Catholic Charities In Danger Of Missing Its 2017 Goal

Often referred by name as the “Drive that Never Fails,” the 2017 appeal for Catholic Charities is close to $1.4 million short of its $11 million goal with a June 30 deadline approaching.

Barring a significant increase in donations over the next few weeks, this year’s appeal is in jeopardy of failing to reach its goal for the first time since 2008 and only second time in its 93-year history.

The theme, “Finite Time. Infinite Good,” is especially meaningful as we reach out to our generous donors in the Jamestown area and throughout the entire community in these final days of this year’s campaign.

As the region’s most comprehensive human services agency, Catholic Charities works to spread help, hope and infinite good to those who need it most throughout the eight counties of Western New York through services ranging from emergency assistance to job training to specialized services to older adults and those with special needs.

We now have a very finite amount of time remaining to ensure we can continue to provide all of this assistance.

Not reaching this year’s goal would most likely result in scaling back or eliminating some of the vital, life-changing and often life-saving services that impacted nearly 152,000 Western New Yorkers in the last year alone.

Here in Chautauqua County, Catholic Charities touched the lives of 6,509 people in 2016, including 4,509 individuals who received financial, nutritional, prescription and housing assistance through Catholic Charities’ family services and emergency assistance programs.

These and numerous other counseling and community outreach program are conveniently accessible to all community members at 560 W. Third St. in Jamestown. Assistance in Jamestown through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) federal nutrition program is located at 200 Harrison St. Additionally, there is a Catholic Charities office at 425 Main St. in Dunkirk.

Some of these programs and services could be at risk or negatively impacted if we fall short. Current instability regarding future provision for medical insurance could compound access to mental health treatment as we are one of the few organizations that wouldn’t turn someone away because of an inability to pay.

As we turn to the community for our own help at this critical juncture, it is impossible to note Catholic Charities helps people of all ages, races, faiths and walks of life. In fact, more than 50 percent of those served are not Catholic.

Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions it receives, earning the highest-possible, four-star rating from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management and the highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service.

The organization also received the 2015 Torch Award for Philanthropic Excellence from the Better Business Bureau Foundation of Upstate New York.

Thus year’s appeal is under the patronage of Saint Marianne Cope, who was a member of the Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

As we approach the conclusion of the 2017 appeal for Catholic Charities and humbly ask for assistance, we reflect on Saint Marianne’s words: “Let us make best use of these fleeting moments. They will not return.”

Tony Raffa is a Jamestown resident.

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