Stuart Harper is named President of St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy’s “Build Promise”

Harper brings many years of proven leadership, experience, and knowledge to Build Promise
Stuart Harper, the respected former CEO and Executive Director of Buffalo City Mission is now focusing his efforts on the epicenter of poverty, Buffalo’s East side, as President of Build Promise, Inc. on the campus of St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy.  
“Stuart has a proven ability to serve the poor and homeless and embraces the vision of integrated program partnerships to bring opportunity to where it is needed most,” Betros said. 
After 14 successful years at Buffalo City Mission, Harper continues his service to the poor in Buffalo with this move.  “In a way, I’m not leaving,” Harper said. “I’m taking up a different post in the fight to bring help and opportunity to those who need it.”   
He sees the challenge of fundraising, construction, and administration of Build Promise – with $2.5 million already in-hand for this project and the land appropriation completed—as laudatory.  “It impressed me that there was already a huge momentum established!  I believe this is the perfect opportunity for me to conclude my career on a high note!  I am a builder, and this project has the perfect moniker for a guy like me:  Build Promise!”
“Amy and I are both led by our faith and know that all things are possible through God,” Harper continued.  “I have tremendous admiration for the work St. Luke’s does and Amy is a master at attracting volunteers and through that effort, St. Luke’s has provided for an entire East Side community.  St. Luke’s is the epitome of faith at work!”

The Build Promise Project

The Build Promise Campaign seeks to raise 6.6 million dollars for anew  22,500 square foot Community Access Center for neighbors on the East Side and all of Buffalo, New York as well as provide shelter for homeless men.  Your donation will also support the Build Promise Fund which includes programing and related costs.

 The Build Promise facility will provide a year-round Community Access Center for all people as well as resources for homeless men that will include wrap-around services and a comprehensive emergency shelter location for all of Buffalo in events like Code Blue.  

​The goals of Build Promise will be: safety, health, dignity, resources to end homelessness, a permanent venue option for Code Blue and a way to reach the homeless during outbreaks of communicable disease (e.g., measles or epidemics). ​ 

This multi-purpose community facility on Buffalo’s East Side will:

  • Serve as a year-round AccessCenter for the needy and homeless in our surrounding inner-city neighborhoods.
  • Provide linking services to individuals through partner agencies to government benefits, mental and physical health interventions, job training and education, etc. 
  • Be an option for a permanent Code Blue shelter providing accommodations, food and clothing for 120-170 homeless men when the temperature/wind chill falls to 32-degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Serve as year-round (365 days per year) overnight accommodations for men taking the first step from homelessness
  • Provide unique service for the housing insecure (living in cars or couch surfing) to have access to personal hygiene resources. At our ReFresh Spot, they can shower, do laundry, secure fresh clothing, and use restroom facilities.


Build Promise, Inc.  is a 501(c)3 charity that is located on the East Side of Buffalo which is also the epicenter of poverty and homelessness in Western New York. 

St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy has been working in this area for nearly 30 years and provides 2 meal services Monday through Saturday for an average of 300 people per day (close to 94,000 meals per year)Since COVID, the number of daily meals has skyrocketed to about 1,100 per day and remains at that level even today! A staggering 343,000 meals. 

While investigating effective paths out of poverty, the research showed that the greatest barrier to education, health and resources to leave poverty is: access to programs and services.  

The Build Promise Community Access Center is the solution to closing the gap between underserved people and the resources that exist.  Build Promise has a list of more than twelve partner agencies who will bring effective and established programs and resources to the people on day one.  

Research also showed that the already critical need for shelter services in Erie County has been exacerbated by the closing of 5 shelters over the last eighteen months. 

The need becomes most critical during the Code Blue season when the homeless are in danger of hypothermia or freezing to death.  During the 2017-2018 Code Blue season, St. Luke’s acted as an overnight shelter and averaged 40 men per night for 45 days which provided approximately 1,800 safe beds for the season.  (There were 68 nights at 32-degrees Fahrenheit during the same period of time.)  St. Luke’s has been unable to offer emergency shelter since COVID because the cots would be set  up in the kitchen.  The overwhelming demand for food made it impossible. St. Luke’s continues to care for the Code Blue homeless by providing food to shelter partners at no cost. 

This new 22,0500 square foot facility will be a venue for a unique service to housing insecure. It’s called the ReFresh Spot.  These are people living in cars or couch surfing.  Typically, they are in school or employed.  One of the biggest issues they face is access to personal hygiene like showers and laundry.  If there’s no access to hygiene, these people will be fired or drop out of school because of odor and appearance. The ReFresh Spot will have daily access to showers, laundry and restrooms for non-residents.  

Moving Forward

Recently, the Buffalo Common Council approved a land disposition agreement for 16 parcels of land directly across from St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy for Build Promise, Inc.. With the pro bono assistance of Phillips Lytle, LLP, the land is in hand. Additionally,  Scheid Architectural has donated their services and drawn up the plans for the 21,000 square foot facility. 

Next Steps

The Build Promise fundraising effort launched a $6 million capital campaign.  The new 21,000 square foot facility will feature a programming and wellness area, dining area, 120 semi-private sleeping chambers, showers, locker room and laundry facilities. 

Our partners will provide comprehensive wrap-around services such as links to mental health and social service providers. The space will also have designated space for partner agencies to meet with clients along with areas for educational and medical outreach. 

The Build Promise facility embraces an “integrate, don’t duplicate” strategy to bring existing, effective programs already available through other agencies to an area of need.  This vision has programming, outreach, wellness available on day one.  It supports the efforts of established caregivers to reach underserved populations.