By Shannon Traphagen
This year as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on our lives, individuals throughout our community experienced the need for help and healing. One Western New Yorker who has helped many of these people is Kelly Whitfield, founder of the Healing Hub of Western New York (Healing Hub).
Kelly views Healing Hub as a way to empower the community one person at a time. She says, “My mission is to help heal and break generational cycles of trauma by empowering individuals, from those who are homeless, to those suffering from abuse or addiction. I know what they’re going through, and vividly remember how all I wanted was to be seen, heard, and have hope.”
Adopted as a child, Kelly was abused, and suffered a lifetime of trauma that went unchecked for many years. “It was during a trip to the Adirondacks, around the time the COVID pandemic was becoming an issue, that I had this ah-ha moment,” she said. “I realized that I could take back the power that had been taken from me — and I did. I confronted my adoptive mother, and realized that I can help others do the same.”
What started with Kelly and some volunteers giving out lunches to those in need on Utica Street with affirmations written on the paper bags, turned into dishing out over 300 meals a week, and donating warm blankets and clothing. As the Healing Hub grew, so too did Kelly’s mission. The Healing Hub has expanded to offer domestic violence workshops, youth programs, guitar lessons, art classes, reiki, meditation, yoga, financial education workshops, and transportation for Medicaid recipients. In addition to food and clothing, Healing Hub also provides diapers, furniture, and other donated items. “To me, the Healing Hub is a safe space for people to come and heal,” Kelly says.
Part of what makes the Healing Hub so unique is the relationships it has established with community members who give of their time to offer free services. From holistic healers like reiki masters and yoga instructors, to mental health counselors and financial advisors, so many have donated their time and talents to help the Healing Hub help those in need. Kelly said, “We have also developed great partnerships with places like the Methadone Clinic, VA Lighthouse, Suicide Crisis hotline, Haven House, Save the Michaels, Lion Entertainment, and so many others. The Healing Hub wouldn’t be able to do what it does without the support we have received from organizations and individuals in our community.”
Kelly says she hopes to continue expanding Healing Hub’s services into other regions and states to create little umbrella hubs that cover and protect those in need. She is also hoping to start a food truck service and a hospital truck staffed with volunteer nurses to accompany volunteers serving meals to offer routine check-ups for those who can’t get to a doctor. “Our mission will always be to offer hope, love, and healing — for free,” says Kelly.
The Healing Hub, a non-profit organization located in East Amherst, is always in need of donations. Learn more at www.healinghubny.org or call 716-389-2010 to see how you can help.