About 40 parish and community volunteers, local clergy and lay leaders, and staff of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, gathered today for a volunteer training workshop and luncheon to help kick off the 2015 Appeal for Catholic Charities in Western Niagara County
Working under the theme "Find Good Within," Appeal volunteers from Niagara County will begin reaching out to individuals and businesses in the community to encourage their support of the 2015 Appeal, which helps fund Catholic Charities' 70 myriad programs across 61 sites in Western New York along with a number of ministries through the Bishop's Fund for the Faith.
Donors from Niagara County contributed $682,000 to the 2014 Appeal. Last year, Catholic Charities' services impacted 14,442 individuals in Niagara County.
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.
Among the speakers at the event were the Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo; Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, Catholic Charities diocesan director; Kathleen Hall, Catholic Charities Niagara County director; and Nicole Bell, a therapist with Catholic Charities' Multisystemic Therapy Program.
Members of the Appeal leadership team presented information about the 2015 Appeal, including what has changed, how to run a successful parish campaign and ideas for gaining new donors while also retaining previous supporters.
Hero of Hope awards were presented to Kevin Blair, Social Work professor at Niagara University, and Dave Taylor, Criminal Justice associate professor at Niagara University, who volunteered their time recently to organize and conduct focus groups, as well as compile the results, to assess consumer perceptions regarding the effectiveness of Catholic Charities' services in Niagara County.
Also, Lucy, a mother of three, shared a personal story about how Catholic Charities' Multisystemic Therapy Program was able to help her teenage daughter focus and become more organized in school. With the guidance of her therapist Nicole, Lucy's daughter was able to establish tactics to help her learn and even voluntarily enrolled in summer school to improve her grades.
"She has learned how to deal with certain situations and is able to prioritize," explained Lucy. "She has gone nowhere but up."
In his third Appeal as bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, Bishop Malone thanked the volunteers and explained the 2015 campaign theme.
"This year's theme is about setting aside our preconceived notions, opening our hearts, and looking inside ourselves 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 the circumstances.
"Catholic Charities helps create and spread the good in our community through vital services that helped to impact the lives of more than 142,000 Western New Yorkers in need, Catholics and non-Catholics alike," Bishop Malone explained.
Bishop Malone was joined by Sister Mary McCarrick, who provided an overview of how Catholic Charities' programs impact the people they serve and underlined the importance of donations of any size.
"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.
"Thank you for joining the hundreds of volunteers who support the Appeal to make our community better. Your generosity, expressed through your faithful gifts of time and donations to the Appeal, truly make a difference. Your work and your gifts energize our passion and compassion for our work," Sister Mary added.
Sister Mary also introduced Jake and Katie Schneider, the 2015 Appeal chair couple, who expressed confidence in achieving this year's Appeal goal.
"Factors like a struggling economy, a 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 St. Francis of Assisi, our patron saint, we will once again succeed in meeting our Appeal 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. A gift to Catholic Charities is a gift to our own neighbors who are seeking help for a better life."
The 2015 Appeal volunteer leadership team includes 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.
Reflecting on the importance of donations to the annual 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."
A wide range of services in Western Niagara County are available at four offices in Niagara Falls, two in North Tonawanda and one in Lewiston. These services include basic assistance; counseling for individuals, couples and families; the Monsignor Carr Institute Children's Clinic; Multi-Systemic Therapy; and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program.
Catholic Charities has helped individuals and families in need since its founding in 1923. The need is varied and widespread - from emergency assistance to counseling - and from specialized services for the elderly to help with job training and education.
As the most comprehensive human service provider serving 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, it attained the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives 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 ccwny.org. You can also check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at facebook.com/ccbuffalo and on Twitter at twitter.com/ccbuffalo.