The olv organizations

What was founded in 1854 as a sanctuary for homeless and orphaned children has continued as a “City of Charity” today. The OLV campus includes one of the region’s largest charitable agencies for children and families (OLV Human Services, OLVHS), a fundraising arm with an international donor base (OLV Charities, OLVC), a parish and elementary school, and the OLV National Shrine & Basilica.

Each year, tens of thousands of individuals rely on OLV. More than 18,000 children, adolescents, adults and families are cared for by the dedicated staff at OLVHS and its affiliates. OLVC’s 50,000+ donors provide critical financial and spiritual support. And, historically, more than 40,000+ visitors are awed by the Basilica’s beauty.

But numbers can’t tell the full story. The OLV organizations stand today as they always have: as a beacon for those who seeking to better themselves — physically, emotionally or spiritually.

OLV National Shrine & Basilica

Historically, approximately 30,000 religious pilgrims and curious visitors pass through the doors of the OLV Basilica and National Shrine on an annual basis. Completed in 1925 and dedicated in 1926, this special place serves as Venerable Nelson Baker’s tribute to the woman with whom he credited all of his success: the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Victory.

The European-style church is an architectural wonder, containing many notable features. Among them: a dome that, at the time of its construction, was second in size only to the U.S. Capitol building and two religious items – the tintinnabulum and the canopeum – that can only be found in appropriately designated basilicas. The National Shrine is also the final resting place of Father Baker himself.

The OLV Basilica is also home to a parish of more than 1,500 families and OLV Elementary School, a Catholic institution (PK-8), that has educated thousands of children throughout its 120+ years of existence.

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OLV Human Services

The care-giving arm of the OLV organizations, OLV Human Services (OLVHS) traces its roots to an orphanage built in Limestone Hill, a suburb of Buffalo. Soon after, a home for boys “inclined to willfulness,” was added. Venerable Nelson Baker became superintendent in 1882. Under his watchful eye, the organization expanded and, in 1906, the OLV Infant Home, a sanctuary for abandoned babies, was opened.

Over time, the work done at the protectory evolved into Baker Hall, a residential program for adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems. The Infant Home’s mission grew to include care for individuals with developmental disabilities and profound medical needs.  The missions of Baker Hall and the Infant Home were combined in 1996.

Specializing in the care of those whose intense needs are such that they may have been passed over by other human services organizations, the agency offers a variety of educational, outpatient and residential programs.

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OLV Charities

OLV Charities serves as the “story-telling arm” of the OLV organizations, collaborating with benefactors and friends to raise funds to promote devotion to the Blessed Mother, under the title of Our Lady of Victory, and to help support OLV Human Services, OLV National Shrine & Basilica, Camp Turner, OLV Elementary School and Venerable Nelson Baker’s Cause for Canonization.  It also provides business services such as IT, maintenance, print services and marketing to the agencies under the “OLV umbrella,” therefore offering them efficiencies and cost savings.

Each year, donor generosity supports OLV’s legacy through:

  • Grants & Major Gifts. Grant funding from foundations and large gifts from corporate partners and individual donors.
  • Planned Giving. Donations of stock and property, bequests, charitable trusts and charitable gift annuities.
  • Special Events. Both fundraising and “friend-raising” events.
  • Direct-Mail & E-Philanthropy. Reaching out with “tried-and-true” methods as well as through more modern, digital channels.