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A CHARITABLE endeavor that truly delivers strong services for each dollar given will be making its annual appeal April 2 through 9. Catholic Charities, making use of an army of devoted volunteers, will use less than 6 percent of its money for fund-raising, ensuring that givers get a good bang for their buck.

Western New York Catholics will be asked this year to meet a goal of $8.1 million, an increase of $200,000 over last year's goal. The increase is modest, especially when matched against the heightened service needs Catholic agencies are encountering. Catholic Charities served about 210,000 people last year, a number that is 60,000 higher than just two years ago.

Another measure of community distress is word that Catholic Charities expenses for emergency financial assistance grew 15 percent last year to a point just short of $500,000. The need for help is surely there.

The range of services is impressive. The Catholic Charities organization operates out of 64 locations in the eight counties of Western New York. Among other things, it runs five nursing homes, two homes for the
aged, home health care, emergency food vouchers, family counseling, visitation programs, literacy education, youth employment and day-care centers.

Catholic Charities offers help to all in need, with no fences. More than half getting assistance last year were not Catholics.

Catholic Charities goes where the problems are. Family counseling centers are located in Buffalo's Lower West Side and in Lackawanna in what are described as "ethnically diverse, poverty communities." In the past year, a full-service office was opened on Buffalo's East Side.

And Catholic Charities tackles tough issues. One offering is a man-to-man program which, in an educational group setting, tries to help men stop abusive behavior toward women and children. Among other things, those enrolled in the 20-week class get support from other men who are halting their own violent behavior.

Givers make a good investment in the community when the Catholic Charities organization is on their list. It's a time-tested appeal that makes good use of the contributions of the faithful.

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