Weekly Feature



2018-02-14 / Lifestyles

Catholic Charities puts focus on job training for 2018 appeal

by ALAN RIZZO
Reporter


Volunteers from parishes in Buffalo and Arcade, among them Sister Mary McCarrick, second from left, diocesan director for Catholic Charities of Buffalo, bring donations to Catholic Charities’ employee Fred Heuer during the nonprofit’s appeal fundraising drive last year. This year’s drive runs through June 30. 
Photos courtesy of Catholic Charities of Buffalo Volunteers from parishes in Buffalo and Arcade, among them Sister Mary McCarrick, second from left, diocesan director for Catholic Charities of Buffalo, bring donations to Catholic Charities’ employee Fred Heuer during the nonprofit’s appeal fundraising drive last year. This year’s drive runs through June 30. Photos courtesy of Catholic Charities of Buffalo I n its 94th year, the annual Catholic Charities of Buffalo appeal will once again work to raise

$11 million to fund a host of programs that meet the needs of roughly 153,000 Western New Yorkers who live in poverty or are in crisis.

And while all of those programs benefit from the annual fundraising drive, the organization is focusing on supporting its workforce and education programs in 2018, which help young Western New Yorkers in poverty to gain the skills and education necessary to get local jobs.

“That’s such a critical area in our community, and happily, it’s a growth area,” said Sister Mary Mc- Carrick, Catholic Charities’ diocesan director. “We’ve been doing [workforce development] for over 30 years, and right now this is a period when there is a coalition of people in the community that are really interested in trying to support it.”


An aspiring student, left, a participant in the Tomorrow's Youth Today program run by Catholic Charities of Buffalo, gets help from educator Stephen Pizzuto. Along with other workforce and education services the nonprofit offers to young adults in the region, the program is a focus of the 2018 appeal fundraising drive. An aspiring student, left, a participant in the Tomorrow's Youth Today program run by Catholic Charities of Buffalo, gets help from educator Stephen Pizzuto. Along with other workforce and education services the nonprofit offers to young adults in the region, the program is a focus of the 2018 appeal fundraising drive. In cooperation with Goodwill of Western New York, the Buffalo Urban League and the Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance, Catholic Charities is spearheading an effort to create the Northland Workforce Training Center, a facility that’s expected to open this fall in the former Clearing Niagara Headquarters on Northland Avenue in Buffalo, according to the center’s website.

Funded by federal, state and local sources, the facility is intended to prepare students for local jobs in the advanced manufacturing and energy industries, by providing industry education, leadership development, job and life skills training, quality of life and community assistance, and job placement.

Jeffrey Conrad, director of workforce and education for Catholic Charities, said with roughly 130,000 retirements expected in the region over the next decade, and nearly 50,000 jobs expected to be created over that same period, it’s crucial that undereducated and underemployed

Western New Yorkers get the training they need to get hired.

“As the sectors are advancing, whether it’s manufacturing, our trades, it is a constant struggle for employers to find people for these jobs,” he said, noting that the local unemployment rate has risen in the past seven months because many young job seekers don’t have the required ninth-grade education in math and English to qualify for work in those sectors.

“One of our responsibilities as an organization is to offer them that opportunity to get their math and English up to sufficient levels so that they can step on a manufacturing floor in an entry-level position, or understand how to read basic blueprints.”

One way Catholic Charities is doing that is through its Tomorrow's Youth Today program, which encourages youths aged 16 to 24 who are not in school to get educated debt-free. Conrad said that while that program focuses on high school equivalency instruction, job readiness skills and other training, it can also connect students to careers through the Northland Center.

“We will be able to make referrals from our classrooms at Catholic Charities right over to Northland, which will provide trainings in advanced manufacturing and energy,” he said.

That training is expected to lead to careers that pay a living wage, so that underemployed residents can quit working multiple minimum wage jobs, get out of poverty and participate in the region’s resurgence.

“That economic resurgence is not getting to everyone,” Conrad said. “If we can educate people and they can find a job, a stable job, that poverty number should go down.”

As of Feb. 13, the 2018 appeal, which started last month and runs through Saturday, June 30, has collected roughly $2.8 million.

At its conclusion, the appeal will put nearly 90 cents of every dollar donated toward services that Catholic Charities offers in 70 programs at 61 locations throughout

WNY.

Sister McCarrick said because the majority of people who benefit from those programs are not Catholic and are served regardless of religious affiliation, ethnicity, background or other designations, it’s important that non-Catholics donate.

“To continue that, we need the support of everybody,” she said.

Those interested in donating can do so during Appeal Week, which takes place from March 18 through 25, or at anytime during the drive.

To learn more about the appeal and how to donate, or to learn about local services that Catholic Charities provides, visit its website at www.ccwny.org/.

email: arizzo@beenews.com

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