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Buffalo and Erie County St. Vincent de Paul assistance programs.

Providing social services to the low income and poor in Erie County is a focus of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. However financial aid is very limited and most of the resources available focus on food, clothing, and other basic needs. They also offer a program known as Heart To Heart, which is a type of self-sufficiency/growth program. Services are available across Erie County and Buffalo New York.

Back On Track, or Heart to Heart, is a Society of St. Vincent program that will help people experience and gain growth and self-sufficiency. It is available for individuals of all religions, cultures, and backgrounds who live in Erie County. The philosophy of this program is to offer mentoring that can be used to help families and individuals achieve employment, academic, career, financial and even personal goals. This St. Vincent service is offered in partnership with local churches and the local D’Youville College.

Clients of the Back On Track program can access a computer lab, lending library, classroom space, and even a free clothes closet. It will contain items for both men and women, and goods such as work or school clothing that is free of charge. One of the main goals is to help people who would otherwise fall through the cracks of traditional programs and/or government aid. Phone number is (716) 882-3360.

The Society of St. Vincent DePaul Pharmaceutical Access Program is offered to the low income and Erie County residents who do not have proper insurance. It was created in an effort to help those who need prescription medications for a serious illness or disease but can’t afford them on their own. It was discovered by volunteers and others in the community that there is a need for this type of medical service for many people who are in fixed or low income situations, so the resource was created to fulfill that need.

It is a limited program and only operates a few hours per day from their main office. Staff and volunteers from the Society are there to help qualified lower income clients fill out the many needed forms to apply for prescription medications from various patient assistance programs. So the center doesn't actually pass out the medications from their office, but it is a referral type service.

While the terms of each program will change, in general, the pharmaceutical and drug companies require that the applicants meet a number of conditions. This includes they need to have little or no income and can't be covered by any government aid or health insurance plan that covers their prescription drug costs. An intake process will need to occur over the phone.





If St. Vincent determines that you meet the criteria, an appointment will be set up. The applicant will also need to meet with highly trained volunteers in order to fill out the appropriate applications and forms. It then turns into a waiting game until the medications are sent to the Buffalo New York individual.

Clothing, household items and similar basic needs have been met by the St. Vincent de Paul Society going back to the early 1900s. Thousands of children, poor, and low income individuals have benefited.

Most of this assistance is offered from the Buffalo New York St. Vincent de Paul thrift store. It accepts donations and will then provide them to needy families from the county who need help. There is both an on site store and even a warehouse facility in Buffalo. The locations distribute gently used but reconditioned clothing and household items. The items are passed out for free or at a low cost to the those who qualify and/or the general public. The St. Vincent de Paul Store relies heavily on the Society members and friends to stay in business, so please donate or volunteer if you can.

A soup kitchen, dining room, food pantry is open. The center is located at 1298 Main Street and can be reached at 882-3360. Tens of thousands of free, hot meals are served each and every year. The Society will do its best to never turn any person away. There are usually special meals served at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas for that matter.

By Jon McNamara

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