Serving and Celebrating Fathers Year Round
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 by Monsignor Michael M. Boland

Fathers’ Day is a big occasion for families. On June 17, Dads and Granddads will become the center of attention and gratitude, celebrations and gifts, showered on them by their loving spouses and children. Children and grandchildren will be better behaved and present carefully selected gifts to their “Grandpa (Abuelo), Daddy (Papa), or Uncle (Tio)!”

In most families in the United States, Father’s Day is also a day for visiting or calling elderly friends and neighbors who may be alone, showing them how much we value them with our love and friendship.

I’m happy to say that, at Catholic Charities, every day is “Father’s Day!”—and has been for the 95 years of our existence!

In fact, Terri Denny, Catholic Charities’ Senior Director of Lake County and Regional Services, reminds us that Catholic Charities serves fathers across all of our 157 programs – all year long! Whether on a daily basis, with specialized services such as parenting, home health care or counseling, or with emergency assistance that provides the basic necessities of life: food, clothing or shelter, Catholic Charities is there. We are proud to serve Dads and men of all ages in meeting an immediate crisis or in need of long-term social services for themselves and their families.

Here is just a sampling of our programs that assist men of all ages in our various regions and programs throughout Cook and Lake Counties, many of which offer volunteer opportunities to assist Catholic Charities staff and clients:

  • Supervised day care and recreation activities for frail elders are offered regularly at our Catholic Charities’ Accolade Adult Day Care Center Program in Oak Park. These services keep senior men and women healthy and alert with activities and interaction with their friends.

This year’s Father’s Day Celebration is sure to be thoroughly enjoyed by the senior men at the center as they test their creative skills and share a lot of laughs during the “Tee-Shirt Tye-Dye.”

  • Volunteers play a highly important role in serving our seniors and clients of all ages. The dedicated members of our all-volunteer West Regional Advisory Board regularly make up Gift Bags containing toiletries for the men at our Bishop Goedert Senior Residence located in Hines.
  • Father’s Day is every day when fathers teach their sons by example to love and care for their neighbors in need. One Catholic Charities board member brings his now five-year-old son with him when he volunteers annually at the St. Frances of Rome Health Fair in Cicero. Wonderful things happen when fathers teach their children—by example—to help others.
  • Many fathers—and grandfathers—are our guests at Catholic Charities’ evening suppers for low-income families and individuals in Chicago and throughout our suburban Cook and Lake
    County regions; they and their spouses and children visit our food pantries; they use our counseling services.
  • There are single parent fathers striving for self-sufficiency, struggling to build a future for their families and break the cycle of poverty. One dad reflects on being a single parent. He is working with Catholic Charities to pursue employment options and expand his education. Families in poverty experience many barriers in life, making it difficult to move forward. This young father said, “With the support of Catholic Charities, I have learned from my past mistakes and that’s what makes me the father I am today.”

In fact, all of Catholic Charities programs serve fathers and their families! And many fathers and grandfathers alike take advantage of volunteer opportunities to serve others. For example, some bring their grandchildren with them to deliver our Meals on Wheels to homebound neighbors in Lake County. What a legacy of charity they pass on to the younger generations!

Heartwarming stories abound among the volunteers: “The seniors’ faces just light up when they see us – but especially when they see the children!” “It made my nine-year-old granddaughter aware of others.” This granddaughter said, “Grandpa, that little man doesn’t have anyone to visit him, and that’s sad.” These young lives are as touched and changed as their elders.

I think that spiritually, our Meals on Wheels Programs in Cook and Lake Counties closely resemble our true mission to those who are hungry. By our loving presence and our food, we feed not only the body, but the spirit and the soul of those we serve – and of ourselves. In the giving and receiving, the elderly man, the little girl and her father know they are loved, and that loving others is the purpose of life. For that, we are all grateful!

Happy Father’s Day!

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