Coniglio’s husband Tony was a veteran mill worker in Buffalo who 12 years ago became 100 percent disabled following a workplace accident.
The accident happened in an instant and its consequences were immediate, but because of Catholic Charites, a United Way agency, Pam Coniglio, IPPE coordinator in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, says that she had the resources that helped her “hold things together.”
She was working at the time at a private elementary school, but Tony’s income was the family’s principal means of support.
“Everything happened at once,” she says. “Tony couldn’t work, and the financial issues that followed that lost income hung over our heads.”
Coniglio said she knew that counseling would help, but didn’t think at first that it was an option.
“Having Catholic Charities and their counseling service available to us without the expense of having to pay for that therapy was such a relief,” she says. “It kept me sane.”
Catholic Charities is a comprehensive human services agency that has been serving Western New Yorkers without regard to religion since 1923.
Coniglio says that everyone in their home was scared, but that Catholic Charities helped lift much of that fear.
The recovery would be long, but the family wasn’t going to make the journey alone.
“I needed someone to talk with, openly and honestly about what we were going through,” she says. “I didn’t have to hold back. Catholic Charities gave me the outlet that I needed.”
Coniglio says Tony’s injury changed their family’s life so much, yet it doesn’t take a lot to help others like her that need United Way services.
“The amount of your donation doesn’t have to be big, but what amounts to a cup of coffee a week for you could be a donation that allows someone in need to get the assistance they need,” she says.
“You never know when you might need help. But when I did, the services were available to help my family.”