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Niagara Family Center addition will be dedicated at open house

A 4,000-square-foot addition to the Niagara Family Center of Family & Children's Service of Niagara will be dedicated at 5:15 p.m. today during a public open house at the center, 1522 Main St.

The addition brings several collaborative service agencies together at one site, including the American Red Cross, Rivershore Inc., Literacy New York of Buffalo-Niagara, Native American Community Services and Ways to Work Niagara, a program of Child & Family Services.

The Rev. Rex T. Stewart of First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, a member of the board of Family & Children's Service, will dedicate the building addition at Main Street and Linwood Avenue. Public tours will be offered from 5 to 7 p.m.

Jennifer J. Tresch, director of development for Family & Children's Service, said the organization moved to its present location in a former furniture store in April 2010 after having been scattered among several other sites.

The organization then bought two adjoining lots, tore down the dilapidated storefronts that had occupied them and began work on the addition that is being dedicated today. The addition, costing an estimated $1.1 million, was funded by major grants from several charitable foundations and local donations.

With the consolidation of several services under one roof, Family & Children's Service calls its new facilities the Niagara Family Center. Tresch said the agency serves about 2,800 low-income families facing challenges such as mental illness, domestic violence, child abuse and homelessness.

Family & Children's Service of Niagara is a private, nonprofit social services agency. Tresch said volunteers founded it in 1895.

For the first 17 years, it had no headquarters. Then it moved to the 800 block of Chilton Avenue, where the headquarters remained until it was moved to the present location. The staff and its services were spread out among five locations within an area of 10 city blocks until being consolidated at Main and Linwood.

The organization refers to its site as a "One Stop Family Center" and uses the motto "Strengthening Niagara one family at a time."