Local Outreach

In this section you will discover the variety of ways that Williamsville United Methodist Church is involved in volunteering in local outreach programs that meet the needs of the less fortunate in Buffalo and the surrounding area.

Our local mission efforts have focused primarily on supporting Seneca Street United Methodist Church, Asbury Shalom Zone, and Gateway-Longview. For example, WUMC has sponsored summer camp scholarships to children from the Seneca Street church. We have also donated supplies that the children can take to camp such as sleeping bags, duffle bags, and personal items. We have also donated supplies for Seneca Street's after-school program.

We continue to support Asbury Shalom Zone through direct monetary contributions We also provide donations of clothing and other goods that can either be sold through their thrift store or accumulated to ship to third-world nations.

Each Christmas season the generous WUMC congregation participates in several projects to reflect Christ's love and bring joy to those in need. For example, each year we purchase gifts for over 50 Gateway-Longview residents and support that organization using a portion of our Missions budget.

An increasing number of church members have become involved with Habitat for Humanity. We are pleased to report that WUMC has become a recognized as a contributor to the success of this program in the Buffalo area.

In addition, several of our members are active in the Central City Café, which provides nutritious lunches every weekday for the less fortunate members in the Buffalo community. Other WUMC volunteers work with organizations that distribute food in the Buffalo area.

Ministries to Seneca Street United Methodist Church

Seneca Street Church Christmas Shoppe and Party

December 7, a number of folks from our congregation helped young “shoppers” make gift selections for their family members – Mom, Dad, siblings, and pets - while additional volunteers from WUMC and other churches wrapped them in colorful paper with beautiful bows (well, some of them WERE beautiful, others were more challenged – depending upon the wrapper!!). Over 125 children and youth had the opportunity to shop – and your donations of gift items and financial support made this all possible. From the shoppers – and the helpers who enjoyed helping – thanks for making this great event possible!

December 14, with only a week to recuperate and refocus effort – a fantastic Christmas party took place in the very same space at Seneca Street Church. More than 150 children and adult chaperones were treated to pizza, crafts, and a visit with Santa Claus (which resulted in each child receiving a gift bag of goodies). The Christmas spirit was truly alive and well thanks to the many from WUMC who supplied Tim Horton’s gift cards for the teens’ goodie bags and the Target/Wal-Mart gift cards that are used to supplement gifts given to Seneca Street children for Christmas.

The many cookies that were donated for the various SSC Christmas events (thanks WOW members – and others!) were also used to provide a wonderful Christmas treat after SSC’s Christmas Eve service (with the leftovers going home with local families).

A special thanks to Lynn Soucise and her coworkers who donated a number of beautifully decorated gingerbread houses (an office contest!) for this occasion as well (apparently children at the church had never seen such things before!).




Asbury Shalom Zone

Asbury Shalom Zone (ASZ) has felt the blessings of God in their ministry in the Lower West Side of Buffalo for the last 15 years. ASZ is funded by donations from local churches such as WUMC and other community organizations. The primary mission of ASZ is to educate adults in preparation for work and adjustment to our American culture. Through their efforts, there are now many hundreds of ASZ graduates and other people employed throughout the Western New York area.

In addition, ASZ runs a Thrift Store where thousands of people each year can purchase clothing at affordable prices. Since their Thrift Store is a major source of ASZ's income, they welcome donations of usable clothing and household items. There is a special need for leather goods such as shoes, purses, and belts, which are shipped in bulk for distribution in Africa, South America, and Asia. This effort has proved to be profitable for ASZ since they are paid BY THE PIECE/POUND for these items. You can help by making a contribution of these and any other clothing and household items.

ASZ works with Primera Iglesia, their local church sponsor, to provide food to hundreds of families each month. Through Grupo Ministerial, they minister to hundreds of individuals with HIV/AIDS, asthma, and other ailments common to our neighborhood. They also help set many young men on a better path hrough Scouting. For several weeks each summer, ASZ and Primera Iglesia sponsor a camp for neighborhood children to keep them safe and occupied during several weeks of the summer.

With the support of generous contributors such as WUMC, ASZ will continue to serve people in the Lower West Side of Buffalo. Please place the items you wish to donate to ASZ in the special collection area located in the narthex coat room. You are also invited to make monetary donations. Please help in whatever way you can.


Habitat for Humanity

WUMC has a dedicated group of participants in Habitat for Humanity projects. On the third Saturday of every month volunteers from WUMC work at a Habitat home site to build affordable housing for residents of Buffalo. Some of us work from morning until noon, while others stay until mid-afternoon.

You do not need any special construction skills or experience since Habitat is a great opportunity to learn a little about how your own house is constructed. One month we may build walls, another month we might put up vinyl siding, and sometimes we paint. Habitat provides all the tools and has people on site who can teach you to do any job. WUMC also has experienced volunteers and we work in teams, so you are never in “over your head.”

Habitat for Humanity homes are built for low income people who otherwise would not be able to afford a house. Future homeowners must put in 500 hours of work on their own house or other Habitat houses. They must also have a steady income and be able to afford a mortgage. The benefit is that by building the house with volunteer labor and donated materials, the actual cost of construction is low, which impacts the cost of the mortgage and makes the house affordable.

If you are interested in learning more about working with other WUMC volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, please leave a message for Ed Howard at the church office and he will contact you. Make Habitat a regular habit on the third Saturday of each month!

Click the "Habitat for Humanity" icon above to read more about the current project our Habitat team is working on.


We helped the children and youth of the Gateway-Longview community by providing numerous Christmas gifts to help fulfill the wishes of 50 of their program participants. Our tree overflowed with presents that made Christmas for these kids a lot nicer than it could ever be without our help, and the help of many other groups throughout the area. Thanks, again, to all those who provided gifts for this program.

Central City Cafe[Serving Meals at the Central City Cafe]

Soup Kitchen at Durham Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church
174 E. Eagle Street (corner of Eagle and Michigan), Buffalo

Since Pastor Richard Stewart began Central City Café in November 1990 in the half-basement of Durham Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, his goal was to “give each person a gift of love wrapped in hope and tied off with a smile.” With generous food donations and monetary contributions, Pastor Stewart and the dedicated staff at Central City Café have fulfilled this mission to feed the hungry – whether they are homeless or among the working poor. Each Monday through Friday, a small staff prepares delicious, nutritious lunches that are served to between 125-175 people. Toward the end of the month when food stamps and welfare checks run low, often 250 or more people are served each day.

The lunches are far more than soup. In fact, a sample meal might include baked haddock, seasoned rice, green beans, bread, a piece of fruit, cookies, and coffee. Unlike other soup kitchens in Buffalo, diners are not limited to one serving. Instead, they can ask for as many refills on everything but the dessert as many times as they want!

Carol Forden and other volunteers at the CafeEach day that meals are served, volunteers from other churches - many of them Methodist congregations from the suburbs but also Lutherans and others - help in the kitchen. In fact, on the third Friday of each month, three volunteers from WUMC work in the soup kitchen from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

The soup kitchen gets some of its food from the local food bank, but much of the operation's support comes from small grants from the city, United Way, and donations from other churches. This combined effort of the staff and volunteers allows Durham Memorial to feed some 40,000 hungry people each year.

In addition to lunches, members and friends of the Durham Memorial church community prepare and serve a complete restaurant-style Thanksgiving dinners to more than 150 people and Christmas dinner to more than 200 people. At the Christmas dinner, each person also receives a gift bag that includes personal care items and usually a piece of winter clothing.
Several years ago, Durham Memorial built a beautiful brick building next to the older church building. This new facility not only houses the soup kitchen, but also includes

  • Child Development Center that provides:
    • Day care
    • Headstart Program
    • After School Programs
    • Tutoring
    • Music Lessons
  • Showers for homeless
  • Information and counseling from organizations such as Legal Aid and the Veterans Administration

I recently spoke with a woman who has volunteered at Central City Café since the day it opened 19 years. When I asked what made her keep going back, she said, “Well, we went to the soup kitchen because there are so many people who don’t have enough to eat. We felt like we were doing a little something to help those who really need it. Of course, there are those who take advantage of the soup kitchen. But the majority of those we watched come in – the grandfather who brought his hungry grandson or the old man in a wheelchair or the homeless man wearing three coats in the summer – made us know it was just the right thing to do. And the way Miss Rose and Johnny Mae can take a can of tomato soup, add a few ingredients, and turn it into a delicious lunch simply amazed us! But truthfully, we mostly did it for ourselves, because each time we went to the soup kitchen, it lightened our hearts and lifted us up higher than we were when we went in. It just made us better people.”

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering at the Central City Café soup kitchen, please contact either Kevin Lyttle or Carol Forden.


Become a Resource Family with Gateway-Longview and Change the Life of a Child

The history of Gateway-Longview's commitment to our community began in 1890 as a Methodist home for children. After 110 years of service, the agency is still growing, with over 22 programs to meet the various needs of children and families. The Gateway-Longview agency strives to support and enhance the development through high-quality services in caring and nurturing environments.

Foster care is the temporary care of children who are awaiting reunification with their family or seeking other permanent options. Currently, there are over 2,000 children in foster care in Erie County. Most children are placed in foster care due to parental abuse or neglect. The need for foster and adoptive parents is rising and Gateway-Longview is looking for families with an open heart and an open home to help meet this need.

Gateway-Longview seeks to provide each foster child with a home-like setting, which they call a Resource Family home. Resource Families may provide short-term and long-term care. Many  Resource Families adopt the children who cannot return to their families. Being a Resource Family means your home is willing and able to meet the child's everyday needs for safety, security and belonging. Gateway-Longview offers ongoing support to foster and adoptive families through training, frequent agency contacts and linkages to community programs.

If you are considering foster care and/or adoption, Gateway-Longview will help you make an informed decision  at your own pace. They deliver comfortable, informal information sessions that will answer your questions, at a time and location that fits your schedule. To learn more about changing the life of children through foster care and/or adoption call 716-633-7266 ext. 1885.