By Gerard Mazurkiewicz and Barbara Mazurkiewicz
Often referred to by the media as the “drive that never fails,” the 2017 Appeal for Catholic Charities is nearly $1.8 million short of its $11 million goal, with a June 30 deadline fast approaching.
Barring a significant increase in donations over the next six weeks, this year’s appeal is in jeopardy of failing to reach its goal for the first time since 2008, and only the second time in its 93-year history.
The theme – “Finite Time. Infinite Good” – is especially meaningful as we reach out to our many generous donors and 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 for older adults and those with special needs. We now have a very finite amount of time remaining to ensure we can continue providing 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 lifesaving services that impacted nearly 152,000 Western New Yorkers in the last year alone.
Among the services most at risk if we fall short are emergency basic assistance for those facing crises like homelessness and a lack of food or medicine, along with counseling, mental health and addiction services. Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act could compound access to mental health treatment. We are one of the very 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 important to note that 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.
This year’s appeal is under the patronage of St. Marianne Cope, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. Often referred to as the “beloved mother of outcasts,” she was canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, with many members of the Williamsville Sisters of St. Francis in attendance.
As we approach the conclusion of the 2017 Appeal for Catholic Charities and humbly ask for assistance, we reflect on St. Marianne’s words, “Let us make best use of these fleeting moments. They will not return.”
Gerard Mazurkiewicz, a tax partner at Dopkins & Co., and Barbara Mazurkiewicz are the chairs of the 2017 Appeal for Catholic Charities.