Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $3,889,303)
On May 14, 2022, in the city of Buffalo, NY, a mass shooting occurred killing 10 people and physically injuring 3 others. The majority of those killed and injured were African Americans. The Erie County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York are jointly prosecuting this case and are therefore sharing the lead in the victim component of the response to the shooting. The DA’s Office took the early lead and is using New York State’s (NYS) Office for Victim Services (OVS) definition of victims and has determined that all people who were present in the TOPS grocery store at the time of the shooting will be considered a victim of this crime. This includes the 3 injured victims and 94 individuals who were present inside the store or in the parking lot but not physically injured (PNI), as well as the families of the deceased, injured, and PNIs.
The AEAP grant will include people who were present in a 1-block radius of the grocery store at the time of the shooting as indirect victims due to proximity to the sights and sounds of the incident and those fleeing the scene. AEAP will include the employees of the TOPS Jefferson Avenue store who were assigned to that store but were not present that day as indirect victims, due to the interactions they will have on a daily basis with those employees who were present.Responders to the incident, including traditional first responders (police, dispatch, EMS) and non-traditional responders who worked with direct and indirect victims at response locations such as the Family Assistance Center (FAC) at the Resource Council of Western New York (RCWNY), the Johnnie B Wiley Center, and the Merriweather Library have been identified as indirect victims and will also be eligible for services at the Buffalo United Resiliency Center (BURC).
The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. (CHCB) is a five site, multi-service organization under the leadership of Dr LaVonne Ansari who acts as the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director. Using social determinants of health and coordinated care service schematics as her guide, Dr. Ansari has added programming and developed partnerships that address issues such as prevention and wellness, re-entry, chronic disease management and mental health education, physical therapy, HIV/Aids counseling and care, grief counseling, and telemedicine. On 5/14/2022, CHCB stepped up immediately to care for their patients to meet their incident-specific specific needs. Many identified victims have been patients of the clinics for years and relied on their established relationships and caregivers to assist with their reactions. The CHCB was selected at this point to receive the AEAP grant due to its work in the community, connections to the neighborhood, and ability to provide the services needed for the victims of 5/14. The CHCB was specifically selected because of the trust community partners placed in the Executive Director of the CHCB and the culturally appropriate leadership and programming available at CHCB.
NYS is providing funding to the Buffalo Urban League (BUL) for work with community members and victims within the identified 1-block radius of the grocery store. They will work in collaboration with CHCB and the Steering Committee to avoid duplication of services and ensure that the needs of the community-at-large are adequately met. In addition to serving direct and indirect victims (deceased, injured and PNI), CHCB will maintain a “no wrong door” policy for those victims within the 1-block radius and serve them if they are either current patients or they express a comfort level with CHCB. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CHCB and BUL will clearly identify the tasks and responsibilities of each agency. Further, CHCB and the BUL will use the same victim tracking database to ensure victims are not receiving duplicative services.
CHCB will be the recipient of the AEAP grant, with BestSelf as a subgrantee. CHCB will oversee the operations of the BURC which will be located at 1001 East Delavan St in Buffalo, with program staff overseeing victim advocacy and victim compensation claims. The BURC will provide a centralized place for victims to have their needs identified and be supported to efficiently access services. The BURC will proactively support and respond to victims who often experience reactions to shootings in response to significant anniversaries or events, such as the one Year Mark, events within the community that increase stress and awareness of the passage of time (graduations, holidays, festivals), and incidents that occur around the world that trigger reactions for victims. Programming and linkage to services will need to take into account this potential increase in stress and trauma by dealing with multiple challenges at the same time and remaining flexible.