Discovering an Eastside Historic Asset
BFNC: In the Community and Serving the Community
|(Above: Left to Right) Douglas Fabian, Dir. of Personnel, City of Buffalo; LaCherie Reid, Social Media Coordinator, Jackson Parker Communications; Betsy Mitchell, Westminster Presbyterian Church; and Ricardo Herrera, Exec. Director, BFNC, discuss Westminster Presbyterian Church/BFNC history at the Neighborhood House Association in Buffalo's Fruit Belt neighborhood|
Have you seen a large yellow building on the corner of Orange and Virginia Streets in Buffalo?
That building is affectionately known by longtime Fruit Belt neighborhood residents as the Neighborhood House, operated by the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (BFNC). The BFNC prepares and empowers its neighbors. The human services agency is connected to an over 100-year history that began in 1893.
Founded during the 1890s Settlement House Movement, the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Inc. is the product of a 1981 merger of the Westminster Community House, created by the Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1893, and the Neighborhood House Association, founded in 1894.
The Westminster House, located on Monroe Street, and the Neighborhood House Association were established in response to the severe economic recession during that time; making them the second and third oldest settlement houses in the United States. It was then that the two houses collaborated to assist the influx of European immigrants and later southern African American migrants who settled into Buffalo from the 1940s through the 1970s. The mission was to help Immigrant populations rise above the challenges of urban poverty.
It is in this effort that BFNC continues to stay true to its roots, through wrap-around services and programs designed to serve intergenerational populations. Its service recipients range from youth to seniors, as well as individuals with special needs in Buffalo and Erie County.
The organization plays a major role as a human services safety net, ensuring that any Western New Yorker who needs help and/or who has trouble accessing services, or has slipped through the cracks of the human service system, has a trusted place to go.
Programs and Services
BFNC currently provides group homes and supportive community living options that are regulated by the New York State Office of Mental Health.
The Hope Center, located on Jewett Avenue, is a trusted neighborhood center that offers “one-stop” assistance, including Free Tax Counseling for the Elderly, Civil Legal Advice Resources, budgeting services and entitlement assistance, insurance program enrollments, appeals and counseling options for Medicaid Spend Down programs.
A majority of the organization's senior services are provided by the BFNC Moot Senior Center on High Street. It is one of the largest privately owned and operated senior centers in Buffalo. Moot has helped thousands of seniors, affectionately known as “Mooters,” to maintain their independence.
Transitioning to Fill a Community Need: Introducing the Westminster Commons
Left: A concept sketch of the proposed Westminster Commons.
The proposed Westminster Commons is a new senior housing development that will become an addition to the historic Westminster Community House located at 421 Monroe Street. The project consists of the construction of a four-story building with 84 apartments for low-income senior citizens, 55 years of age or older. The apartments will be one and two bedroom units. Of these, 34 will be set aside for individuals with mental illnesses and 20 units for the homeless.
The project includes the historic rehabilitation of Westminster Community House into a community service facility. The building will house a certified social adult day program for seniors, a pharmacy, primary care satellite office and office space.
To learn more about the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, please visit www.bfnc.org.
Left: A preliminary architectural drawing shows an overhead view of the proposed two-building structure. At bottom left is an existing community residence operated by the BFNC on Monroe Street. The top building is the Westminster Commons. The to-be-renovated Westminster Community House is seen at the bottom right.