OGDENSBURG It sounds so cheery and bright, the Catholic Charities Mothers Day Appeal.
But this annual observance on Sunday in churches across the Diocese of Ogdensburg was actually the start of some serious business that Catholic Charities deals with every day, all year: Helping the needy.
This year, the goal is to raise $165,000 to help pay for food, counseling services, assistance in paying utility bills and other lifes needs.
Because the need is there, and it isnt going away or declining. Catholic Charities served 18,000 people in 2012 and, according to Diocesan Director Sister Donna M. Franklin; there is a daunting 65 percent increase in the need for services. We need more resources, she said Friday.
Sister Donna has stories to tell about the importance of the Mothers Day Appeal, of why the donations starting on this special Sunday were so important:
n A parent who has worked for 20 years and his or her place of employment shuts down. As the parent looks for work and waits for unemployment benefits to begin, the bills begin to pile up. The parent becomes anxious, depressed and scared of losing the home and vehicle as financial stability slips away.
n A 25-year-old veteran suffering physical injuries including a traumatic brain injury. He is home and out of the military and has health insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs, but his wife and child are uninsured, and he cannot work because of physical disabilities. His short-term memory is impaired. He has applied for compensation and has been identified as 90 percent eligible, but it is taking months for the paperwork to be processed. He needs financial help for food and a utility bill.
Sister Donna is confident that, in spite of the sluggish area economy, the donations will come in, just as they have in years past.
People dig down deep, she said. People in the north country are very generous.
One client expressed his gratitude for that generosity in a letter to Catholic Charities.
Thanks to Catholic Charities, I felt as if someone cared about what happened to our family when I lost my job, he wrote. I always worked. I always felt good about taking care of my wife and kids. I didnt know what to do when the bills started to get the best of me. I never felt so scared before. I looked for work every day, I dont want to just stay home and live on unemployment. I was becoming depressed. Thanks to Catholic Charities, my family has a roof over their heads and didnt go hungry. I have gotten a job. It doesnt pay like my old job, but it is enough to get by. I dont know what we would have done without Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities has more than 500 volunteers in the RSVP in Clinton and Essex counties. It is a sponsor of the ombudsman program for long-term care facilities with 11 volunteers in facilities in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties. The pregnant and parenting teen program in Franklin County is dedicated to helping young families set goals for themselves and their children. Lewis County is served through the Watertown office. In St. Lawrence County, the Offender Accountability program served 67 men in 2012. The goal of that program is victim safety. This is just a snapshot view of some of the programs offered by Catholic Charities.
Donations can be sent to: Catholic Charities Appeal, 6866 State Highway 37, Ogdensburg, N.Y. 13669. More information can be obtained by calling 393-2255 or checking the website: www.cathcharities.org.