A homeless man walked into Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes’ Geneva office last week and walked out with an early Christmas gift in the form of temporary housing and the agency’s promise to help in securing more permanent housing.
That gift was made possible in part due to funds from the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal, which raises money for the emergency funds of various Catholic Charities agencies and affiliated agencies throughout the Diocese of Rochester.
Proceeds from this appeal are extremely valuable to these agencies because they don’t come with restrictions governing how the funds must be used, noted Ellen Wayne, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes. This affords the staff at Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes and the other agencies the flexibility and creativity they need in order to efficiently respond to the wide variety of needs they’re faced with.
“Each situation is unique to the person that comes. There’s no one response,” she said. “(Appeal funds) allow us to be able to reach the people who otherwise wouldn’t be eligible for assistance.”
The man who had been facing homelessness is one of those people who doesn’t qualify for many forms of public assistance, yet he can’t afford to rent an apartment on his fixed income of $740 a month, Wayne explained. She and her staff used Christmas Appeal funds to secure temporary housing for him, and will work with the man to arrive at a more long-term solution.
Many people turn to Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes for help finding solutions when the ever-increasing costs of living outpace their incomes, Wayne said.
“The situations that we’re seeing are increasingly dire and the solutions are oftentimes a little more costly than what they might have been in the past,” she said.
Sometimes the agency’s staff members are able to maximize the impact of Christmas Appeal funds by combining them with other sources of funding in order to best meet an individual’s specific needs, Wayne added. Such was the case in October, when Catholic Charities staff used some funds from the United Way to prevent a woman’s electricity from being disconnected.
“She was also out of propane, and it doesn’t do us any good to make sure the electricity was there to fire the furnace when she doesn’t have any propane,” she said, noting that the agency used Christmas Appeal funds to help the woman purchase propane. “We combined the United Way and Christmas Appeal money to create a solution.”