Niagara Gazette

October 2, 2013

Anniversary of Catholic Charities' program celebrated

Staff Reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Catholic Charities is marking the 15th anniversary of its special program that focuses on area families dealing with at-risk youths.

On Tuesday, about 60 staffers, members of referring agencies and the community celebrated the milestone of the Charities' Niagara County Multisystemic Therapy program at the Niagara Culinary Institute on Old Falls Street. A spokesman explained that MST is an intensive intervention, serving the youths and their families, that strives to change how youths function at home, in school and in the neighborhood, promoting positive social behavior and decreasing anti-social behavior. 

In 2012, some 100 youths and their families who received the full treatment were served through the program. Upon completion of those sessions, 98 percent of th youth continued to live at home, 86 percent were in school or working, and 96 percent had no new arrests.

"This program partners with families and other systems to empower youth and their families with skills and resources to address and manage a youth's behavior," said Dennis Walczyk, chief executive officer of the Buffalo-based Catholic Charities. He noted that since 1998, more than 1,100 families have participated in the program.

Jennifer Schmidt, who sought help through the program last June, shared the experiences about her 13-year-old son who had become "physically and verbally aggressive toward his two sisters" and was frequently missing school. With the help and guidance of their therapist, Kelly Loverdi, the boy vastly improved his behavior and has not missed a day of school since, his mother said.

Catholic Charities has been serving more than 130,000 people in the eight Western New York counties, with 70 programs offered at 61 sites.