Community spotlight: Friends of Night People.
Friends of Night People is a nonprofit organization that serves the poor and homeless in the Buffalo community.
The staff of Friends of Night People engrain in every volunteer the importance of maintaining the dignity of all who are served. Whether volunteers are preparing meals with a smile, distributing essential clothing and hygiene products, or kindly directing people to on-site medical clinics or shower rooms, they know to treat those in need with compassion, respect, and warmth. And we at Crowley Webb agree 100%.
Crowley Webb’s involvement in providing pro bono services to Friends of Night People goes back a decade, starting with helping the organization launch what’s become its biggest annual fundraiser: Party for the People. This year is even more special because it marks Friends of Night People’s 50th anniversary. In celebration of this milestone, we sat down with Joseph Heary, executive director of Friends of Night People, to learn more about the organization.
How did Friends of Night People start?
Joe: Friends of Night People started back in 1969 when a group of clergy members recognized that there was a need to help those roaming the streets of Downtown Buffalo late into the night and early into the morning. These “night people” were individuals who had just lost a job, had mental or physical disabilities, suffered from addiction, or were elderly and lonely. These people had fallen on hard times, and Friends of Night People was there to provide a warm cup of coffee and a bite to eat, some friendly advice, and informal counseling – just as anyone would do for their own friends.
How has it grown or changed over time?
Joe: Over the last 50 years, the organization has developed a better understanding of the ever-changing homeless and working-poor populations by speaking to guests and other like-minded organizations.
With this knowledge, Friends of Night People has evolved into an organization that provides the most essential services to best serve the population in need. This is why the free medical, podiatry, and vision clinics were established.
Beyond that, the organization has developed several community partnerships so that the hot, nutritious meals we cook on Hudson Street can be delivered and served to any Buffalonians in need.
Can you tell us more about the work your organization does?
Joe: Because providing food is at the core of our mission, we offer dinner 365 days a year, as well as lunch and pantry services twice a week. We understand that hunger is a persistent issue all across Buffalo, so we developed partnerships with six local organizations in order to make hot, nutritious meals available to the hungry in Allentown, the West Side, the East Side, and Riverside.
Our on-staff social worker sits down with guests and connects them to much-needed housing and public benefits assistance.
Clothing and hygiene products are distributed during dinner services, and free shower and laundry services are offered to anyone who asks.
Our mailbox service allows individuals without a permanent address to get their mail sent to Friends of Night People so that no one misses out on receiving important documents or benefits.
Why should people support Friends of Night People?
Joe: Any donation of time, goods, or money truly makes an impact. Asking someone about their day when volunteering at the dinner service can make the loneliest person realize that we care about them. Donating old sweaters, socks, and scarves can keep someone warm on the coldest winter day. And dropping off unserved pans of food after a work party or celebration means we can offer families that much more food during the daily dinner service.
Monetary donations help us get supplies to serve the ones who need it most.
Anyone can make a difference!
What about Party for the People?
Joe: Join us for our casual Party for the People event at Flying Bison on Tuesday, September 24, at 5:30pm. We’ll be celebrating 50 years of serving those in need, and recognizing the local community members who have had an outstanding impact on our organization. The night will be filled with food, music, awards, and a gift basket raffle. Get your tickets here!
If you can’t make it to the event, reach out to Patty Krehbiel, relationship manager, and see how you can get involved with Friends of Night People.
Thanks to Joe for taking time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us. We’re looking forward to many more years supporting Friends of Night People.