2008-02-06 / Local News

Catholic Charities has team player on roster

SOMEONE YOU SHOULD KNOW
by DAVID F. SHERMAN

Greg Maher Greg Maher There are many people who make "The Drive That Never Fails" a reality each year. From residents making a simple contribution in church, to those donating online, to those who work behind the scenes to build a secure financial footing, Catholic Charities depends on thousands of people to complete its mission.

One of the latter is Greg Maher, this year's parish and large gifts chairman.

An Amherst resident, Maher is a graduate of St. Gregory the Great School, St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Canisius College. When asked about seven years ago to become involved in Catholic Charities, he said it seemed only natural that he would say yes.

"I was asked if I would help on the parish level, and I agreed because Catholic Charities is well renowned as such a great human services organization," he said. "The great feeling you get back from volunteering is always worth the actual time that you give toward the effort. I saw this as a small way to assist people who really are in need of help. That's what gratifies me the most."

Catholic Charities of Buffalo helps people of all ages, races, faiths and walks of life every day throughout the eight counties of Western New York, according to its Web site, www.ccwny.org. It is a Catholic-sponsored human service agency serving anyone in need - particularly those who are poor and most vulnerable.

"It's far from an agency that just helps the hungry, for example, Maher said. "It's for anyone that needs help getting back on their feet in any way. Catholic Charities knows how to make that happen. The team at Catholic Charities empowers people and gives them back their self-respect."

The 2008 Catholic Charities focuses on Appeal Week from March 9-16. This year's goal is $11.2 million, a 1.8 percent increase over last year.

"Our area is suffering from a loss of jobs, and many people need assistance in many profound ways," he said.

Founded in 1923 as the human service arm of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, Catholic Charities provides counseling, services for children and families, anti-domestic violence programming, behavioral health services, emergency assistance, and education and job training, among other social services. It serves Western New Yorkers of all races, ages and religions, reaching 160,000 people each year, according to its Web site.

Other key players in this year's appeal are Chairperson Martha Lamparelli, special education coordinator for the Buffalo Board of Education; John Ciminelli, appeal vice chair; Sherri Ciminelli, chair of the community division; and Mick Whipple, corporate chair.

While Maher devotes a lot of energy to Catholic Charities, he is no stranger to volunteer work. He is chairman of the St. Gregory the Great Finance Council and a member of the Steering Committee for the St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute Lasallian Dinner and Auction. The annual event raises approximately $200,000 for youth in financial need who wish to attend the school, as well as the institution itself.

Maher and his wife Lynn have three sons, Ryan, Sean and Corey. In addition to school activities, they have been involved in Amherst youth sports for many years.

If you have a suggestion for someone to feature in this column, send it to David F. Sherman, managing editor, Amherst Bee, P.O. Box 150, Buffalo, NY 14231-0150, or call 204-4905.

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