The Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, was joined by Catholic Charities of Buffalo officials and volunteer leaders today at the organization's downtown Buffalo site, located at 525 Washington St, to launch the 2017 Annual Appeal. The goal for the 93rd annual Appeal is $11 million.
The annual Appeal helps fund Catholic Charities' 70 programs and services across 61 sites in the eight counties of Western New York, along with a number of ministries through the Bishop's Fund for the Faith. The theme for this year's Appeal is "Finite Time. Infinite Good" and the patron saint is St. Marianne Cope.
Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human service provider in the region, serving people of all ages, races, faiths, and walks of life. The organization impacted the lives of more than 152,000 individuals - Catholics and non-Catholics alike - over the past year.
Bishop Malone, now in his fifth year as bishop of Buffalo, introduced this year's theme, saying, "We all have a finite amount of time to make a difference in the lives of those who turn to us for support. And while that time often feels short, and the list of those who are in need grows longer, the impact we can have is infinite. As we reflect on the past year and embark on our 2017 Appeal, it's the countless stories of hope and progress created each day through the generosity of our many supporters that lead to unlimited possibilities for those we help, and for our community as a whole."
Two important dates during the 2017 Appeal include First Report Sunday on April 2 and the culmination of Appeal Week on Palm Sunday, April 9. 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.
Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, diocesan director of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, spoke to the difference the services funded through the Appeal make for people in need. "All the stories of hope and progress realized by those who seek our help are possible because of the generosity of the many individuals and businesses that support the Appeal," said Sister Mary. "Through the resources raised, infinite good is accomplished. A young person passes the high school equivalency exam and moves on to college or employment. An elder is provided the care and protection she needs as her mental ability diminishes. A couple learns communication skills and peace is restored to the family. A family regains understanding and discipline of a teen and harmony is restored. Catholic Charities spreads infinite good that impacts clients, families and their communities."
Bishop Malone and Sister Mary also announced they have appointed Gerard and Barbara Mazurkiewicz chairs of the 2017 Appeal. The couple served as vice chairs for the 2016 Appeal.
Speaking on behalf of the Mazurkiewiczes was David Uba, vice chair of Catholic Charities' Board of Trustees.
"Providing resources for all our neighbors is a great challenge, and the fundraising goal we have set this year is aspirational," said Uba. "But we are confident that Bishop Malone, our dedicated leadership team, the Catholic Charities staff and the numerous parish and community volunteers who donate their time to this cause will guide and support our success."
The 2017 Appeal volunteer leadership team includes Kellie Ulrich, community division chair; Jim Dentinger and Jackie Gurney, corporate co-chairs; and Rick Cronin, parish chair.
Dennis Walczyk, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities, said the Washington Street site was chosen to kick off the 2017 Appeal to highlight the continued growth of the organization's Workforce and Education Department. "After our administrative offices moved to 741 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo in 2009 when the Montante family so generously donated the building to Catholic Charities, a classroom and employment counseling offices for Education and Workforce were added on the first floor of the Washington Street facility. This location, which served as the organization's headquarters dating back to 1951, continues to serve as central intake for basic emergency assistance and homelessness prevention, and houses offices for foster care and adoption and the Young Parents program."
Walczyk touched on recent strides made by Catholic Charities in the areas of workforce development and education, including its expansion into Niagara County this past fall and its role in running the Western New York Workforce Training Center on Buffalo's East side.
"We continue to be excited about the impact of our Workforce and Education Department, especially as our Tomorrow's Youth Today Program blossoms in Niagara County, where we are now conducting the program at four sites. Through the efforts of our educators, counselors and case managers, we will continue to provide support and cultivate hope, ambition and valuable life and work skills in our young people who are most in need," Walczyk said. "Additionally, our record of success in workforce development and education has resulted in Catholic Charities being one of four local organizations chosen to operate the Western New York Workforce Training Center, which is scheduled to open in 2018. This center will train and turn out highly skilled members of the workforce. It is our hope that the center will reduce poverty in the City of Buffalo through gainful employment."
Stressing the importance of donations to the Appeal, Bishop Malone spoke about the example set by this year's patron saint.
"Born in 1838, St. Marianne was raised in Utica and entered the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse where she ministered in education and health care," said Bishop Malone. "While serving as general minister of the Sisters she responded positively to a request from the king and queen of Hawaii to help treat patients with leprosy, now known as Hanson's disease. She spent 35 years on the island of Molokai until her death in 1918. Often referred to as the 'beloved mother of outcasts' and canonized in 2012, her life was one of tireless and infinite service, compassionate care, and respect for human dignity. As we launch this year's Appeal, we reflect on the words of St. Marianne who said, 'Let us make best use of these fleeting moments. They will not return.'"
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. 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. Catholic Charities receives 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.
For more information on Appeal 2017 or to make a donation, 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.