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From left, Colleen Gibbons, resource coordinator, Erie County Integrated Domestic Violence Court, Greg White, director of the Catholic Charities’ Domestic Violence Program for Men, The Honorable Deborah A. Haendiges and Sr. Mary McCarrick, former Catholic Charities Diocesan Director, after Gibbons and Haendiges were presented with the Hero of Hope Partner Award for their commitment to ending domestic violence and diligent support of the Catholic Charities program.

About 112 parish volunteers, clergy, and Catholic Charities’ staff attended a volunteer training workshop on Feb. 12 to help kick off Appeal 2020 for Catholic Charities in Erie County.

The event was held at the Russell J. Salvatore Pantry & Outreach in Lackawanna in preparation for the annual campaign, which carries a goal of $10 million. The patron saint for Appeal 2020 is Saint Joseph. Working under the theme “Think of Me,” Appeal volunteers from Erie County will begin reaching out to individuals and businesses in the community to encourage their support of the Appeal, which helps fund Catholic Charities’ 51 programs and services across dozens of sites in Western New York, along with a number of programs and ministries through the Fund for the Faith.

Today’s workshop was one of two dates offered for training provided to Erie County volunteers; the first was held Wednesday, Jan. 29 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Amherst.

“Funding is vital not only for Catholic Charities to continue its robust mission of serving those most in need in Western New York, but for the Fund for the Faith to provide its important ministries for parishioners in our diocese,” said Rick Cronin, chair of Appeal 2020. “This marks our 96th Appeal, and we know that we couldn’t have come this far without prayers, dedicated volunteers and generous donors. As we begin our climb to $10 million, we will once again rely on this combination, and will remain committed to ensuring that Catholic Charities is a beacon of hope for those in need in Erie County.”

During the workshop, a video message from the Most Reverend Edward Scharfenberger, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo was shared expressing his thanks and admiration for all that the Appeal volunteers are doing to make this year’s campaign a success.

Hero of Hope Partner Awards were also presented to Honorable Deborah A. Haendiges and to Colleen Gibbons, resource coordinator for the Erie County Integrated Domestic Violence Court, for their support of Catholic Charities’ Domestic Violence Program for Men and diligent work to end domestic violence.

“Catholic Charities is honored to provide the Domestic Violence Program for Men. During our tenure, we have had the privilege to work with many people who are critical to this impactful work, and the Honorable Deborah A. Haendiges and Colleen Gibbons are two shining examples,” said Gregory White, director of Catholic Charities’ Domestic Violence Program for Men. “They are both so steadfast in their work every day striving to ensure that there is an end to domestic violence.”

Catholic Charities’ Domestic Violence Program for Men is for adult men who have perpetrated acts of domestic violence against their intimate partners. Men in the program must complete 26, 40 or 52 sessions, with an end goal of having participants realize the changes they need to make to improve their relationships and interact respectfully with their partners. The program has been offered for more than 30 years as a service to domestic violence courts, civil and criminal justice courts, or court agents such as parole, probation and child protective service officers.

Catholic Charities provided assistance which impacted more than 160,000 individuals, Catholics and non-Catholics alike during the past year, including 108,774 individuals in Erie County. Donors from Erie County contributed $5,942,286 to the 2019 Appeal.

Catholic Charities provides a wide range of services in Erie County. These services include: basic assistance and food pantries; counseling; Domestic Violence Program for Men; preventive services; Our Kids Parent Education and Awareness Program; chemical dependency outpatient services; older adult services; workforce and education services; care coordination services; immigration and refugee assistance; school based services; and the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutrition program.

The Fund for the Faith has supported the spiritual needs of WNY Catholics since 1937 through Campus Ministry, Hospital and Nursing Home Ministry, Deaf Ministry, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry, among a number of other ministries.

Appeal Sunday will take place April 5 throughout the eight counties of Western New York to celebrate the support of those who have made contributions to the Appeal, and to encourage those who have not already donated to do so. Volunteers will continue to work to achieve the $10 million goal until the conclusion of Appeal 2020 on June 30.

To make a donation to Appeal 2020 or for more information contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to  Join us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.