Catholic Charities ran a strong finish in the final lap of the 2014 annual appeal, exceeding its goal of $10.8 million with a total of $11 million at the close of its fiscal year Monday.
"We are all familiar with the quotation, 'The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,' but such a journey also requires a push to the finish line," Bishop Richard J. Malone said at a press conference to announce the results. "It's those final steps that prove most challenging. That was certainly the case with the 2014 appeal.
"On behalf of all those served by Catholic Charities and all those who have in any way contributed to this year's success, I thank you for your support."
The social services agency raised a total of $11,001,057.29 this year. The main push of the fundraising campaign is in mid-April, and Catholic Charities raised about $8.8 million, or 82 percent, of its overall goal by the end of the appeal week.
Catholic Charities officials highlighted many of its individual fundraising successes at the press conference. Lisa Marino, an Allegany County resident who owns the Club 57 restaurant in Hornell, organized several fundraisers and activities to raise awareness at her business. The owners of Buffalo's Frank's Sunny Italy restaurant raised more than $6,000 through free-will offerings to their St. Joseph's Day Table celebration. Sacred Heart Parish in Lakewood increased the percentage of their donations more than any other parish in the diocese, while Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Clarence had the highest dollar total donation increase by $26,700 over last year.
"There's so many other ways to raise money," Marino said. "If we keep Catholic Charities in our hearts all year round, it's fun and easy."
"We are deeply humbled and grateful for the overwhelming success of the appeal," said this year's campaign co-chair Mike Pratt. "We give credit and thanks to all of Western New York."
Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, the diocesan director of Catholic Charities, said now they will decide how to allocate the money raised that is needs-based and mission-driven.
"We have a very strong internal process to see where the money goes," she said.
Catholic Charities will funnel much of the money towards basic human services like food pantries, counseling services for those who cannot afford the cost of care, and now expanding their poverty outreach in Franklinville. Sister Mary said the latter is as a result of the fundraising campaign exceeding its goal by at least $200,000.