youth with after school programs empowering children with the knowledge and importance of your health through nutrition as well as movement and positive behavior.

Programs such as Commit to Well kids where children made healthy meals and snacks, and Like a Girl where young girls did small workouts and enjoyed a heathy snack.

We hope to continue to help our community achieve superior health and wellness!


Photo: Lucille DiSanto and Ed Leising, representing the Rotary Club of Batavia.

Rotary Club of Batavia

Batavia Rotary is a community service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the community and world.

Rotary is a secular organization open to all persons regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. There are 34,282 clubs and over 1.2 million members worldwide. Rotary’s primary motto is “Service above Self” and we abide by the 4 Way Test.


The Gala Committee: Millie Tomidy-Pepper (executive director of the YWCA in Batavia), Jill Smith, Sue Chiddy, Cindy Zarcone, Lucille DiSanto, Eva Graham, Lindsey Reed, Justina Garner. Lindsey Reed is holding a portrait of Frances G. Francis. Not pictured, Rosalie Maguire-Simon.


Photos by Howard Owens. Write-ups of award winners submitted by the YWCA.

November 14, 2020 - 6:05pm
posted by Press Release in Frances G. Frances Empowerment Awards, YWCA, news, batavia.


The YWCA honored local residents who have been making a difference in the community with the inaugural Frances G. Frances Empowerment Awards in a breakfast at Batavia Downs on Friday.

Executive Director Millie Tomidy-Pepper said of the winners:

Dorothy “Cricket” Avery: Cricket personifies the true spirit of this award in every sense. In August of 2018, Cricket founded GlOW Women Rise an organization who’s mission it is to "Engage, Elevate, and Empower Women of the GlOW region" while promoting social justice for all. Cricket spearheaded and organized the first ever Women’s March in Batavia; organized a highly successful Women’s Empowerment Forum, and has collaborated with us on Stand Against Racism, Voter Registration, an Anti- Racism Workshop. Cricket and the women of GLOW Women Rise have also supported our Safe House clients by helping them attain household items and help move them into their new homes. GLOW Women Rise are in the process of incorporating and we could not be happier for the success the group has achieved in such a short time. We have built a strong partnership to address the needs of women in our community and therefore it is our honor to select Dorothy “Cricket” Avery as a recipient of the Frances G. Francis Empowerment Award.

Our next recipient is Nancy Brach, Nancy has been co-owner of Brach Machine since 1993. Nancy’s co-ownership in this male-dominated profession came long before it was common for women to do so. She and her husband, Bill, have built a very successful business together. While this alone is an amazing accomplishment, Nancy also chose to become involved in the YWCA in 1997 when she joined the Board of Directors and served until 2005. I think it is safe for me to say that while Nancy may have left the Board, the YWCA never was far from her heart. In 2018, Nancy came to the YWCA’s rescue. When Nancy heard of the agency's financial plight, she didn’t waste a minute reaching out to me to offer assistance. Her extraordinary generosity and belief in the mission and programs of the YWCA assisted us at a critical time and literally saved the organization from closure. I personally cannot thank Nancy enough for putting her faith and trust in me and the Board of Directors. We are here today because of you, Nancy. 

Our next recipient is Jill Kratz. Three years ago, Jill saw a need in our community for easy access to fresh, nutritious prepared meals for people who wanted to keep up with their nutritional needs but were too busy to come home and prepare meals themselves. Jill seized the moment and opened Commit to Well, preparing and distributing meals out of the YWCA kitchen. Her clients are both young and old, some have special dietary restrictions and just want to maintain better overall health and wellness. Since its founding, Commit to Well has been donating to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, United Memorial Hospital, and the YWCA’s Safe House. When a family arrives at our Safe House, they can put one worry aside and not have to think about what they are going to prepare for dinner. Jill’s meals welcome them so they can focus on settling in, feeling safe and eating a healthy meal as they begin to build a new life free from abuse. We are so thankful for you and your generosity!

Jill, would you please stand to be recognized for being a Woman-Owned Business that provides a healthy way of eating to the community and also for your charitable giving to local agencies including the YWCA’s Safe House.

Our next award recipient is The Rotary Club of Batavia! The motto of Rotary is “Service Above Self” and this was clearly evidenced in late February of 2019. President Laurie Mastin called me and said that we were being awarded a small grant to “fix-up” the Safe House. What happened next was something right out of a movie. I received another phone call not long after the first and Laurie said they received a District Designated Matching Grant, doubling our funding, and (and being the keyword) the Rotarians wanted to do a hands-on project and complete all the work! As Laurie put it …. “We are People of Action.” The project commenced in February and took almost eight weeks to complete. Every room of the house was tended to with love, care, strength, and old-fashion elbow grease. Rotarians, staff and board members worked side by side, and after hours of coordinated efforts to repair and replace items in need from the roof to the basement, the “Safe House” was transformed into a “Safe Home.” Their commitment, energy, and “get it done” philosophy created a home where families escaping abuse will find warmth, shelter, and safety while they work to rebuild their lives.

We have built an unbreakable bond of friendship with this amazing group of people from Rotary.

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