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Save the Family Project

By Carol S. Wolf

It is hard to believe that summer is here. There is always so much to do, whether it’s planting flowers, walking, going to the park, or other fun activities. I love to watch parades and walk every day.

This month, I had the opportunity to meet with Carmaletta Zandi, president of the Morlock Foundation, and Liz Walsh, case manager for the Save the Family project. It is amazing to me that there are so many incredible organizations in Western New York (WNY) that help people, but most people are not aware of them.

The Morlock Foundation was founded in 2002 as an organization devoted to helping WNY families with unfortunate circumstances, including medical bills, insurance crises, putting food on the table, or needing support in various other areas. It was established as a family support system within the community and was dedicated in memory of the late Hal Gregg Morlock. Families have been saved over $15 million in medical bills, prescriptions, and needs with the Save the Family program. They are a non-profit organization serving WNY with this program that will negotiate with insurance companies, case management, as well as providing family support services. It is amazing to me that so many people have never heard of them.

Carmaletta founded the Morlock Foundation, starting the process in 2001. She said, “In 2002, we received our approval from New York State to become a non-profit and it took us quite a bit of time to get approved by the IRS, which finally happened in August 2003.” She went on to tell me that she serves because her son was born with heart disease. He was in need of his fourth open-heart surgery at eleven years old and there wasn’t a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon in Buffalo. She said, “They told us we could go to Pittsburgh but the insurance company told us they would not pay for it and we did not have $750,000 for him to have the surgery. It took us almost a year to find a surgeon that would take his case at Strong Memorial in Rochester.”

Carmaletta went on to tell me that in the midst of everything, her grandmother invited them to come to Florida to see her. She took her family to see the movie John Q. Carmaletta told me, “I saw in the movie that others were going through many of the same things we were going through. That gave me the idea to start a foundation to help others. We called the program “Save the Family.” We took over the Evangel Food Pantry helping families that were starving in the Williamsville area, Akron, the northern part of Cheektowaga, Alden, Amherst, and Clarence. There are very few food pantries in those areas. We call it the Evangel Food Pantry and it’s located at 8180 Greiner Rd., Williamsville, NY. We have made a lot of changes over the years. We now have appointments for people who work and try to accommodate everyone if possible.”

They also have a program called CAP, which stands for Community Awareness Program. This program works on projects to bring awareness to the community and prepare for change. An example is the Voiceless TPR project whose mission is to bring safety to children who are in the foster care system, allowing them to have a chance to gain success in life with a forever family providing them safety and protection until adulthood.

Carmaletta grew up in Ellicottville. She said her dad was in the military service and served two terms in Vietnam and her mom started work at fifteen years old in a factory, where she stayed for 25 years before taking a desk job for 25 years. She said it’s because of her family that she grew up with a foundation of support, strength, and love.

She said the organization has been active in Erie County since conception and now has an office in Niagara County where they are trying to get involved with groups in the communities to help them and make more of an impact. They currently have no paid employees but function with a staff of about 50 volunteers/interns.

Next, I spoke with Liz Walsh, who is case manager for the Save the Family project. She said she also works with the CAP program. Liz said she started there in September 2018. She shared, “I connected with this organization through UB, where I go to school. They connected me with Carmaletta and I have been with her for a while. My internship ended in early May but I have continued to volunteer here.” Liz is from Westchester County, so this is an opportunity to get to know the communities in both Erie and Niagara County. I asked her what she likes about the organization and she told me she loves to see the impact of what is being done to help people. Liz told me, “Just seeing people get the help they need is really rewarding. Some of our clients were facing homelessness and we helped them find a place to live. When we checked on them later and they were in high spirits; that made me feel good.”

She went on to tell me one of their clients told her about something that happened to him. She said he told her he was walking down the street and heard someone who was on his phone talking to someone about his need. I stopped and said to him, “I don’t mean to listen in to your phone call but I think I can help you.” Then he told him about the organization!

Liz went on to say that it is really great that they help everyone. The organization also helps people apply for Medicaid or Medicare if they qualify. I love helping find the group that can help them.

They have a board of directors made up of nine community members and are going to develop an advisory board for each county. If anyone would like to volunteer, please call 716-842-1300.

If you know of a successful program in your community or would like more information please let me know at cdwolf1132@gmail.com.

Carol Wolf is a writer, speaker, storyteller, and leader of workshops and retreats. She is retired from 35 years in health care administration and co-hosts a TV show called Challenge for the 21st Century for the Network of Religious Communities. She is the author of Journey into Prayer and Biblical Storytelling in Youth Ministry. She has been married to Dick for 58 years and they have two sons, four grandchildren, and one great-grandson.


 

 


Carol wrote this book as part of her two year Master's program in the Academy for Biblical Storytellers. It has just been published and is available for $10.00. Carol is an author, speaker and leader of workshops meditations and conference.
"This book give you an opportunity to experience how, when we become a part of the biblical story, we often find meaning for our own life. It is an incredible resource for confirmation, baptism, and intergenerational groups." Trracy Radosevic, Dean, Academy for Biblical Storytellers.
Anyone interested in buying a book can email me @caroldickwolf@cs.com. The book is $10.00 + $2.00 mailing.