In South Buffalo , a local Episcopal parish turned a building that used to be a bar into the St. Simon’s Genesis Center which will house a full kitchen, a food pantry, a clothes closet, support groups, and a medical clinic for the benefit of the neighborhood.
When the parish realized the growing demand, church members set to work finding a new space to expand their mission.
“Why would a church buy a run-down bar on Seneca Street?” joked Episcopal Bishop William Franklin as he led a blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the facility’s front door.
The former bar changed names over the years and, according to Deacon Milania Lullo, even hosted early gigs by the Goo Goo Dolls before the local rock band made it big. But then, hard times hit and the bar’s owners found it necessary to close. They weren’t the only ones suffering in this neighborhood.
“Over the years the economic woes of Buffalo, the urban community, it takes its toll on the people,” Lullo said. “We’re finding the marginalized, the disenfranchised, those who are on the fringe of society, have come here to this area. That’s what this center has been born from.”