Catholic Family Center and Catholic Charities Community Services will merge Jan. 1, 2022, to form a new agency, called Catholic Charities Family and Community Services.
The board of directors of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester voted June 29 to approve the merger, according to a June 30 joint press release from the two agencies. Marlene Bessette, Catholic Family Center’s president and CEO since 2014, will retire in 2022, and Lori VanAuken, executive director of Catholic Charities Community Services since 2013, will become president and CEO of the newly formed Catholic Charities Family and Community Services.
“Our services and mission are naturally aligned and our joining together will enable a broader array of services and programs for the people we have the privilege of serving,” Bessette and VanAuken said in the joint statement. “Both CFC and CCCS are in a position of fiscal and program strength which helps to ensure the success of this transition. We are excited for what is to come.”
Catholic Charities Community Services and Catholic Family Center each have a long history of serving individuals and families throughout the Diocese of Rochester. Catholic Family Center was founded in 1917 and serves tens of thousands of people through a number of diverse programs ranging from refugee resettlement to mental-health services, and substance-abuse-related services to emergency housing.
Catholic Charities Community Services, meanwhile, was founded in 1980 and serves individuals with developmental disabilities as well as those living with traumatic brain injuries, chronic illnesses and HIV/AIDS. The agency provides a wide variety of services to its clients, including housing subsidies, care coordination, employment and community-based behavioral health support.
Merging the two agencies will allow them to enhance their services and streamline the processes through which they assist their clients, according to a joint statement from Stephanie Schaeffer, chair of Catholic Family Center’s board of directors, and Denny Fries, chair of Catholic Charities Community Services’ board of directors.
“In these challenging times, our community needs a human service provider that is large enough to navigate complex regulatory requirements but small enough to provide the human touch in a caring way, providing help to those who desperately need it. Both CFC and CCCS have long histories of successful service to our community, and together they can combine the best of both organizations to be even stronger and better positioned to serve for many years to come,” Schaeffer and Fries stated.
Bishop Salvatore R. Matano recently expressed his support for the merger of the two agencies, which he said share a common mission.
“As sister agencies under Catholic Charities, both Catholic Charities Community Services and Catholic Family Center share a common mission and vision for helping the most vulnerable members of our community in answer to the mandate of Jesus to love God and to love our neighbor. In answering this call to serve together, the dedicated staff of both agencies will be even more strongly supported to continue their service, in faith and charity and in love,” Bishop Matano said in the June 30 statement.
Bishop Matano also praised Bessette for her contributions to Catholic Family Center during her tenure.
“On behalf of the diocese, and all who have been served by her leadership, our prayerful wishes and gratitude to Marlene Bessette for her dedication to the service of Catholic Charities,” the bishop said in the statement.