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'We're trying to build more bridges:' grassroots organizations distribute food, assess neighborhood needs

A group of people stand in line, while a man wears a black t-shirt that says, "PEACE DEMANDS ACTION".
PUSH Buffalo
Food distribution at the Frederick Douglass Towers.

Grassroots organizations under the banner of Addressing the Needs of Community Health Opportunity and Resiliency, or ANCHOR, distributed food and canvassed the neighborhood around Jefferson Avenue and Clinton Street to assess the needs of the residents of the area following the May 14 mass shooting at the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue.

Western New York Peace Center Executive Director Deirdra Emel said this is a way to connect the many different communities east of Main Street, as they continue to pick up the pieces from the shooting that left 10 people dead and three more wounded.

PUSH Buffalo

“We are trying to build more bridges [among] so many different communities that are on the East Side,” she said. “Especially the immigrant community of course African American community and we also have some newcomers coming in so we really want to kind of bridge some of those gaps with communication and of community building.”

With the idea of more resources and funding becoming available following the shooting, PUSH Buffalo Deputy Director Dawn Wells-Clyburn said there is a chance for the community to take control over how money and other resources are used in their neighborhood.

“We really want the community to own their resources and be able to use those resources to transfer all of this pain into power in a meaningful way,” she said.

The event also features a community cleanup to help beautify the neighborhood. In addition to PUSH and the WNY Peace Center, featured organizations included Native American Community Services, the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority and the Buffalo Urban League.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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