History of Peaceprints™ of WNY
Peaceprints™ of WNY embodies the collaborative strength of over 40 years of dedicated work by two leading WNY nonprofit prison ministries – Hope of Buffalo, Inc., incorporated in 1985 by the late Sr. Karen Klimczak; and Cephas Attica, Inc., incorporated in 1977.
History of Cephas Attica, Inc
Founded in 1972 following the Attica prison uprising, Cephas Attica focused on the worth and dignity of those in prison. The unfortunate tragedy and loss of life gave birth to a lay movement that responded to the Gospel call to visit those in Prison. Inside Attica, were men who were desperate to change their lives but had no skill with which to do so which led to the development of the Cephas in-prison support groups. Cephas comes from the Aramaic word for Peter, the rock on which Jesus would build his church. Through the support groups, Cephas provided a “rock” on which men and women could rebuild their lives. The Franciscans joined in this work in 1981 and began inviting ex-offenders to live at St. Patrick Friary in 1983. Cephas later offered transitional housing in both Rochester and Buffalo.
History of Hope of Buffalo, Inc
After spending a summer in the early 1980’s working with offenders at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, Sister Karen Klimczak returned to Buffalo eager to help ex-offenders rejoin society.
In 1985, Sr. Karen founded the Home Of Positive Experience, or HOPE House, in an old covenant on Sycamore Street in the City of Buffalo. HOPE House provided transitional housing for men being released from correctional facilities. In 1987, Father Joseph Bissonette, pastor of St. Bartholomew Church located at 335 Grider St, was murdered in his rectory by two men who had knocked on his door seeking help. When the bishop of the Buffalo diocese then merged St. Bartholomew’s with a neighboring parish, Sr. Karen relocated HOPE House to this location and renamed it Bissonette House as a way of paying homage to the slain Father Bissonette. On Good Friday 2006, Sister Karen’s life was tragically cut short.
Sister Karen’s tragic passing in April 2006, sparked the “I Leave Peaceprints” movement in Buffalo and the surrounding areas. The peace dove has become a message that has been carried on with much love and dedication. Hope and Cephas merged on August 28, 2009, under the surviving 501 (c)(3) corporation of Hope of Buffalo, Inc. operating under the assumed name of Peaceprints™ of WNY. Peaceprints™ of WNY continues to provide comprehensive reentry services and be a well-recognized name in Western New York communities.