In October 1968 a group of concerned residents, both young and old, met on the vacant lot where the center now stands to discuss increased vandalism, gangs hanging on street corners, and ways to provide recreation for these youth. Under the leadership of the late Fr. Hugh Carmichael, the association became incorporated in May 1969. Its original headquarters was located in a donated storefront at 917 South Park Avenue and was able to exist through the determination of volunteers, fund raising efforts, and small foundation grants.
In 1971, the lobbying efforts of the group were recognized by the completion of what is now known as the Fr. Carmichael Center. The City of Buffalo mandated that the center be operated under the auspices of the Parks Department and staffed by civil service employees. Although its initial mission for erecting a recreational center for area youth was complete, the Valley Community Association, which had grown to become a powerful voice, successfully sought government funding. Erie County Youth Board money enabled the VCA to lease space for its new headquarters at 202 Elk Street, hire staff, and extend programming into Public School #33 and St. Stephen’s School. Under the supervision of its first executive director, David Sengbush, programs included primarily youth activities, such as arts and crafts, a teen center, athletics, and recreation. In the Fall of 1968, at the same time the VCA saw its beginnings, a Teacher Corps Team from Buffalo State College was assigned to Buffalo Public School #33 and began to work in the community. This group, headed by the now deceased Helen Waite, was responsible for publication of a neighborhood newsletter and developed a preschool program known as “Sesame Street”.