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 

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

Afterschool Programming Returns to Polonia Hall

We’re excited that in-person afterschool programming will return to our Polonia Hall site at 385 Paderewski Drive, beginning March 1, 2021. We will be following COVID-19 guidelines and limiting the number of participants in the program for safety reasons.

To fill out an application to participate in the afterschool program, click here.

Please contact Justin Larke at jlarke@urbanctr.org or at (716) 893-7222 x311 for more information.

Donor Spotlight: The Sengupta Family

This month we’re highlighting The Sengupta Family – Sourav, Elizabeth, and their two daughters. After touring our Hope Center facility and learning about what we do last year, the family made a very generous personal donation to our Homeless Outreach team, including monies that their daughters had saved up in their piggy bank. Coupled with their donation from last year, the Sengupta Family has provided over $24,500 to support our efforts to meet our homeless clients where they’re at and provide support and resources to keep them safe.
Our Homeless Outreach team is excited to be able to purchase some specialized supplies that they don’t have consistent access to, such as larger sizes of clothing for clients, boots and shoes, storage for donations, and transportation passes.
A tremendous thank you to the Sengupta Family for their generosity and compassion for the clients we serve!

Thank You to the Buffalo Bills!

We wanted to congratulate our beloved Buffalo Bills on an amazing season! This team has given hope to so many this year, including the Matt Urban Center and the clients we serve. We also want to give a special shout-out to the following Bills players for their acts of generosity during the holiday season:
Matt Barkley and his family made a $10,000 donation to our Hope House women and children’s shelter to make Christmas brighter for our residents (their second donation in 2020!) Matt also teamed up with local apparel company Buf on Weck to sell Buffalo Renegade shirts and hoodies, with part of the proceeds benefitting our organization.
Josh Norman and his Starz 24 Foundation donated blankets, socks, hats, gloves, hand sanitizer and hand warmers to our Homeless Outreach team to help take care of their clients during the cold winter months.
Micah Hyde’s IMagINe For Youth Foundation’s Kicks for Kids initiative donated 25 backpacks filled with Nike Sneakers, Nike Shorts, candy and Buffalo Bills gear to the children in our youth after-school program and those staying at our Hope House shelter.
The Bills’ Women’s Association also provided funds for a beautiful catered holiday meal for our Hope House residents and staff to enjoy together to celebrate the season.
We’re so grateful to have a hometown team that not only plays with tremendous heart, but also keeps our community close to its heart. We’re always rooting for them. GO BILLS!

Volunteer At Home Opportunity

Looking to give back during the holidays? Assembling personal essentials kits for our Hope Center is a COVID-safe way to volunteer on your own time!
We’ve partnered with the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County’s Family Volunteer Season program to get more folks involved in volunteering while staying safe amidst the pandemic. Any number of kits donated is greatly appreciated and will go to good use in our Hope Center’s personal essentials pantry.
Visit uwbec.org/family-volunteer-day for instructions on how to assemble the kits and info on how to get them to us.
Questions? Email our Development Director, Sarah Maurer, at smaurer@urbanctr.org.

Hope Center Presents Holiday Meal To-Go!

Mark your calendars for December 23! Chef Chris is whipping up another delicious, free holiday meal for the community from the Matt Urban Hope Center’s Urban Diner. All meals are grab-and-go and can be picked up at our 385 Paderewski Drive. Masks are required at pick-up.

Making Spirits Bright: Donation Spotlight

The giving season is upon us, and that couldn’t be more apparent with the overwhelming number of in-kind donations we have received. From blankets and winter clothing, to non-perishable food items and Christmas gifts for children – we are absolutely blown away by the generosity of our local community and their compassion for the families we serve. A special thank you goes out to the following in-kind donors:
Ingram Micro
Main Pediatrics
Savarino Companies
Tabernacle of Praise
Buffalo Police Department C District & NET Team
Haley Marketing Group
Elizabeth Felmet
Charlene Stalikas
Vinnita McDuffie
The Bajdas Family
Patricia Cichocki
Kevin Young
Kristin Fyda
Rebecca Bremiller
Jeffrey Scharoun
Maria Slawson
The Zulewski Family
Emma Rich
Nancy Maiarana
We’d also like to give a big shout-out to these generous individuals for making monetary donations to our Giving Tuesday campaign to support the women and children staying at our Hope House emergency shelter during the holiday season:
NYS Minorities in Criminal Justice Association
Jessica Aungst
Robert Scott DeLuca
Brandon Jones
Marcia Pacciotti
Karen Carman
Alissa Venturini
Gina Pfleegor
David Kiefer
Ellen Scheuering
Jeffrey Miller
Thomas Idziak
Thank you to our community of kind and compassionate donors! We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and stay well!

Cookies for a Cause Raises $2000 for Hope House

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the 2020 Cookies for a Cause fundraiser to benefit Matt Urban Center was a tremendous success!
Since 2017, Rebecca Decker has organized a cookie exchange at the holidays with all proceeds going to support the women and children staying at our Hope House shelter. This year’s event was a cookie sale with socially distanced pick-ups to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines. Thanks to our generous supporters, the event raised over $2,000.
Since its inception, Cookies for a Cause has raised $6,500 to support Hope House. Extra special thanks go out to Rebecca Decker for all her hard work in organizing this annual event on our behalf!

Grab-and-Go Thanksgiving Feast at Matt Urban Hope Center

Join us next Wednesday, November 25 for a grab-and-go Thanksgiving Feast prepared by our Hope Center chef, Chris! Meals are free to the community and can be picked up from 2-5pm outside 385 Paderewski Drive. Masks are mandatory and social distancing measures will be in place. One member of a household can come pick  up on behalf of your family.

Happy Thanksgiving to our community!