Catholic Charities launches annual appeal

By Gavin Paterniti

Special to the OBSERVER

Protect. Strengthen. Empower.

These are the words under which the Catholic Charities of Buffalo is operating for its 2013 Appeal.

On Saturday, about 45 parish and community volunteers, local clergy, lay leaders and staff of Catholic Charities of Buffalo gathered at Roberto’s Restaurant for a volunteer training workshop and reception. The purpose of the reception was to help kick off the 2013 Appeal for Catholic Charities in Chautauqua County.

Members of the Appeal leadership team presented information about the 2013 Appeal, including what has changed, how to run a successful parish effort as well as ideas for gaining new donors while retaining previous ones. According to The Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, the mission of Catholic Charities is seen as a duty to be fulfilled.

“It’s really all built on the command of Jesus in Matthew 25,” said Malone, who is in his first Appeal as bishop. “We need to reach out to those who are in need of our help, our compassion and our assistance. Catholic Charities, in all the work that it does for people in need throughout Western New York, really helps (us as) Christians to fulfill an obligation that Jesus has given us. We have to reach out, and Catholic Charities is a wonderful way to do that.”

The funds raised for the 2013 Appeal, which carries a goal of $10.7 million, will help support more than 70 programs and services that Catholic Charities offers. Some of the services that are provided in Chautauqua County include: Chautauqua County outreach, an elderly care program; a parent education and awareness program; a domestic violence program for men; counseling; and emergency and basic care services.

According to Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, diocesan director of Catholic Charities, the gathering at Roberto’s could be viewed as a pep rally of sorts.

“This event is part of what we call our ‘workshops’,” said McCarrick. “We go to seven locations within the diocese, and we gather the priests and the people in each parish who are in charge of assisting with the Appeal. We try to tell them about the services… and we give them ideas of how to conduct a successful Appeal in the parish. So, it’s kind of between a rally and a training (session).”

This year’s Appeal Week will take place from March17-24 throughout the eight counties of Western New York. McCarrick also said that the 2013 Appeal will go through the end of June.

Last year, Catholic Charities provided assistance to more than 4,900 individuals within Chautauqua County, and donors from the county contributed $395,402. The 2012 Appeal goal, which was $10.6 million, was surpassed just two weeks before the end of June.

According to Stephen Ulrich, chair of the 2013 Appeal, Catholic Charities is optimistic that it will see similar results for this year.

“I think we can hit (the $10.7 million goal),” said Ulrich. “We really focus our efforts on one donation at a time, and one dollar at a time. It’s truly a grass-roots effort and that’s where we concentrate. This year, we’re focusing on small businesses trying to get corporations and small companies to give $50, $75 or $100. We’re trying to bring them into the mix. And we think that can be a $1 million part of the Appeal. So, that’s where we’re going to get our growth. We only did about $800,000 last year, and we think we can get to $1 million, because we know we’re going to lose donors.”

According to Ulrich, his other reason for optimism is that the average individual gift amount continues to grow.

“Every year it’s growing, and this is the largest (average) number in the 89 years of this Appeal,” he said. “The people that used to give $50 and $75 are now giving $150. Right now, the average gift that’s given is $175. It’s the largest it’s ever been, so I think we can get to $10.7 (million).”

He added: “This is a very generous area. Our donors in Chautauqua County have been very generous. We raised almost $400,000 in this county (last year), and we’d like to get to $400,000 (this year).”

Catholic Charities is proclaimed as the most comprehensive human services provider in Western New York. For more information on the 2013 Appeal or to make a donation, call 218-1400, visit www.ccwny.org or find Catholic Charities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccbuffalo.

“In many parts of Western New York, there is a growing need for the services we provide,” said Malone. “So these are good folks who just take, very seriously, the responsibility to help.”