While the annual Catholic Charities week of Appeal is not until April, representatives from Catholic Charities and local churches attended a kickoff luncheon Saturday at the White Inn in Fredonia. This year's appeal officially kicked off last month.
Catholic Charities helps residents in Chautauqua County and was able to help more than 5,000 residents in 2013. Maria Perez-Cruz, director for Catholic Charities services in Chautauqua County, said the organization provides financial services, transportation services, educational services and mental health counseling - including trauma counseling, among others. Perez-Cruz said the organization has been working with the Fredonia Agri-Business Child Development to provide counseling services to children.
"Our staff is now all trained in trauma counseling," Perez-Cruz said.
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone said it is a Christian’s obligation to give as it is stated in Matthew 25. He was in Fredonia Saturday to help kick off the Catholic Charities 2014 Appeal.
Catholic Charities services in the county are based on a sliding scale, including counseling. Perez-Cruz said no individuals are turned away if they cannot afford services. Rachel Trippy of Dunkirk spoke on how the organization has helped her and her family. Trippy moved to the area about five years ago from Corry, Pa., and said she was unsure who to turn to when she needed help.
"When I moved here I didn't know where to go. By the time we walked through doors at Catholic Charities, you were our last hope," Trippy said.
Someone suggested Trippy contact Catholic Charities and she and her husband received counseling through the organization. Trippy commended the organization for helping her with accomplishing so much.
"I can't say enough for what they have done. Personally, I wouldn't be standing here today. I wouldn't have what I have I'm just thankful that someone wanted to hear about my story," she said.
For his work with Catholic Charities, Jonathan Schmitz who is a parishioner of St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Mayville and works with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, was awarded with a "Heart at Work" award. Schmitz was recognized for his work with assisting clients in emergency situations.
"Jonathan has been a real Godsend to our clients and our organization, often provided assistance over-and-above the programs and services we offer, all in Jesus' name," Perez-Cruz said.
Bishop Richard Malone spoke of how important the appeal process is to the church. He said individuals, like those in attendance at the luncheon, are the ones who make the annual appeal such a success at the parish level.
"Without what you do, this whole thing would come to a halt," he said.
Throughout the appeals, he said it is a Christian's obligation to give. He quoted a verse from Matthew 25, "I was hungry and you fed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was in prison and you visited me." He encouraged parish leaders in attendance to not be afraid to ask for donations.
"As Christians and Catholics, we have an obligation to give," said Malone. "Catholic Charities provides for people a very tried and true, credible and a safe way to fulfill their obligation. It's an easy way for people to do something that Christ asked us to do."
This is the 90th year of the Catholic Charities appeal. This year's goal is $10.8 million. To give online, visit ccwny.org. You may also give by calling 218-1400. The organization has two offices in the county located at 425 Main St., Dunkirk and 560 W. Third St., Jamestown.
Comments on this article may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org