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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Barbecues are a cherished summer ritual, as are their counterpart, a hot meal enjoyed with friends and family on a cold winter’s night. Volunteers like the Galletta family are vital to making sure that the men who reside in our shelter on South Clinton St. don’t miss out on these happy moments.
The Gallettas approach service as a team. In mid August this year, six members of the family (Mary Jo, John Sr., Betty, John, Emma and Julian) representing three generations, cooked and served their annual barbecue for our residents in the shelter parking lot. This is part of a two-year-old tradition of supplying a barbecue in the summer and a hot cooked meal in December, at which the men receive toiletry bags. This is in addition to several other monthly and yearly breakfasts that Mary Jo helps coordinate.
The dinners and amenities the Gallettas supply are part of a community effort. The toiletries are donated by local dentists and teachers Mary Jo works with. Six local churches are involved in providing hot breakfasts once a month.
The Gallettas enjoy working with shelter staff on their visits to South Clinton St. They value working together to provide meals and small gifts for the residents. Their dedication has brought a lot of good to the shelter; we are blessed to have them contributing so generously of their time and resources.
The Gallettas are six of many standout volunteers who help make our work possible every day. Our volunteers are vital in many departments. They help refugees learn English, mentor at-risk youth, assist the elderly, support or shelter residents and much more. We are grateful for every single one of them. To join their ranks, follow the “Volunteer” link below.
There is an interesting disconnect in Syracuse – there are many unemployed people and many job openings (syracuse.com). 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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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.
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.
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.