BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “Think of me" - that’s the theme for this year's Catholic Charities Appeal.
The organization, under all new leadership this year, has set its sights on a $10 million goal for 2020. After falling short last year, the church has new hope moving forward.
The drive was kicked-off Tuesday morning from the Catholic Charities headquarters on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Deacon Steven Schumer, a former banker, serves as president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities. He’s the new leader of the organization.
One of the beauties of Catholic Charities is its ability to reach people that we may not always see,” remarked Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, acting as apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo.
Catholic Charities leaders say they realize the challenges ahead. The goal is a million less than last year after last year's drive failed to hit $11 million.
It's believed many Catholics were too upset with the church's response to the sex abuse scandal to give.
“My parents feel differently than me – you know - they feel like - oh it doesn't really bother them as much, I think the way my mom talks,” said Paula Widlack of Lackawanna.
Widlack said some years she gives to Catholic Charities, but she says there's a generational divide with older Catholics willing to give.
Bishop Scharfenbeger is trying to convince a fracture church donation to Catholic Charities would not go toward paying off sex abuse lawsuits.
“So, every ounce of money given to Catholic Charities will go to help the poorest of the poor and those most in need and even if there were the prospect of doing Chapter 11, that too would also go to help those most in need,” explained Bishop Scharfenberger.
But Bishop Schargenberger had difficulty saying he could assure local Catholics.
“Only God can assure it. I can’t say that, but I can say that our mission has not changed,” responded Bishop Schargenberger.
Dave Eden was heading into the Catholic Shop in West Seneca. He says he will give to Catholic Charities and hopes the money goes to only those in need.
“I think you can see it in the community that people are just disappointed, not only how it happened, but how it was handled, and I guess it's something we have to work through as a community, right?”, responded Dave.
Catholic Charities helps thousands across Western New York.
“Last year, Catholic Charities was able to bring help and hope to more than 160,000 of our Western New York neighbors through its 51 programs and services at dozens of sites throughout our eight-county diocese,” stated Rick Cronin, 2020 Appeal chairman.
Todd Ventura is a client of the counseling and school-based services provided by Catholic Charities.
“Catholic Charities has helped us when we had nowhere else to turn. Helping to pay for food or transportation costs – all through catholic charities,” Ventura said.
The Appeal runs through June.