The primary mission of CREATE is to confront the issues of homelessness, poverty, chemical abuse and unemployment as they impact Harlem and other communities in New York.
CREATE, Inc., formerly known as "Project Create," was incorporated in the State of New York in March 1974 under the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law to provide:
- medically supervised counseling, informational and referral services to persons who are chemically dependent;
- transitional and temporary housing and support services to persons who are homeless; and
- social services and socialization to persons who are elderly.
In 1973, the organization received a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse through the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to implement a model community-based drug treatment program. In responding to the problems and needs of destitute chemical abusers in the Harlem community and New York City at large, CREATE established a variety of services. It offered and continues to provide health, social services, chemical abuse treatment and rehabilitation services to clients. These rehabilitation services include vocational and career training and placement and transition to independent and productive living.
The background and inspiration for CREATE, Inc. go back to the 1960's, a time of social and spiritual change. Fr. Benedict Taylor, OFM., the founder, was one of the first Franciscan Friars at St. Francis of Assisi Church at midtown 31st Street to reach out and move to meet a growing need in uptown Harlem.
Ralph Perez, a lay worker at the St. Francis Church, joined Fr. Ben in founding and developing the programs and facilities of CREATE, Inc. A lay affiliate member of the Franciscans, Ralph Perez, served as CREATE's Executive Director and CEO, overseeing the continuing growth and development of the organization.
In 1970 the program received funds the Franciscan community to operate an outreach storefront and began the renovation of an abandoned building to be used for treatment and rehabilitation of individuals recovering from chemical dependence and other problems. In 1973, the agency began to receive governmental grants to implement a variety of community-based programs to serve those in need.
Thus with a street corner storefront and a brownstone and the voluntary help of concerned persons, CREATE, Inc. (Chance to Re-Evolve A Total Environment) was born.