By: Todd Geise
Once it became apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic was here to stay for awhile and that it was disproportionately impacting people of color and other minority populations, Open Buffalo’s Executive Director Franchelle Parker put out the call for help. The ask was simple, donate what you could to procure a high volume of masks for the most affected neighborhoods.
Open Buffalo, its board and staff kicked off the fundraising effort and the community followed suit. The heartwarming response yielded contributions from many individuals and from Masten District Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo. The total amount raised allowed Open Buffalo to purchase 2,700 model fabric, two-layer face masks.
On Saturday, May 2, Open Buffalo will be doing a public distribution of masks in one of the hardest hit zip codes in the city, 14215. With the permission of Imperial Markets, located at the intersection of Bailey and Kensington Avenues, organization staff and volunteers will table in the parking lot and individuals will be able to secure a mask, practicing social distancing and while supplies last.
Additionally, masks will be provided to numerous other locations for their subsequent distribution activities, including True Bethel Senior Homes, African Heritage Food Co-op, Edison Street Community Church, and Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Niagara Falls.
Open Buffalo hopes to continue to raise funds and purchase additional masks for future distribution. One thing is certain, however, that in these difficult times when health safety is a top concern, the demonstration of support from the community underscores that we are indeed all in this together.