New Home for our Blog

New Home for our Blog

We’ve updated our website and blog! All new content can be found at:


Parenting Programs and a Special Visit from the Rosamond Gifford Zoo

This week the Incredible Years Parenting Class Graduation included a special guest: staff and critters from the Rosamond Gifford Zoo! Zoo staff came by with feathered friends and special activities for class participants on their last day. It was a great highlight in the course and a wonderful note to end on. See below for some images from the event.

Incredible Years classes are one in a suite of programs designed to help stabilize families and increase kid’s chances for success. Parenting Programs use evidence-based curriculum in home and class-based services to teach parenting and life skills. Parents learn about child development, age-appropriate expectations, appropriate disciplinary practices, and how to maintain a safe environment.  We also work to link them with local community resources to reduce isolation.  The objective is to increase parents’ mastery so they can create an environment where children are safe, nurtured, and achieve physical and emotional well-being.

Parenting programs help set kids and their families up for success. We value all of our community partners, like the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, who support these programs. Thank you!

Procession of Neighbors: In Solidarity with Refugees

On May 7, 2017, we hosted a Procession of Neighbors with InterFaith Works. The Procession invited people of all faith traditions to join together to demonstrate solidarity with the refugee community in Syracuse and with all seeking refuge around the world. Thank you to everyone who joined us! We are invigorated by your compassion and support.


Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator

Helping, Fixing or Serving?

Helping, Fixing or Serving?

by Mike Melara, Executive Director

My daughter, who is majoring in Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Scranton, recently sent me an article by Rachel Remen.  I thought to myself, in my most condescending voice, “How cute of Juliana to send me this article.”  And then I read the piece.  And I was humbled.  Not by any significant revelation.  But more by the fact that the article describes how our staff, my staff, work every day at Catholic Charities.  Remen says, “Helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life.  When you help, you see life as weak.  When you fix, you see life as broken.  When you serve, you see life as whole.  Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, but service is the work of the soul.”

We serve over 20,000 people every year at Catholic Charities, ranging in age from infants to senior citizens.  We work with those members of our community who are most vulnerable and in greatest need.  But it is the way we work with them that matters the most.  Remen nails it when she states,

“Service rests on the premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose.  From the perspective of service, we are all connected.  All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy.  Serving is different from helping.  Helping is not a relationship between equals.  A helper may see others as Mike Melara Headshot 2017weaker than they are, needier than they are, and people often feel this inequity.”  In the process of “helping” we may diminish the other’s self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity or even wholeness.

At Catholic Charites, we share the same humanity as the people we serve.  We recognize ourselves in them.  Service is a relationship between equals.  And our service strengthens us as well as others.


Mike Melara is Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Onondaga County. 

Love Mouity – From Refugee to Staff Member

Love Mouity – From Refugee to Staff Member

Love Mouity has degrees from several colleges: SU’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Onondaga Community College and a few universities in Paris. The degrees from Paris are good ones, but didn’t translate well in the American job market. So, when he arrived in Syracuse as a refugee from the Republic of the Congo 11 years ago, he went back to school. His Bachelor’s from Maxwell is in International Relations with a specialization in International Security and Diplomacy. He shrugs off the suggestion that this is a lot of years of schooling to go through.

Catholic Charities’ Executive Director Mike Melara (left) and Love Mouity

“I like to be living proof to my peers, the newcomers,” Love says, speaking of refugees who are currently resettling through our Refugee Services.  “I like to be able to show that with will and confidence, you can make it.”

Love cares deeply about the success and well-being of today’s refugees. In addition to leading by example, he works for our Refugee Services to assist new arrivals as a Health Care Assistant Coordinator. In this position, he helps recently arrived refugees attend doctor’s appointments and serves as an advocate and translator. (He speaks, in varying degrees, 7 languages.) He’s been in the position for a year.

“It is a way to give back to the organization,” he says. “I had always hoped to be able to do that.”

Love came to Syracuse with two of his brothers. One is now a financial advisor and the other is an engineer. Occasionally, he says, it occurs to him that he could leave Central New York, go to New York City or Washington, D.C. and maybe seek new opportunities. Whenever these thoughts occur, though, his ultimate conclusion is the same.

“I am a Syracusan,” says Love. “I love this city.”

Love’s dedication and his unique skills and life experience mean he is especially well-suited to helping others. In that way, he is like any member of our staff. Not all are so aptly named, of course, with the notable exception of CYO staff members Wisdom and Hope. Other staff members joke tongue-in-cheek that the days where the CYO has Wisdom but no Hope or Love are rather bleak, but thankfully, those days are few and far between.

Every day in all of our programs, we rely on a unique team to live out our dedication to serving the most vulnerable people in our community.  It is an honor to count dedicated, compassionate people like Love among our members.


Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator 

Refugees Services and School Preparation

Refugees Services and School Preparation

Above, a staff member helps a young girl with homework after school.

Tarana* is a bright, determined 18-year-old. She is also an Afghani refugee from Pakistan. She arrived in Syracuse just two months ago with no English skills and limited formal education.

CYO Summer Academy students pose after their graduation ceremony.

Starting a new school as a teenager is undeniably challenging. Doing so in a new language and culture is more so. But Tarana is determined to succeed.

Before starting high school, Tarana was enrolled in “Academy” at the CYO (our Refugee Services Center). Academy is a month-long course designed to help youth like Tarana make the transition into American schools. It includes English language classes and introduction to American school culture. For refugee youth, many of whom have spent years in refugee camps, formal schooling conventions are unfamiliar. Tarana learned quickly. As Case Manager Lydia Andrews helped Taraba get to high school on her first day, Tarana showed off her English. She said “Hello! How are you? Good morning,” and, finally, “From CYO.” Her new knowledge, she meant, had been gained through the Academy program.

Refugee Services staff have been impressed by Tarana’s resilience. “She’s eager to take advantage of the educational opportunities she’s heard are available to her in the American system,” says Lydia. “Similar opportunities were difficult for her to access in Pakistan.”

“She has already grown so much in just a few weeks of class and life in America,” says Lydia. “We look forward to hearing more about her success.”


Support this and other Catholic Charities’ Programs



*name has been changed

Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator

Project Joseph at the Cathedral

Project Joseph at the Cathedral

Above, members of the Project Joseph team tend to St. Agnes Cemetery in late summer 2016.

Our Project Joseph team works on a wide variety of jobs throughout the county. They do maintenance and renovations at Catholic Charities properties, repair stones in cemeteries, remove snow at vacant properties and more. Last week, though, they were assigned a special, last minute task. Retired Syracuse Bishop James Moynihan had passed away, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception needed to be in top shape for his funeral.

The challenge? The cathedral is undergoing extensive renovations. Last week they were in the midst of repainting the ceiling. There was scaffolding reaching up to the 50 foot vaulted ceilings and drop cloths across the floor. There was dust coating everything, and the Diocese was expecting a full house on Friday the 10th (including 100 priests and 8 bishops).

Between Monday the 6th and Thursday the 9th, seven Project Joseph team members assisted the painters in dismantling their scaffolding and then carrying planks, ramps and tarps out of the cathedral. They stayed on to dust the pillars and pews and mop the floor.  The job was mostly complete by Wednesday afternoon, leaving one day for fine tuning before the cathedral filled to honor Bishop Moynihan on Friday.

The Project Joseph team will continue to be part of the cathedral renovation, which started up again on Monday after the team carried back in the planks, tarps and ramps. They’re vital to Phase II of the construction, which includes pulling up the floor to install a new heating system. Most of the crew members who are part of this work are Nepalese refugees.

Project Joseph was proud to be part of preparing the cathedral for this special mass. The team looks forward to continuing to play a role in the renovation of the Diocese’s mother church.