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by Stephanie Brown

Thu, Jan 28th 2016 09:35 am

Sr. Mary McCarrick, Catholic Charities diocesan director, left, with Robyn Krueger, executive director of Aurora House Children and Youth Community Residence of Lockport, who accepted the Hero of Hope award on behalf of the organization for being a long-time community referring partner of Catholic Charities.

BUFFALO, N.Y., Jan. 27, 2016 – About 35 eastern Niagara County parish and community volunteers, local clergy and lay leaders, and staff of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, gathered Wednesday evening for a volunteer training workshop and reception to help kick off the 2016 Appeal for Catholic Charities in the eastern part of the county.

The event was held at Lockport Canalside Banquet Center in Lockport in preparation for the 92nd annual campaign, which carries a goal of $11 million and officially began Jan. 6. The patron saint for the 2016 Appeal is St. Nicholas.

During the workshop, the manager of the Aurora House Children and Youth Community Residence was honored with a Hero of Hope Partner Award.

Working under the theme “Find Good Within,” Appeal volunteers from Niagara County will begin reaching out to individuals and businesses in the community to encourage their support of the 2016 Appeal, which helps fund Catholic Charities’ 70 myriad programs and services across 61 sites in Western New York along with a number of ministries through the Bishop’s Fund for the Faith.

Donors from Niagara County contributed $996,149 to the 2015 Appeal.

Two important dates during the 2016 Appeal include First Report Sunday on March 13 and the culmination of Appeal Week on Palm Sunday, March 20. Although Appeal Week marks the strongest push for parish donations, volunteers will work to achieve the final goal until the conclusion of Catholic Charities’ fiscal year on June 30 if necessary.

Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, center, with staff members of the Aurora House Children and Youth Community Residence of Lockport, which was presented the Hero of Hope award for being a long-time community referring partner of Catholic Charities.

Among the speakers at the event were Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo; Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, Catholic Charities diocesan director; Dennis Walczyk, chief executive officer, Catholic Charities; and Kathleen Hall, Niagara County district director, Catholic Charities.

Members of the Appeal leadership team presented information about the 2016 Appeal, including what has changed, how to run a successful parish campaign and ideas for gaining new donors while also retaining previous supporters.

During the workshop, a Hero of Hope Partner Award was presented to Aurora House Children and Youth Community Residence of Lockport for being a long-time community referring partner serving children and families. Kristin Vescio, Aurora House manager, accepted the award. The organization provides complete care for eight youth, ages 12-17, that are diagnosed as severely emotionally disturbed (SED). Aurora House is one of many youth services provided by Community Missions, Inc. which operates the youth community residence. Community Missions Executive Director Robyn Krueger also was in attendance.

Bishop Malone thanked the honorees and spoke about the 2016 campaign.

“It’s hard to believe this is my fourth Appeal as Bishop of Buffalo,” said Bishop Malone. “I wish I could report the need for our services has diminished during my time here, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Last year we provided assistance to nearly 132,000 individuals, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, including more than 5,350 individuals in the eastern part of this county alone. We anticipate a similar or increased volume in the coming year.

“To continue providing vitally important care and support to all who need it, we have established an ambitious goal for Appeal 2016. This year’s theme, ‘Find Good Within,’ reminds us to open our hearts and find the good – and also the God – within each of us, in order to help those who are without, or those who are in need of a helping hand at this particular time in their life.”

Bishop Malone was joined by Sister Mary McCarrick, who shared the story from this year’s video about a mom (Barbara) who is so grateful for the care and counseling her daughter Heather received through the Monsignor Carr Children’s Clinic. Barbara explains in the video, “I honestly do not think she [Heather] would be here if it wasn’t for Catholic Charities and the services that they provided.”

Sister Mary said, “Catholic Charities is there for families, such as Barb and Heather, who can find hope and healing through our services.”

Sister Mary also introduced Nick and Nicole Tzetzo, the 2016 Appeal chair couple.

Nick Tzetzo said, “The annual appeal has supported Catholic Charities for the past 91 years. As we enter into our 92nd Appeal, we continue to face the same challenges that have been present for many years, such as an aging donor base and an increased need for services in one of America’s poorest cities. Those challenges, however, won’t keep us from meeting our goal.”

“A gift to Catholic Charities is a gift to our own neighbors, members of our human family seeking a hand up,” said Nicole Tzetzo. “As we move through this year’s campaign with this in mind, take notice that our neighbors need us in whatever capacity we can give. Give what you can. It will come back to you in so many ways.”

Other members of this year’s volunteer leadership team are Gerard and Barbara Mazurkiewicz, vice chairs; Kellie Ulrich, community division chair; John and Suzanne Berger, corporate chairs; and Rick Cronin, parish chair.

Stressing the importance of donations to the Appeal, Bishop Malone spoke about the example set by this year’s patron saint.

“St. Nicholas was a fourth century bishop born in an ancient Greek town off the coast of Turkey,” Bishop Malone explained. “His wealthy parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was young. Taking to heart the words of Jesus in Luke 18:22 to ‘sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor,’ Nicholas used his inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He became known throughout the land for his generosity and concern for others. His reputation for gift-giving became the model for Santa Claus.

“As we launch the 2016 Appeal, may we reflect on the life of St. Nicholas and seek to manifest our concern for others by considering a gift to this year’s campaign, in particular during this, the Holy Year of Mercy. The compassionate, healing and life-changing support provided by Catholic Charities is truly the manifestation of mercy in our Church and throughout our diocese.”

A wide range of services in eastern Niagara County are available in three offices in Lockport, all located in the Bewley Building. These services include basic assistance; counseling for individuals, couples and families; Domestic Violence Offenders program; Our Kids: Parent Education and Awareness Program; the Monsignor Carr Institute Children’s Clinic; Multisystemic Therapy; and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program.

Catholic Charities has helped individuals and families in need since its founding in 1923. The need is varied and widespread including emergency assistance, counseling and mental health services, specialized services for families and the elderly, and job training and education.

As the most comprehensive human service provider serving Western New York, Catholic Charities makes a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives.

In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assess its clients for other needs to ensure long-term success.

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

To make a donation or learn more about Appeal 2016, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to You can also check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at and on Twitter at