Our CMC Jazz Fest Ride this coming Monday, July 23rd, hosted by the Colored Musicians Club (145 Broadway, 6:30pm start), will include a stop in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood in the heart of the Matt Urban Center’s ever-growing area of influence, where their Development Coordinator Sarah Maurer will take the bullhorns – learn more here first!

What inspired the founding of the Matt Urban Center, and what is its mission?

The building where we are headquartered at 1081 Broadway was built in 1905 as a Dom Polski (Polish Home) social club – a place for members of the Polish community to gather. In 1976, our organization was officially incorporated as a cultural and human services organization called the Polish Community Center of Buffalo. We’ve been serving the East Side community for over 40 years now, and have grown into a multi-faceted agency offering programs and services to over 20,000 low-income residents per year – from youth to seniors and the homeless to homeowners. Our mission is to provide programs to enhance quality of life, preserve neighborhoods and encourage economic development in our community.

What is the center’s greatest accomplishment to date?

Since we started offering services at our home at 1081 Broadway, our organization has expanded its footprint and list of programs and services tremendously. We now operate multiple community service centers, including our Matt Urban Hope Center at 385 Paderewski Drive and the T.J. Dulski Center at 129 Lewis Street. We have six affordable housing complexes – some of which are supportive housing – and a shelter for homeless women and children. Our list of programs includes:

  • Crime Victims Assistance
  • Hope Services/Matt Urban Hope Center
  • Permanent Supportive Housing/Housing First
  • Homeless Outreach
  • Senior Services
  • Housing & Community Development
  • Weatherization
  • Youth & Community Services
  • Multiple Food Pantries

We’re very excited that construction has begun on our latest and greatest community development project – the renovation of a vacant School 57 located behind our main headquarters. Once complete, Hope House at School 57 will provide 27 units of affordable housing for women and children, a new home for our Matt Urban Hope Center and its Urban Diner, and a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen that will support our diner and provide a new opportunity for workforce development programming.

Matt Urban Center diner volunteers

Any interesting history that few know about the center?

We love to share the significance of our agency’s name! In November of 2000, the Polish Community Center of Buffalo adopted a new name – the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of Western New York – in honor of the most highly decorated soldier in American history who also grew up at 1153 Broadway, just steps away from our main building.

Lt. Col. Matt Urban was born to Polish immigrants in Buffalo in 1919. When he was young, he participated in the Center’s social activities and attended School 57 (the future home of our Hope House!). He entered the U.S. Army in 1941, serving as a Captain with the 2nd Battalion, 60th Regiment, 9th Infantry Division in France during WWII. He received 28 decorations, including the Silver Star, Bronze Star with “V” device, Purple Heart, and NYS Conspicuous Cross with 4 Silver and 1 Gold Clusters. In 1980, the U.S. Congress awarded Lt. Col. Urban the nation’s highest award for valor, The Congressional Medal of Honor. He was described as the “Greatest Soldier in American History” by President Jimmy Carter. Our agency is proud to bear his name!

What are the greatest challenges to achieving your mission?

As with any non-profit organization, funding is always a challenge! We are also always hustling to find volunteers who can help out at our various sites, especially our Matt Urban Hope Center! 

Matt Urban Center volunteers at Dyngus Day

How can community members get involved?

We are always looking for volunteers and greatly appreciate any donations to support our programs. Those interested in volunteering can fill out our Volunteer Inquiry form. Those interested in donating to our organization can donate through our website or by calling (716) 893-7222 x232. And folks can learn more about us by visiting our website and following our Facebook page.

We also encourage folks to mark their calendars for our big annual “Buffalonia” fundraiser, taking place on Friday, September 14, 2018 from 5:00-10:00 PM at Buffalo Iron Works. Tickets are $25 and include unlimited beer and wine, parking, live music, games, raffles and more. You can learn more about Buffalonia and purchase your ticket at www.buffalonia.org!