Bishop Richard J. Malone announced that Catholic Charities of Buffalo has raised $8,886,816.65 as of April 15 for Appeal 2014. This marks 82.3 percent of the final goal of $10.8 million.
The total is trending slightly ahead of last year at this time when 80.2 percent of the goal was reached. Funds raised for Appeal 2014 support Catholic Charities' 70 programs and services offered across 61 sites throughout the eight-county region.
During Appeal Week, which ran from April 6-13, parish volunteers and pastors across Western New York led a concerted effort to gather donations, and participated in fundraising activities in order to bring the appeal closer to its final goal.
During a press conference held April 15, Bishop Malone emphasized the importance of the appeal to the continuation of the vital, and often life-sustaining, programs Catholic Charities offers. Funds raised will allow Catholic Charities to continue to make a difference in the lives of more than 138,000 neighbors in need - Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
"The key words are still 'cautious optimism.' We really need to give this a push as we move into the next days and next weeks," Bishop Malone said. "This is our intense week, the week we just finished up. We don't stop until we get where we need to go, so we have some more time here."
Although Catholic Charities has collected slightly more money during Appeal Week 2014 than in 2013, last year's appeal took place three weeks earlier, giving the organization less time to reach its goal, which is $100,000 more than last year. The annual campaign runs through June 30.
"I feel confident about this, but we need to work at it," the bishop said. "So as we journey through Holy Week reflecting on our preparation for our great celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter, we need to remember the coming of Christ into the world means, as Christians He handed over His mission for the world to us."
Michael and Maureen Pratt, 2014 Appeal chairs, thanked all those involved, for their generosity.
"Catholic Charities relies heavily on the funds raised from this appeal. We may live in one of the poorest regions of the country, but we're also one of the most generous. We're counting on that generosity to get us to our goal," said Michael Pratt.
A former client of the WIC nutrition services program, Megan Houseman is now a full-time registered dietitian with the Niagara Falls WIC office. The Air Force reservist shared how Catholic Charities helped her family through an 18-month period of unemployment, when she became pregnant with her second child. Student loans and household bills made it difficult to make ends meet at the end of the month.
"I never expected to need assistance but it certainly helped to keep our family afloat," Houseman said.
Joining the WIC program assured her that she would have healthy food in the house for her children, which she called a "wonderful, wonderful blessing."
Houseman's story made Catholic Charities CEO Dennis Walczyk look into how the organization reaches out to veterans' and military families.
Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. In all situations, it delivers support to meet immediate needs and then assess for other needs to ensure long-term success. Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human service provider serving all eight counties of Western New York and receives the highest ratings for quality of service provided and financial health/accountability as rated by the Council on Accreditation and Charity Navigator.
For 90 years, Catholic Charities has been making a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity.
For more information or to make a donation, call 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.