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.


Grocery Cart Dinner – A Special Meal at the Men’s Shelter

Grocery Cart Dinner – A Special Meal at the Men’s Shelter

Above, two staff members wait by the back entrance to assist volunteers.

Many nights at our Men’s Shelter, hot meals arrive piled high in the backs of vans and cars driven by dedicated volunteers. The meals are provided by volunteers who generously donate their own time and resources to help our residents.

Last Sunday, dinner arrived not in the back of a car, but in a grocery cart.

The grocery cart was pushed by Miss Sandra and her three grandchildren. Miss Sandra, a local resident, called our shelter staff early in the day to ask how many men were staying because she wanted to cook them dinner.  She spent the day making enough for roughly 60 men. Late in the afternoon, she discovered that a family member needed the car she’d planned on using. Still determined to deliver, she found a shopping cart and loaded it up. She then rounded up her three grandchildren and together they pushed the cart half a mile through slushy city streets to the shelter.

The men's shelter during the day, awaiting arrivals
The men’s shelter during the day, awaiting arrivals

Last Sunday night was miserable. It was cold and snowing and the streets were a mess. This family still carried through with their efforts and they made a big impression on our residents, who thanked them profusely as Miss Sandra took charge of the shelter floor for the evening, shooing help away as she served out the meal.

We are always grateful for the generous support we receive from groups and individuals in the community. There are so many moments that are deserving of special recognition, but we know that’s not what motivates our volunteers to help. So, to all of our quiet supporters – thank you for giving, as Miss Sandra did,  so generously of your time and resources to help us serve the community. It is deeply appreciated.


Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator

Kids Caring for Kids – Girl Scouts and Dorothy Day House

Kids Caring for Kids – Girl Scouts and Dorothy Day House

Three unusual boxes spent some time last month in the corner of an office at our headquarters. They awaited pick up for three days, and prompted smiles from staff the entire time.

The boxes contained a special set of donations – 20 care packages put together by a local girl scout troop. The girls made the care packages as an empathy-building project. They stuffed them full of goodies for the kids who stay at Dorothy Day House, our shelter for homeless women and their

The packages are bright and cheerful. They contain snacks, toothbrushes, kid-friendly shampoo, coloring books, stickers and more. The girls wrote their own notes to accompany the car packages, wishing their peers happy days.

Across the U.S., about 2.5 million children are homeless every year. This historic high is about 1 in every 30 kids ( As a poverty-stricken city, Syracuse has many struggling families. Their struggles are thrown into even sharper relief by the aproaching holidays. A season that shoud be about celebration and loved ones can instead be a reminder of what parents aren’t able to provide for their families.

Assistance from concerned neighbors like this girl scout troop and our numerous other supporters helps make a difference for these struggling families. Our Christmas Program supplies gifts and toys to over 400 families every year. Will you join the effort to make the holidays brighter and the next year more hopeful for people who are struggling? Any contribution helps.

Donate Now 

Posted by: Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator

A Visit from Catholic Charities USA President

A Visit from Catholic Charities USA President

We were honored last month by a visit from Sister Donna Markham, OP, Ph.D., President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. During Sister Donna’s two-day visit, she spoke at the annual meeting and celebration of service for Catholic Charities of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and visited several sites and offices within the Diocese to learn more about our work. These visits included a tour of our Men’s Shelter with our Executive Director, Mike Melara.

Sister Donna and Mike Melara served up a meal of pasta and meatballs for shelter residents. The meal was prepared by students in our culinary program CASS.
Sister Donna and Mike Melara served up a meal of pasta and meatballs for shelter residents. The meal was prepared by students in our culinary program CASS.
Sister Donna's tour included meeting several shelter staff members.
Sister Donna’s tour included meeting several shelter staff members.
Mike Melara discussed plans for the future of the Men's Shelter.
Mike Melara discussed plans for the future of the Men’s Shelter.

We were grateful for the opportunity to meet with Sister Donna to talk about Catholic Charities’ mission on a local and national scale, and look forward to seeing what the future holds.

Read more about Sister Donna’s visit in the Catholic Sun

Visit Catholic Charities USA 

Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator

With Open Arms and Blooming Flowers

Our staff at our women and children’s shelter provide critical support to people who arrive in unhappy circumstances. they make sure everyone is properly clothed, fed and sheltered. With guests ranging from infants to adult women, the range of needs are broad. The kids require a constant supply of diapers, baby food and safety gear. The women need support getting back on their feet, including employment assistance, housing assistance and more. Our staff are there to make sure these needs are met.

But who supports the supporters? A wonderful, generous array of donors and volunteers. We couldn’t do our work without them. One of the places where donor and volunteer support is particularly evident is the gardens at our women and children’s shelter. Not only do the gardens add beauty to the house, many of the plants grown are edibles which will be enjoyed by residents.

Take a stroll through the halls and gardens of the house in the gallery below. Our special thanks to the Brockway Farms Garden Club, Linda Mulrooney and all of the volunteers and staff who gave of their resources and time to make this lovely garden come together.


Posted by: Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator


Summer with Project Joseph

Summer with Project Joseph

There is an interesting disconnect in Syracuse – there are many unemployed people and many job openings ( What’s keeping the unemployed from taking advantage of the open jobs?

For many of the people we work with, the answer is language barriers, lack of appropriate training or a complex personal history. Some struggle with homelessness or substance abuse, but want to recover and work. That’s where programs like our Project Joseph come in. Project Joseph Logo

Project Joseph is a social enterprise where we train and employ the people we serve, including refugees and homeless shelter residents. Through training in property maintenance skills, these men can gain the skills they need to get jobs either with Catholic Charities or in the private sector with the boost of a reference.

With the spring weather finally upon us, you might see some of these crews out and about working on our sites. We recently visited a crew working at our West Side parenting center, as seen in the photos below.

project Joseph at Vincent House 2016 (4)
Project Joseph workers are international. They hail from the the US, Nepal, Somalia, Poland, Bosnia, Uzbekistan, Kenya and more.


project Joseph at Vincent House 2016 (5)
Work at the parenting center included painting doors and the railings, banister and floor of the front porch.


project Joseph at Vincent House 2016 (6)
In addition to working on Catholic Charities sites, team members do light maintenance work for senior citizens in the community.


Dean and Al Project Joseph
In 2015, eight Project Joseph workers who completed training were hired to work on Catholic Charities sites, including Al and Dean, seen here.

We’re excited about this new and growing program, and grateful for the community support that makes it possible. To learn more about the program, please contact Project Joseph Program Director Jake Barrett at 315.362.7500 or

A Meal for the Men’s Shelter
Handing over chili to a shelter resident
A Le Moyne alumnus hands chili to a resident of Catholic Charities’ Men’s Shelter

“Now which one of these local lacrosse teams is undefeated?” a resident of our men’s shelter asked the general crowd. “Is it the Orange?”

“It is not, sir,” answered a volunteer, handing over a bowl of chili.

“That’s right, it is not! Go Dolphins!”

There was laughter and a smattering of applause from the Le Moyne Board of Regents volunteers, but it ended quickly – there were a lot more people to serve.

Le Moyne alumni came appropriately attired, including this great Winston Churchill quote.

Last Thursday, the 5th of May, volunteers from Le Moyne’s Board of Regents joined our director Mike Melara (a Le Moyne alumnus) and Catholic Charities staff members to serve a meal of chili and corn bread to the residents of our Men’s Shelter. Between several facilities, we provide shelter for over 1500 people in Syracuse every year. That’s a lot of dinners to serve.

Catholic Charities of Onondaga County Director Mike Melara gives a tour of the facility.

Volunteers and generous donations of time, food and funds combine to make our work possible. Our sincere thanks to last Thursday’s volunteers, and to those who join us every day to serve some of the most vulnerable people in Central New York.

The Le Moyne Board of Regents volunteers after a successful dinner service.