A sudden loss or change in employment, a new medical expense, or the inability to keep up with utilities and rent payments are just some of the situations faced by individuals who turn to Catholic Family Center’s Community Resource Services in Rochester.
The agency helps people who are experiencing emergency situations get back on their feet using proceeds from the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities’ annual Christmas Appeal.
“These are individuals that are out there that fall through the cracks, and the appeal helps them to fill those gaps,” explained John Paul Perez, who leads CFC’s emergency services program.
The Christmas Appeal —now in its 49th year — raises money for the emergency funds of various Catholic Charities and affiliated agencies throughout the 12 counties of the Diocese of Rochester. The 2018-19 appeal, which has a goal of $45,000, began at Thanksgiving and runs through February.
Catholic Family Center’s Community Resource Services gets a larger portion of funding from the Christmas Appeal. They received more than $8,000 from the 2017-18 appeal and served more than 1,800 households in Monroe County in 2017, said Perez. He said the program is on track to serve about the same number of families in 2018.
When a crisis happens, individuals can be referred to Community Resource Services by community organizations or by just stopping into the agency’s walk-in center on Joseph Avenue in Rochester, Perez said. When people come to Community Resources Services, the first thing they do is meet with case managers to determine what their needs are and what type of services and resources would be best for them. Many of people visiting the center are looking for food, which is available through the organization’s large food pantry, Perez said. There also is clothing available through the agency’s clothing closet, along with access to diapers and hygiene products.
In addition to its food pantry and clothing closet, Perez said Community Resource Services case managers help individuals and families find safe and affordable housing options and provide financial assistance for those facing possible eviction due to overdue rent. The case managers work with both the individuals and landlords to set up payment plans. With funds from the Christmas Appeal, Community Resource Services also is able to provide a limited amount of financial assistance and will assist clients with security deposits, first month’s rent or back rent, Perez noted. During the winter months with the increase in heating costs, appeal funds also are used to help people who need assistance with paying utility bills.
Perez said that even though the amount of money may Community Resource Services receives from the Christmas Appeal may seem small, the agency would serve fewer families if the funding wasn’t available.
“Every amount that we get is critical,” he said. “So even though it may not be large, every bit helps.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: To donate to the Christmas Appeal, make checks payable to Christmas Appeal and send them to the Catholic Courier, PO Box 24379, Rochester, NY 14624. Please include your name, address, city, state, ZIP code, telephone number, and whether the gift is being made in honor or memory of someone. For more information, visit www.catholiccourier.com/christmas-appeal.