Progress reflects 73.5 percent of total contributed thus far
The Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, announced earlier this week Catholic Charities' 90th annual appeal has raised $7,941,945.04 to date, representing 73.5 percent of the $10.8 million goal. The total includes monies collected and reported by many parish volunteers during the opening weekend (April 5-6) of Appeal Week 2014, the period that marks the strongest push for parish donations.
Funds raised for Appeal 2014 support Catholic Charities' 70 programs and services offered across 61 sites throughout the eight counties of Western New York.
Joining Bishop Malone to speak about the progress thus far were Catholic Charities Diocesan Director Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF; CEO Dennis C. Walczyk; Appeal 2014 chairs Michael and Maureen Pratt; and client Tanysha Hutcherson.
Parish volunteers across Western New York will continue to participate in Appeal Week activities through the weekend, when they will again collect and report contributions to Catholic Charities. Appeal Week celebrates and recognizes the support of Western New Yorkers who have made a contribution to the annual appeal, and encourages those who have not already donated to do so.
After Appeal Week, volunteers will continue their efforts to help achieve the campaign's final goal by June 30, the end of Catholic Charities' fiscal year, if not sooner.
Malone praised the appeal team for its efforts during a difficult winter, traveling across Western New York to meet with volunteers, pastors and other supporters. He also recognized the parish volunteers' efforts.
"Our community, corporate, parish and leadership gift divisions have all been 'heart at work' these past three months helping raise funds that will allow Catholic Charities to continue making a tremendous impact in the lives of more than 138,000 neighbors in need, Catholics and non-Catholics alike," Malone said. "Thankfully, it appears spring has finally arrived and we now find ourselves advancing not only on our Lenten journey, but also toward this year's goal of $10.8 million."
Michael and Maureen Pratt thanked the work of the volunteers and their appeal leadership team, as well as donors.
Michael said, "Maureen and I would like to extend our deep gratitude to the many generous Western New Yorkers who have given to this, the 90th Catholic Charities Appeal, so far."
Maureen talked about this year's trends and urged volunteers to follow up with donors this week to continue this year's positive momentum.
"Thanks to the Western New York community, our average gift is trending a little higher than last year, which is necessary to stem the demographic challenges of our area," she said. "We would also like to remind our parish volunteers to telephone donors you haven't heard from yet during this week and bring or phone in your returns by this coming Sunday. We want to give Western New York an accurate report of our progress next Tuesday."
Sister Mary offered another perspective of the campaign theme while quoting Teresa of Avila.
"Our donors are Christ's hands and feet on earth reaching out to offer support to people in crisis through our staff - social workers, therapists and case managers for example - who are 'heart at work' seeking to bring wholeness and healing to children, older adults, families, couples and individuals."
She added, "As we progress through Appeal Week, I hope you will remember that each gift is appreciated and will bring us closer to our ultimate $10.8 million goal."
Walczyk introduced two programs, "PROJECT JUMP START" and "Work and Gain Education Employment" (or WAGEES), which are helping young adults to move away from at-risk behaviors and toward the path of financial independence through education, job skills and employment.
Catholic Charities is one of three cities in the country operating "PROJECT JUMP START," which provides educational, employment, case management and mentoring services to Buffalo youth ages 14 to 17 who have been involved in the juvenile justice system in the past year. The "PROJECT JUMP START" project is an equal opportunity program fully funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration in the amount of $200,000. Auxiliary aids are available on request. It is administered by Southwest Key Programs of Austin, Texas.
The WAGEES program offers myriad services to youth ages 18-24, including education, employment, case management and job training opportunities to participants who have been involved in the juvenile justice system and reside in the City of Buffalo. It is primarily funded through a grant from the Department of Labor administered by the Latino Coalition of Bakersfield, Calif.
The two programs have experienced a number of successes in their first year. Foremost among them are the achievements thus far of Tanysha Hutcherson, a WAGEES client, who explained the difference Catholic Charities has made for her. Hutcherson has earned her high school equivalency, completed a hospitality-training program, and has advanced at a local restaurant from busser to server to bartender, and is now on a management track.
"It helped me with a lot in my life, and it helped me realize I don't have to sit around and do nothing," she said. "There are people out there to help you succeed in life. I'm so grateful because now I'm succeeding and I'm not going to stop here. I'm planning to go to college either by the end of this year or at the beginning of next year; I'm not stopping here."
Hutcherson added, "Catholic Charities is just a wonderful place. I love them and everyone there. They helped me so much and I'm willing to help them!"
For 90 years, Catholic Charities has been making a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity in Western New York. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assess its clients for other needs to ensure long-term success. It is the most comprehensive human service provider serving Western New York. For the fifth consecutive year, Catholic Charities has attained the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives highest ratings for quality of service provided and financial health/accountability as rated by the Council on Accreditation and Charity Navigator.
The total for Niagara County thus far is $720,872.09.