Local Boys and Girls Club a recipient of Ford Friendship Express Van

BUFFALO – A Dunkirk nonprofit organization was one of three nonprofits that joined a list of more than 70 groups that have received new Ford passenger vans, compliments of the Western New York Ford Dealers and its Ford Friendship Express program.

Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County, Buffalo City Mission, and Meals on Wheels for Western New York were carefully chosen by the Ford Friendship Express Selection Committee, a small group of local Ford Dealers who review and discuss every application received.

“During a winter with record-cold temperatures we have to pay special attention to the safety of seniors, homeless and youth in our community,” said Scott Bieler, chairman of the Ford Friendship Express Selection Committee. “The organizations we selected this year serve these core groups by providing them with shelter, warm meals and beneficial activities and programs.”

Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County, Buffalo City Mission, and Meals on Wheels for Western New York all received the keys to their new Ford vehicles during the opening day of the 2014 Buffalo Auto Show.

“Our aging van is in need of repairs so we are not able to take our children on any field trips outside the immediate area of our facility,” said Edward J. Hayes, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County. “Our new Ford Friendship Express van will make it much easier for families to let their children participate in club activities that focus on a variety of important developmental and life skills.”

“Meals on Wheels for WNY provides food and friendship to approximately 3,600 homebound seniors and disabled individuals each year,” Tara A. Ellis, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels for WNY, said. “These numbers continue to grow – for example, in January we began service to five additional communities – so we are incredibly grateful to be receiving a new Ford Friendship Express van. It could not have come at a better time.”

Stuart Harper, executive director at Buffalo City Mission added, “Thanks to the WNY Ford Dealers, we will be able to do a much better job transporting our men, women, and children to various appointments around the city such as education, doctor’s appointments, as well as pick up clients coming to the Mission as a result of Code Blue. This would have been a huge expense for us and thanks to the Ford Dealers the money we would have spent on a new van can go directly to services to our clients. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Since its inception in 1996, the Ford Friendship Express program has donated new vehicles to 71 organizations, valued at more than $1.8 million. Last year’s recipients are Buffalo Museum of Science, Cantalician Center for Learning, and The Family Help Center.

“The Ford Friendship Express program is our way of giving back,” said Bieler. “The Western New York Ford Dealers began this program almost 20 years ago with one clear goal – to give deserving organizations reliable transportation so they can safely carry out their mission to serve the community.”

Additional past Ford Friendship Express van recipients include: Schiller Park Community Services, Inc., Franciscan Center, The Bristol Home, Homespace Inc., Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northtowns, Computers for Children, Kids Escaping Drugs, SABAH, Meals on Wheels of Buffalo and Erie County, Friends of the Night People, St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, Camp Good Days & Special Times, Student Union at SUNY at Buffalo, Goodwill Industries of Western New York, Rural Transit Service, American Red Cross, The Buffalo Zoo and many more.

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