Our 26th Annual Sister Rachel Campaign “Caring Beyond Belief”, is now underway.

All dollars raised by this effort stay in Herkimer County and go directly to the support of our local programs like Herkimer County Prevention Council.

The Herkimer County Prevention Council (HCPC), a program of Catholic Charities, provides one-on-one substance misuse prevention and intervention to youth and adults who are identified as having risk factors that may increase their chances for substance misuse.  They have been involved with over 3,500 cases this year alone.

As the holiday season is approaching, it is common this time of year for us to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.  We give thanks for our health, our families and loved ones, for our prosperity.  However, there are individuals and families in Herkimer County who are not as blessed as we are.  Some who are struggling with addiction, homelessness, and trauma and have limited financial and moral supports.


This is one youth’s story… Meet Jeff

When Jeff was referred to our Prevention Services Coordinator (PSC), he had never finished a school year in the same school. The student was rebellious and struggling with problems within the family. He had experienced physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his father and at this time in his life no longer had any contact with him. Jeff currently lives with his mother and has had various male figures coming in and out of his life. His parents and sister all had history of substance abuse or were active substance users. 

When Jeff first enrolled in Prevention Counseling, he was constantly in trouble.  He was being referred to the principal’s office frequently and he was failing most of his classes. Over the course of the school year, the PSC worked with him to address his emotions and learn coping skills to more appropriately address and handle those emotions. Jeff admitted he was angry!!!  He did identify that he needed to learn how to handle that anger. Through discussions, lots of role play scenarios, and other exercises, he began to handle his anger and other emotions through healthier outlets. Jeff reported his overall mental state was in a better place. His referrals to the principal’s office significantly decreased and he was passing almost all of his classes by the school’s final marking period. 

HCPC works with students like Jeff every day. This type of assistance for individuals in need could not happen without your generous support!

(“Meet Jeff” is based on an actual case file, his name and picture were changed to protect his privacy.)


Meet Brennen Thompson

The Mission

Over the next 12 months, the goal is to raise $6,000. This will be split evenly in the amount of $3,000 between Herkimer High School sports programs and The Catholic Charities of Herkimer County. HHS intends on using the funds in ways that will directly impact our athletes and bring our community together in their support. CCHC also intends to put the funds to good use by providing basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter to those in our community that need it most.

To raise awareness, I will be climbing twelve of the highest peaks in California over the next twelve months, ending the journey by conquering Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa in June of 2021.


When large global issues take hold of the world, oftentimes, small communities get pushed aside and forgotten. Despite this, the resilience and tight-knit nature of these small towns allow them to get through the most difficult times. Our community is a prime example of this.

It was with this thought that the idea of ‘Valley Tough’ came alive. Not only did it give me the chance to achieve the life-long goal of climbing one of the worlds tallest peaks, but it also allowed me to pledge my commitment to a cause that is close to my heart. More importantly, it was an idea that gave our community the chance to showcase its kindhearted nature during a time that it is needed the most.

The goal: 12 months and 12 of the highest peaks in California, ending the journey at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in June of 2021. All in an effort to raise $6,000 for our town.

On a month to month basis, the funds will go directly back into the community; split evenly between Herkimer High School sports programs and The Catholic Charities of Herkimer County. As a whole, the funds will help put our young people in a position to succeed, provide aid to those that need it most, and hopefully unite each of us in an effort to back a worthy cause.

In a community where everyone knows everyone, the  troubles of any one individual become the troubles of us all. Whether it be a neighbor, a friend we haven’t seen since high school, or someone that has recently moved to the area, there is always someone close by that could use a helping hand.

Follow Brennen's Journey at Valleytough.com, Facebook, or Youtube. Click here to donate to his Go Fund Me page.


Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany is one of the largest, private, social service agencies in the region, helping more than 84,000 people each year in the fourteen counties of the Albany Diocese. Our motive is simple: to address basic human need at all stages of life regardless of race, religious belief, ethnicity, or lifestyle with special emphasis on the poor and vulnerable in our society.