Linda & Gary Tatu
The History of Harvest House
In 1993, Gary and Linda Tatu sold their home and bought a derelict church in south Buffalo. They moved into the church and set to work fulfilling their call to community service. Our story of service began in South Buffalo, home to many individuals living paycheck to paycheck and on the verge of poverty. Churches in the community were looking for space for retreats and bible study and service groups travelling to Buffalo to provide support services in our poorest neighborhoods, groups like Habitat for Humanity and Youth for Christ, were looking for an affordable place to stay. Harvest House became their home-base. The community began to notice those who were called to service at the Retreat Center and began dropping off children’s clothes in hope the ministry could help families with young children and the Baby & Children’s Ministry was formed.
Ten years into their service, Gary and Linda were asked to expand their ministry. A friend of Gary’s owned a building located on the East Side of Buffalo, the poorest neighborhood in the city. Crime was high and services were few. Child poverty rates were climbing and parents (mostly single mothers, grandparents and caregivers) were often working one or two low wage jobs to make ends meet.
The unemployment rate was three times higher for individuals living on the East Side (19% for African American males living on Buffalo’s East Side). Predictive risk factors for dropping out included teen parenthood, substance abuse, unemployment and crime. Families in our neighborhood had fewer opportunities for gainful employment and were paid less for the job they did have.
The Community came together with the Tatu’s to address the challenges and barriers to job connectivity, economic self-sufficiency and equal access to resources for individuals living in extreme poverty.
Dr. David Holmes, was looking for a location on Buffalo’s East Side to provide free health care and education providers were interested in space to provide adult vocational education opportunities. It was a perfect fit…. Volunteer Medical providers reaching out into the community to help improve the health and fitness of the community and Educators providing a hands-up to help young adults looking for training they needed to secure a living wage job for themselves and their families.
Today, More than 10,000 individuals are served annually through Harvest House’s four programmatic branches, or ministries – The New Hope Education Center, Good Neighbors Health Care, The Baby & Children’s Ministry and The Harvest House Retreat Center.