Winter Newsletter 2020

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Catholic Charities

NEWSLETTER Creating Hope, Transforming Lives

Dear Friends, Not long ago, we celebrated the winter equinox, otherwise known as the shortest day of the year. My mom was in the habit of tracking the extra minutes of daylight after the winter equinox and would gleefully report out, “Michael, we’re getting an extra three minutes of daylight this week!” Growing up in Watertown, where winter seemed interminable, this bit of good news did not always register with me. But slowly, almost imperceptibly, the short days of winter turned to the long days of spring and summer. It was the cumulative effect of a couple of minutes of daylight, over time, that brought us from darkness into light.


putting people to work. By increasing their ability to obtain and maintain steady employment, we are bringing a sense of hope into their lives and helping them to provide for their families. In many ways, we are assisting them in moving from the “darkness” into the “light.”

In This Issue Christmas with Catholic Charities page 3 Project Joseph Provides Opportunity to Work page 4

The programs and services we offer can make a difference in the lives of those we serve. I thank you for all you have done to assist us in the past and I ask you to stand with us today, and throughout the coming year, as we continue this most important work.

35th Annual House of Providence Dinner page 5 Employee Recognition page 6

With gratitude and appreciation,

Neighborhood Fresh Food Program page 7 Become a Champion page 7

Michael F. Melara Executive Director

In many ways, I think kindness works the same way. Small, imperceptible acts of kindness, over time, have a cumulative effect and brighten our days. This is especially true in our work at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County. While none of us has the power to solve significant social problems in one grand gesture, we can work on these issues every day and change the trajectory of people’s lives. In fact, that is exactly what we do at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County. As you read our Winter Newsletter, you will learn how we are feeding families with our Fresh Food Distribution. Our Dignity Works workforce development programs are









2020 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Julian Modesti, Esq. President Mark Pitonzo Vice President Ryan McDermott Treasurer Meredith Price Assistant Treasurer John Godwin Secretary Michael Drescher Assistant Secretary Kelly Besaw William Brower J. Carlos Cervantes Carol Fletcher Sarah Gambell Christopher Gorman Jonathan Hamblin Michael Meath Courtney Merriman Brian Moore John Perla Camille Tisdel

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




THANK YOU TO DANIEL BALDWIN AND THE BALDWIN FAMILY We at Catholic Charities want to extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to Daniel, his two daughters, and sister Beth for donating their Christmas to our CYO Program. The Baldwin family provided over 150 gifts to nearly 40 children on December 18th. We are deeply grateful to Daniel and the Baldwin family for their generosity and kindness.

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. Membership is limited to individuals, couples, and/or families. 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

CHRISTMAS WITH CATHOLIC CHARITIES What does Christmas mean to you? Is it time with friends and family? Is it sharing food and gifts? Is it a time of gratitude and reflection? For some of our clients, it can mean stress, isolation, and being overwhelmed. The holiday season can be extremely difficult for some, especially if they are struggling to find stability with housing, employment, or their financial situation. Here at Catholic Charities, we try to make the holidays a little brighter for those we serve through our Christmas Program. Our annual Christmas Program provides direct assistance to over 400 Onondaga County families, holiday parties for our neighborhood

centers and gifts for children in our pre-k and after school programs. We are also able to facilitate participation of our clients in the Christmas Bureau, a community-wide partnership that provides Christmas dinners and gifts for families. Our Christmas Program runs solely on the support of donations from our incredible donors. We are deeply grateful to all of our supporters who made Christmas and this holiday season so special for so many. We would not be able to continue this initiative nor meet the needs of our clients without your commitment and support. From everyone at Catholic Charities, we thank you. n




PROJECT JOSEPH PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY TO WORK Poverty is a complicated issue. Broadly speaking, poverty can be described as “situational” or “generational.” Many people are born into poverty, grow up in resource-poor environments, and live in generational poverty. This creates a frustrating and debilitating situation for the most vulnerable members of our community. At Catholic Charities, we work with individuals who are doing everything they can to change their circumstances. In 2014, to answer this need, Catholic Charities developed a culinary training program and a property maintenance program to help individuals develop the soft and hard skills necessary for regular employment and self-sufficiency. In light of the success of these two programs, in 2019, Catholic Charities created the social venture, Dignity Works, LLC, which includes these two “businesses,” Culinary Arts for Self-Sufficiency (CASS) and Project Joseph. Project Joseph provides training in property maintenance and janitorial skills while also providing steady income. CASS provides a five-week training program where students can learn culinary industry skills. 4



In the program’s inception, the target population was low-income Catholic Charities’ clients. Most early clients came from our refugee resettlement, supportive housing, and shelter programs. Now, all Catholic Charities programs are funneling interested clients into CASS and Project Joseph as well as accepting referrals from other community organizations. Since Project Joseph’s inception, the program has consistently employed between 10 and 25 client workers at a time, with several transitioning to full-time and benefit-eligible positions. Currently, Project Joseph is managing over 90 properties, providing property management, janitorial services, and construction services. n

Project Joseph is always looking for opportunities and projects. If you are interested in engaging with the program, please contact Scott Seymour, General Manager, at 315-882-8206.

35TH ANNUAL HOUSE OF PROVIDENCE DINNER Presented by 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 35th Annual House of Providence Dinner will be held on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 5:30 pm at the Oncenter in Syracuse.

Monsignor Neal Quartier Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

We are excited to honor three exceptional individuals this year. The Bishop’s Award will be presented to Monsignor Neal Quartier of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for his dedication to actively serving people in Onondaga County. The President’s Award will be given to Hank Centore, member of the Ignataion Volunteer Corp and a volunteer at Catholic Charities’ Emergency Services Food Pantry, in recognition of his contributions to the enhancement of the Onondaga County community. Sharon Owens, Deputy Mayor, will receive the Humanitarian Services Award for her 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

Hank Centore Ignatian Volunteer Corp

Save the Date

Please Join Us for the

35th Annual House of Providence Dinner Wednesday, May 20, 2020 5:30 pm Oncenter, Syracuse For tickets and sponsorship information, visit or call 315-362-7579.




EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION EVENT On November 14, 2019, we celebrated our employees at Traditions at the Links. Employees were recognized for their years of service and for special contributions to the agency. Congratulations to all who were honored.

SERVICE AWARDS C. WALTER DRISCOLL AWARD Kristian Peterson 30 YEARS OF SERVICE Richard Eimicke Kelly Kellar 20 YEARS OF SERVICE Elizabeth Causgrove Harvey Pinyoun Amy Wendt 10 YEARS OF SERVICE Jocelyn Bowen Latisha Harper Amy Hart Catherine Holmes Kyaw Kyaw Joseph Montesano Munifeh Sabiha Michael Spring Sarah Starr Catherine Willson 5 YEARS OF SERVICE Mary Emily Alibrandi Cynthia Bitter Christine Bulger Patricia Campany Emily Creasia-Worden Nasser Fitwi Malayka Hall Kathleen Hayden Muhammad Noman Lindie Novak




NEIGHBORHOOD FRESH FOOD PROGRAM In March 2018, Catholic Charities began a program at our House of Providence location to address the need of accessing fresh food. One of our staff members, through her participation in her Masters of Social Work program, developed a fresh food distribution program. Our Fresh Food Distribution program, in partnership with the Food Bank of Central New York, provides food to children, adults, and seniors. The program takes place on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Participants can arrive at 3:00 pm and the order is randomized.

In addition to offering free fresh food to anyone in need, the monthly distribution event is a chance to inform local residents about the agency’s programs. Staff members from different programs are available to talk with people about other support they might need in terms of housing, education, childcare, and more, and connect them with the appropriate program. Since the Fresh Food Distribution began in March 2018, it has provided food for nearly 6,000 individuals. Over a third of the individuals who receive food through the Fresh Food Distribution are children. On average, we serve over 400 individuals per distribution day. n

BECOME A CHAMPION! Please consider joining our monthly giving program and become a Catholic Charities Champion. Your monthly gift will provide reliable, consistent support to serve vulnerable communities in Onondaga County. By committing to becoming a Catholic Charities Champion, you will receive: • A pen and notebook in gratitude • Two discounted tickets to our Salt City Shaker event in October • A 2020 Catholic Charities calendar to help show the impact of your donation • A certificate acknowledging your commitment to being a Champion • Receive a bimonthly Champions’ Chapters update about the impact of your gift Become a Champion by visiting or calling 315-362-7695 to make your gift.






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 or call 315-362-7528 for more information. If you have any questions or need any additional information, please call us at 315-362-7528.

United Way of Central New York