The Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, was joined by Catholic Charities officials and Appeal leadership Tuesday to provide an update on this year's 94th annual campaign following the conclusion of Appeal Week 2018 on Palm Sunday in all parishes throughout the Diocese of Buffalo.
With the 2018 Appeal nearing its midpoint, Bishop Malone reported $7,025,901.13 has been raised to date, representing 64 percent of this year's $11 million goal.
Funds raised during the Appeal will help support the 70 programs and services provided by Catholic Charities at 61 sites throughout Western New York, along with the Bishop's Fund for the Faith. Although Appeal Week, which ran from March 17-25, marks thestrongest push for parish donations, volunteers will work to achieve the final goal until June 30, the end of the organization's fiscal year.
"The incredible generosity of parishioners throughout the eight-county diocese remains the foundation of our Appeal," said Bishop Malone. "While parish donors traditionally provide 80 percent of our funding, we increasingly look to the entire community and a new generation of supporters to ensureour continued success.
"As such, our community, corporate and large-gift divisions have also been working hard and are implementing new strategies to help raise the funds that will allow Catholic Charities to continue working to make a tremendous impact in the lives of more than 153,000 individuals throughout the diocese," said Bishop Malone.
Commenting on the potential impact of recent information being released regarding past sexual abuse involving members of the clergy, Bishop Malone said, "Donors can rest assuredcontributions to the Appeal will continue to support programs and services and will neverfund any settlements by the diocese. I know that a lot of people are angry right now and I fully understand that and I share that emotion. Please don't let this crisis, which we're working hard to resolve, keep you from your traditional, wonderful generosity to help so many people."
Robert M. Bennett, Chancellor Emeritus of the New York State Board of Regents, generalchair of this year's annual Appeal and a parishioner at St. Christopher Parish in Tonawanda, asked supporters to follow in the footsteps of St. Clare of Assisi - this year's patron saint - by expressing their concern for others and pledging their support as the 2018 Appeal enters its final three months.
Bennett emphasized the organization's services are provided in a highly efficient manner. "Catholic Charities is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity, and ranks four out of four stars consistently with independent evaluator Charity Navigator," he said. "And, their services are ranked highly for quality by the Council on Accreditation. No matter how you look at Catholic Charities, a donation to the Appeal is an excellent value."
Sister Mary McCarrick, diocesan director of Catholic Charities, thanked all those who have donated to the 2018 Appeal thus far and encouraged people and organizations who have yet to pledgetheir support to consider doing so.
She also shared a brief letter from a person who reached out to say Catholic Charities has made a difference in her life. "In my nine years in this role, I have come to be known for sharing client successes, or what I call 'mission moments,'" said Sister Mary. "Each of these stories illustrates how important it is to meet our neighbors, one face and one struggle at a time. This is how you, our supporters, make it possible for us to 'love our neighbor.'"
Also speaking at this morning's news conference were Dennis Walczyk, CEO, and Holly Edwards,a Catholic Charities Central Intake social worker. They explainedhow the organization provideshope and emergency assistance to thousands of people in need each year at its downtown office and other locations across the diocese.
Walczyk said, "Because of Appeal funds, we can offer emergency basic assistance either by assisting with food, clothing and shelter directly through Catholic Charities, or at times by linking people with additional resources that will meet those needs. This assistance is available in our offices in all eight counties of Western New York. Our Central Intake office in downtown Buffalo is unique for its concentration of services and because they are available on a walk-in basis."
Edwards said, "Our Central Intake office last year was able to impact the lives of nearly 10,000 people. As examples of the help we provide everyday - we are able to cover a medication, prevent a family from being evicted, provide a referral to a food pantry, purchase steel-toed shoes so a young man can accept a job, and give a referral to Ladies of Charity to another job candidate so he can find appropriate interview clothing."
Two parishes were recognized for their efforts to date. St. Patrick Church in Fillmore is already at 124 percent of their goal, a standoutamong smaller parishes, and St. John Paul II in Lakeview is now up to 95 percent, a standout among larger parishes.
In addition, two students were recognized for their special fundraising efforts. Alice Falkowski, an 8th grader at St. Benedict School in Amherst coordinated a "Pi Your Teacher Day" on March 14 (3.14) and four dress down days to raise funds for the Appeal. Clare, her older sister and a senior at Buffalo Academyof the Sacred Heart, has challenged all high schools to hold dress down days for Catholic Charities, and several have already acceptedthe challenge. As a result, St. Benedict students have raised $1,000 and Sacred Heart Academy students have raised $2,500. The two young women are the daughters of Appeal Co-Chair Maurine Falkowski and granddaughters of Robert Bennett.
The theme of this year's Appeal, which began in January, is "Love your Neighbor."
Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human service provider in the region, serving people of all ages, races, faiths and walks of life. It has helped individuals and families in need since its founding in 1923.That need is varied and widespread - from emergency assistance to mental healthcounseling and treatment, and from specialized services for older adults 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 deliverssupport to meet immediate needs, and then assesses clients for other needs to ensure long-termsuccess.
To donate to the 2018 Appeal or
for more information contact Catholic Charities
716) 218-1400 or go to ccwny.org. You can also join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.