To celebrate the success that defined Catholic Charities of Buffalo for the past 100 years and to toast its promising future, the agency recently hosted its Centennial Celebration on Oct. 29. As part of the event, five Centennial Awards were presented to deserving Catholic Charities employees, a volunteer, and a community partner.
James Campbell, outreach specialist at Joyce Family Food Pantry & Outreach in Wellsville, and Alexa Williamson, LMSW, clinician on Catholic Charities’ behavioral health team in Niagara Falls, each received the Centennial Employee Award. Serving Catholic Charities since 2011, Campbell is an integral part of the agency’s work in Wellsville and Allegany County at large, serving the food pantry, and the Wellsville Thrift Store. He demonstrates teamwork in his leadership of the volunteers who meet people where they are and fill a critical void in the lives of the clients. Williamson has been an impactful member of the clinical team at the Niagara Falls children’s clinic since joining in 2022, taking on additional tasks to help the team, displays integrity, and is accepting of all clients and team members from diverse backgrounds. She works closely with other providers in the community to ensure collaborative care for the clients and families she works with every day.
Rick Cronin, past Appeal chair and longtime volunteer, was honored with the Centennial Volunteer Award. Dedicated to the Appeal and Catholic Charities since he was a child seeking donations door-to-door with his father, Cronin has been part of his parish Appeal since 1993 at St. Margaret Church and served on the Appeal leadership team for nine years: six years as parish chair, one year as vice chair and finally Appeal chair for both 2020 and 2021. Cronin currently serves on the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees.
Catholic Charities recognized Mental Health Advocates of WNY with a Centennial Community Partner Award, for their support of the In School Social Work Program, which enhances success for more than 4,000 students and families each year through character development, skill-building activities and more in 20 Catholic schools in six WNY counties. Additionally, Mental Health Advocates’ BEST program and Youth Peer Advocate teams have further enriched the services in many of the Catholic and Buffalo Public schools Catholic Charities works with, allowing staff to focus on their work while ensuring an additional layer of support for students.
Finally, Christine Zaky was honored for her 46-year and counting tenure at Catholic Charities with the Centennial Service Award. Zaky began her career with Catholic Charities in June 1977 joining the steno pool, transcribing and typing the notes of case managers and counselors. Later, she became secretary and then administrative assistant for the agency’s largest department at that time. Today, Zaky supports both the Family Enrichment and the School Based Services programs as administrative assistant, where she handles a wide variety of assignments.
“It is the servant leadership and support of those like James, Alexa, Rick, Christine and the Mental Health Advocates of WNY that has enabled Catholic Charities to serve as a beacon of hope to so many in our community for the past 100 years,” said Deacon Steve Schumer, president and CEO, Catholic Charities. “Each exemplify Catholic Charites’ values of compassion, empowerment, diversity, teamwork and integrity. We applaud your instrumental efforts in helping us to fulfill our mission for years to come.”