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Educators Harvey Miles and Roni Ehlert put the packages together for their students.

Educators Harvey Miles and Roni Ehlert put the packages together for their students.

Challenging times call for creative methods. In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, Catholic Charities’ Department of Workforce and Education this week transitioned its high school equivalency preparatory classes to distance learning, as on-site classes were suspended.

To gear up for the change, Catholic Charities’ educators assembled and delivered distance learning packets to each student, along with a care package of food and resources earlier this week.

Tote bags donated by the City of Buffalo were filled with fresh and canned food from Catholic Charities’ food pantries, school supplies, a weekly tutoring schedule, a list of Catholic Charities’ food pantries and the Buffalo Public Schools’ free meal distribution list.

“It is essential that our students continue their studies during this unprecedented time of school closure,” said Jeffrey Conrad, director of Catholic Charities Department of Workforce and Education. “Many of our students also rely on Catholic Charities for services beyond the classroom, and we will continue to connect them with those available services in our community.”

Current students can access learning materials through Catholic Charities’ website at Individuals interested in enrolling in Catholic Charities’ high school equivalency preparatory classes, remedial assistance, or employment assistance, or college/vocation training can submit a referral form at that same web address.

“We will continue to update our materials and capabilities, including making our educators available to them remotely, to ensure our students have multiple ways to learn and prepare so they can achieve their educational and professional goals,” Conrad said, noting that the department is collaborating with numerous partners to ensure students’ needs are met. “While the approach is a little different right now, our commitment to our students’ success is still top priority.”

In addition to many of its Workforce and Education services, Catholic Charities is still operating and meeting the needs of our community through its nine food pantries, basic needs assistance, counseling, WIC, and substance abuse treatment, and other programs. In keeping with local and state mandates, the agency has transitioned much of its workforce to working remotely, with employees contacting clients by phone where possible.

“It is critical now that Catholic Charities remains a consistent system of support for our neighbors in our community, so we are continuing to serve our clients in as many programs and ways as we possibly can,” said Deacon Steve Schumer, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities. “At the same time, we are following all directives from state and local officials, with increased sanitizing protocols to keep our clients, volunteers and employees safe. We want the community to know that we are here for them and ready to answer their call.”

The home page of the agency’s website,, is updated daily or more often with program and service changes.