Appeal assists Catholic Charities program - Catholic Courier

Appeal assists Catholic Charities program

Having a serious illness or disability makes it hard enough to keep one’s head above water. Throw in the economic realities of this day and age, and financial challenges become even steeper.

According to Tracy Kroft, development director for Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS) in Rochester, this type of dilemma is popping up more and more for the folks served by her organization.

“I think that it would be fair to say the requests for assistance have increased, for sure,” she remarked.

In light of this need, Kroft said CCCS appreciates the boost that funding from the Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal can provide.

“We use the Christmas Appeal money all year through,” she said, noting that appeal funds go toward such emergency causes as food, clothing, rent and utilities.

During its 30-year history CCCS has grown to encompass four chief service areas, assisting community members who are dealing with:

* Developmental disabilities. The group-home model provided the basis for CCCS being founded in early 1980s, when it was known as Catholic Charities Residential Services. CCCS now operates 11 group homes in Monroe, Wayne and Yates counties, and also provides a variety of support services for clients who live in the community to help them achieve as much independence as possible.

* HIV/AIDS. In 1990 CCCS began branching out by providing support services to people who are HIV-positive and their families. Among the many offerings are housing and short-term emergency services, transportation, case management and family services.

* Traumatic brain injuries. Catholic Charities added this initiative beginning in 1997, in an effort to support adults affected by brain injury who lack financial and social resources to be self-sufficient. Features of this CCCS division include service coordination, independent living-skills training, behavioral programming, counseling and transportation.

* Nursing-home transitions and alternatives. This newest of the CCCS programs was established in 2009 to assist people with disabilities who are medically eligible to be placed in nursing homes but desire a different living situation. The program offers service coordination, living-skills training, counseling and other services.

CCCS makes its services available to both the Catholic and non-Catholic community living within the 12-county Diocese of Rochester. According to the CCCS website, as of 2010, its Residential Program was serving more than 350 people living in group homes and in the community. Additionally, CCCS was supporting 230 individuals and their families through the AIDS Services Program; 83 people via Traumatic Brain Injury Services; and nine people through Nursing Home Transition and Diversion. Overall CCCS staffing was in excess of 200 people, and its operating budget was $8.3 million.

Despite this remarkable growth, Kroft said that financial holes often arise in clients’ lives that Christmas Appeal funds can help plug. She acknowledged that many times, because of disability or illness, inability to generate income is compromised while medical and other bills continue to mount. Kroft added that CCCS service coordinators occasionally put Christmas Appeal funds toward Christmas and birthday gifts for the people they serve — but more often than not, the money is to cover basic needs.

“Every gift is used and appreciated. Every dollar is used and appreciated,” Kroft said.

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