by Rose Caldwell
Catholic Charities celebrated the grand opening of its Health Care Center located on the Immigration and Refugee Assistance campus, 10 Herkimer St., Buffalo, Wednesday (Nov. 16), with officials expressing appreciation for its operating and funding partners, as well as for the legacy of those who were part of the former Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in which it is housed.
The grand opening marked the completion of the center, as both health care providers, Mobile Primary Care and Baker Victory Dental Services, will now be operational at the site. Mobile Primary Care began providing medical care at the site in early 2016 and Baker Victory Dental Services recently was approved to start offering dental care as well.
“The completion of the Health Care Center is the realization of a dream several years in the making, and we are thrilled to be able to share it with the community, and most importantly to expand services on site to our refugees,” said Dennis C. Walczyk, Catholic Charities chief executive officer. “We are so thankful for our health care partners who joined us in this new venture: Mobile Primary Care and Baker Victory Dental Services.”
The conversion of the former church into the health center retained much of the beauty and design of the church.
“We are grateful to provide this medical and dental service to the newcomers in our country but also to anyone in the neighborhood,” said Sister Mary McCarrick, Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities. “We truly celebrate today the support of our many partners, both public and private, foundations and individuals who have made this medical and dental clinic a reality.”
The clinic offers a one-stop option for primary medical and dental care for refugees who are arriving through Catholic Charities and other local resettlement agencies.
“Providing care in this health center is the most gratifying work I have ever done,” said James Collins, MD, chief medical officer of Mobile Primary Care. “People are in true need, and gracious and appreciate all that we do for them. This clinic is an incredible opportunity presented by Catholic Charities to work together to do this critical work.”
Terese Scofidio, chief executive officer of Baker Victory Services, on behalf of the dental clinic, said, “This project is yet another example of the impact our founder, Father Baker, continues to have on Western New York. In his time, he lived to help others, regardless of their religion, the color of their skin, or their ability to pay. He took on difficult projects because he knew it was the right thing to do. His spirit of dedication and commitment to this community is exactly what I see in the actions of our partners, Catholic Charities and Mobile Primary.”
Also during the opening, a plaque remembering the families of the former parish, and the women religious and clergy who served there through 2008, when the parish merged into Our Lady of Hope in Buffalo, was dedicated, thanks to the generosity of Rev. Angelo Chimera who served the parish from 1989 to 2008.
Additionally, Walczyk presented the Certificate of Outstanding Achievement from United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s (USCCB) Migration & Refugee Services and thanked the Immigration & Refugee Assistance Program staff for their extraordinary work in 2016. The USCCB is the sponsoring organization for refugees resettled by Catholic Charities.
Walczyk also recognized three local organizations whose support has helped to make the Health Care Center a reality: The John R. Oishei Foundation, the Cummings Foundation and the Wendt Foundation.Reverend Msgr. David Slubecky, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Buffalo, gave a blessing of the Health Care Center.
Reconstruction of the church sanctuary, which was designed to retain much of the space’s architecture, is striking and creative in its design and energy efficient. It was completed in January 2016. The facility also houses offices for Catholic Charities’ Immigration and Refugee Assistance case managers and a community meeting room.
The site represents another in a long line of creative re-use examples by Catholic Charities of former church buildings. Development partners were McGuire Development, architects Lauer-Manguso Associates and R&P Oak Hill Construction.
Catholic Charities annually resettles nearly 600 refugees and provides services to another 400 immigrants. Pre and post-arrival services such as assistance with housing, food, clothing and employment are provided, as well as naturalization workshops and citizenship classes. For more information, call (716) 842-0270.
As the most comprehensive human service provider serving Western New York, Catholic Charities makes a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assesses clients for other needs to ensure long-term success.
Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions it receives. For five years, it attained the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service and was named the winner of the 2015 Torch Award for Philanthropic Excellence by the Better Business Bureau Foundation of Upstate New York.
For further information about the organization and its programs and services, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to ccwny.org. You can also check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at facebook.com/ccbuffalo and on Twitter at twitter.com/ccbuffalo.