BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – The Buffalo Dream Center – which helps so many of Western New York’s needy, hungry and homeless – is issuing a call for help itself.
Aside from its “homeless pastor” who sleeps on the streets every winter, and its Christmastime “Boxes of Love” campaign, the Buffalo Dream Center runs lesser-known charitable programs all year long. These include the Project Joseph Mobile Food Pantry – Western New York’s only food pantry on wheels – and Project Prevention, which provides food, furniture, household items and appliances.
But the church is losing the warehouse it has been using to store the donations to those two programs this Wednesday, putting the whole operation, and it the people it serves, in jeopardy.
The food pantry serves anywhere from 50 to 100 families every month, at six drop-off locations.
“Seniors, handicapped people were in line. People that may not be able to transport themselves to a food pantry, the food pantry’s right in their neighborhood for them, which makes a difference for a lot of folks,” Pastor Eric Johns explains.
A new tenant will be moving into the warehouse space, inside the Larkin Center of Commerce at 701 Seneca Street. So far, Pastor Johns says the church hasn’t been able to find a suitable replacement.
“We really need about 10,000 square feet of warehouse space. Of course, it has to be up to the [Health Department] standards where we can have food,” Johns says.
More than half of the people the food pantry helps are refugees.
“Some people will sleep without even anything in their stomachs. But with this, I think if they can come out and they can get something to eat, I think it really helps,” says Immaculee Ndayisaba, who came to the United States from Burundi 12 years ago. She doesn’t utilize the food pantry, but knows many people on Buffalo’s West Side who do.
Geneva Huff says the mobile food pantry was the answer to her prayers last year, during a hard time when she found herself without food in her house.
“Oh my God, I love them. I love them. They are a blessing. They are truly a blessing. I was able to get food packaged from them, and I was able to feed my family,” Huff says.
Now, she’s praying someone who has a storage space will offer it, so the food pantry can continue.
“It would mean a lot of problems for these people in the community,” if the program ended, she says. “It would mean that we won’t get the help that we get from them. I know a lot of people say you can go downtown and get help, but no. Not like the help they give you. They really care about people.”
“I think there’s somebody in the community that might have something. And maybe even if they’re watching this right now, would be willing to step up and help us. We are also willing to pay something,” Pastor Johns says.
If you think you have a space and can help, you can contact the Buffalo Dream Center at 854-1001 or through the church’s website.