For nearly 30 years, Amy Betros has been a ray of light for Buffalo’s less fortunate.

After a life-changing trip to Portugal, she sold her restaurant and bought St. Luke’s Church on Buffalo’s East Side. Along with her friend Norm Paolini, she opened St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy in 1994.

"People thought we were nuts. I remember Norm and I, they would just think, 'these two people are nuts, you think they could do this?' " Betros said. "I think if you trust God and it’s in his plan, you can do anything."

From humble beginnings, the mission has grown to give much to the community around it. It serves 1,400 meals a day, with a food pantry to help folks with groceries. There’s a mall where people can pick up clothes, and a baby room with diapers and formula, all for free.

There’s also a home school for kids up to eighth grade, along with an after-school tutoring and mentoring program. Seventy percent of the graduates go on to college.

With Amy’s guidance, St. Luke’s grew to add homes for women and children, and there are plans in the works to build a place for men.  

The mission operates completely on donations — with no assistance from the government or the Catholic diocese.

"Every day is a new day for me, and every day I live in hope, and hope never disappoints, it says in Romans," Betros said.