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Buffalo Strong: Johnnie B Wiley stadium becomes focal point for crisis services for healthy healing

Mental Health Counseling Clinic times
Posted at 6:38 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 16:10:49-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The healing process following Saturday's events will be long for so many people.

This is true even, for those who were not at the Tops Supermarket over the weekend.

As the Buffalo community grieves the 10 lives lost to Saturday's senseless attack, Johnnie B Wiley has become the central location for people to develop coping strategies.

Buffalo Urban League program coordinator, Melissa Spikes-Archer said, "Just giving yourself the grace to mourn and feel whatever it is to process this tragic incident because in the days and weeks and months to come, it is going to become more challenging. There's going to be emotions you didn't even know you had."

Mental health professionals, both clinical and non-clinical will be on hand from 1-9 p.m., through May 27, for families and residents impacted by this weekend's mass shooting.

A helpline for a crisis counselor through NY Project Hope can also be reached at (716) 250-2478.

Buffalo Urban League team leader, Aleshia Transou explained, "We want to first see if they want to talk about it. It starts with a conversation. We want to see if they're readily available. We have counselors on staff who look like them. So, that's important, within the community."

"A lot of people possibly view as counseling as if it's long term. A lot of people talk to a counselor or therapist within three to six visits. A lot of times, it is something that you can benefit from in a very short period of time," Spectrum Human Services Crisis Center project director, Toni Steinbarth said.

People who prefer faith-based over a mental health specialist will have this resource on-hand too.

There's no timeline and there's no road-map to how we grieve. Give yourself that grace as a human being and as a parent. I also say don't make any rash decisions and doing a lot of self-care. Taking care of yourself, checking in. Talking to people," Spikes-Archer added.

Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals member and social worker, Jasmine Westbrook said, "I'm really glad to hear that all these different organizations are out to provide that counseling. This is definitely needed. You did not have to be there to feel the trauma."

The collaborative effort includes Buffalo Urban League, Best Self Health, Spectrum Health, Erie County Department of Mental Health, Endeavor Health of Western New York and Crisis Services who are all working together to help Buffalo heal, in a healthy way.

"We don't want to stay in that space forever. We as people, we do heal and move on but right now, we are in a space of hurting and pain," BestSelf Behavioral Health chief operating officer, Kelly Dumas said. "Not everyone will want traditional counseling and we get that. This is a spaced for some people to come cry. Come sit."

It is free to use and anonymous.

"They just sign in and they don't even have to give us the name. We are asking them do a sign-in sheet just so we know the numbers that are coming in. We have some people just marking with an 'X', just so we know that they are here and that's all," Crisis Services program manager, Jennifer Wilczewski said.

They just hope the Buffalo community is aware that we are stronger together.

Endeavor Health Services program manager, Jenna Colern said, "We don't want people to feel isolated. We want people to be around the people that it has affected and this is a central location. We want people to feel comfortable. That's what this is."

Services will continue off-campus.

The Buffalo Urban League now has a satellite site at 317 Glenwood Ave., in Buffalo. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 7p.m., Monday through Sunday.

It will be staffed with crisis counselors and will represent seven different languages and cultures.

The Crisis Services 24-hour helpline can be reached at 716-834-3131.