Greetings Sisters, Brothers, Friends!
“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Alleluia!”
“’Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable… We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from sin and set us free. Amen!”
- Rev. Billy Graham’s Prayer for our Nation
I have always had a deep respect and admiration for Rev. Billy Graham. I think Jesus is his inspiration. Rev. Graham’s prayer above sure seems to capture what some, hopefully many feel about the current situation in our nation. This Holy Season of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, “one like us in all things but sin,” would seem to challenge all of us to seek His forgiveness, direction, and guidance.
I know here, even as a Staff, we so often pray for guidance and direction in our ministry to troubled youth. I always offer a prayer when we gather around the table for lunch as Staff and Residents. Our nation has sure lost a sense of the spiritual. Religious liberty is being infringed upon by the government. Here in New York State some elected officials want to offer free college tuition to certain groups/classes of people who have perhaps not had to work for it or earn it, while runaway homeless youth services budgets have been slashed over the past several years. Whatever happened to the common good?
Where has St. Paul’s challenge gone: “Let him/her who would not work, not eat.” It’s almost a contradiction, while entitlements in the U.S. are rampant, yet as I said assistance for mental health issues, youth issues, and strengthening family (the absolute foundation of our society) are wiped out and forgotten. Rev. Dr. Graham surely has a pulse on our Nation. God bless him and give him health! May his prayer above call all of us to reflection, renewal, action!
Easter and Spring, bespeak NEW LIFE, NEW BEGINNING! That is what we offer here on Seneca Street to the young men who call this home for some days or months. They each are afforded respect, dignity, a warm bed, a hot shower, plenty to eat ALONG WITH “tough love,” intense case management, in depth Independent Living Skills and a staff who serve as healthy adult role models and mentors. We are proud to offer a spiritual environment, addressing their needs in Body, Mind, and Spirit. The One Who’s Resurrection we celebrate, JESUS CHRIST, says it rather clearly: “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full!”
A Blessed and Happy Easter to all!
Peace and all good!
“There is no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats it’s children.” - Nelson Mandela
Dear Members of the WNY Delegation of NYS Assembly & Senate:
Happy New Year! I write to challenge you, to call you to task, to make it a happier year for the “Hidden Homeless,” our runaway homeless youth in WNY. Having just watched a brand new CD production of that same title, it is moving, powerful, and right on target. The CD unfolded with help from the Homeless Coalition of WNY and along with the runaway homeless youth shelters of Erie County.
At our recent meeting of the Board of Empire State Coalition of Youth & Family Services, we decided we need to cry-out to you now rather than when the budget fights ensue in March. We have long-proven the appropriateness(even for Traficked Youth…the new hot button item in NYS), the cost-effectiveness, and that fact that we serve those “Hidden Homeless” of which the new production speaks. The runaway homeless youth of NYS are a population that are not popular, not sexy, not big contributors to political campaigns. The Commissioner of Office of Children & Family Services, gives lip service to her concern for the RHY population as does the Governor’s Office, but the RHYA, YDDP, and SDPP lines in the NYS budget have been slashed critically since 2008. Why? If you, as our elected officials claim you care about our youth, then you absolutely need to fight for them, and for us who very professionally, passionately, and very economically give these youth a new life off the streets. Last year as Empire Coalition visited the LOB, with a large group of sincere and hurting runaway homeless youth, we met with many of you including Savino and Paulin. Sad to say we got mere lip service. One of them said to me: “Where do I get the money to restore this RHYA funding?” I replied: “Abolish the NYS Thruway Authority and let NYS DOT or NYS Police run the Thruway with less bureaucracy.” She didn’t like my answer. The RHYA line was again cut drastically, and then an add-on came later, that was literally not enough to allow the runaway homeless youth shelters in NYS to host a pizza party. We need RHYA restored to the 2008 level, even that won’t allow for a COLA. This is urgent.
Please start looking at this issue now. Please call and come visit our facility here. As a Franciscan, I’m begging you not to let this issue of our Hidden Homeless Youth slip off your desk and off your radar. As you know I resigned last year from the Runaway Homeless Youth Advisory Committee last year, after 20 years of service, due to the absolute patronizing and un-involved attitude and leadership of NYS OCFS.
Fr. Joseph Bayne, OFM Conv.
Board of Directors, Empire State Coalition of Youth & Family Services
LETTERS ON THIS ISSUE TO YOUR NYS SENATOR OR ASSEMBLY PERSON WOULD BE APPRECIATED!
The past couple of months at The Franciscan Center have truly been a great help to me. My life before the Franciscan Center was very unstable and in such of disarray, even though I did know what I wanted in life, it seemed like the “how” part was a complete mystery to me. Before I was a resident at the Franciscan Center I lived in Auburn, New York with my grandparents, and it truly seemed like my life was at a standstill, there weren’t any reliable jobs available and I felt that I was slowly going downhill. So I decided to leave Auburn, New York to Buffalo to live with my dad because I was set on to create a stable life for me as a young man. Due to series of unfortunate events I became without a place to live and discovered the Franciscan Center.
Even though I came to the Franciscan center for a place to stay, I found something much more, a place that would help me begin my journey as a young man. My first week at the Franciscan Center was truly enlightening for me, with the combination of the orientation packet that I was given and the Franciscan Centers staff’s vast knowledge I gained information that could take some people years to master like budgeting, banking, job searching, job maintenance, and last but not least not wasting your first check. With the Franciscan Center Staff’s help I have been employed by Tops Family Market Along with job preparation The Franciscan Circle have given me life skills that I will always remember, and helped me set up life goals.
My goals for the for the near future is that by my twenty first birthday I will continue to work at Tops Friendly Markets and to obtain a decent apartment for when my time at the Franciscan Center will be expired, and I will be preparing myself for fall enrollment at Erie Community College for Basic Engineering. Some of the goals I have set for myself that are farther down the road of life are that; I will become a licensed engineer, own a home, adventure the world, establish a family, and write a novel. Father Joe thank you for your very entertaining wisdom and your comical lessons of life I will always remember and thank you Maureen and Sharon with your determination and patience of making sure I become the young man I have set out to be, I would also like to thank the rest of the Franciscan staff for their vast knowledge of life. Last but certainly not least I would like to thank the Franciscan centers supporters because if it wasn’t your generosity the Franciscan Center wouldn’t be able to be continually changing the life of young men. May you all have a good and blessed night.
- Quawnday, the 2011 Recipient of the Fr. Patrick Mendola Memorial Scholarship (Sponsored by our friends at Ingram Micro, Inc.)
The Franciscan Center helped me with many life skills and now I can make a fresh start. -JW
Coming to the Center was and possibly will be the biggest turning point in my life. I hated life, people, and myself. After six months here, I grew up more, and learned more than I did in 20 years. It wasn’t easy but look where I am: alive, healthy and not on the street. I graduated from high school and through my problems went to college. I’m not the underdog anymore. I am favored to succeed. With talking and working a program, I destroyed all negative feelings and started over…I felt care, love, and the will to make it with my stay. I didn’t think anyone could put up with me; now I know who can. I get along better with my mother and family now that I understand them. Understanding myself is a big factor also in helping that to happen. My life was turned upside down, straightened out, turned back upright, and finally put back together…thank you…I’m free at last.
Love, gratefully, M.B.
Coming to the Center was the best thing for my life. i wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m in college and have a good job thanks to everyone. -MB
I sure do remember you and all you did for me. You guys went to bat for me when no one else cared. I’m working two jobs now and I’ll be starting school in the Fall. I have a two bedroom apartment and a ’93 Grand Am… I credit you and your “tough love” for many of the qualities in my character. I’m doing well now and I thank your organization. If I could be on your mailing list, it would be an honor. Thanks again! – JS
January 25, 2012
Re: Proposed NYS OCFS Budget
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo,
-by statute, the Runaway Homeless Youth Advisory Committee exists for Office of Children & Family Services
-for the record the 2011 Annual Report for Runaway Homeless Youth from OCFS is grossly inaccurate; Erie County Transitional numbers are left out, as is data from Westchester County left out. It makes us look like we served no one
-I have been a voting member of the RHYA Committee for almost 18 years and have advocated/cried to OCFS, the Governor, and Legislature to stop CUTTING the OCFS Runaway Homeless Youth budget line in Youth Development
-the proposed 2012 figure brings our cut here to 60% since 2008, rather critical, but I am speaking for all Runaway Homeless Youth Programs in NYS, not merely The Franciscan Center, Buffalo
-the Transitional Independent Living Program in Niagara County has already closed due to the OCFS cuts Continue reading