Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Catholic Charities officials on Tuesday celebrated the progress of the 2012 Appeal following the close of Appeal Week, during which volunteers led a concerted effort to gather donations in parishes across Western New York.
According to a news release:
Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, announced the Appeal has raised $8,813,889.42 in cash and pledges as of this morning, totaling 83 percent of the $10.6 million goal and reflecting a 5.9 percent increase over last year at this time.
Bishop Kmiec thanked the 750 Appeal volunteers for their efforts and their continued commitment to the campaign as it continues through June 30.
"All of our Appeal volunteers truly believe in our mission, and they commit their time and efforts so tens of thousands of people in the community can reach out to Catholic Charities for assistance when they need it most," said Bishop Kmiec.
Appeal leaders specially recognized Bob Pazik, a volunteer from St. Mary of Swormville parish, who with the rest of his team introduced two new programs to his parish this year aimed at securing new donors. These included a Mission of Hope event and the In-Pew program, where presenters shared the personal stories of Catholic Charities clients with guests and Mass attendees. St. Mary of Swormville parishioners have donated just under $156,000 so far this Appeal, compared with a little more than $130,000 at the same time last year, a 20 percent increase.
"As we move forward with the Appeal campaign and begin to look toward the future, I am enthusiastic to continue my work as a volunteer for this organization and my parish," said Pazik. "My experience has been positive thus far, and I hope to build the involvement of others to allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide hope for those in need."
Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, diocesan director of Catholic Charities, also expressed her gratitude to the volunteers and talked about two clients whose lives were changed thanks to Catholic Charities' Appeal-sponsored high school equivalency program.
"First, I want to mention Khameela, the young woman on our billboards, posters and brochures this year," Sr. Mary said. "Khameela, a recent graduate of our high school equivalency and job readiness program, is now a student at ECCCity Campus. Her career goal and dream is to become a physician."
She then introduced Dr. Gloria Roetzer, who completed Catholic Charities' program in the 1970s and later became a physician. Now an Amherst pediatrician, Dr. Roetzer also has served as president of the Diocese of Buffalo's Physician's Guild.
Dr. Roetzer talked about the ways that Catholic Charities empowers the clients they serve.
"Catholic Charities encourages those with little hope, giving them endless possibilities through Jesus Christ and his faithful followers at Catholic Charities," said Dr. Roetzer. "They also serve to guide those who feel lost, pointing the way, giving basic needs like food and clothing, and just to help with education and the steps needed to take to empower them."
David Nasca, 2012 Appeal chair, thanked Dr. Roetzer and spoke about the importance of educating people about the impact of Catholic Charities'
programs and services through the stories of those who have been helped.
"We share the mission of Catholic Charities through our client stories with the hope that more people will understand the importance of the variety of services Catholic Charities offers and how we change the lives of nearly 140,000 in our community each year," he said.
Nasca described efforts to attract new donors, including Catholic Charities' "Get Real. Give Hope." social media campaign, which ran during March with the aim of building awareness about the good works of Catholic Charities and the level of need in the Western New York community.
"The campaign called to action a primarily younger demographic, most of who had never donated or contributed to the Appeal," he said. "It got them thinking about the simple ways they could help people in their community."
Nasca also called attention to the importance of new corporate donors and described how corporate donations to the 2012 Appeal have not been as high as years past.
"I would encourage both small and large institutions to consider how a gift to the Appeal, of any size, can benefit their employees, consumers or other stakeholders in the community where they do business."
Sister Mary thanked all who have donated to the Appeal thus far and expressed hope for the coming months of the campaign.
"Thank you to all who have contributed and we look forward to receiving those donations that will put us over the top," she said. "We look forward to the day in the near future when we can report success."
While celebrating the Appeal's progress thus far, Bishop Kmiec remarked on the importance of raising the remaining $1.8 million to achieve the campaign goal and emphasized his confidence in the community's ability to meet the challenge.
"Unlike our Buffalo Sabres, who need a few more points and help from another team in order to make the Stanley Cup playoffs, our success is in the hands of this community," he said. "We know the generosity of Western New Yorkers and we believe they will respond with the additional funds in order to reach our goal."
Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human service provider serving all eight counties of Western New York, with 70 programs and 61 locations. Founded in 1923, Catholic Charities also provides, without regard to religious affiliation, comprehensive counseling services for children and families, anti-domestic violence programming and emergency services, among other social and mental health services.