As a way to improve the health of the community in Western New York, Catholic Health uses Community Benefit Grants to support non-profit organizations whose work has a direct impact on the region's most vulnerable citizens. For the third straight year, Catholic Health presented grants totaling nearly $132,000, as well as corporate funding to address unmet health needs.
"Catholic Health is intentionally moving away from random acts of kindness to one that is strategic," explained Bartholomew Rodrigues, senior vice president and chief mission officer of Catholic Health. "We do have some random acts of kindness, that's bound to happen, but this is a strategic vision as well. That's a frame of social responsibility and a community benefit."
On Wednesday, July 18, Catholic Health president and CEO, Mark Sullivan, presented grants to 10 local organizations who serve the poor and disadvantaged through education, legal aid and emergency housing.
Receiving corporate funding were Gerard Place and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Gerard Place empowers individuals and families towards self-sufficiency by providing housing, supportive services, community education and outreach. David Zapfel, president/CEO of Gerard Place, had previously worked for Catholic Health for 10 years. He said he brought Catholic Health with him to Gerard Place. "I don't think there is a department in this building that I haven't tapped for advice," he said. "I encourage all of you to reach out to them. They have a lot of expertise that I have used over the years."
Zapfel will use the grant to open a 30,000-square-foot community center to be used for early childhood education and job training.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which has received funding from Catholic Health in the past, is the oldest continually active charity in Western New York, serving the community for 171 years. The grant will go towards basic needs assessments, furniture, beds, and provide wholesome good food to homes. "Not only is (home) a place of security for them, but also a place where it can be healthy for them," said Mark Zirnheld, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. "At the end of the day, no matter how frustrating it is, one of our decisions helps somebody's life become better. That's why we're doing this."
Other recipients of the 2018-2019 Catholic Health Community Benefit Grants include: Durham's Baby Café, The Canopy of Neighbors Programming to Address Social Isolation, Buffalo Go Green Healthy Community Fruits & Vegetables Rx Program (FVRx), RAHAMA: Trauma-informed domestic violence program for Muslim, Immigrant and Refugee Women, Buffalo United Charter School Moral Focus: Focus on Building Up Our Future, Urban Christian Ministries: Brothers With A Purpose, Catholic Health Neighborhood Legal Services: Medical-Legal Partnership and Ransom House.