Keeping it Real in CNY

By Michael Melara, Executive Director

I’m exhausted.  Not by the work we do every day at Catholic Charities.  Not by the increasing demands placed on our agency and the people that we serve.  Not by the challenges we face as a community in terms of reducing poverty and other social concerns.  I’m exhausted by the never-ending dramas emanating from Washington about who said what, what top secret documents are going to be released, who is under investigation, and the uproar from the latest tweet.   We’re inundated with non-stop information, conjecturing, posturing and analysis of behaviors that seem to demand our constant attention.  It’s exhausting.  So I need to move the optics away from the absurd and focus on what’s real and happening right in front of me.

What’s real is that good people get up every day and do their part to contribute to the common good in our community.   They work, go to school, volunteer, raise their families and care about their neighbors. 

There is so much good in the world and in our Central New York community.  We see it every day at Catholic Charities.  Caring and compassionate staff who minister to the homeless, the refugee, the poor.  Hundreds of volunteers who bring meals, work with children and assist the elderly.  Generous donors who support our work throughout the year. 

Here’s an example of what I mean.  Recently, a man arrived at our Emergency Services office under dire circumstances. He’d lost everything he had to hurricanes in the fall. He’d made his way to Syracuse after a long journey searching for work before he connected with one of our caseworkers at our Downtown Emergency Services office. The man told our caseworker, Kristi Novelli, that all he wanted for Christmas was a job and a home. Kristi was able to secure housing for him. She talked with him about what kind of job he wanted, and learned that he spoke Spanish and had a degree in social work. Kristi remembered that our Men’s Shelter was in search of a shelter worker with those qualifications. She connected him with our Men’s Shelter, and he just started work this week.  

I like the saying, “all politics is local.”  I like the “politics” of our community, as exemplified by Kristi and her client-turned-coworker.  Here, we welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and care for those in greatest need.  The good acts we witness everyday demand not only our attention, but our admiration and respect.

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