Catholic Family Center receives PPE donation from Bank of America

Catholic Family Center has received a second, significant donation of personal protective equipment from community partner Bank of America.

The most recent donation includes 60,000 masks, 50 cases of hand sanitizer and 24,000 pairs of protective gloves. The PPE will be used immediately to serve some of Rochester’s most poor and vulnerable. The donation comes at a critical time, officials said, as the region experiences a rising number of COVID-19 cases.

“This generous gift will enable us to more rapidly respond to the needs of the most vulnerable of the clients we serve, including those who seek shelter who may not have had access to water or a change of clothing, much less a clean supply of face masks,” said Sally Partner, Catholic Family Center’s vice president for community services and advocacy. “Our staff, who interact daily with the families and individuals we serve, will also be better protected with access to this new supply of PPE. CFC is profoundly grateful for the ongoing generosity of Bank of America.”

The PPE donation is connected to Bank of America’s $1 billion four-year commitment to advance racial equity and economic opportunity. The bank already has invested more than $100 million in local communities to address challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Bank of America has been working with local partners like Catholic Family Center to provide resources to vulnerable populations and has already donated 15 million masks and 58,000, 8-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer to underserved communities, including communities of color, across the country,” said Colleen Matteson, Bank of America’s Rochester market president.”

CFC is Rochester’s largest provider of comprehensive family services. Each year the nonprofit organization assists tens of thousands of residents as they work to become healthy, productive, participating members of the community.

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Hundreds of local families receive food donations from Price Rite, Feed the Children

Price Rite Marketplace has teamed with anti-hunger organization Feed the Children, as well as PepsiCo and Catholic Family Center to distribute food and essentials to 400 local families. The Wednesday event is part of the supermarket’s 2020 Feeding Minds & Bodies Campaign in partnership with Feed the Children.


Each family was pre-identified based on need by Catholic Family Center and received a 25-pound box of food, a 15-pound box of essentials like toiletries, additional shelf-stable items provided by Price Rite and two backpacks filled with school supplies.

“Now more than ever families are facing food insecurity due to this pandemic,” Price Rite President Jim Dorey said in a statement. “Giving back to the communities we serve is at the heart of Price Rite Marketplace and we’re proud to continue our partnership with Feed the Children for a sixth year and provide food and essentials to local families in need.”

Feed the Children and Price Rite created the Feeding Minds & Bodies initiative to help bring attention to and fight the serious issue of childhood hunger. The initiative helps kids and their families by providing food, personal care items and school supplies throughout the year. The two organizations will host eight events in 2020 to address seasonal issues surrounding food insecurity.

“Catholic Family Center is grateful to be working once again with PepsiCo, Feed the Children and our neighbors at Price Rite Marketplace,” said Marlene Bessette, president and CEO of Catholic Family Center. “Together, these partners are truly providing vital nourishment for both body and mind to some of our city’s most vulnerable families and children.”

Since partnering with Feed the Children in 2015, Price Rite has contributed nearly 2 million pounds of food, totaling more than $7 million donations.

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Groups call on Albany to implement caregiver tax credit

Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc. has joined three dozen health, consumer and aging organizations in a bid to include a middle-class tax credit for family caregivers in the next state budget proposal.

Some 36 groups cosigned a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month asking him to provide financial relief to family caregivers, who they say spend nearly $7,000 to care for loved ones. Family caregivers provide $32 billion in unpaid care each year in New York State, the letter states.

A 2018 survey shows that 84 percent of New Yorkers over age 40 support a caregiver tax credit.

While the average caregiver spends 20 percent of her income on caregiving, the burden is higher for caregivers of color, according to the letter. Hispanic caregivers spend 44 percent of their income, while African Americans spend 34 percent of their income on family caregiving.

More than three-quarters of family caregivers incur out-of-pocket costs as a result of caregiving, according to a national AARP survey, and long-distance family caregivers had the highest costs at nearly $12,000. In New York, nearly 2.6 million family caregivers provide 2.4 billion hours of unpaid care.

“The rising cost of health care, the limitations of Medicare and other insurance coverage, the increased number of years that caregivers are providing care and improved longevity have all put pressure on caregivers to dip into their own finances to help pay for various elements of care,” the letter states.

Joining AARP New York and Lifespan of Greater Rochester in calling on Albany to take action are Rochester’s Catholic Family Center, the Association on Aging in New York, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, New York Urban League, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and others.

The groups are urging Cuomo to adopt or model a credit on a bill sponsored by the state legislature’s Aging Committee Chairs, Sen. Rachel May and Assemblyman Harry Bronson. Under the bill (S51000/A7209), individuals with a gross annual income of $75,000 or less and couples with a gross annual income of $150,000 or less could claim a credit up to $3,500, or half of eligible expenses.

“This modest but well-deserved tax break for middle-class New Yorkers would be a commonsense step to help family caregivers carry on with their invaluable responsibilities,” the letter states. “At the same time, this proposal would help all New Yorkers by helping to keep loved ones out of more costly nursing homes, saving taxpayer dollars.”

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USCIS grant to help immigrants seeking citizenship

Catholic Family Center has been awarded a $225,000 grant to expand its naturalization and citizenship services.

The two-year Citizenship and Assimilation Grant from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will allow CFC to provide low-cost legal services for lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, who are seeking citizenship. The grant also will provide free English language instruction and citizenship test preparation services.

CFC will partner with the Rochester City School District’s Office of Adult and Career Education Services (OACES), Monroe 1 BOCES and Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES to offer free daytime and evening classes in Rochester, Fairport and Gates. The classes will help adult students improve their English and learn American history and civics, with the goal of becoming U.S. citizens.

Students also will have the opportunity to take field trips to local locations of civic importance and to hear from expert speakers on topics such as American law, government and immigration, and to have individual screenings for citizenship eligibility.

CFC’s immigration services served more than 1,000 individuals in the Rochester area last year, with needs ranging from naturalization to citizenship to sponsorship of family members. The agency is the region’s largest provider of comprehensive family services.

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Agency receives more than $2 million for refugee services

catholic family center logoCatholic Family Center has received more than $2 million in grants to support immigrants seeking naturalization and citizenship.

As the sole awardee in Monroe County, CFC will receive a state Refugee Social Services Program award of up to $1.8 million over five years from the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The award will allow the nonprofit organization to continue to provide employment services and training to refugees and immigrants in the community.

The agency also received a $225,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to fund a Rochester Citizenship Education & Training Project. The project is a partnership between CFC and local adult education centers including OACES and BOCES to promote citizenship and enhance naturalization capacity.

DHS also awarded the agency $250,000 to fund the Rochester Refugee Career Pathways for refugees in Monroe County. The project will enable refugees to secure professional or skilled employment that will provide the means for their long-term self-sufficiency and prosperity in their new community.

CFC will operate the program with other workforce development and anti-poverty initiatives in Monroe County, including with the Rochester City School District and the local Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act authorized career center, RochesterWorks!

“We are extremely gratified by the confidence our funders have in our agency’s programs and services that support the stability and education of immigrants in our community,” CFC Vice President Jim Morris said. “These awards recognize our wide and deep capacity for refugee and employment work in the Rochester community. We will continue to improve these, in collaboration with our partners, to create difference-making opportunities for those who hope for more for themselves and their families.”

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PepsiCo and Feed the Children partner to feed 800 local families

Volunteers braved the rain last week to distribute food to 800 needy families in Rochester. (photo provided)
Volunteers braved the rain last week to distribute food to 800 needy families in Rochester. (Photo provided)

A partnership between PepsiCo and Feed the Children will help supplement meals for 800 Rochester families in need.

Now in its fourth year, the PepsiCo and Feed the Children partnership is part of a larger initiative between the two organizations to help feed communities in cities throughout the U.S. In Rochester, more than 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

“We love serving the Rochester community and are grateful for the opportunity to give back to our community,” said Bonnie Keith, who serves as PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division Mid-Atlantic region key account manager. “At Frito-Lay and PepsiCo, we believe in engaging our associates in community projects and initiatives that make a positive difference by supporting our local community where we live and work.”

The families in Rochester were identified and preselected by Catholic Family Center, a nonprofit that helps elevate the local community by enabling independence, empowering the vulnerable and strengthening individuals and families.

“We recognize hunger can’t be fought alone, but by working together we can provide food and essentials to millions of children and families who live in poverty,” Feed the Children President and CEO Travis Arnold said in a statement. “Hope for a better future is made possible thanks to our many volunteers, donors and partners.”

Volunteers helped assist and distribute donated food to 800 families in Rochester at the fourth annual Feed the Hungry event. (photo provided)
Volunteers helped distribute donated food to 800 families in Rochester at the fourth annual Feed the Hungry event. (Photo provided)

This year’s event kicked off Aug. 8, when volunteers from PepsiCo, Tops Friendly Markets, Catholic Family Center, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and Feed the Children served families and assisted with distribution of food. SwiftLift Inc. provided equipment and drivers to unload nearly 100 pallets of food and supplies.

“Tops is committed to eradicating hunger in the communities we serve,” said Tops Chairman and CEO Frank Curci. “We’re thrilled to partner with our friends at PepsiCo and Feed the Children on this initiative. The way we see it, we’re simply neighbors helping neighbors.”

Each recipient received a 25-pound box of nonperishable food items, a 15-pound box of personal-care items, a box of Avon products, PepsiCo beverages and Frito-Lay Better-For-You variety packs, Quaker breakfast foods and Life cereal, as well as fresh produce and non-perishable food items provided by Tops.

“Catholic Family Center is grateful to be working once again with PepsiCo, Feed the Children and our neighbors at Tops Markets,” CFC CEO Marlene Bessette said. “Together, these partners are truly providing vital nourishment for both body and mind to some of our city’s most vulnerable families and children.”

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Catholic Family Center awards scholarships to two refugees

Destalem Lemlem
Destalem Lemlem

Catholic Family Center at its annual meeting Wednesday awarded college scholarships to two unaccompanied refugee minors who will graduate from the Rochester City School District this week.

Destalem Lemlem came to the U.S. as a refugee from Eritrea in 2014. He had a seventh-grade education and did not speak English. In his four years in the U.S., Lemlem has been selected as a Black Scholar through Urban League of Rochester, was inducted as a member of the National Honor Society of High School Scholars and this year was awarded perfect attendance honors.

Khadija Muhammadi arrived in Rochester in 2015 as a refugee from Afghanistan. She is described as determined and humble. Muhammadi is a member of the National Honor Society and was awarded the Young Citizen of the Year Award for Monroe County in 2017. She volunteers at Rochester General Hospital and a library and plans to pursue a degree in the medical field.

Khadija Muhammadi
Khadija Muhammadi

The Nancy Carey Memorial Scholarship is awarded to youths who model the same compassion and determination of Nancy Carey, a former CFC staff member who was skilled in working with adolescents and who worked with clients in the Preventive program to help them become independent and self-sufficient. CFC does not disclose the dollar amount of the scholarships.

“The Nancy Carey Scholarship is awarded to youths that model compassion and determination,” CFC President and CEO Marlene Bessette said. “Both of these young adults came to the U.S. as unaccompanied refugee minors and we are so proud of their work and achievements and grateful to the foster families who offered them refuge and love.”

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Catholic Family Center’s annual program helps families in need

Catholic Family Center is gearing up for its annual Adopt-a-Family program.

Each year, the organization collects holiday gifts and food for families in need. In 2016, more than 100 donors and dozens of schools and businesses collected gifts for some 750 people in the city of Rochester.

“It was an amazing outpouring of generosity,” CFC officials said in a statement.

This year’s campaign will help more than 100 families, including hundreds of children. Many of the families are asking for WalMart gift cards, hats, socks, shoes and toys.

“Answering a need that many of us are not aware of, special donations of food to help hungry kids during the school break was very much appreciated, as many of the children in our community rely on school meals to provide their main nutrition of the day,” officials said.

Individuals and organizations can sign up to adopt a family by visiting Gifts must be delivered to the organization between Dec. 11 and Dec. 18.

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Empty Bowls event to address homelessness and hunger in Rochester

rochester-empty-bowlsCatholic Family Center is gearing up for its 14th annual Empty Bowls Rochester event.

On Oct. 19, Kodak Center Theater, formerly Theater on the Ridge, will open its doors to patrons wishing to purchase soup donated by area chefs and handmade, one-of-a-kind bowls created by local artists to benefit people in crisis served by Catholic Family Center programs throughout Monroe County.

Empty Bowls is a grassroots effort that raises awareness and money to address homelessness and hunger in towns and cities nationwide. Some 400 guests will pay to attend a simple supper of bread and soup, and guests will choose a bowl to keep.

The event also will feature local beer, wine, desserts, live music and a silent auction. In 2016, artists donated more than 600 bowls, totaling more than $28,000 in donations.

Tickets can be purchased at

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