BUFFALO, N.Y., Jan. 23, 2016 - Nearly 50 parish and community volunteers, local clergy and lay leaders, and staff of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, gathered Saturday for a volunteer training workshop and luncheon to help kick off the 2016 Appeal for Catholic Charities in western Niagara County.
The event was held at Antonio's Restaurant and Banquet Center in Niagara Falls in preparation for the 92nd annual campaign, which carries a goal of $11 million and officially began Jan. 6. The patron saint for the 2016 Appeal is St. Nicholas.
During the luncheon, the principal of a local Catholic high school was honored with a "Hero of Hope" award and a client spoke about her positive experience receiving counseling and emergency financial assistance services.
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 2016 Appeal, which helps fund Catholic Charities' 70 myriad programs and services across 61 sites in Western New York along with a number of ministries through the Bishop's Fund for the Faith.
Donors from the two counties contributed $996,149 to the 2015 Appeal.
Two important dates during the 2016 Appeal include First Report Sunday on March 13 and the culmination of Appeal Week on Palm Sunday, March 20. 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 Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo; Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, Catholic Charities diocesan director; Dennis Walczyk, chief executive officer, Catholic Charities; and Kathleen Hall, Niagara County district director, Catholic Charities.
Members of the Appeal leadership team presented information about the 2016 Appeal, including what has changed, how to run a successful parish campaign and ideas for gaining new donors while also retaining previous supporters.
Following the workshop and during the luncheon, a Hero of Hope award was presented to Jeanine Fortunate, principal of Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls, for her continued support of Catholic Charities In-School Social Work Program, which provides character development and skill building for students, as well as addresses emotional factors and improves family dynamics to reduce high risk behavior.
In addition, Emma Peterson, who received counseling and emergency financial assistance through Catholic Charities' Niagara Falls office, shared how the services helped her family, especially her two young daughters.
Bishop Malone thanked the honorees and spoke about the 2016 campaign.
"It's hard to believe this is my fourth Appeal as Bishop of Buffalo," said Bishop Malone. "I wish I could report the need for our services has diminished during my time here, but unfortunately that's not the case. Last year we provided assistance to nearly 132,000 individuals, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, including more than 10,650 individuals in the western part of this county alone. We anticipate a similar or increased volume in the coming year.
"To continue providing vitally important care and support to all who need it, we have established an ambitious goal for Appeal 2016. This year's theme, 'Find Good Within,' reminds us to open our hearts and find the good - and also the God - within each of us, in order to help those who are without, or those who are in need of a helping hand at this particular time in their life."
Bishop Malone was joined by Sister Mary McCarrick, who shared an example of how Catholic Charities' programs impact the children they serve and underlined the importance of donations of any size.
"Catholic Charities is there for families, such as the Petersons, and children in need. Kyle, 10, was a foster child with three siblings who wrote us a letter after they were adopted by their foster parents. He said, in part, 'My new foster parents made me feel comfortable by letting us pick out our own beds and gave us our favorite food. I am grateful for foster care because I now have what I didn't have before. When I found out that we would be adopted I was very excited because I would be living with the family I have been with since I was six years old and I would have a forever family!' "
Sister Mary also introduced Nick and Nicole Tzetzo, the 2016 Appeal chair couple.
Nick Tzetzo said, "The annual appeal has supported Catholic Charities for the past 91 years. As we enter into our 92nd Appeal, we continue to face the same challenges that have been present for many years, such as an aging donor base and an increased need for services in one of America's poorest cities. Those challenges, however, won't keep us from meeting our goal."
"A gift to Catholic Charities is a gift to our own neighbors, members of our human family seeking a hand up," said Nicole Tzetzo. "As we move through this year's campaign with this in mind, take notice that our neighbors need us in whatever capacity we can give. Give what you can. It will come back to you in so many ways."
Other members of this year's volunteer leadership team are Gerard and Barbara Mazurkiewicz, vice chairs; Kellie Ulrich, community division chair; John and Suzanne Berger, corporate chairs; and Rick Cronin, parish chair.
Stressing the importance of donations to the Appeal, Bishop Malone spoke about the example set by this year's patron saint.
"St. Nicholas was a fourth century bishop born in an ancient Greek town off the coast of Turkey," Bishop Malone explained. "His wealthy parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was young. Taking to heart the words of Jesus in Luke 18:22 to 'sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor,' Nicholas used his inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He became known throughout the land for his generosity and concern for others. His reputation for gift-giving became the model for Santa Claus.
"As we launch the 2016 Appeal, may we reflect on the life of St. Nicholas and seek to manifest our concern for others by considering a gift to this year's campaign, in particular during this, the Holy Year of Mercy. The compassionate, healing and life-changing support provided by Catholic Charities is truly the manifestation of mercy in our Church and throughout our diocese."
A wide range of services in western Niagara County are available at four offices in Niagara Falls, 620 Tronolone Place, 644 Park Place, 256 Third St., Suite 15 and 237 Fourth Ave.; two in North Tonawanda, 1465 and 375 Payne Ave.; and one in Lewiston, 5226 Walmore Rd.
These services include basic assistance; counseling for individuals, couples and families; Domestic Violence Offenders program; Our Kids: Parent Education and Awareness Program; the Monsignor Carr Institute Children's Clinics; 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 including emergency assistance, counseling and mental health services, specialized services for families and the elderly, and 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. It receives 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 2016, 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.
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