Bishop Richard J. Malone announced Tuesday Catholic Charities' 91st annual Appeal has raised $7,432,587.16 to date, representing 68 percent of the $10.9 million goal. The total includes monies collected and reported by parish volunteers during the opening weekend (March 21-22) of Appeal Week 2015, the period which marks the strongest push for parish donations. The total reported is more than $500,000 short of where Catholic Charities' officials and the Appeal leadership team hoped to be after the first Sunday.
Funds raised for Appeal 2015 support Catholic Charities' 70 programs and services offered across 61 sites throughout the eight counties of Western New York, and the Bishop's Fund for the Faith, which supports related ministries of the Diocese of Buffalo.
Joining Bishop Malone to speak about the progress thus far were Catholic Charities Diocesan Director Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, Chief Executive Officer Dennis C. Walczyk, Appeal 2015 Chairs Jake and Katie Schneider, and Majid Hussain, who was assisted by Catholic Charities through their Central Intake Office.
Parish volunteers across Western New York will continue to participate in Appeal Week activities through next weekend, when they will again collect and report contributions to Catholic Charities on March 29. 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 2015, 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.
Bishop Malone praised the Appeal leadership team for their efforts traveling across Western New York during January and February, often in less-than-ideal weather conditions, to meet with Appeal volunteers, pastors and other supporters."At these workshops we heard from many of our clients who - like Majid - shared their personal stories on how Catholic Charities has helped them get their lives back on track," said Bishop Malone. "At Catholic Charities, we believe there is abundant good in our world and within each one of us, regardless of our circumstances, and their deeply emotional stories were very meaningful - and motivational."
Bishop Malone asked Western New Yorkers for their continued support during Appeal Week 2015, adding "Your generosity in serving our brothers and sisters in need and helping to find the good within our community is a concrete response to God's commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself."
The bishop also commented on the progress of the Appeal to date. "We have some work to do this coming weekend in order to catch up and get back in the game," he said. "Rest assured we will employ a full-court press in order to erase the current deficit and ultimately ensure a successful outcome at the final buzzer in this year's campaign."
While Jake and Katie Schneider thanked donors, and the work of the volunteers and their Appeal Leadership Team, they also urged everyone to keep the momentum going.
"Katie and I sincerely thank all who have already given to the Appeal, as well as the hundreds of volunteers, including our Appeal leadership team, who have dedicated their time since the launch in January and who have worked tirelessly to bring us to where we are today," said Jake. "We have already accomplished so much, but we need to continue to 'find good within' ourselves and throughout the diocese in order to keep the momentum going through the end of Appeal Week, next Sunday, March 29, and through the end of the 2015 Appeal."
Katie said, "We would also like to extend our gratitude to the many corporations, schools and parish organizations that support the Appeal. It is important for everyone to remember any donation is helpful, no matter how large or small, these will all help us reach our goal."
Sister Mary shared a story of two young siblings who have made significant progress working with a Catholic Charities therapist after suffering verbal and physical abuse from their mother, and witnessing her threats against their father as well as police who provided intervention.
"Now, both are doing very well," said Sister Mary, adding, "they have decreased aggression and their nightmares are gone. Their grades have improved markedly and they are having a blast just being kids. Dad is so grateful, especially since he had no health insurance and limited income. He called it a 'gift financially as well as emotionally.'"
She concluded, "This is the kind of healing that 'finds the good within' and that takes place in our offices across the eight counties of our diocese. It's also the kind of healing that calls for our support so we can meet our goal and know children, families, adults and seniors will have a chance to return to wholeness through Catholic Charities."
Dennis Walczyk introduced Majid Hussain, who received housing assistance last year from Catholic Charities' Central Intake Office when his apartment had no running water in the bathroom and no heat in the bedroom or bathroom, and had only three days until eviction. In the span of a week, Catholic Charities was able to find him a new apartment in great condition that was close to his familiar bus route.
"I could not be more thankful for the help I received from Catholic Charities and the relationships I have formed with the staff along the way," said Hussain.
Catholic Charities' Central Intake Office, located at 525 Washington St. in downtown Buffalo, helped 7,996 walk-in clients with emergencies involving such basic needs as financial assistance, food, prescriptions, housing and heat in 2014. Clients can also visit the Catholic Charities office nearest them to receive emergency assistance, which includes eight additional sites in Erie County and 11 sites in the other seven counties of Western New York. For more information, please call (716) 856-4494.
The theme for the 2015 Appeal is "Find Good Within" and the patron saint of the 91stannual Appeal is St. Francis of Assisi.
As the most comprehensive human service provider in Western New York, Catholic Charities makes a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity. 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.
Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions it receives. For five years, Catholic Charities attained the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives the highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service.
To make a donation or learn more about Appeal 2015, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to www.ccwny.org. You can also check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccbuffalo and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ccbuffalo.