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'Friends of Night People' allowing displaced people a place to turn to for necessities

"The Shelter of Last Resort."
Friends of Night People volunteers
Posted at 5:42 PM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 18:22:18-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Larry Norwood has come to Friends of Night People for the last 20 years.

Friends of Night People client, Larry Norwood said, "[I come] from a dysfunctional family, but from a good family. I struggled with alcohol and addiction, homelessness, depression. I had nowhere to go."

At the time of his initial arrival, he said he had nowhere to get the food he needed to eat and had limited clothing. Through word of mouth, he heard about the social services organization, which has helped him make strides in life.

Norwood said, "I was able to get a meal in the evening. I remember one time I needed some glasses when I started college. They had upstairs, the optical and with clothes and stuff."

Thanks to Friends of Night People, he was able to get on track with his goals to receive his certification in human services, and associate in science at Erie Community College. His goal is to eventually become a drug and mental health counselor.

Norwood is just one of the hundreds of thousands of clients who have walked through doors of Friends of Night People, during its 53-year existence.

"So, right now, we're serving 100 to 150 people per night. Many of those individuals who we're seeing right now is those people who are experiencing homelessness, who need help applying for benefits of public assistance. We're able to do that through our social workers and case workers to help them improve their lives when they're ready," Friends of Night People executive director, Joseph Heary told Pheben Kassahun.

Friends of Night People executive director, Joseph Heary said, each year, about 180,000 meals are served to different individuals.

Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Dinner is served seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"During our meal periods, we have clothing available. We accept clothing donations. We have a huge demand for men's clothing.That's something that we have been trying to gather, over the past couple of months and we had really great surges from the community which was great," Heary said, "We allow people to take showers, use our laundry services, we have lockers where people can store items to make their transition from homelessness to housing, hopefully a bit easier."

The organization helps people who are struggling with homelessness and addiction, giving medical needs and clothing.

"It was an organization that was made to help people who were struggling with addiction and homelessness. Those services have evolved to include people in need of help with hunger, medical issues, clothing. Just helping to reestablish themselves after they've been through the difficult period of homelessness or poverty," Heary said. "We have medical clinics and partnerships with UB and Erie Community College that help people with urgent issues and help people with eye glasses."

Friends of Night People, volunteer, Kathleen Lysek said, "Come in. You'll be very welcomed. Everybody here is very helpful and really wants to meet everybody's needs and wants to help them any way they can."

Lysek has been a volunteer for the organization for six years. She helps with sorting clothes, serving food, etc.

Lysek said, "I do it because I feel like we're called to love our neighbors, and my faith just leads me to want to love on people, and just help wherever I can in the city and I know there's a need here, and I just really enjoy interacting with all the people and working with the volunteers and I love it."

Friends of Night People does not house people or provides overnight stays.

Anyone willing to make a difference in the homeless community can sign up to become a volunteer here.

An online orientation will follow.

Volunteers can also sign up for shifts through the website once registered.

The organization hopes to have about eight to 12 volunteer, each night.

For constant updates on Friends of Night People, follow its social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. The organization can also be reached at (716) 884-5375.

In the Buffalo Strong section of wkbw.com, a list can be found with contact information for more than a dozen organizations in the city looking for volunteers to 'get involved.'