June 01, 2012

Gillibrand Urges HHS to Fund New Health & Wellness Center at St. John Baptist Church in Buffalo

Funding Would Expand Access to Nutritious Foods at New Grocer, Updated Health Care Facilities, Wellness Center, Financial Education

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged U.S. Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to approve a request for federal funds from St. John Baptist Church in Buffalo to support a project to construct a multi-use wellness center. The project would generate the potential to create and sustain in excess of 40 new jobs for the Buffalo Area. 

In May, Senator Gillibrand wrote Secretary Sebelius, urging her to fully support the funding request. 

“When we invest in community wellness centers like at St. John Baptist Church, we can help more Buffalo families lead healthy lives, help keep our children healthy and active to open new doors of opportunity, and support new jobs right here in Buffalo in the process,” Senator Gillibrand said. “For our families to thrive, and for our economy to grow, this investment must be a top priority.”  

“We believe this faith based social justice model is unique and can be duplicated in other impoverished communities,” said the St. John’s Leadership Council. “It is a holistic approach to empower the disenfranchised, creating its own economic system out of resources that already exist in the community. This model also creates jobs and focuses on community wellness through exercise and healthy nutritional choices. In addition, it will be a catalyst to encourage other minorities toward business and entrepreneurial endeavors.”

The federal funding for the project would be used to construct a 17,000-square foot multi-use wellness facility in Buffalo. The new facility would house a new healthy urban grocer, dental and eye care practices, a state-of-the-art health and wellness center, as well as an office for the St. John Federal Credit Union to help provide expanded service and financial education to the immediate community. The project is expected to support more than 40 long-term jobs.

Federal funds would be allocated from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Community Economic Development Program.

Senator Gillibrand’s complete letter to Secretary Sebelius:

Dear Secretary Sebelius, 

            I write in support of the application submitted by St. John Baptist Church for funding from the Community Economic Development Program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  This funding will help complete the construction of a multi-use wellness building. 

            For over 85 years, St. John Baptist Church has played a vital role in the Fruit Belt community of the east side of Buffalo, New York.  St. John Baptist Church, through the St. John Fruit Belt Community Development Corporation, has a successful track record of revitalizing the community, having already developed 35 affordable housing units, the Aloma D. Johnson Fruit Belt Community Charter School, a senior citizens’ housing complex and an eight-unit hospice facility. 

            The requested funding will be used to help complete construction of the St. John Market and multi-use wellness building.  This will be an approximately 17,000 square foot multi-use building that will house the St. John Market, a new urban grocer, focused on bringing healthy and fresh foods to underserved community residents. This building would also house dental and eye care practices, a state of the art health and wellness center, and an office for the St. John Federal Credit Union to help provide expanded service and financial education to the immediate community.  The construction of this building will represent over $3.5 million in direct investment and will generate in excess of 40 long-term jobs, as well as provide the increased health and wellness of the Fruit Belt community. 

            I ask that you please give this application your full consideration.  If you have any questions, or desire further information, please do not hesitate to contact my staff member Andrew Usyk at (202) 224-4451.