May 14, 2024
Albany, NY

On the Two-Year Anniversary of Tops Shooting, Governor Hochul Highlights Resources to Address Trauma and Mental Well-Being in East Buffalo

On the Two-Year Anniversary of Tops Shooting, Governor Hochul Highlights Resources to Address Trauma and Mental Well-Being in East Buffalo

‘Reimagine: I am the Change’ Mental Health Initiative Helps East Buffalo Address Trauma and Emotional Wellness Following Tops Supermarket Mass Shooting

Governor Highlights Community Impact of Federal Grants Creating Network of Community Supports and Grassroots Initiatives

Directs Flags To Be Flown Concurrently at Half-Staff; State Landmarks To Be Lit Orange on Tuesday, May 14

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced progress made by the grassroots, community-driven initiatives established to address trauma, mental health, and emotional wellness in the East Buffalo community following the racially motivated shooting at the Tops supermarket on May 14, 2022. Funded through a pair of federal grants, the ‘Reimagine: I am the Change’ initiative has created a network of community supports, including several grassroots wellness initiatives; a mobile Black mental health outreach and response team; and a training initiative to expand the number of community members equipped to offer emotional support and psychological first aid in East Buffalo. Governor Hochul also directed flags on all state buildings to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset in honor of the victims, concurrent with the half-staff order already in place in honor of New York State Thruway Authority employee Vincent “Vinny” Giammarva. At the Governor’s direction, state landmarks will be lit in orange on Tuesday, May 14 across New York State.

“On the two-year anniversary of the horrific attack at Tops, our commitment to supporting East Buffalo remains as steadfast as ever,” Governor Hochul said. “The projects and initiatives launched as part of ‘Reimagine: I am the Change’ are addressing gaps in services and promoting resilience to counter the systemic inequities and race-based traumatic stress that have negatively impacted this community for decades.”

Administered by the State Office of Mental Health, the ‘Reimagine: I am the Change’ initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which provided a $2.35 million Emergency Response grant, or SERG award, and a $4 million Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma, or ReCAST award. These awards were made in direct response to the racially motivated shooting at Tops Market in East Buffalo that claimed the lives of 10 individuals – all of them Black.

Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “These projects and initiatives – each developed with direct input from the East Buffalo community – are tailored to the specific and unique mental health needs of this community. While nothing can erase the pain and suffering inflicted by this tragedy, the outcome of these grants will be a stronger, more resilient community.”

SERG funded the Black Mental Health Response Team, which is staffed by a dedicated team of clinicians and other mental health staff to provide rapid access to professional, culturally appropriate mental health outreach, engagement, and clinical support. Established in October 2022 and operated by BestSelf Behavioral Health, the Black Mental Health Response Team has received more than 136 community referrals, provided treatment to 212 individuals and engaged nearly 1,000 others with their services.

This grant also established the Reimagine Non-Traditional Wellness Fund, which provides support for community-based interventions that promote mental wellness and healing through Black traditions and culture. Awards through this fund have aided six community-based projects that have provided outreach in the community.

Community providers and their projects funded through this grant include:

  • Cultrue, Inc., the New Masters: Healing Buffalo through the Arts - Workshops centered in arts-based therapy, using creative and expressive arts practices to promote emotional wellness and healing.
  • Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Healing Together - A project aimed at engaging various community stakeholders, including establishing community ‘wellness champions’ from local churches to serve as points of contact with their ministry and the community it serves.
  • Community Health Center of Buffalo, Arts that Heal - An arts-based emotional wellness program for individuals in the community 55 and older.
  • Pappy Martin Legacy Jazz Collaborative, Celestial Jazz Series - An accessible program that creates opportunities for diverse, inclusive and community engagement through jazz, which is presented as a tool to unite, uplift, and achieve mental wellness.
  • Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center, Student Mental Health Internship Program - A recruitment program aimed at enrolling black, indigenous and people of color into mental health care careers.
  • Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network, Inc., Mental Health and Wellness for Boys and Men Initiative - A community-based intervention and partnership that fills the gap in services for men, fathers, sons, and boys and young men of color in East Buffalo including mental health talks at barbershops throughout East Buffalo.

The funding is also establishing a psychological first aid training program aimed at creating a local, community-based resource of individuals to provide this support in a manner that is knowledgeable and culturally-representative of the East Side community. So far, nearly 170 individuals have been trained.

The ReCAST grant is supporting a coalition of diverse community stakeholders to develop programming that is recovery-oriented, trauma-informed, and equity-based behavioral health and wellness. This funding has enabled a partnership between University Psychiatric Practice, SayYes Buffalo and the Buffalo Public Schools to provide clinical supports for students struggling with community trauma and training for educators.

The funding is also establishing non-traditional mental wellness programs generated by the East Buffalo community, including arts-based therapies and coordination with local houses of worship and spiritual-based healing. In addition, this award is providing funding to the Black Mental Health Response Team through BestSelf Behavioral Health.

Lighting of Landmarks

The landmarks to be lit in honor of the victims of the Tops Supermarket Shooting on May 14 include:

  • One World Trade Center
  • Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
  • Kosciuszko Bridge
  • The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building
  • State Education Building
  • Alfred E. Smith State Office Building
  • Empire State Plaza
  • State Fairgrounds – Main Gate & Expo Center
  • Niagara Falls
  • Grand Central Terminal – Pershing Square Viaduct
  • Albany International Airport Gateway
  • MTA LIRR – East End Gateway at Penn Station
  • Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal
  • Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640


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