Catholic Charities provides look at newly renovated Central Intake Office in downtown Buffalo
Deacon Steve Schumer, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, talks to the media regarding the renovated Central Intake Office of the social services agency. The three-month renovation project made the offices more user friendly to its clients. Photo by Patrick J. Buechi
Catholic Charities unveiled its newly renovated Central Intake office today, which provides a welcoming and safe place for clients seeking help during what can be a very challenging time in their lives. The office, located at 525 Washington St. in downtown Buffalo, is the “front door” of Catholic Charities, leading clients to a host of resources and aid.
“This is where people come when they are probably at their most vulnerable point in their lives, when they need help, immediate help,” said Deacon Steve Schumer, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Buffalo.
He described the old look as cold and “kind of institutional.” The new brightly painted halls, intake windows and meeting rooms are designed to create a more comfortable and safe area for those seeking help.
“It is our hope that this space will provide a warm and welcoming spot for community members to come when they need assistance. Often times community members land on our doors when they need assistance with utilities, rental payments, food insecurities, or things of that nature,” said Kristin Rivera, supervisor for Central Intake, who described a three-tiered structure to assess needs of clients. People can sit at windows for a quick assessment. Clients can also be brought into offices for counseling, or a larger conference room if a team approach is needed.
Catholic Charities sees 5,000-7,000 clients every year at Central intake, which literally allows people to come in off the street to receive assistance.
Due to the Covid pandemic, Catholic Charities has seen an increase in first-time clients.
“What we have seen in the past year and a half is a lot people who have never ever needed to reach out for help and support and services, are now applying for unemployment, Rivera said. “People were coming to us really feeling sad and shameful, kind of desperate that they were in this situation and couldn’t provide for their families, maybe for the very first time.”
Paul, a client who came to Catholic Charities after an apartment fire, spoke about how the staff helped him get his basic needs covered.
“Catholic Charities has been like a second home to me. I don’t have any immediate family anymore. They have helped me immensely,” he said. “I had an apartment fire and they helped me find housing. They’ve helped me with food. Not to mention, they even helped me with dental care.”
Counselors pointed him to services for seniors that many may not know about. “They guide you and help you in every way,” Paul said, adding, “I’ve never felt unwelcomed here from the receptionist to each counselor.”
Catholic Charities is well positioned with its small staff to meet people where they are at.
Deacon Schumer thanked Michael McCarthy and Mader Construction for their work on the three-months project.
Catholic Charities is still accepting donations for Appeal 2021. Currently, $8.7 million of it $10 million goal has been collected. The appeal closes June 30.