Scharf-Van Heusen Fund

Creating Change in Our Community Forever

scharf-van heusen
Robert Scharf and Larry Van Heusen enjoy visiting the museum at the Colored Musicians Club in Buffalo, New York.

Larry Van Heusen has a vivid memory of his mother spending precious pocket change to buy him an issue of Time magazine in the 1960s that included articles about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.

“I remember seeing the National Urban League button in the magazine and when I could not get my hands on one, I made my own so I could wear it to school,” said Larry.

That experience instilled in him a lifelong drive to learn and teach others about the importance of racial equity. Larry’s commitment to giving back in a thoughtful way is one of the many qualities he has in common with his longtime partner and husband, Robert Scharf.

Robert, who goes by Bob, and Larry met at an Albany, New York, church in 1975 and celebrated their union on the same day 25 years later. In 1978, Bob began work in Buffalo as a bank systems analyst. Larry joined him after 1987, accepting a job as a social worker, where he spent time working on both the East Side and West Side of Buffalo. Through his job, Larry saw firsthand the effects that systemic inequities have on different populations in our region.

The couple has given back during their lifetime to many causes that are important to them and want to ensure that this legacy of giving will be carried on after their lifetimes.

“Over time we have seen how the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo is truly committed to making sure our passions are supported. Instead of giving to separate organizations ourselves, we are able to tell the Community Foundation exactly who we want to support and how. It is so flexible,” said Larry.

Through the Community Foundation, Bob and Larry hope that by directing some assets to support the changing needs in our community, their legacy will transform lives beyond what anyone can envision today.

“I wonder if there is some innate problem we are not looking at that defies solution. Maybe with our funds, some genius will come along and say, ‘We need to do this instead,’ and things will change,” said Bob.

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