A Brief History of the Geneva Center of Concern
The Geneva Center of Concern was conceived in 1971 by the Human Development Committee of St. Stephen’s Church. The Committee organized a Christmas program to provide gifts and food to needy families in the Geneva area. Today the Center’s Christmas program, Operation Merry Christmas, remains a key annual program of the Center.
Following the success of the initial Christmas program, and the realization of the severe need to help disadvantaged persons in the area, the Geneva Center of Concern was initiated in 1972. A Board of Directors was formed and By-Laws written. Geneva churches and synagogue were instrumental in organizing donations and support as were individuals and businesses.
The initial location for the Center was the old Armour meat packing building at 30 Lewis Street in Geneva. Once a location was established, numerous donations flowed into the Center. Through these donations, a thrift store was opened, and the income generated from sales supported the costs of operations. An army of dedicated volunteers worked to enhance the impact of the Center, and they continue to do so today.
The overriding goals of the Center have always focused on serving the needy through evolving and expanding programs which are listed on our Home page. As times change and needs grow, the Center has responded.
In 1991 during a renovation project at 30 Lewis Street a fire started, which completely destroyed the facility. Such an event was a setback which could have been much worse for the Center had it not been for assistance from the Geneva community. Initially, the Center was donated space in the former Talmadge Tire company building and this followed shortly after with community member, Vi Welton, donating the building where we now reside at 58 Avenue D, to the organization. It was previously used as the business site for the Welton family. Such community generosity allowed the Center to thrive; following the move to Avenue D, the Center partnered with the Rochester Diocese’s Catholic Charities to form a Food Pantry. The Center took leadership of the Food Pantry in 1993, which today serves approximately 10,000 individuals annually.
However, the Center faced another setback when a brick wall on the west side of the Avenue D building collapsed, making it was necessary to relocate once again. Due to the generosity of the Dobbin family (Will Dobbin was on the Board at that time) the Center was able to acquire a building at 30 Canal Street in Geneva at a price greatly below assessed value where the Center operated from 2001 to early 2003. In 2003 it was necessary to sell the Canal St. building to the City of Geneva so that demolition could make space for downtown revitalization. Proceeds from the sale allowed for payment of the needed structural upgrades and asbestos removal to the Avenue D building. In September of 2003, The Center moved back to 58 Avenue D, where it remains today.
A long history of community generosity, effective financial stewardship and volunteer efforts have allowed for structural upgrades to the building on Avenue D resulting in improved efficiencies and service to the community.
Throughout the Center’s history, volunteerism and community spirit strongly supported each step along the way. The success of the Center and its ability to serve is only possible because of the generosity and dedication of the Geneva community, citizens, churches and businesses.