BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For this week's Unique Place, Daybreak's Kelly Dudzik takes us to Buffalo's East Side where a Catholic church and its campus have been transformed into place where anyone in need can go for help, no questions asked.
St. Luke's Mission of Mercy opened in 1994 with a staff of seven. A shuttered Catholic church, it would soon become a beacon of hope in this East Side neighborhood.
The staff began its mission by packing up bags of food and clothes to give to those in need a few days a week. That's something they still do today, but it's a much larger operation.
"This is our women's room right here. Where twice a week, we open up Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 to 11:45. We move some of these racks out so it looks like a little boutique when we're open and we let eight women come in and shop for about ten minutes. They get whatever they want. It's all free of charge," says volunteer Gino Grasso.
Grasso is an associate missionary at St. Luke's, and we had him show us around.
"Come Monday, this will be loaded. It's empty obviously right now, but we put household items right here," he said as he showed us the pantry.
Through the years, St. Luke's has grown into a mission that serves hundreds of meals a day and provides housing to people with nowhere else to go.
None of it would be possible without generous volunteers.
"Most of the people that do come here to help out are amazed that the scope of what we do here. You know, they just think it's a little one room operation and when they see the size and what we handle, people are in awe. They just can't understand that there is such a need here. But the good thing is, what we need is provided to us. It's amazing. We serve more people now than ever, but we're also getting more donations than ever," says Grasso.