CCOC Winter Newsletter 2019

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Catholic Charities

NEWSLETTER Creating Hope, Transforming Lives

Dear Friends, Throughout our 96-year history of unwavering service, the programs of Catholic Charities of Onondaga County have evolved to address emerging needs and challenges in our community. This last year has been another exercise in evolution. I take pride in our ability to adapt while providing compassionate support to the most vulnerable among us. As the economy fluctuates and the demographics of our region shift, we saw a widening gap in employment opportunities for those living in poverty. Through a grant with the Alliance for Economic Inclusion, we expanded our employment services in 2018 to provide more intensive job-training and jobsearching assistance to students of our Culinary Arts for Self-Sufficiency program. This support increases students’ chances of completing their training and building their career as they move to higherpaying positions. Our goal is building a pathway out of poverty through advancement in employment. As our community grapples with escalating hospitalizations and readmissions, particularly for individuals receiving Medicaid, we’ve also significantly expanded our health services coordination. These programs help individuals manage medical care for themselves and their children by connecting them to primary care and offering 24/7 support. We’ve also increased health care services in our


Men’s Shelter as the opioid epidemic continues and there is an increased need for mental health care. Late in 2018, we hired a full-time psychiatric nurse practitioner for the Men’s Shelter to provide this vital service.

In This Issue The Legacy of the Dorothy Day House page 3 Gift of Christmas page 4

The last year also saw the closing of two much-loved programs. The Dorothy Day House Shelter for Women and Children was closed because a decline in the population of homeless mothers and children led to a decrease in funding. While we are sad to see the House close, we are proud of how the program and our supportive housing initiatives have decreased the need for its services. Similarly, the funding for the Elementary Afterschool Program at the Bishop Foery Foundation was significantly decreased, leading to the closing of the program. We continue to work with the few impacted families to find alternatives for their children. As you will see in this newsletter, the needs of women and children continue to be met by a wide range of agency programs.

The New American All Stars page 4 Employee Recognition page 5 House of Providence Dinner Honorees page 6

This has been a period of program expansions and contractions. What remains consistent amidst these changes is our commitment to reducing poverty in Syracuse while serving those in greatest need. Thank you for being with us as we continue to search out and implement the best solutions to our community’s challenges. Warmly,

Michael F. Melara Executive Director









2019 BOARD OF DIRECTORS R. Michael Campbell President Julian Modesti, Esq. Vice President Patrick Taylor Treasurer Ryan McDermott Assistant Treasurer Mark Pitonzo Secretary John Godwin Assistant Secretary Kelly Besaw William Brower J. Carlos Cervantes Joseph L. Charles Michael P. Drescher Carol Fletcher Jonathan Hamblin Michael Meath Brian Moore Meredith Price Camille Tisdel

THANK YOU! In the last year, you’ve made it possible for us to create a lot of hope in Onondaga County! We’re deeply grateful for your dedication to our community. You made it possible for us to serve people in crisis, to create stability for people living in poverty, and to build individuals’ capacity for success. Thanks to you, more people have shelter and food and access to opportunities. We look forward to continuing to partner with you on a brighter future for Onondaga County. n

SENIOR MANAGEMENT TEAM Michael F. Melara Executive Director Christopher Curry Chief Program Officer Denise Headd Chief Development Officer T. Scott Kelso Chief Financial Officer Tia R. Sales Chief Human Resources Officer Sonja Gottbrecht Chief Performance Officer Catherine Willson Executive Assistant




1923 SOCIETY The 1923 Society is named for the year Catholic Charities of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse was incorporated. It is a leadership giving society whose members make one or more unrestricted gifts totaling at least $1,000 annually. This support is vital to the programs that help us reach over 20,000 local people in need every year. HOW TO JOIN: Members donate one or more unrestricted gifts totaling at least $1,000 in one calendar year. Gifts may be directed to the agency as a whole or to a particular program for general unrestricted use. Payment plans can be made by contacting Denise Headd at 315-362-7528 or MEMBER BENEFITS: Members receive special recognition in our annual report and special discounts on certain agency events. First-time 1923 Society members also receive a 1923 Society pin and an agency pen and notepad. n

DOROTHY DAY LEGACY In November 2018, after 37 years of service, our Dorothy Day House Shelter for Women and Children was closed. The decision to close the shelter was a difficult choice made in concert with community partners. It was determined that the need for homeless shelter services for women and children has declined significantly in recent years, and that Onondaga County’s resources were best utilized by supporting a larger shelter in Syracuse that serves the same population. All residents of Dorothy Day House were successfully transitioned into permanent housing before the program ended. Shortly after Dorothy Day House closed, the agency celebrated the legacy of the program at a gathering at the House of Providence. Staff, volunteers, and supporters came together to remember almost four decades of service. At the get-together, Dorothy Day House was celebrated as a special place where staff fostered a feeling of home for the women and children in residence. People spoke fondly about the vegetable garden in the yard and about connections forged over shared meals. It was a quiet, peaceful place where women in crisis could get services they needed to stabilize their lives for themselves and their children.

“I’m proud of the women we served,” said Kathleen Hayden, former Program Director of the Dorothy Day House. “I’m proud of our staff and volunteers, and of how they cared for the women and children in our care.” Many staff and volunteers noted that, while they were sad to see the program end, they took pride in the fact that the need for Dorothy Day House’s services has declined in recent years. Speaking to staff and volunteers, Executive Director Mike Melara said, “Thanks to you and the hard work you have done, more women and families live stable lives. You’ve made it possible for many people to succeed independently. That’s a great credit to your dedication. ” The work of Dorothy Day House continues in other programs, some described in this newsletter, that serve women, children, and families at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County. Dorothy Day House staff members who were interested in staying on at the agency have been reassigned to other programs where their expertise and experience is of great value. As an agency, we’re honored to carry on this legacy of exceptional care for women and children in crisis. n Dorothy Day House staff members at a celebration of the program.




GIFT OF CHRISTMAS Just before Christmas, as has happened for many years, our Lullaby League received a special donation from local students. The students are the members of St. Francis Xavier’s fourth grade religious education class. Throughout the holiday season, the kids collect new infant toys to donate to the babies and mothers served by Lullaby League. Renee O’Connor, Director of the Religious Education Program, calls the donation project the “Gift of Christmas” and says it’s suggested that students earn money for the toys themselves. The new toys are brought to class and wrapped. Students are encouraged to pray for the children and families who receive the gifts. Later in the year, the fifth grade students donate new baby blankets to Lullaby League. The gifts are very meaningful to Lullaby League. The program assists young pregnant women and new parents by offering classes and a support system for navigating the challenges of new parenthood. Participants receive layettes to help build a safe and welcoming environment for their new babies. The toys and blankets that the students donate go to local families who participate in the program. O’Connor says she values the opportunity to teach students about the needs of many people in the Syracuse community who might be less fortunate than the students and their families. “It’s important for them to know that there is this need and that they can help,” said O’Connor. n

Many programs like Lullaby League have unique donation needs. To learn more about how you or your organization can have an impact, call 315-362-7528.




David Knapp (center, back) with the All Stars during a recording session.

NEW AMERICAN ALL STARS David Knapp, Assistant Professor of Music Education at Syracuse University, has worked with many music programs, but says his work at CYO Refugee Services holds a special place for him. “This one is definitely the coolest,” he says. The afterschool program that Knapp leads meets once a week at our CYO building. For a part of the afternoon, he works with youth on their singing, playing instruments, and songwriting. They’ve performed at agency and community events as the New American All Stars. Between 10 and 20 youth participate each week, all of whom arrived in the United States as refugees from countries including Syria and the DRC. The program is funded by the John L. and Dona Lynn Kreischer Scholars Initiative at Syracuse University’s School of Education. While the program certainly involves teaching kids new skills, the goals are bigger than that. Through the experience of learning music and interacting as a group – often with youth of different backgrounds – Knapp says the program fosters literacy, critical thinking, and a sense of accomplishment and belonging. He has done similar work to study outcomes of music education in other populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. In the first year of the program, the students learned instruments, wrote music, and recorded original songs at a local studio. During the second year, there are plans to record music videos. Knapp says the program will continue to be a point of stability in the students’ lives, and provide a place where they can build confidence and friendships. Utilizing his time and expertise to develop this program has been a fulfilling experience for Knapp. He proudly relays reports of his students’ progress in the last year, and clearly looks forward to further work with the New American All Stars. “Of all the programs I’ve done,” says Knapp, “this makes me feel the most connected to the diverse Syracuse community.” n

EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION EVENT On November 8, 2018, we celebrated our employees with a masquerade-themed Employee Recognition Event at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Employees were recognized for their years of service and for special contributions to the agency. Congratulations to all who were honored. n

SERVICE AWARDS C. Walter Driscoll Award Liz Causgrove 20 Years of Service Tammie Crowell Maria Vazquez 10 Years of Service Anthony MacDonald Kimmy Radell Michael Melara Melissa Mustafa Renee Wood Jimmie Dillard

5 Years of Service Elizabeth McKee Galen McCown Mary Hicks Sharon Edwards Nancy Roberts Kim Fuegel Catherine Garvey Nicki Bugbee Katrina King Jessie Butts Brian Farranto Deborah Graves Michael McMahon Barbara Rauscher Dawn Pride





House of Providence


J.W. Burns & Company At the Annual House of Providence Dinner, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County honors individuals for their exceptional leadership and service to the agency and our Central New York community. The 34th Annual House of Providence Dinner will be held on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at 5:30 pm at the Oncenter in Syracuse.

Father John Manno Holy Family Church

We are excited to honor four exceptional individuals this year. The Bishop’s Award will be presented to Father John Manno of Holy Family Church for his dedication to actively serving people in Onondaga County. The President’s Award will be given to Dennis Gleason, recently retired from National Grid, in recognition of his contributions to the enhancement of the Onondaga County community. Todd and Amy Caputo, of Sun Auto Group and Give to Others, will receive the Humanitarian Services Award for their services to the community. We look forward to a great night celebrating truly remarkable members of our community. We hope you will join us. Our sincere thanks to our Co-Chairs, Joseph Charles and Patricia Callahan, and to the House of Providence Dinner Committee for all of their support. n


Dennis Gleason

National Grid, Retired


House of Providence Dinner MAY 22, 2019 • 5:30 PM Oncenter, Syracuse For tickets and sponsorship information, visit or call 315-362-7579.




Todd and Amy Caputo Sun Auto Group/ Give to Others

FOUNDATION AIDS PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAMS Late in 2018, Catholic Charities completed a project that was generously funded by the John Ben Snow Foundation. The Foundation provided funds for re-carpeting the meeting rooms, offices, waiting room, conference room, and children’s play area of our Parent Education offices. The updates create a welcoming, safe, supportive and positive environment for clients and their children. We are grateful for the Foundation’s continued support of our work and for their commitment to responding to changing needs in our community.






1654 West Onondaga Street, Syracuse, NY 13204


DONATE ONLINE Credit card gifts can be made on our secure site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at

MAIL A CHECK Checks made payable to Catholic Charities of Onondaga County may be sent to: 1654 West Onondaga Street, Syracuse, NY 13204

GIVE US A CALL Gifts and pledges can be paid over the phone by credit card at 315-362-7579. Annual pledges can also be paid through a quarterly or monthly payment program established by the donor.

TRANSFER STOCK Making a gift with securities you have owned for more than one year will earn you a double tax benefit. Not only can you take a tax deduction for the full, fair-market value of the stock, you can also avoid capital gains tax on any asset appreciation. Please call 315-362-7528 for more information.

MAKE A LEGACY GIFT Include Catholic Charities of Onondaga County in your estate plan. Consult your legal counsel to explore options. If you have any questions or need any additional information, please call us at 315-362-7579.

United Way of Central New York

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