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Archives Catholic Charities, schools get boost from Cabrini Foundation grants

February 15, 2023

By Deacon Kevin Mastellon
North Country Catholic

OGDENSBURG – Catholic Charities and the diocesan Department of Education, along with several other organizations in the North Country received substantial awards in the year end grants from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation based in New York City.

The grant recipients were announced by the foundation on January 23 in New York City.

“Over 500 year-end grants will address the health-related needs of low-income and underserved New Yorkers, including food insecurity, education access, the mental health crisis, healthcare, workforce development, and social services for incoming immigrants and migrant workers,” the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation stated in a press release.

Six grants awarded to Catholic Charities will amount to nearly $2 million dollars according to Executive Director Deacon Patrick J. Donahue.

Five of the grants to Catholic Charities will continue projects funded by Cabrini in the past.

The newest initiative, called the Transitional Housing and Supports Program, “is about certain circumstances that create vulnerability for someone in housing,” said Deacon Donahue.

He gave, as an example, the situation a young mother with a couple of children might suddenly find herself in because of the loss of a job, or a change in marital status.

“That family might need temporary housing,” Donahue said.

The grant, $175,000, will be used to develop existing housing into transitional homeless housing. It is not a shelter or a warming center like those that have been in the news recently.

“We developed one residence in Glenfield (Lewis County) using the rectory at St. Mary’s,” Deacon Donahue said. “We purchased property on Caroline Street (Ogdensburg) which will be converted to use as temporary housing.”

In the four years since its inception, the Mother Cabrini Foundation has awarded over two thousand grants totaling $635 million.

The North Country, mostly diocesan entities, has received between $4 million and $5 million annually. This year 24 programs in the North Country, 19 of them diocesan entities or directly related to the Catholic Church, will receive $5.2 million.

The Department of Education will administer nearly $1.5 million. Seton Catholic and Immaculate Heart Central will each receive $80,000 for separate programs. Funding is also included for parishes or other Catholic organizations in Ogdensburg, Lake Placid, Morrisonville, Saranac Lake, Carthage and Massena.

Community based organizations in Watertown and Plattsburgh were also awarded grants.

A list of all the grant recipients in New York is available at https://cabrinihealth.org/grants-database/.

“Five years ago, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Ogdensburg had an annual budget of about $1.7 million.

You add in Cabrini funding in the amount we are currently receiving and comparable services and we are looking at a $4.2 million budget,” Deacon Donahue said.

Catholic Charities is in the business of developing programs and then handing them off to other funding entities when the grant money goes away. Deacon Donahue is not naive about that possibility but suggests funding may not dry up. He points to the available providers in the region to support his belief.

“We don't know what's going to happen with Cabrini moving forward,” Deacon Donahue said. “We know we don't have a resource rich area. Cabrini after five years could say, ‘OK, let's move on to another provider.’”

The problem is there are few, if any organizations available to fund. But Cabrini is committed to support programs in the region.

Donahue continued, “No organization does some of the things that Catholic Charities does. The reason we do them is that the services aren't available from alternative organizations. Food, shelter, clothing certainly are; we have a lot of food pantries and emergency housing and things like that depending on the county you're in. But when you get into foster care supervision and parenting education, those programs, we used to have a lot of those across the North Country but they have disappeared.”

Five of the six programs Catholic Charities receives Cabrini funding for are in the third year of five years of support.

“What we try to do with Cabrini funding,” Donahue told North Country Catholic, “is to launch programs and then over the course of the funding from Cabrini, search out alternative funding sources.”

“So, for example, in Malone, we launched a foster care supervised visitation program,” he said. “We have two caseworkers assigned to that large program. We are hoping by year five that Franklin County picks that program funding completely or at least partially, because it is a county service.”

That’s one example Deacon Donahue cites.

“We are looking for the counties to step in after three or four years and add the program to their budget to sustain the operations of this and similar programs.”

According to their press release, “the mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of vulnerable communities, eliminate barriers to care and bridge gaps in health services. The organization is named after an advocate for immigrants, children and the poor. The Foundation funds programs and initiatives across New York State that provide either direct healthcare services or address the social determinants of health.

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