Valley Stream parish on a fundraising mission

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He noted that the parish’s founders made sacrifices decades ago to build the church. “Now it’s our turn, as the current generation, to make sure we’re keeping the buildings in good condition,” he said.

The capital campaign officially began in November. Through the first 100 gifts, $310,000 has been pledged to the parish, with $117,000 already collected. White said that the first round of gifts are usually the most generous, and he feels that the parish is well on its way to meeting its goal. “There’s a long way to go and a lot of gifts to get,” he said. “The parish has a long history of generous support.”

Dugandzic said he has spoken with parishioners individually or in small groups about the campaign. This weekend he will make a broader appeal to the parish of about 2,400 families, with pledge commitments sought by Feb. 24.

Andy Walters is the lead parishioner in the campaign, serving as a liaison between the church and his fellow congregants. He has made several presentations about the plan and gathered feedback. Church members want to see the improvements to the building, he said, because they want a facility that is nice, safe and efficient.

Walters, who moved to Valley Stream in 1978, has been a member of Blessed Sacrament ever since. His children all had their sacraments at the church, and he and his wife serve as Eucharistic ministers. “We love this parish,” he said. “Any parishioner you speak to, there is a love of this parish.”

The debt

Dugandzic became pastor 3½ years ago, and inherited a $2.7 million debt. He said it resulted from a combination of overspending and falling revenue, the latter a problem that has affected many Catholic churches.

His first task was closing a half-million-dollar annual budget deficit, which he did by cutting staff and managing utilities more efficiently. Shuttering the parish’s elementary school in 2011 also created a $300,000 swing in the budget. Instead of the parish’s paying a subsidy to keep the school running, the building now generates revenue, with four classrooms rented out to a day care center.
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