We are honored and excited to serve as chairs for the 2019 Appeal in support of Catholic Charities. We have been involved with Catholic Charities for years as parishioners at St. Mark Parish in Buffalo, and as donors and appeal volunteers. We have learned and experienced firsthand how the organization serves our neighbors in need.
Many people might be surprised to know that Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human services provider serving all eight counties of Western New York. The annual appeal helps to fund 70 Catholic Charities programs across 61 sites. More than 152,000 of our neighbors benefited from this work in 2018, and of those thousands, more than half identified as non-Catholic. As in the past, the appeal also supports the Fund for the Faith which benefits diocesan programs and ministries.
This year's appeal will help Catholic Charities to continue providing help to our neighbors in need, validating the 2019 theme "Help your neighbor find HOPE."
Every day, Catholic Charities is helping individuals and families find hope with basic assistance like food, clothing and shelter; find hope in providing mental health and substance abuse treatment for all ages and income levels; and find hope with accessible and affordable counseling for individuals, children and families.
We have great faith that the community, including our supporters in parishes across the diocese, will once again demonstrate their generosity to Catholic Charities. After all, Western New Yorkers never let down their neighbors in need.
We also know that this is an unprecedented time to be conducting our annual appeal because of the diocesan sex abuse scandal, as well as the decision several months ago to end Catholic Charities' adoption program.
The fact remains though that tens of thousands of our neighbors across the region rely on the programs and services provided by Catholic Charities. Without these services many of our neighbors would lose hope.
To withhold that hope from these individuals and families because of others' wrongs and a policy decision in accord with Catholic Church teaching, hurts those who rely on our programs and services.
The goal for the 2019 Catholic Charities Appeal is $11 million. This aggressive goal, which is the same for the fourth year in a row, recognizes the challenges of raising such a significant amount of money, but our most vulnerable populations need our help more than ever to help them find hope.
We are pleased to report that about $1.4 million has already been raised, reflecting our donors' commitment to helping people in need through the work of Catholic Charities. We are thankful to these enthusiastic and generous donors who have already put us on our way to fulfilling our goal.
We have great faith that the 2019 Appeal goal will be met because the people of Western New York never let their neighbors down, especially those in need. We humbly ask for the community's support.