Completion of a two-year expansion project was celebrated Tuesday on the campus of Sisters Hospital in Buffalo, the home of the busiest WIC office among 15 in Erie and Niagara Counties.
A federally-funded program, WIC (Women, Infants and Children) has been managed in Erie County by Catholic Charities since 2009.
"2009 seems like a long time ago now," said Catholic Charities Chief Operating Officer Tish Brady. "That was the day that our staff first walked into this building, and one of the things that we noticed right away was, wow, we were going to be bursting at the seams, very, very soon."
Local WIC staff welcomed guests to a reception to show their expanded space and celebrate completion of the project. It is an office where officials estimate they receive more than 100 visitors daily.
“This serves at least 2,200 (per month) and is known as one of the biggest WIC sites in the area with over 150 moms coming in every day,” said Aimee Gomlak, Vice President of Women’s Services for the Catholic Health System. “You can get your checks right here. They print them for you, and provide supportive services.”
The celebration concluded with a blessing by three members of the clergy, the Reverend Pearl Outlaw and Father Richard Zajac - both of whom are chaplains at Sisters Hospital - and Bishop Richard Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Malone suggested WIC is an ideal example of his church’s mission.
“I think it’s a beautiful manifestation of the integration of those elements: pro-life, pro-family and pro-poor,” the bishop said in his remarks.
Officials also praise the convenience of having a WIC office located on the same grounds of one of the city’s busiest hospitals for childbirth. One official suggested it’s the busiest hospital for delivering babies west of Syracuse.