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By the summer of 2019, the Olean Area Charter for Compassion began to put into action the commitment of healing the divisions growing in our community by practicing the “Golden Rule” and expressing kindness wherever possible. Working with the local Refugee Advocacy Committee who  were spearheading efforts to help newly arrived refuges fleeing the turmoil in Afghanistan, the steering committee assisted in the collection and delivery of much needed personal care items to the Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Assistance Center in Buffalo. In the summer of 2022, the Charter for Compassion took on the monumental task of assisting four agencies in Buffalo in the collection of enough furniture and accessories and personal care items to completely prepare an apartment in Buffalo for refugees who had entered the United States through the southern border. Most recently, the Charter assisted a newly arrived refugee from the Cameroon here in Olean.

History of the

Olean Area Charter for Compassion

            The Olean Area Charter for Compassion was founded in 2017 by a group of seven local people who were concerned about the rising tide of divisiveness within the community, and even among family members, during the politically-charged environment of the time. 

         Recognizing that Olean was a compassionate community at its core, and while citing example after example of concern and care exhibited on a day-by-day basis by people in every facet of community life, founding members Rob and Jeanne Walk, Rich Reilly, Chuck and Etta Walker, Vicky Kearns and Sushma Thandla, searched for a way to unite people in the cause of compassion and the “Golden Rule.”

Together with the original steering committee, the ideals of the International Charter for Compassion were carried into the community in a two-year effort of sponsored symposiums and informational forums and by 2019 over 2000 local signatures supporting the effort were collected and the boards and executive committee members of more than 30 other Olean area organizations expressed support and signed the charter.  Also, in 2019, the Olean Common Council passed a resolution officially designating Olean as an “Charter of Compassion City” thereby joining 100s of other caring communities throughout the world.

Our projects have included participating with other helping agencies such as Christmas Gift Tree, Interfaith Caregivers, Meals on Wheels, Olean’s Kindness Week, Refugee resettlement.  The Charter also presented a conference, for over 100 attendees, at Chautauqua Institution on the topic of “Building Compassionate Communities.”


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