A total of 55 parish and community volunteers, clergy and lay leaders from 17 local parishes, and staff of Catholic Charities of Buffalo gathered last week for a volunteer training workshop and luncheon to kick off the 2012 Appeal in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.
The event was held at Bohn’s Restaurant in Batavia in preparation for the 88th annual campaign, which carries a goal of $10.6 million this year.
Appeal Week 2012 will take place March 25 through April 1 to celebrate the support of Western New Yorkers who have made a contribution and to encourage those who have not already donated to do so. Although Appeal Week marks the strongest push for donations, volunteers will work to achieve the final goal throughout the coming months until the conclusion of Catholic Charities’ fiscal year on June 30.
Last year, Catholic Charities provided assistance to more than 2,400 people in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties through its programs and services. Catholic Charities’ 70-plus programs rely on the funds raised during the appeal.
At the luncheon, Bishop of Buffalo Edward U. Kmiec said the theme of this year’s drive is “Protect. Strengthen. Empower.”
“The theme articulates how our many programs, services and activities benefit the community, and those who turn to us for help,” Kmiec said. “The theme also magnifies the link between the generosity of our donors and the results of our efforts.”
The bishop was joined by Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, diocesan director of Catholic Charities, who further explained the programs that protect, strengthen and empower individuals and the mission behind the theme, depicted by former clients in this year’s poster images.
“Catholic Charities protects children like Curtis from hunger through basic need programs like our food pantries,” McCarrick said. “We offer nutrition assistance and education to strengthen young families like Stephanie, Bryan and their young son who struggle in today’s challenging economy. We empower and educate teens and adults like Khameela through our GED and job readiness programs.
“When any of us give from our heart, we become a refuge to those who are poor and in distress, and we provide shelter and much-needed relief. Through this response, we empower the people Catholic Charities serves to live healthy, meaningful and productive lives. This is our mission, and when the Appeal is supported, our mission is achievable.”
Reflecting on the importance of donations to the Appeal, Kmiec recalled the words of Pope John Paul II, the patron of Appeal 2012, who said serving the mission of the Church by means of charity is the commitment and responsibility of everyone.
“I am convinced Christian charity, in its fullest expression, is the answer to many of the challenges we face as a region, nation, and global society,” Kmiec said. “As followers of Christ, we are all challenged to serve those who are poor and most vulnerable in our community, and we are all asked to support the work of Catholic Charities here in this Tri-County area and throughout the diocese.”
David Nasca, president and chief executive officer of Evans Bancorp, Inc., and chairperson of the 2012 Appeal, commented on the difficult economic conditions of the region and emphasized the increased need for donations.
“The economy remains stalled and this has impacted thousands of our neighbors," Nasca said. "However, we will not accept these challenges as an excuse. Through the hard work of our staff and volunteers, we are well positioned to attain our goal.
"Together, we will overcome these difficult economic times because it is critical we succeed. We are committed to continuing to provide for the more than 140,000 people Catholic Charities of Buffalo served last year.”
Other members of the 2012 Appeal leadership team include Stephen Ulrich, vice chair and parish and large gifts chair, Anthony Delmonte Jr., corporate gifts chair, and Beth Mattimore, community division chair.
Pam Gefell, Catholic Charities therapist, shared the words of a former client who is very grateful for the help she and her children received following their flight from an abusive home situation. Cheryl* and her children have benefitted from counseling, the Common Sense Parenting Program, an evidence-based program, and the Our Kids: Parent Education and Awareness Program (PEAP) program for separated or divorced parents who experience conflicts with custody issues.
Gefell shared Cheryl’s gratitude: “Progress is being able to look back to see where you started and where you are now. I see a different Cheryl and I see two children who are safe because I made it that way with the help of Catholic Charities.”
Catholic Charities provides these services in the tri-county area: Basic assistance, counseling for individuals, children and families, Domestic Violence Offenders program, Our Kids: PEAP, Interfaith Caregivers of Eastern Wyoming County and Preventive Services for children-at-risk placement outside the home.
In addition, the Home Visitation program offers weekly visits by trained volunteers to homebound Genesee County seniors age 60 years and older for socialization, companionship and assistance. In 2011, its first year of service, the program assisted 64 seniors.
In Batavia, services are provided at 25 Liberty St., Suite 7. Contact number for Batavia is 343-0614.
District director of services for the three counties is Dan Greene, who moved into the position in July 2011. He has been with Catholic Charities for 15 years, most recently serving as a supervisor in Erie County.
Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive direct human service provider serving all eight counties of Western New York, with 70 programs and 61 locations. Founded in 1923, Catholic Charities also provides, without regard to religious affiliation, comprehensive counseling services for children and families, anti-domestic violence programming and emergency services, among other social and mental health services.
For more information on the 2012 Appeal or to make a donation, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to www.ccwny.org.
Check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccbuffalo and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ccbuffalo.
*Name changed for anonymity.