Appeal helps needy on Monroe County's outskirts - Catholic Courier

Appeal helps needy on Monroe County’s outskirts

Struggling families in Caledonia and Mumford are among the people who’ve been helped most recently by the Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal.

St. Columba-St. Patrick Parish in Caledonia is one of the 21 organizations and agencies that recently received 2010 Hunger Relief grants, which are partially funded by the annual appeal. The parish turned its Hunger Relief funds over to the Food Relief Coalition of Caledonia and Mumford, which in turn used the money to feed the hungry seeking assistance at its door, according to Jim Dollard, social-ministry chair for the Caledonia parish.

Now in its 41st year, the Christmas Appeal raises money for Catholic Charities and parish-supported ministries that help people facing financial emergencies and other crises. The 2009-10 appeal raised $42,100.51, and organizers hope this year’s appeal will net $50,000.

Each year Catholic Family Center combines a portion of the appeal’s proceeds with proceeds from the annual Operation Rice Bowl program in order to distribute Hunger Relief grants. This year Catholic Family Center distributed Hunger Relief grants totaling $12,530 to 21 agencies and organizations, according to Marvin Mich, director of social policy and research at CFC. The majority of those grant recipients primarily serve residents within the City of Rochester, although several of the recipients serve the needy in Rochester’s suburbs.

Only a handful of the organizations that received grants are located in rural areas, and St. Columba-St. Patrick Parish is one of that small number. The parish and the Food Relief Coalition of Caledonia and Mumford straddle the border of Monroe and Livingston counties, with Mumford in Monroe County and Caledonia just over the border in Livingston County.

“What you get when you get out into Livingston County is the rural poor,” Dollard said.

Many of these rural poor live in remote areas of the county, which makes it difficult for these people to access the services they need, and even more difficult for service providers to find and assist them, said Dollard, who noted that Catholic Charities of Livingston County works tirelessly to identify and serve these people.

“They’re kind of hard to reach because of transportation. They’re out in the boondocks,” Dollard said. “We’re not faced with that so much here in Caledonia.”

Although the situation is not quite so dire in Caledonia and Mumford, which are approximately 20 miles southwest of Rochester, need in the area is on the rise, Dollard said. The Food Relief Coalition of Caledonia and Mumford is the only food pantry in the immediate area, and it serves about 68 people in more than 30 families each month. Last year it served 821 people, according to the organization’s year-end report. The pantry’s coordinator, Elmira Alexander, delivered Christmas food baskets to 28 families on Dec. 21, Dollard said.

“They all got either a turkey or ham and bags full of food. They had donations from the dollar store and some of the stores in town, and they had gifts for the kids,” he said.

Many of the needy people in the area are unemployed, Dollard said. Some don’t work because they lack the skills or education necessary to be employable, while others are out of work because of the poor economy or their own family situations.

“It’s also difficult for some of the single mothers to work because they can’t afford baby-sitters,” Dollard added.

The Food Relief Coalition of Caledonia and Mumford is run by the Second Baptist Church in Mumford, but St. Columba-St. Patrick parishioners support the pantry through regular food donations. The parish distributes bags to its parishioners, who take the bags home, fill them with food and bring them back to the church.

“We take food (to the pantry) once a month,” Dollard said.

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