The Mission of Catholic Charities of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse is to empower people in need to transform their lives. We strive to reflect God’s love and compassion in all that we do.
“Catholic Charities Strong” Tee Shirt Contest
Dear Community Members:
Catholic Charities isn’t just about helping people work through life’s challenges, it’s about encouraging people to discover the strengths within them and helping them make their dreams come true. To do this, our Catholic Charities team brings together people of great skill and potential who also have the desire to bring out the best in others. This can start powerful chain reactions leading to new initiatives such as creation of a Peer Institute, new children’s services, expansion of Supported Housing and help for people who dream of moving out of impoverished conditions that include homelessness, unemployment, and poor health. In many ways, 2019 was the launch pad for new services and efforts to strengthen services together with our collaborative partners. As we came right up against the tsunami wave of world pandemic in 2020, the efforts begun in 2019 have carried us forward and sustained us. Many thanks to every member of our community who supported the work of Catholic Charities in 2019: volunteers, donors, staff, Diocesan leadership and our Board of Directors. Special thanks to those who trust us enough to reach out for help; it is our honor to serve and together we are all enriched by the synergy of working together. Who knew the world might change in an instant; it is good to be together on this journey as we see each other safely through and on to continuing to build powerful dreams leading to powerful actions.
This annual report is dedicated to Most Reverend Bishop Douglas J. Lucia, 11th Bishop for the Diocese of Syracuse, appointed by Pope Francis on June 4, 2019. Bishop Lucia began his service by visiting a Catholic Charities homeless shelter in Syracuse and shortly after honored us with a visit to tour our Lady of Hope Intermediate Care Facility, our pantry at 100 Main Street and the Four Seasons Club. We wish Bishop Lucia the very best as he ministers to the many in need in our diocese and pray for his good health and strength in the days ahead.
Catholic Charities of Broome County, as an essential services provider of a variety of human services including mental health, health home care management, residential services for special needs populations and basic needs services such as food and personal care/household supplies, continued to provide its services throughout the pandemic by using the following strategies;
- Stabilizing the workforce
- Providing a residential salary differential and alternate leave days for non-residential staff
- Changing the ways that services are provided including the use of telehealth and pre-boxed meals as well as meal delivery and drive by birthday parades and car parades to show support to clients in their neighborhoods
- Establishing a COVID- Leave No One Behind Fund to respond to community needs
During the course of the pandemic, there have been unanticipated benefits as well as drawbacks and challenges. The future will require us to continue to evolve our services and facilities to be able to respond effectively to community needs as well as safeguard and support our workforce and those that we serve.
To date we have provided over 330,000 pounds of food and served over 100 people through our Leave No One Behind fund with such items as rental assistance, medical supplies, PPE, household supplies and basic necessities.
Stay tuned as we continue to find new ways to serve during this unprecedented pandemic.
- 415 Individuals were provided with housing through Mental Health or Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities residences including supported and certified apartments, Damon Hall and Our Lady of Hope Intermediate Care Facility.
- Community Support was provided to 390 adults at risk of abuse.
- The Four Seasons Club celebrated its 36th year of operations.
- Youth, Family and Community Services served 701 families and 2,951 individuals through family counseling, Functional Family Therapy, Family Connections Center youth and school support counseling and group work as well as family support services and case management.
- Youth residential services were provided to 34 youth and 3 infants and 11 youth were served through the Boys of Courage Community Residence.
- Mother Teresa’s Cupboard and the Main Street pantry served 17,440 households consisting of 41,806 persons. The Pantry Mentoring program, provided by staff with lived experience in poverty, helped 53 people make progress in moving out of poverty.
- 306 senior volunteers through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program gave back to their community through 20 not for profits and also helped with providing Bonesavers, Tai Chi and Osteoporosis exercise classes in the community.
Supported Housing Services was started by the Office of Mental Health in the 1990’s. Joe Gosney, Manager of Residential Services at Catholic Charities, describes the flexibility of this housing program: “The program really is kind of broken down to three areas, which is startup, stipend, and then support services. And you can have any one or all three.” Hundreds of people have been helped by this program.
William is now in an apartment after being in a group home. “To be moving from the group home to the apartment program, I think that was the best thing,” he comments. “It’s nice to have support and still have a lot of independence.”
Freda received assistance in moving into an apartment. She carries an interesting perspective since she used to be in this career field. “You don’t do it for the paycheck. You do it because it means something.” She is greatly thankful for this program. “I couldn’t have made it without them.”
Child and Family Treatment Support Services
“I think any program that helps those people that fall through the cracks is extremely important. And I think these people have fallen through the cracks in the behavioral health system,” Licensed Practitioner Tom Phillips indicates.
Barbra, a CFTS client, has been meeting with Amy Wilson for about a year. “There was a lot of trouble with the children where they weren’t able to just cope with everyday life,” Barbra notes. After working with Amy, Barbra remarked about her children, “I’ve seen them calm down. I’ve seen a change in our family dynamic.” She was glad they viewed the family as a unit, with individual needs. She emphasized the compassion of the people in this program. “I think that’s important to know–they really care about your family.”
It’s much easier to receive help from someone who has experienced what you are struggling with. The Peer Institute at Catholic Charities gives a place for peers in mental health to receive training so that they can effectively give help to others. Each individual has lived experience with their own mental health challenges and successes. After completing coursework, these individuals can receive a New York State peer specialist certification.
Brandan Campbell wants to help those who are suffering in silence. By helping them, he’s also helping himself. With the peer certification, he noticed that he recognized the topics in the class, but he now has a better understanding and context of them. Speaking about the peer certification credentials, he said, “With those, we’re able to have a say on our client’s, our patient’s care.”
Lori Albrechta’s story started as one of misdiagnosis. She was able to achieve the balance she needed in her life with the help of a therapist and a doctor. “Like many, many others that are either working in this field or receiving services in this field, the first focus is illness. And we’re all here to talk about wellness.” Lori liked of the customization of the peer certification coursework for slower or faster learners.
Aaron Bennett lived in a group home with Catholic Charities during a difficult season in his life. “To be able to give back in the same way that that was given to me, the people that were surrounding me, and do that again for someone else was very meaningful.” He said about the certification, “It’s an accomplishment that you can be proud of.”
Lizanne Clifford was a parent partner, and appreciates the perspectives between the client and the peer. Towards the end of filming the panel interview, she added, “I also want people to know what a fun job this is. Every day brings something new–a new experience, a new lesson to be learned. . . . Every day is special.”
- Encompass Health Home served a total of 4,889 people through Care Management:
- 2,852 were adults with chronic medical conditions including mental illness and 2,037 were children including those with serious emotional disturbance and complex trauma.
- The Encompass Network includes 9 Care Management Agencies for Adults in Broome and Chenango Counties and 27 Care Management Agencies for Children in 44 counties across upstate NY.
- In December 2019, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation approved a grant in the amount of $2.5 to support Encompass expansion of enrollment, piloting of value based incentives with Care Management agencies, training and testing of Lean applications to achieve greater work flow efficiencies and improvements in the electronic health record.
- The InShape Program was revitalized to offer personal fitness training and help with obesity and nutritional goals in conjunction with care management to up to 25 persons with a serious mental illness. Results included significant weight loss, improved blood levels such as cholesterol and A1C , increased energy and wellbeing.
- A December review by the State Department of Health resulted in a 2 year re-designation and encouragement to submit a proposal to expand to serve adults in all counties approved for children.
The Encompass Network
Encompass Health Home serves forty-four counties in New York State and provides over thirty care management agencies with tools and guidance to help their communities.
“They provide us resources that we’re able to provide our families with when our families need that quick support,” says Ashley Price, Children’s Care Manager at Pathways, Inc. in Monroe County. “Being able to see the growth in the families and the families say, ‘Thank you so much. This has really helped us grow as a family. We didn’t know we had all this available in our community.’ . . . that’s what makes me feel really good.”
“As an Encompass partner, things that we’re doing well are, we’re having a lot of success with being able to engage with families,” notes Ashley Sikorski, Program Coordinator and Care Manager at Toomey Residential and Community Services. She spoke highly of the helpfulness of Encompass. “We can reach out to them at any point in time that we want to, and they’ll get back to us within a timely manner.”
Encompass received training for the InShape program by winning a grant through the National Institute of Mental Health and participating in a study by Dartmouth University. InShape echoes the mission of Encompass by providing holistic steps towards a healthy lifestyle for adults with serious mental illness. “This program takes a look at that physical fitness piece, nutrition piece, to help them lose weight, but it also encompasses the mental health portion,” says Jennifer Conpropst, InShape Care Management Supervisor. “At the same time, we kind of fold in the care management piece.” This combination of care is a one of a kind. “We’ve got all of the bases covered, which is huge.”
Matthew started working with Jennifer in 2016. “I felt little hope of being physically healthy again because my mental health was struggling at the time,” Matthew commented. He worked with his care manager and adjusted some habits, and he now feels increased confidence and a better sense of hope. He also appreciates that he is not alone during this, and that Encompass touches all portions of his life. “They look at me as a individual.”
Looking Ahead to 2021:
Powerful Dreams Inspire Powerful Action
The best laid plans for 2021 will have to take into consideration the potential impact of COVID-19 on life as we know it. With that in mind, however, powerful dreams imagined are expected to manifest in 2021. This will include:
- Establishing a Peer Institute with the help of the Mental Health Empowerment Project to develop a cadre of persons with lived mental health experience to provide Peer Empowerment Services.
- Continued implementation of the Encompass Cabrini project including enrolling more adults and children who need care management to achieve positive health outcomes, growing our Care Management Agency network, improving the quality of services through use of a Performance Management Report Card and incentives and finding new ways to engage children and families in need.
- Providing Care Management through our new location on the first floor of Canal Plaza, an affordable housing project on the Northside of Binghamton, in addition to placement of 12 individuals with special needs in apartments. This will include creation of a Wellness Center to encourage healthy eating and exercise as well as incorporation of mindfulness in everyday living.
- Pantry services will be redesigned and include supportive services such as financial literacy and mentoring in keeping with an empowerment model; the Binghamton pantry layout will be changed to promote social distancing and Mother Teresa’s Cupboard will be relocated to a new home.
Leave No One Behind
The 2020 Catholic Charities Annual Appeal, Leave No One Behind, is being dedicated to those impacted by COVID-19.
The goal of this fund is to respond to unanticipated, unmet basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, household supplies, personal care items, medical supplies or services and other items that are vital to maintaining households at a time when so many of our Broome County residents are now unemployed unexpectedly or who were already economically challenged before COVID-19.
Leave No One Behind means:
- Not leaving the unemployed behind as we help them with being able to pay bills such as rent and water.
- Not leaving the elderly and isolated behind as we help with meal delivery for those who no longer have anyone to shop for groceries.
- Not leaving children and young families behind as we help with diapers and baby supplies.
- Not leaving the homeless behind as we provide them with the means for safe and clean shelter and help others find/keep affordable housing through help with security deposits.
- Not leaving those with special needs behind as we help people with a serious mental illness or chronic medical condition access food, medical supplies/services and other basic necessities.
You can help Nathan.
Nathan faces mental health and economic challenges in normal times, which become worse when normal supports and community outings become limited. Being able to connect with staff who are supportive and receive needed supplies (that are otherwise hard to find) helps.
Residential and Mental Health Services
You can help Sophia.
Sophia loves her children, but is struggling as a parent. Pain and guilt over what she has put them through is pushing her to the edge. She doesn’t want a “hand-out.” She needs help and support.
Youth, Family and Community Services
You can help Alice.
Alice used to purchase groceries with the help of a family member but is now isolated at home with no one to assist her. Meals, groceries and household supplies from our pantry system help her remain safe and independent.
Mother Teresa’s Cupboard
Won’t you join us?
We continue to pray for our community and world to be healed of this epidemic and that our collective will to help each other will bring us all safely through this.
Compassion and quality set the standard for the extraordinary diversity of services that we offer as we continually strive to be responsive to the community that we serve.
With the generosity of our donors and friends, we can ensure that the good work and critical services we offer continue and strengthen those most in need. This appeal will help us to continue the important work that we do for the people in our community.
100% of all funds donated will be dedicated to this purpose for Broome County residents impacted by COVID-19.
Lori A. Accardi, LMSW