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!

Matt Urban Center Announces New Executive Director

The Matt Urban Center has appointed Benjamin Hilligas as its new Executive Director. He will join the agency in January 2021.

Alissa Venturini, Acting Executive Director, states “I am thrilled to welcome Ben Hilligas to the Matt Urban Center team. He and I have worked together in different capacities over the years. He is a kind and dedicated leader and I am honored to have this opportunity to work alongside him.” Venturini will be returning to her role as Chief Program Officer once Hilligas arrives.

Hilligas joins the Matt Urban Center from the Erie County Department of Social Services, where he served for the past six years as Senior Youth Bureau Director in the Division of Youth Services. Prior to his time with Erie County, Hilligas worked for Say Yes Buffalo and Compass House youth shelter in a variety of capacities.

Hilligas received his Master’s degree from The University at Buffalo and is licensed to practice social work by the State of New York. He has received ongoing education and certifications from the NYS Institute for Youth Justice, Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and has recently been working closely with the Haywood Burns Institute and the Flourish Agenda, both national leaders in racial equity work, on several local and statewide initiatives.

“The Matt Urban Center is a critical human services provider in our community in addition to, like the surrounding neighborhood itself, a historic institution and cultural touchstone,” Hilligas said. “I had the pleasure in my career of working with many talented employees of the agency and have always come away from those interactions impressed and inspired. My goals as a leader, a social worker and a civically minded citizen of the City of Buffalo, is to ensure that every member of our community has the resources and support they need to achieve success and provide for the health and well-being of their family. I believe that the Matt Urban Center has been providing precisely this type of service for over 40 years and it is my distinct honor and privilege to have been selected by the Board to continue that legacy while evolving the organization to meet the needs of the future. I want to thank the board for the enormous time and energy they have committed to leading the agency during an uncertain time as well as the rigor with which they approached the search process. I look forward to working with the Board, agency leadership, staff at every level, community members and all of our partners to ensure mutual success and the continued revitalization of our City and region.”

“We are excited about Ben’s appointment and are looking forward to working with him on the Center’s vision for the future,” said Marcia Pacciotti, Board Chair. “We will be taking a close look at the agency and all the services we provide, and evaluating what is working, what we can improve upon and how well we are meeting the needs of our community. Our focus is always on our mission to revitalize neighborhoods, serve families and change lives.”

The Matt Urban Center has been proudly serving East Buffalo, the Town of Cheektowaga and West Seneca for the past 44 years. It fulfills its mission by bringing together public and private resources in an effort to assist community residents in becoming self-sustaining.

Donate to Hope House on Giving Tuesday

It’s difficult to imagine spending the holiday season in a homeless shelter, but for many of our clients, that will be their reality this year.
We’re participating in #GivingTuesday on December 1 to try to make the holidays a little brighter for those staying at the Matt Urban Hope House emergency shelter. Donations will be used to purchase essential items and holiday gifts for the women and their children.
Please consider making your #GivingTuesday donation at www.urbanctr.org/donate-to-muc

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!

Cookies for a Cause To Benefit Matt Urban Center

We’re SO excited that Cookies for a Cause will still be taking place this year (in pandemic-safe fashion, of course), thanks to the determination of our event organizer, Rebecca Decker.

This year’s event has been reimagined as a cookie sale, with all proceeds benefitting the Matt Urban Center. Orders must be submitted by November 28. The online cookie order form can be found here: https://forms.gle/F3sMzXG1KmUKfgoH7

More information and updates can be found on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/648458776034419

Hope Center Now Assisting Residents With Rent and Mortgage Assistance Applications

The Matt Urban Hope Center, located at 385 Paderewski Drive, will be assisting residents with processing their documentation to apply for Live Well Erie and City of Buffalo Cares Act Rental and Mortgage Assistance, from now through November 25.

This program will provide temporary rent and mortgage assistance to individuals who were unable to pay their rent or mortgage due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All residents must first call 2-1-1 to verify their eligibility for this program. Once deemed eligible, residents may contact our Hope Center staff to set up an appointment to submit their documentation. We cannot accept walk-in clients at this time due to COVID-19 restrictions at our facility, so an appointment is suggested to ensure timely assistance. Please call (716) 893-7222 x310 to set an appointment.

Residents must come to the appointment with all required documents.  A list of required documents is available at http://www.211wny.org/resources/erie-county-covid-19-rent-relief/

Note that our Hope Center is following all New York State COVID-19 guidelines and a face mask is required in order to enter the facility.

To learn more about this program, please visit www.211wny.org

Donation Spotlight: Cricket Wireless

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Miss Joy Smith and her team from Cricket Wireless at 1105 Broadway for their incredibly generous donation of food items for our Hope Center pantry! The Cricket crew delivered a carload of groceries to our Paderewski location earlier this week. We’re so grateful to have neighboring businesses who give back to our community!

Take Our Rebranding Survey!

Our agency is in the early stages of a rebranding effort, and we want to hear some feedback from our clients, partners, donors, volunteers, and community supporters!

Please take a moment to answer our brief survey (only six questions) to help us better understand who we are to you and how you know our programs.

Access the survey by clicking here.

Employment Opportunity: Executive Director

Now Hiring: Executive Director

Job Description: The Executive Director will provide leadership and vision, articulate and promote the organization’s mission, develop sufficient resources for the financial health of the agency, and position the agency to meet the needs of clients and community.

Click the link above for full listing. Please submit cover letter and resume to EDSearch@urbanctr.org by September 16, 2020.