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Photos: Alexander Relay raises money for education and fire prevention

By Howard B. Owens

A year ago, teacher and volunteer firefighter Jim Burkhardt, a lifelong distance runner, decided to do a community fundraiser.  His plan: run around the track at Alexander Central School for 24 hours.  Between rain and injuries, he didn't quite make it, but the effort is starting to evolve into an annual event.

This year, the community came together to raise money for Dollars for Scholars and the Alexander Volunteer Fire Department.

Instead of just Burkhardt running, the whole community was invited to the track from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. to run or walk was much as each they wanted.

Thirty-seven walkers and runners joined the event this year, from age 2 to age 84.

The event included music, food and door prizes.

Organizers say they're already starting to plan for next year. They might cut down from an all-day event to a half-day event, so more participants will be at the track at the same time.

2010 Appeal for Catholic Charities Raises 97.8 Percent of Goal

By Kevin Manne

Catholic Charities officials have announced that the 2010 Appeal in support of Catholic Charities and the Bishop’s Fund for the Faith achieved 97.8 percent of its goal with a total of $10,272,946.38 collected in cash and pledges. The goal was $10.5 million.

In Genesee County alone, a total of $313,641.11 was raised.

Most Rev. Edward U. Kmiec, bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, thanked the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors who contributed to the effort.

“To the 750 volunteers and the 64,527 donors across the eight counties of Western New York who have selflessly given of themselves since January to support their neighbors in need – thank you,” said Bishop Kmiec. “With your help we are able to continue to provide for children, youth, adults and seniors wherever they live and whenever they are in need.”

The 2010 Appeal has raised an additional $2,177,512.91 since Palm Sunday, March 28.

Catholic Charities Diocesan Director Sister Mary McCarrick expressed her appreciation to all whose lives are touched by the works of Catholic Charities.

“Though the national economy appears to be on an upswing, thousands across Western New York continue to struggle with unemployment,” said Sister Mary. “We greatly appreciate our leadership team, donors, volunteers, clergy and their parish teams, as well as our own staff, all of whom recognize the positive impact Catholic Charities has and the stability it brings to households right in our community.”

Michael “Mick” Whipple, 2010 Appeal chair, expressed his thanks to his fellow Appeal leadership team members.

“For the past several Appeals, the leadership team has been tasked with soliciting contributions and donations during some of the most challenging economic times that our country has been faced with,” said Whipple. “I’m confident that this Appeal wouldn’t have been as successful as it has been if it weren’t for my teammates. The Appeal Leadership Team has volunteered countless hours away from home and worked hard until the very end to ensure that Catholic Charities can continue to meet its mission of service to those in need.”

The 2010 Appeal leadership team also included Williamsville residents Greg Maher, vice chair, and David Nasca, Corporate chair; as well as Snyder resident Stephen Ulrich, Parish and Large Gifts chair, and Buffalo resident Ann Celani, Community chair.

For people in need across Western New York, Catholic Charities is there with assistance for basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter; with counseling and support for victims of domestic violence; and with comfort for those who are lonely. Funds raised through the Appeal allow Catholic Charities to leverage government funding, ensuring the organization’s ability to provide help to those in need.

Donations are collected toward each Appeal through June 30. The goal for the 2010 Appeal of $10.5 million represented a slight increase over the total dollars pledged in 2009. The Appeal was under the patronage of Saint Damien.

Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human service provider serving all of Western New York, with 70 programs at 62 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 visit

Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming County Volunteers Gather to Kick Off 2010 Appeal for Catholic Charities

By Kevin Manne

About 70 parish workers, clergy and volunteers from Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties took part in a luncheon and volunteer training workshop Saturday at Bohn’s Restaurant & Lounge in Batavia. The annual event was held in preparation for the 2010 Appeal for Catholic Charities, which carries a goal of $10.5 million.

Fund-raising events and activities for the annual campaign are already under way. One week in particular – Appeal Week which will take place March 21 through March 28 – is vital to the overall campaign as parishes across Western New York will celebrate those parishioners who have already donated, and encourage those who have not yet donated to consider what they can do. The theme for Appeal 2010 is “Whoever. Whenever. Wherever.” capturing the very essence of the organization’s mission - to serve anyone in need throughout our eight-county region, empowering individuals, children and families to achieve and maintain meaningful, healthy and productive lives.

Catholic Charities serves tens of thousands of people across the eight counties of Western New York each year. Catholic Charities helped more than 3,200 people from Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming counties alone in 2009; through such programs as emergency assistance and advocacy, Our Kids: Parent Education and Awareness Program, Domestic Violence Program for Men, the School Intervention Service program in LeRoy schools, and ProjecTruth.

Bishop Kmiec recognized that the Appeal goal of $10.5 million is an aggressive one, but he reminded attendees at today’s workshop how essential this year’s Appeal is to the Western New Yorkers in need, who depend on Catholic Charities each day.

“Our goal is 10.5 million dollars, down slightly from a year ago, reflecting the challenges we face raising funds in the current Western New York economy while also taking into consideration the ongoing, and great necessity for the programs and services we offer,” he said.

Offices in Batavia, Warsaw, Albion and Arcade provide individual, couples and family counseling, as well as assessment, evaluation, assistance or referral to Catholic Charities or other community programs as appropriate.

The agency also offers other specialized programs in the area, including Our Kids: Parenting Education and Awareness Program for separated, divorced or never married couples experiencing conflict raising their children, and a Domestic Violence Offenders Program, a court-mandated program that holds offenders accountable and works for change to end domestic violence.

Those in attendance heard from a counseling client* who shared her story about how she found herself at Catholic Charities in Batavia after fleeing a domestic violence situation at home.

“I had tried in the past to reach out for help – and when I didn’t find it, I felt trapped,” she said. “So I left home, and found myself living in a safe home that helped me meet my immediate needs. From there, I was referred to Catholic Charities. My counselor Tammy helped me to get back into my career and into a situation at home that is healthy for me and for my children. Catholic Charities is my lifeline for support.”

Also in attendance at the event were Sister Mary McCarrick, interim diocesan director of Catholic Charities; 2010 Appeal Chair Michael “Mick” Whipple; members of the Appeal leadership team; Paul Battaglia, CPA, member of Catholic Charities Board of Trustees, who served as emcee for the luncheon., as well as community volunteers, clergy and lay leaders from the 19 parishes in Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming counties.

Sister McCarrick said, “Catholic Charities is always there for whoever is in need of help …infants, children, the evicted adult and single parent, low-income families; wherever help is needed –– we are in every city in Western New York, and whenever help is needed – in a troubled marriage, with parenting skills or in a basic needs crisis.”

Appeal Chair Mick Whipple recognized and thanked the volunteers in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties who have once again pledged their time and commitment to the Appeal.

He went on to tout the efficiency of Catholic Charities and how each donation will help.

“Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of donations – fund-raising costs are very low, at about seven percent, administrative costs are just 11 percent,” said Whipple. “Share the story you heard today – the success story – with people you come across so they know that when they donate to this organization, change happens.”

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.

The goal for the 2010 Appeal is $10.5 million and is under the patronage of Saint Damien.

For more information on the 2010 Appeal or to make a donation, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to

*Client wished to remain anonymous.

Masons begin effort to contribute to local charities

By Howard B. Owens

Last week, the Batavia Masons presented Paul and Bridget Ohlson with a $500 check to support their Cara-A-Van Ministries.

"We were proud to be able to make a small contribution to such a worthy cause," said Jim Rosenbeck (handing the check to Paul), Master of Lodge #475 of the Free and Accepted Masons. 

"Our lodge has decided to begin regularly identifying worthy causes within the community to financially support," Rosenbeck added. "With membership in all community service organizations dwindling, we feel that this is one way that we can help make a difference in Batavia."

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