Going out of his way to help others brought Herbert L. Bellamy Sr. a special honor Saturday.
Mayor Anthony M. Masiello surprised the black-community leader by designating a stretch of Jefferson Avenue between East Delavan Avenue and East Ferry Street as "Herbert L. Bellamy Way."
Situated on that section of Jefferson is 1490 Enterprises -- a nonprofit community center founded by Bellamy that has become "a mecca for people to get help," Masiello said.
The mayor announced the honor at 1490's annual kickoff breakfast for Black History Month.
"Today I want to do something for Herbert Bellamy Sr. He's contributed significantly to the elderly, the indigent and the sick through his services at 1490," Masiello said. "He is one of the outstanding blacks of our community."
When Bellamy seeks public funds to serve those in need, Masiello said, "I know the money will be used for what it is intended."
Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra commended Bellamy's drive to help the less fortunate.
"There's no such thing as a successful suburb if Buffalo is not successful," said Giambra, noting that Bellamy comes to see him monthly to pitch for funding support to help those in need.
"Don't worry," Giambra assured Bellamy, "it's going to happen."
The county executive also said society needs to be vigilant in making sure the "playing field is level so that young black professionals have opportunities."
Humbled by the accolades of the public officials, Bellamy said he wondered why so many of his friends and family had shown up for the breakfast.
"This was a surprise for me," said Bellamy, a former Common Council member at large who started 1490 Enterprises in 1969. "We provide meals and groceries to senior citizens, a Head Start program for kids and a COPS satellite office. We even have M&T Bank opening up a branch here."
After the ceremony honoring Bellamy, City Court Judge Robert T. Russell spoke of the many contributions African-Americans have made since explorers first set foot on the continent.
"As you look through this period of 500 years, you see there have been tremendous contributions from people of color that include not only the general labor force, but scientists, inventors, great orators and elected officials," Russell said. "They have woven themselves into the American fabric and way of life."
But despite the advances, Russell said minority communities continue to suffer from disproportionate amounts of poverty "and the plague of drugs."
"My heart is troubled, but my spirit is unshakable," he said. "History has proven the perseverance and resiliency of black Americans."
Positive changes, the judge added, will come about "by a continued foundation in God and love for one another.