by Kaitlin Jackson
About 10 to 15 volunteers from Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Orchard Park take time out each month to provide a free, hot evening meal for Lackawanna residents at Catholic Charities Food Pantry and Outreach, 75 Caldwell St., Lackawanna. Recently, the group marked one year of service to the community.
Eileen Nowak, Catholic Charities Parish Outreach and Advocacy Department director, took a moment to thank the faithful group at the monthly dinner.
“Congratulations to all of you and to Father Bernard Nowak, your pastor, who supported and encouraged your efforts from the beginning one year ago,” said Eileen. “Thank you for bringing this ministry of hope and compassion to individuals and families in Lackawanna. Their smiles and words of appreciation each month prove that you are making a difference in their lives. We celebrate your first year of service!”
The dinner is open to the public every fourth Thursday of the month and there is space to serve up to 100 people. Turn out is about 45 people currently.
Nativity of Our Lord Parishioner and former restaurateur and caterer Dan Barone serves as chef, planning and coordinating a hot and nutritious meal.
Other volunteers bring a craft project to do with the children during most months.
Dan Barone explained how the effort got started.
“Father Nowak wanted to offer this kind of ministry here and he was able to find someone in our church who would donate a stove,” said Dan. The stove is now installed at the Catholic Charities food pantry. Referring to offering the dinners, he added, “I love doing it; we all do.”
The Parish Outreach and Advocacy Department coordinates eight food pantry and outreach centers in three counties: Six are located in Erie County, in Central, East and South Buffalo, and in Lackawanna and Amherst; one is in Allegany County in Wellsville; and another in Cattaraugus County in Franklinville. Last year, more than 6,100 individuals were impacted by the services of the pantries.
Catholic Charities has helped individuals and families in need since its founding in 1923. That need is varied and widespread – from emergency assistance to counseling and from specialized services for the elderly to help with job training and education. 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. Catholic Charities receives the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives the highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service.
For more information on Catholic Charities, call (716) 218-1400 or go to www.ccwny.org. You can also check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccbuffalo, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ccbuffalo and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/catholiccharitiesbuffalo.