Updated: Dec 5, 2022
March 16, 2022
(ALBANY, NEW YORK) Michele Puleo O’Hare, Executive Director of the Foundation of St. Catherine’s, presented to the General Assembly on Friday, March 11 at the 44th Annual Lions Day with the United Nations in New York City. Puleo O’Hare was chosen to speak on behalf of the Lions Club International and represents NY District 20-W, where she serves as District Governor. Although St. Catherine’s does not work directly with refugee populations, Puleo O’Hare cited the interconnected structure, specifically in the areas of family prevention, advocacy, kinship care, community outreach and wrap-around services across the Agency’s family of services, as a scalable model for other organizations to follow when working with vulnerable populations.
Puleo O’Hare, who leads the philanthropic efforts at St. Catherine’s, shared insights on how The Lions and their community partners are addressing the Afghani refugee challenges in Upstate New York. The Capital District recently became the new home for a large number of Afghani refugees, many of whom needed immediate and significant assistance navigating New York’s legal infrastructure, social services, court systems, and healthcare networks, among others.
“When we think about helping refugees, there tends to be reactionary responses around family prevention, child custody arrangements made under duress, and emergency healthcare needs, which are often exacerbated during times of crises. St. Catherine’s clients seek assistance with the same needs found among displaced populations,” said Puleo O’Hare in her remarks.
St. Catherine’s programs and services include provisions for appointing case managers to line up health screenings, assigning advocates to formalize custody arrangements or make assessments with a clinician for children with special needs. Puleo O’Hare’s remarks affirmed that St. Catherine’s deliberate planning and implementation of an interdependent-framework, ‘designed to bridges gaps between available community resources and individual needs,’ is an example for NGOs to follow when providing humanitarian aid both domestically and abroad.
“Understanding and planning for circumstances that may strain existing resources for society’s most vulnerable, is crucial in how we navigate sudden changes to the human services landscape,” says Frank Pindiak, Executive Director of St. Catherine’s Center for Children.
Puleo O’Hare’s remarks are timely given the recent uptick in refugees across the globe – and the escalating refugee situation in the Ukraine as organizations prepare to render aid.
Photo Credit: ©The Lions Club International (used with permission), pictured (left) Douglas X. Alexander, President of the Lions Club International, and (right) Michele Puleo O’Hare, Executive Director of the Foundation of St. Catherine's Center for Children
Lions Club District 20-W: https://www.e-district.org/sites/20w/index.php
LDUN New York: https://www.lionsclubs.org/en/start-our-approach/lions-advocacy/lions-day-united-nations
Lions Club International: https://www.lionsclubs.org/en
Ukraine Refugee Situation: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine
About the Lions Clubs International
Lions Clubs International is the largest service club organization in the world. More than 1.4 million members in over 48,000 clubs are serving in 200 countries and geographic areas around the globe. Since 1917, Lions have strengthened local communities through hands-on service and humanitarian projects, and we extend our service impact through the generous support of our Lions Clubs International Foundation. We are focused on supporting vision, the environment, childhood cancer, hunger, diabetes and other pressing humanitarian needs to help address some of the biggest challenges facing humanity. For more information about Lions Clubs International, visit lionsclubs.org.
About St. Catherine’s Center for Children
Founded in 1886 as a home for sick orphans, today St. Catherine’s Center for Children is one of the oldest and most comprehensive human services providers in the Capital District of New York. The Agency offers a comprehensive range of child, community-based and homeless services to children, families, and adults in the Capital District including therapeutic residential and educational services, foster and kinship care programs, community wrap-around services, and homeless outreach, among others. St. Catherine’s serves over 1000 children and 600 families annually in 26 counties. For more information, visit www.st-cath.org.
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