Throughout February, WNED|WBFO is recognizing everyday citizens of Western New York who are doing amazing things in their communities. Our “Making a Difference” project emphasizes the importance of volunteerism and encourages others to lend a helping hand. Here is the story of a community champion who is making a difference.
Amy Betros runs Saint Luke’s Mission of Mercy, which provides basic needs to the community on the east side of Buffalo.
“I have this kind of philosophy that I don’t care who you are,” said Betros. “Everybody deserves food in their stomach, clothes on their back and a place to live.”
Every day, missionaries and volunteers at Saint Luke’s feed up to 700 people under Betros’ direction.
“Today we’re going to do what we call wrap and go for lunch, and they’re getting ready for dinner,” Betros explained as she prepared for the meal.
Saint Luke’s clients aren’t necessarily homeless or unemployed. Betros said they serve a growing number of people referred to as the working poor who struggle to make ends meet.
Upstairs from the kitchen, Betros showed off the mission mall, where people can shop for clothing and household items for free.
“Isn’t that pretty? I think that’s a shirt,” said Amy as she helped a woman look through clothing.
“The whole idea is to make people feel good about themselves,” noted Betros. “It’s not like you rummage through clothes. You come, and it’s like a department store.”
Betros has touched thousands of lives over the years at Saint Luke’s.
Twenty-one years ago, “Mickey” was pregnant, homeless and addicted to drugs when she began her journey with Saint Luke’s.
“No matter what I did during my active addiction, she just constantly gave me hope, uplifting, and made me feel better about myself,” said Mickey as she described Betros’ efforts to support her.
Mickey’s daughter, Sydney, is now grown up.
“I think she really is an angel,” said Sydney of Betros.
A full generation later, Betros’ vision for the future of Saint Luke’s includes Gospa Village, homes for women and children in need.
Shontay and her children recently moved in to one of the homes. Her husband, Omar, will live and work at the mission until they can afford a place of their own.
“We are really a part of the mission now,” said Shontay. “We’re going to make sure that we extend everything that we’ve learned, which is love, that’s the thing that was, that we were taught.
“It’s a tough transition but, you know, some things, you got to go through something to get somewhere,” said Omar. “Grandma Amy and St. Luke’s has been like our foundation for the last couple of years. You know, they’ve done so much for me and my family.”
While Betros’ work is clearly making a difference, she remains humble about her role.
“God has a plan for everybody. Mine was this,” said Betros. “You know, it’s not for everybody, but God has a plan for everybody. I always ask people, ask God, pray that you have the grace when he knocks on the door that you answer, for whatever he’s asking you to do.
Listen to WBFO throughout February for more stories of people who are Making a Difference in Western New York.
Watch the Making a Difference TV documentary on WNED-TV:
Wednesday, February 3rd @ 9:00pm
Saturday, February 6th @ 10:30pm
Sunday, February 7th @ 5:00pm
Tuesday, February 16th @ 7:30pm
You can also find out more online at wned.org/makingadifference.