Volunteers and supporters gathered today with Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, and the Catholic Charities of Buffalo Appeal leadership team to hear the progress of the Appeal to date and celebrate Appeal Week 2012. At the same time, Catholic Charities officials surprised Bishop Kmiec by announcing the re-naming of the former South Buffalo Food Pantry and Outreach, the site of the morning event, in honor of the bishop.
Parishes across Western New York will continue to participate in Appeal Week activities through April 1 to recognize the support of Western New Yorkers who have made a contribution to the annual Appeal and to encourage those who have not already donated to do so. Although Appeal Week marks the strongest push for donations, volunteers will be working to achieve the final goal through June 30.
Bishop Kmiec announced the Appeal has raised $7,414,294.66, representing 70 percent of its $10.6 million goal, to support Catholic Charities' 70 programs and services offered across 61 sites throughout the eight counties of Western New York.
During the update event, Bishop Kmiec expressed appreciation for the generosity and passion of supporters who participated in Appeal workshops and activities held over the past 11 weeks. He also praised those who have talked about how they have been aided by Catholic Charities.
"I have been especially moved by the very personal stories shared by those who have spoken publicly about how their lives changed for the better as a result of the help they received when they turned to Catholic Charities for assistance," said Bishop Kmiec. "I want to sincerely thank them for sharing their stories, and I want to thank our Appeal team, our countless volunteers and all of our donors for helping us advance toward our goal."
Bishop Kmiec acknowledged the challenge ahead in reaching the Appeal goal and stressed the importance of the community's support.
"We have a great deal of work ahead of us in the coming days," he said. "As we celebrate the culmination of Appeal Week in parishes across our diocese this coming weekend, we ask Blessed John Paul II, patron of the 2012 Appeal, for his intercession on our behalf, and I humbly ask for your continued support."
David Nasca, 2012 Appeal Chair, lauded the dedication of the 750 volunteers who continue to work to raise funds for the annual campaign.
"It's because of their tremendous effort and personal commitment that we're able to spread the mission of Catholic Charities while ensuring our 70 programs and services continue to provide for those most in need in Western New York," said Nasca. "Despite the economic challenges our community continues to face, I'm confident that through the hard work of Catholic Charities' staff and volunteers, we can achieve our goal."
Sister Mary McCarrick, diocesan director of Catholic Charities, expressed her thanks to all who have already contributed and emphasized the value of each donation to the Appeal.
"Every gift, whether $5 or $10,000, is important. Whether the donation is from our community's large banks or from a small pizza shop; from one of our highest-level Monsignor John J. Conniff Society members or from a $10 first-time donor - every contribution is appreciated and makes a significant impact on our ability to serve our community," said Sister Mary. "I want you to know that every donor is essential to the success of this campaign."
Following the announcement of the Appeal's progress, Dennis Walczyk, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities, began the special presentation and revealed the re-naming of the South Buffalo Food Pantry and Outreach to the Bishop Edward U. Kmiec Food Pantry and Outreach, in honor of the bishop's leadership and support during his seven years as the bishop of the diocese.
Walczyk began, "Today, Bishop Kmiec mentioned his chosen motto of charity and service. I have been a witness to his devotion to these qualities."
He went on to describe the bishop's compassionate and generous nature, adding, "The bishop has a genuine interest and love not only for the people of his diocese, but also for all of the people we serve and those we employ as well.
"We know his time as our bishop is limited, and so we are delighted to take this opportunity to announce what we believe is a fitting tribute to Bishop Kmiec. We believe it reflects the character of his episcopacy, as well as his demonstrated concern for the basic needs of people who are poor.
"Therefore, it is my distinct pleasure to announce that this South Buffalo Food Pantry and Outreach will be known from this day forward as the Bishop Edward U. Kmiec Food Pantry and Outreach, in honor of our beloved friend and leader," Walczyk concluded.
The Bishop Edward U. Kmiec Food Pantry and Outreach is located in the lower level of the former Holy Family School, which has been converted to the Holy Family Senior Apartments, a project of Delta Development of Western New York. The pantry relocated back to its site in the former school at the beginning of this year after apartment reconstruction was completed.
Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human service provider serving all eight counties of Western New York, with 70 programs and 61 locations. Founded in 1923, Catholic Charities also provides, without regard to religious affiliation, comprehensive counseling services for children and families, anti-domestic violence programming and emergency services, among other social and mental health services.
For more information on the 2012 Appeal or to make a donation, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to www.ccwny.org. Check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccbuffalo and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ccbuffalo.