Groundbreaking held for site that will house teams
who strive to reduce the cancer burden in Buffalo and beyond
- Construction underway to preserve and expand historic Fruit Belt home
- State allocation supports outreach services designed to improve health equity
- 3,100-sq.-ft. building will include offices, meeting spaces, garden and more
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is proud to break ground on a new Community Outreach & Engagement Building at 907 Michigan Avenue in Buffalo. The project, which includes preservation of a home in Buffalo’s historic Fruit Belt neighborhood, will be the new home for the cancer center’s extensive Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) team.
Located adjacent to the Roswell Park campus, the half-acre site is part of the Fruit Belt neighborhood and African American Heritage Corridor. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul as well as the State Senate and Assembly worked to secure funding for this project in their budgets with several community stakeholders playing an important role in the preservation, design elements and function of the building.
“I congratulate and thank Roswell Park and its leadership team for saving a historic building in the Fruit Belt community. The renovation and expansion of 907 Michigan will benefit Roswell patients, staff, support groups and the surrounding community. I anticipate that there will be high demand and regular activity once this space comes online,” says New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.
Western New York-based Young + Wright Architectural was picked to fulfill the vision for the half-acre site. Combining historical with modern, the space includes an original home built in 1878 that design teams are in the process of restoring to recreate its original appearance, as well as a glass and wood-framed structure that mirrors the scale of the house. Once complete, the 3100 square-foot home will hold office space for Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) team members as well as a conference room plus outdoor garden and plaza that can be utilized by Roswell Park support groups, block clubs, social support organizations and more.
“We are bringing Roswell Park-led support and programming directly to the doorstep of our neighbors in the Fruit Belt and beyond,” says Candace S. Johnson, PhD, President & CEO and M&T Presidential Chair in Leadership at Roswell Park. “This building is an important part of our mission to connect Roswell Park with the communities we serve.”
The COE team at Roswell Park looks to advance the understanding of health disparities and create community-based services and educational programs tailored to meet the needs of these populations. Over the last 5 years, they’ve reached over 49,000 community members through evidence-based efforts. Currently, the team does not have a centralized or easily reached location, with its offices spread across Roswell Park’s main campus. This new building allows for the team to be under one roof and expand its programming to offer neighbors and the broader community a hub for wellness and cancer education.
“We are a large, united group who are all about benefitting our community by reaching farther through collaboration,” says Elizabeth Bouchard, PhD, Senior Vice President and Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement. “This beautiful new facility helps us have a more visible presence in the community so potential partners know we are here to work for and with them.”
In addition, the new building gives staff the ability to offer drop-in hours. With a dedicated parking lot off Virginia Street, visitors can take a cancer risk assessment, sign up for screenings or enroll in community-based cancer prevention studies. This is on top of ongoing outreach that includes early detection and screening through The Witness Project and Esperanza y Vida as well as clinic-based navigation in partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers.
“It’s all about access,” explains Nikia Clark, Senior Community Outreach and Engagement Manager at Roswell Park. “We are meeting people right in their backyard in a comfortable and welcoming environment that will be a true home for our programs and for everyone who comes to visit us in this space.”
“Roswell Park continues to serve as an international beacon of hope for so many families, providing top notch, compassionate care at every level. The Center’s outreach staff are deeply committed to bridging health disparities within our community, and they do so in part by being directly in our community – answering questions, bringing screenings into neighborhoods, and providing education on wellness and access to quality care,” says New York State Senator Tim Kennedy. “With this groundbreaking, we’re finally providing a ‘home base’ for this engagement team, and one that will serve as a shared footprint right in the heart of the Fruit Belt. I’ve been thrilled to support this project, and I look forward to the collaboration that will continue to unfold in this new space.”
Roswell Park gratefully acknowledges the support of donors for making this project possible.
Construction is ongoing on the site and is expected to be completed in 2023.