The city of Rochester’s poverty rate is now at 32.9 percent, and Rochester ranks first among similar-sized cities with 16.2 percent of people living in extreme poverty, according to the January report released by ACT Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation.
During the holy season of Lent, one of the things Catholics are asked to focus more intently on during these 40 days is on how they can help the poor. Church of the Assumption in Fairport helps those in need throughout the year by serving homeless families and working with various organizations to address the issue of poverty.
“It is our constant theme because the needs are in crisis proportions,” explained Deni Mack, pastoral associate at Church of the Assumption. “It is the mission of the church, the mission of all the baptized to implement Matthew 25:31-46, always.”
From 7 to 8 p.m. on March 30, as part of its Lenten offerings, Church of the Assumption will take a closer look at poverty and how mentoring can help during the presentation “FOCUS +: Mentoring Out of Poverty.” Sister Janet Korn, RSM, justice coordinator for the Sisters of Mercy in Rochester and Buffalo, will speak about the program. Sister Korn has an extensive history working with the poor and those in need, both in Rochester and in Santiago, Chile.
“FOCUS + is a team initiative developed to work toward helping persons in Monroe County achieve self-sufficiency through pairing volunteers from area faith communities and the community at large with persons who are participants in the FOCUS (Family Opportunities Created Using Support) Program of Action for a Better Community or Free to Fly, an organization for under paid workers,” Sister Korn said. “FOCUS + finds and prepares mentors to accompany and support people as they move toward self-sufficiency.”
Sister Korn will be joined by Shawn Futch, the program’s coordinator, who will talk about Action for a Better Community’s family and personal-development programs. She also will discuss the agency’s 10-week training session on removing employment barriers and providing the tools needed for long-term self-sufficiency. Futch and Sister Korn also will talk about the role and preparation of mentors and how volunteers can help people in becoming self-dependent.
While the goal of the presentation is to recruit people to become volunteer mentors to those in the FOCUS program, Sister Korn also wants people to just learn more about the program and get a better understanding of the issue of poverty.
“We want people to get a better understanding of people in poverty, their struggles and their hopes and dreams,” she said. “Another hope of ours is that many, who are present, offer to serve as mentors and accompany people out of poverty.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The program, which is open to the public, will be presented in the living room at Church of the Assumption, 20 East Ave. in Fairport. For more information about FOCUS + or becoming a mentor, call Sister Janet Korn at 585-288-2710, ext. 136, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.