The Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, today announced a $10.9 million goal for the 2015 Appeal in support of Catholic Charities of Buffalo. Bishop Malone made the announcement at a kick-off event held at Catholic Charities' A Gathering Place, a daily social program for adults 60 years of age and older, 128 Wilson St., Buffalo. The theme for the 2015 Appeal is "Find Good Within" and the patron saint of the 91st annual Appeal is St. Francis of Assisi.
The Appeal helps fund Catholic Charities' 70 programs across 61 sites in the eight counties of Western New York along with Bishop's Fund for the Faith.
"This year's theme is about setting aside our preconceived notions, opening our hearts and looking inside ourselves, and others to find the good within," said Bishop Malone. "It's easy to look at the world in which we live and see the bad, the need; where we fall short. Sometimes, it's harder to find the good. At Catholic Charities, we believe there is abundant good in the world, and in each one of us, regardless of our circumstances.
"Catholic Charities helps create and spread the good in our community through vital services that help more than 142,000 of our neighbors in need, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, throughout Western New York," Bishop Malone explained.
Two important dates during the 2015 Appeal include First Report Sunday on March 22 and the culmination of Appeal Week on Palm Sunday, March 29. Although Appeal Week marks the strongest push for parish donations, volunteers will work to achieve the final goal until the conclusion of Catholic Charities' fiscal year on June 30 if necessary.
Dennis Walczyk, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities, said A Gathering Place is one of several Catholic Charities' programs to assist older adults, including the Foster Grandparent Program, a volunteer opportunity for individuals ages 55 and above to work with children with special needs; Project HOPE (Helping Older People Excel), which works to keep older adults with a mental health diagnosis independent in their home through linkage, referral and advocacy; and Comprehensive Care, an intensive case management program to help seniors remain and thrive in their homes.
"A Gathering Place is a defining program of our older adult services in the social model program's efforts to not only provide a supervised environment where dozens of seniors can interact with peers, but also to offer relief to caregivers," said Walczyk. "As a whole, our services support older adults in their need for safety, socialization, independence and the ability to remain in their familiar home and community, and to support caregivers, that is, their loved ones, through respite and education.
"The increased demand for the social model program as more caregivers discover its benefits, leads us to an exciting announcement today that we anticipate an early 2015 opening of a second location for A Gathering Place, in our Amherst office on the campus of St. Benedict Parish on Main Street. The site will serve about 40 participants and expands our geographic reach to older adults in northern Erie County," Walczyk added.
Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, diocesan director of Catholic Charities, said the incredible generosity among the people of Western New York allows the organization to serve more than 142,000 Western New Yorkers each year.
"At Catholic Charities we commit ourselves to reaching out to those who are poor and most vulnerable as that is our mission," said Sister Mary. "Sometimes they need food or medicine, sometimes counseling or education. Always they need friendship and peace. This work is sweet to us, but it is possible only because of the generosity of our Western New York community, individuals and businesses alike.
"Please join the tens of thousands of donors who support the Appeal in an effort to make our community better. Your generosity, expressed year after year through your faithful gifts to the Appeal, truly make a difference. They also energize our passion and compassion for our work."
Bishop Malone, preparing for his third Appeal as bishop of Buffalo, and Sister Mary appointed Jake and Katie Schneider as chairs of the 2015 Appeal.
The 2015 Appeal volunteer leadership team will also include Nicholas and Nicole Tzetzo, vice chairs; Kellie Ulrich, community division chair; Jim and Mary Beth Basil, and John and Suzanne Berger, corporate co-chairs; and Rick Cronin, who will again serve as parish chair.
While acknowledging the challenge of the local economy, Jake and Katie Schneider also expressed confidence in achieving the Appeal goal this year.
"Factors like a struggling economy, shrinking donor base and an increased need for services are all challenges this Appeal has faced, and this year is no different," said Jake Schneider. "We are confident that under the leadership of Bishop Malone, and through the support of volunteers, donors, staff and our Patron Saint St. Francis of Assisi, we will once again succeed in meeting our goal."
Katie Schneider added, "As the theme this year states, to see the good, or God, within each of us, we may need to open our eyes and hearts in a new way," said Katie Schneider. "A gift to Catholic Charities is a gift to our own neighbors who are seeking help for a better life."
Catholic Charities has helped individuals and families in need since its founding in 1923. That need is varied and widespread - from emergency assistance to counseling - and from specialized services for the elderly to help with job training and education.
Reflecting on the importance of donations to the Appeal, Bishop Malone recalled the life and words of St. Francis of Assisi, who said, "It is in giving that we receive," and the encouragement of Pope Francis to "Take care of God's creation...and above all, to take care of people in need."
Bishop Malone added, "Your generosity in serving our brothers and sisters in need through the Catholic Charities Appeal, and helping to find the good within our community is a concrete response to God's commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself."
As the most comprehensive human service provider in Western New York, Catholic Charities makes a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assess its clients for other needs to ensure long-term success.
Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions it receives. For five years, Catholic Charities attained the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives the highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service.
To make a donation or learn more about Appeal 2015, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to www.ccwny.org. You can also check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccbuffalo and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ccbuffalo.