Gerard Place Community Center Now Open on Buffalo's East Side
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of the $6 million transformation of a former parish hall into the new Gerard Place Community Center on the East Side of Buffalo. Gerard Place works to eliminate barriers which prevent people from escaping poverty. Gerard Place has expanded its Bailey Avenue services, providing opportunities for local residents to complete their education, develop job skills and provide childcare for families, as well as bridge the food desert gaps in the high need Bailey-Delevan community. These support services are designed to eliminate barriers to employment, positioning families to become economically stable, while transforming the neighborhood into a thriving community. The project received more than $1.75 million in state funding including from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council for construction and workforce development initiatives at the center.
"As opportunities in Buffalo continue to grow there is an increased demand for a strong and skilled workforce," Governor Cuomo said. "Gerard Place is opening doors, creating opportunities, and providing services - like daycare and continuing education - to the Bailey-Delevan neighborhood that will give everyone the support they need to boost employment and access careers with tangible growth."
Gerard Place partnered with several Buffalo schools, including Erie 1 BOCES and Buffalo Public Schools, to provide job training in nursing, home health aides, child care, and culinary arts. In addition to their education partnerships, a daycare managed by Edu-Kids, the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood Children's Academy at Gerard Place, is open for children aged 6 weeks to 4.5 years old.
Gerard Place first opened their doors in 2000 as the result of twelve congregations of Women Religious in the Diocese of Buffalo creating and sponsoring Gerard Place on the grounds of the former St. Gerard's Parish. Gerard Place's 90 percent success rate, representing 300 families, illustrates their dedication to improving the lives of people striving to break the cycle of poverty in their lives by providing housing for homeless single parents and their families, empowering them through education, employment, life skills classes, and counseling.
On the same campus, Gerard Place also has the Junior League of Buffalo and the Buffalo News Community Education Building, which opened in 2009. The Education building is open to the entire community, providing literacy and high school equivalency programs.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "From child care to workforce development, the new Gerard Place Community Center advances our statewide initiatives and complements our continued efforts to improve quality of life for East Side residents. Gerard Place has long been a staple of the Bailey-Delavan Neighborhood, and this space will offer the support and resources families need to thrive. Training opportunities will open doors to new career paths and good-paying jobs, while expanded access to child care will relieve a burden faced by many working moms and dads. With significant support proudly provided by New York State, this inclusive community center will strengthen the future of the City of Buffalo."
Congressman Brian Higgins said, "With purpose and compassion Gerard Place is continuing to evolve to fill the needs of this community. We are grateful to them for taking on this mission and to the State of New York for placing resources and confidence in the great work happening here at Gerard Place."
Gerard Place President & CEO David Zapfel said, "We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development for their support in making this building happen. We are changing lives and strengthening this community."
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said,"Gerard Place, already a valued resource for the Bailey-Delevan community, will now give residents access to jobs and opportunity through programs addressing workforce training and development."
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The Gerard Place Community Center will provide resources and training to help neighborhood residents connect to good paying jobs. With the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative, we are supporting small business growth and revitalizing Buffalo's commercial corridors. This is the kind of targeted investment that Governor Cuomo is making all over Buffalo's East Side to build a stronger local economy and a brighter future for Buffalo's families."
Erie 1 BOCES Director of Educational Partnerships and Workforce Development Christa McHale said, "Easy access to educational resources, especially LPN training, can be a life-changing opportunity for many people. We feel privileged to serve the residents and surrounding community of Gerard Place."
Buffalo Public Schools Director of Adult & Continuing Education Amanda Vellake said, "The Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division is honored to partner with Gerard Place, with a shared mission to improve and expand educational opportunities for this Buffalo community. Collaboration is a highly effective tool for taking on the complex issues of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and crime. Working together, Gerard Place and the Adult Education Division will continue to leverage our respective strengths and strategize on the best approach to problem-solving."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "Congratulations Gerard Place! I have been a longtime supporter of this organization securing $500,000 in capital funding towards this project. I believe Gerard Place serves as an institutional and community anchor, a beacon of support and hope for people looking for help. I thank Governor Cuomo and WNY REDC for continuing to invest in Buffalo and making these life-changing opportunities possible."
Senator Tim Kennedy said, "The Gerard Place Community Center will serve not only as an education and resource hub for residents in the City of Buffalo, but as a safe space for families to grow and learn together. By offering job training, specialized certification courses, child care services, healthy meal options and more, the center will build upon the foundation that Gerard Place has provided for years, and open up new opportunities for our greater community."
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "As we continue to build an inclusive and equitable City of Opportunity, the completion of the Gerard Place Community Center renovation project marks a new era for many of our City's children and families, putting them on a positive path to prosperity. We recognize that people need access to support services like education, training, childcare and transportation in order to lead healthy and secure lives. The Gerard Place Community Center provides our residents with critical services right in their own neighborhood."
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "Gerard Place is a critical point on Buffalo's East Side where residents can not only connect with the community but can find the supports they need to succeed. People's lives are changed through furthering education, workforce development, and many other support programs available here at Gerard Place and I thank Governor Cuomo for his support of this important institution and our community."