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Hamburg Counseling Center makes appeal to Hamburg Village Board for financial assistance

Former Village Recreation and Parks Supervisor William Nye was honored for his 32 years of service to the department with a proclamation presented by Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon at the Village of Hamburg board meeting Monday, Aug. 20.

Since its founding in 1971, the Hamburg Counseling Services Center, 97 South Buffalo St., Hamburg, has helped thousands of local residents deal with mental health issues.

In today’s tough economic environment, the 503c nonprofit organization is experiencing some serious budgetary issues, which could place those services in jeopardy.

“We are seeing a lot more people coming to us in need of help who either are uninsured, under insured or insured with multi-thousand dollar deductibles,” Director Deborah Felschow said at the Village of Hamburg board meeting Monday (Aug. 20).

“We have 315 active clients, with an unprecedented 48 people on a waiting list and we are operating in the red because we have not received payments for all the services that have been provided.”

According to Pat Castiglia, the former Hamburg Counseling Services board president, the organization had a $82,757 deficit when Felschow was hired last November. Since that time, Felschow has been able to recover between $50,000 to $55,000.

“But we are still in the red,” Castiglia said.

According to Hamburg Mayor Thomas Moses, who is a former board member of the organization, there had been problems for the past two years, but most of those issues had been addressed.

“In some cases, bills for services were not issued and there were some personnel issues,” Moses said.

Another change was that in the past, the towns of Eden and Hamburg had annually budgeted funds for the Hamburg Counseling Services, since residents from both towns use the facility.

“Hamburg stopped giving us funds about six or seven years ago, and I do not know why,” Felschow said. Currently of the 315 clients the organization helps, 209 are from Hamburg (including 47 from the Village of Blasdell and 10 from Lake View).

The Town of Eden has continued to present $2,500 annually to the corporation, which is currently helping 29 residents from the town.

“These numbers fluctuate daily and we are seeing an increased need for our services. Just last week 19 new people came through our doors,” Felschow said.

The organization, which is dependent on funding through insurances and donations, (which have also decreased) is now asking for help from the village.

“Anything you can do for us will be appreciated,” Felschow said.

According to Village Administrator Donald Witkowski, the village needs to have an employee assistance program/coordinator and the Hamburg Counseling Services could possibly fit the bill.

“We are supposed to have a counseling service available for our employees and this may fit our needs,” Witkowski said.

The board will research this possibility and assured Felschow and Castiglia they would get back to them in a timely manner.

In other business at the meeting, the board:

• Heard from Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon, who attended the meeting, that the proposed 45 percent fare increase for trucks on the New York State Thruway could push more truck traffic onto local streets.

“We are hearing that instead of paying the increase, truck operators will be looking for other routes, which will likely increase truck traffic on local streets,” Dixon said.

• Heard the Dancin’ on the Deck fundraiser for Hamburgh Holidays will be held at Mammoser’s on Friday, Aug. 31 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person and are available at Mammoser’s and Main Street Ice Cream.

All proceeds go toward supporting Hamburgh Holidays events and activities and enhancing the Christmas decorations in the village.

• Heard the Theatre Under the Stars will be performing the George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” directed by Tony Baksa, at Memorial Park in the village.

The free performances will be 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 30, Friday, Aug. 31 and Saturday, Sept. 1; and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 2.

• Approved the application for certificate of compliance for building design standards (providing color specifications and shingle choice as recommended by the Architectural Review Committee) for a front porch at 66 S. Buffalo St.

• Agreed to accept delivery and title of one 2013 Chevy Tahoe, purchased by the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department and donated to the village. This will replace the current fire chief vehicle and the older vehicle will be added to the fleet and be used by fire police as needed.

• Heard from Public Works Supervisor Marc Shuttleworth that the Holiday Lane and Brookwood Drive paving projects should be completed this week.

“There are still other projects we are working on and we ask residents to watch out for our workers,” Shuttleworth said.


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