BUFFALO, N.Y., Jan. 28, 2015 - A volunteer training workshop and reception was attended by about 40 parish and community volunteers, local clergy and lay leaders, and staff of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, today to help kick off the 2015 Appeal for Catholic Charities in eastern Niagara County.
The setting was Lockport Canalside Banquet Center in Lockport where volunteers prepared for the 91st annual campaign, which carries a goal of $10.9 million and officially began Jan. 7. Saint Francis of Assisi is the patron saint for the 2015 Appeal.
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.
Contributions from eastern Niagara County donors totaled $304,000 to the 2014 Appeal. Last year, Catholic Charities' services impacted 4,560 individuals in the eastern part of the county and 14,442 individuals across 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; Dana Spinelli, Catholic Charities' Multisystemic Therapy (MST) Program supervisor in Lockport; and Brenda Ludwig, a therapist with Catholic Charities' MST 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.
A Hero of Hope award was presented to Michael Boron, director of St. John's Outreach Center, a ministry of St. John the Baptist Church in Lockport, for his efforts leading the parish's outreach program that provides a pantry, is a designated Red Cross disaster shelter, and involves an active St. Vincent de Paul Society and Social Justice Committee. Boron also has served as Appeal chair for St. John the Baptist Church for three years.
Dana Spinelli, Lockport MST Program supervisor, described the work between Catholic Charities and St. John's Outreach Center serving people in need.
"We work collaboratively," Spinelli said. "Catholic Charities and St. John's Outreach refer to one another so that together we can fill the gaps to meet client needs."
Also, Kathy, who with her daughter was an MST Program client, shared how the program was able to help Kathy regain hope and her teenage daughter. Through her efforts and the guidance of therapist Brenda, Kathy was able to stay motivated and work with the program.
"We learn first how to gain confidence," said Kathy. "Through trial and error, we learn what works best. Then we apply what we've learned directly to the wounds that exist so that the healing process can begin. It's difficult work to be sure. You are taking away a world in which the child is firmly in charge and replacing it with one that has the parent in control."
She added, "When I think of where we were, compared to where we are now, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness and thanks."
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 eastern Niagara County are available at three offices in Lockport, all located within the Bewley Building. These services include basic assistance; counseling for individuals, couples and families; the Monsignor Carr Institute Children's Clinic; MST; and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) federal supplemental 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.