Welcoming Our New CFO: David Kraus

The Matt Urban Center is thrilled to welcome David Kraus to our administrative team as our  Chief Financial Officer.

Hailing from Syracuse, NY, David received his MBA from UB. He immediately went to work at UB as an administrator in progressively challenging roles, as Assistant to Chair of the Music Department, the Project Manager of the all-new UB Center for the Arts, and finally as Assistant Dean of UB’s College of Arts & Sciences.

David took a break from the Queen City’s notorious winters living nearly 14 years in Durham, NC, where he worked in the finance industry, continued his educational pursuits, and earned additional professional credentials. David boomeranged back to Buffalo, became a New York State CPA, and co-founded the consulting group, NuLevel Strategies to be a resource to mission-driven businesses and local nonprofits.  Of his new role, David says, “it’s a unique opportunity to join a great team and get closer to the front-lines of mission-driven nonprofit work.”

David is married with two grown step-kids. He and his wife have dogs (Doberman Pinscher & Dober-Shep mix) and often pursue animal rescue efforts like fostering otherwise homeless pups. When he’s not working, David enjoys making homemade bread and other yummy comfort foods. He enjoys long bike rides and attending local cultural attractions, concerts, and festivals.

Volunteer Opportunity: Urban Diner

Our Matt Urban Hope Center’s Urban Diner serves a fresh, healthy meal to residents free of charge on weekdays. We are looking for volunteers to help with food preparation (10:00AM to 1:30PM) and diner service (1:30PM to 4:30PM). Due to social distancing requirements, we cannot accommodate large groups for volunteering at this time.
Those interested in volunteering can contact Sarah Maurer at smaurer@urbanctr.org or (716) 893-7222 x232.

MUC to Host PLAY/GROUND 2021 Installation

We’re excited to welcome PLAY/GROUND 2021 to the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood this summer! Sponsored by The Buffalo Institute for Contemporary Art (BICA) and Resource:Art, PLAY/GROUND brings a series of public art installations to our community and downtown Buffalo from August 6-15, 2021. The Matt Urban Center will be participating as a host site for an installation. Youth and families in our summer program will collaborate with the selected artist to create the piece that will be installed at our main headquarters at 1081 Broadway. Public art proposals are being accepted on the PLAY/GROUND website now through June 4, 2021. Learn more about PLAY/GROUND 2021 by checking out this article by Buffalo Rising.

Community Clean-up Event This Month!

MUC will be joining our friends at the Greater East Side Field of Dreams Block Club Association for their annual neighborhood clean-up on Saturday, May 22 from 10:00AM to 1:00PM. Volunteers will gather at Detroit Street and Paderewski Drive and span out to clean neighboring streets. The block club is still seeking volunteers to join the clean-up effort, as well as donations of gloves, garbage bags, and bottled water. Volunteers will be provided with a thank you meal to-go. Those who are interested in volunteering or donating supplies can contact Marva Threat at mth1043938@aol.com.

Join Us This Summer on SuperStreet

Join the Matt Urban Center and our neighboring community organizations for the kickoff of Summer on SuperStreet at the green space on the corner of Clark and Kent streets. Sponsored by Jericho Road Community Health Center, this initiative will launch on May 15 from 11:00AM to 3:00PM and will continue to provide a variety of programming at the green space every week throughout the summer and early fall. Our Housing & Community Development staff and Youth Department staff will be at the Superman Corner on multiple dates in July and August, to talk with local residents about available programs while providing fun activities for kids! Visit the Summer on Superstreet website for the calendar of events and more information.

Help Us Meet Our Match Campaign Goal!

We’re thrilled to share that through the generosity of our supporters, we raised over $7,000 throughout the month of April, bringing us very close to our goal to raise $10,000 by May 31. Every donation made to the Matt Urban Center between now and May 31 will have double the impact, thanks to a matching donation from The Dolce Firm. We will also be hosting a few giveaways throughout the month on our social media pages, so keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram for posts on how your donation can get you entered to win prizes! Help us meet our goal to raise $10,000 for our essential programs by following this link: www.urbanctr.org/donate

 

Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends of MUC,
I have been thinking a lot recently about transition. Clearly, I have been experiencing a transition the past two months as I have assumed this new role with MUC. The agency, of course, has been in the process of transition for some time. The immediate neighborhood as well, as the City at large has transitioned a great deal over decades and more noticeably in the past several years. And our nation, due to COVID-19 and many other factors is currently in a period of great and historic transition.
Transition is not a bad thing, but it is also not inherently good and can often be associated with pain. Positive change and transition which trends towards growth and success requires thoughtful planning, engagement of stakeholders, commitment and the ability to adapt. It means recognizing and respecting the past while addressing the needs of the present, and anticipating and being prepared to meet the needs of the future.
I believe that this neighborhood, City, Country and especially this organization are poised to transition to a stable, sustainable and vibrant future. As long as we remain committed to values such as open communication and dialogue, a belief that all members of society are entitled to a life of dignity and respect, and understanding that our impact collectively is more than that of ourselves alone, I believe that brighter days are indeed ahead.
Sincerely,
Ben Hilligas

Eviction Prevention Funds Available Through STAND UP Buffalo

The Matt Urban Center, in partnership with the City of Buffalo’s STAND UP Buffalo program and 211 WNY, is providing rental assistance to at-risk residents who have been economically impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Arrears assistance for a maximum of three months and up to $4500 can be provided to those experiencing a COVID-19 hardship who meet income requirements.
Community members who are interested in applying to this program must first contact 211 WNY for initial intake and eligibility assessment. Those deemed eligible will then be referred to staff at our Matt Urban Hope Center. For more information, please visit www.211wny.org 

Request for Proposals: Bus Transportation Services

The Matt Urban Center operates several after school programs in the City of Buffalo. We are seeking a qualified contractor to assist in bus transportation services from the program location (385 Paderewski Dr.) to each individual student’s home.

Please click here to view the full Request for Proposals.

Proposals will be accepted until Friday, March 19th at 3:30 P.M.

Via U.S. Mail or delivery to:
Will Smith, Security
Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY
1081 Broadway
Buffalo, NY 14212

Questions on this request for qualifications may be directed to ztenhuisen@urbanctr.org or to (716) 893 – 7222 ext: 219.

Remembering Earl Blacksheare

The Matt Urban Center suffered a tremendous loss with the recent passing of Mr. Earl Blacksheare.
Earl was the heart and soul of our Hope Center, where he worked for over a decade, performing intake with clients and making referrals to get them connected with the resources they needed. Earl’s big booming voice was the first people heard when they called the Hope Center, and his was the first face they saw when they came in for services. Earl was a bright light for many, helping guide them to the programs and services that they needed to improve their situations, whether it was assistance finding housing, benefits, or a hot meal.
Not only did Earl have a tremendous positive impact on those who came to the Hope Center for help – he also made a lasting impression on the people he worked with every day. Some of our staff shared their remembrances of Earl, in honor of his memory and their time spent working alongside him.
Earl was part of our family. Although you don’t come to work to gain friends, you kind of become family and learn to depend on them for a lot of different things. Earl left a blueprint for us and how we should treat people. We’re just going to miss him.
-Kevin Glover
Every day for the last 4 and a half plus years, I’ve walked past Earl at his desk. We always had a very similar exchange when he first got to work for the day.
“Hey Earl, how’s it going?”
“I’m just groovy man, just groovy.”
“Groovy!”
I’ve missed that exchange every single day since he’s been gone. I remind myself every time I walk past his desk that Earl is “just groovy man, just groovy.”
Earl always knew it was me walking by because he always said I was running through the Hope Center, and that I moved too fast and didn’t know how to slow down. But if I was wearing a different pair of shoes compared to normal, he would stop me and ask me what I had on my feet. He was used to me wearing sneakers and being fairly quiet when I walked past him, but when winter crept in and I switched to boots, I had a whole new sound. He’d ask me to describe what I had on my feet to him so that way he could associate that sound with me coming up the hallway in my boots.  
-Skylar Diamond
Earl always said “Good morning Melly Mel” and this was when I was walking into the building from behind him. I always wondered how he knew it was me before I even spoke to him or said anything. He will be greatly missed at Polonia Hall.
-Patricia Chism-Melvin
I didn’t work directly with Earl every day, and most of my interaction was over the phone, but even with calls that had no easy answer he was up for the challenge and ready to assist in any way. We’d often hang up with no real solution, only for my phone to ring a few minutes later with a bit more information that would point me in the right direction. You could hear his smile through every call.
-Maya Shermer
Earl was such a kind, sincere person, and that came out in every interaction I had with him – from those phone calls where he would reach out seeking information for a client, but always made sure to take a few moments to find out how I was doing, or when I would say farewell on my way out of the Hope Center and he would say “alright Sarah, you take care and be safe out there.” The Hope Center and the Matt Urban Center as a whole was made a better place because of Earl’s presence.
-Sarah Maurer