$30 million investment is a hands-down win for Children’s Psych Center
The day before they are discharged from the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center, patients can leave a handprint on one of the walls as inspiration to let other patients know that they, too, can get better.
Now that New York State is planning a $30 million investment in the facility, those who fought to keep it in West Seneca are celebrating with more handprints.
“An absolute complete turnaround and recommitment to the facility,” said Dave Chudy, a member of the group formed to save the site. “Who would have believed it?”
The state announced last April the center would remain at the West Seneca location with its sprawling lawns and wooded areas, and would not move into the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. The plan to move the program into several floors of the Strozzi Building at the Buffalo facility first surfaced in 2001. It resurfaced about six years ago, and the state said the savings realized by moving the program
The group meets Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings, and has distributed 316 mats since September 2016.
“It’s a shame we need that many,” she said.
Potter used to help feed the hungry with Buffalo’s Good Neighbors, and she helps out with Code Blue, the emergency weather, food and shelter plan for the homeless.
When volunteers get the bags, they are sorted by color, smoothed out and cut into strips that then are crocheted. The person making the mat decides what color or patterns to use.
There are white, brown and gray bags from Tops Markets, Wegmans and Walmart. Yellow Dollar General bags give a burst of color, too. Department store bags cannot be used for the mats, she said.
The group usually has enough bags, because, well, “those bags, they’re like bunnies; they multiply like you wouldn’t believe,” she said. But sometimes she puts the word out on the group’s Facebook page when supplies are running low.
In addition to helping the less fortunate, Potter likes the environmental aspect of the mission. She said the effort has used close to 400,000 bags, keeping them out of the landfill. Plastic bags cannot be recycled easily. While some stores accept them for recycling, many municipalities do not. They can get caught in the sorting equipment at the recycling facility, slowing down the process.
A small portion of the bags are cut off before the crocheters take over.
The scraps are taken to grocery stores for recycling.
Potter also talks to schoolchildren about the mats.
“It’s teaching them about the homeless situation,” she said. “It’s a very educational thing to enlighten them.”
She tells them it takes about 850 bags to make one mat, and each mat takes about 50 hours to complete.
It’s a labor of love, but it might not be possible if plastic bags are banned. Potter said she does not think efforts to ban the single use bags by Erie County and New York State will be enacted.
“If it happens, it happens,” Potter said.
For information on donating bags, email matsformis[email protected]
“There’s always something you can do to help those less fortunate,” Potter said. “We’re not the City of Good Neighbors for nothing.”
Natalia De la Espriella, and her brother, Nicolas, look on as their father, Sergio, puts his handprint on a buffalo at the Psychiatric Center.
Barbara Hails crochets a mat out of plastic grocery bags. The effort has kept close to 400,000 bags out of the landfill.