Catholic Charities announced the launch of Appeal 2020 with a goal of $10 million on Jan. 14. Using the theme "Think of Me," Catholic Charities hopes people think of their neighbors when donating. "Essentially, the person Christ commands us to love," said Rick Cronin, this year's appeal chair.
The annual appeal funds 51 programs and services administered by Catholic Charities, which helped 160,000 people in 2019.
This year's appeal will be the first for Deacon Steven Schumer, who was recently named president and CEO of the social service organization, and Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, who began serving as apostolic administrator of the Buffalo Diocese in December.
Since arriving in Buffalo, Bishop Scharfenberger, who remains bishop of Albany, has considered himself a grandfather who came down the street to help his family.
"I like to think of everything we do as family helping family," he said at the appeal kickoff. "That's what Catholic Charities is all about. It's people helping people."
To describe the good works that Catholic Charities does, client Todd Ventura spoke on how the social service agency helped his family.
"My family has had to overcome many obstacles in the past four or so years and Catholic Charities has helped us navigate through the difficult times. Our family is thankful for all the love and support we've been given as well," he said.
Five years ago, the Ventura family was living near Raleigh, N.C., when Todd's wife left. A back injury has left Ventura disabled and unable to work, so the now single father of four moved back home to Buffalo with his kids.
"I came to Catholic Charities a weary, heartbroken man with four kids that were equally heartbroken."
He sought out help from Catholic Charities, which offered counseling, as well help paying for gas bills and Christmas presents.
"(Counselor)Maria Anderson was able to reach my daughter in a way that no other person could," Ventura explained. "I could see the change in my children from seeing Maria. Before going to counseling with Maria Anderson, my children were dealing with so much inner turmoil from their mother leaving and subsequent absence in their lives. Miss Anderson was able to break through and teach them coping skills for dealing with their grief and anger. ... The services they offer are only rivaled by the commitment, character and love that the folks working there provide to the community," said Ventura. "Catholic Charities was able to help mend my family and we will be forever grateful."
This year's $10 million is 1 million less than last year's goal. The decrease recognizes the challenges associated with raising a significant amount of money, while also realizing the ongoing need for the critical programs Catholic Charities provides. This is not the first time the goal has been lowered.
As with last year, donors can designate their appeal gift choosing from three options. Option one is giving to the appeal as in the past. These donations benefit Catholic Charities and Fund for the Faith. Option two is to give 100 percent of their gift to Catholic Charities. Option three is to give 100 percent of their gift to Fund for the Faith. The Fund for the Faith helps to continue the mission of diocesan ministries.
The patron saint of Appeal 2020 is St. Joseph, patron of the Buffalo Diocese. "He knew well the threats of persecution, poverty and uncertainty. But, St. Joseph trusted God, he persevered and he succeeded," Bishop Scharfenberger said.
To make a donation to Appeal 2020 contact Catholic Charities at 716-218-1400 or visit ccwny.org. Follow Catholic Charities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.