Giving Thanks For Positive Impacts
Thursday, November 01, 2012 by Monsignor Michael M. Boland

“Positive Impacts” is the professional term we use at Catholic Charities for “making a difference in people’s lives.”

It is a term used by professional social workers and support staff because it describes the “outcomes” or results of the services that we offer to people in need of our assistance. Perhaps our most visible service is feeding hungry families and individuals in communities throughout Cook and Lake Counties. But as a social service agency, we also help our neighbors to solve their problems, repair relationships, retrieve their dignity, achieve employment and stability, and accomplish the goals they set for themselves and their families.

“Positive Impacts” is a powerful term because it describes the life-changing actions and decisions made by the people who come to Catholic Charities for help. It also describes the profound commitment of the compassionate and professional people at Catholic Charities: 2,500 staff members and thousands of volunteers, who daily help our neighbors in need to live with the stability and human dignity that they desire and deserve.

Through our 157 programs at 162 sites in Cook and Lake counties, Catholic Charities assists thousands of vulnerable families and individuals. We operate accredited Child Development Centers, and Youth and Family Services; 20 residences for seniors; and the Catholic Home Care Program for seniors that provides housekeeping and in-home care. These are just a few examples of our services to our neighbors in need, of all ages, religions and circumstances.

As we approach Thanksgiving, this is the perfect time for me to say a heartfelt “Thank you!” to each and every person who supports Catholic Charities in Cook and Lake Counties in any and every way. Without your generosity, volunteer services, donated food, clothing and financial support, and many other gifts and talents, Catholic Charities could not assist the one million people who come to us for assistance each year. I offer my profound thanks and sincere prayers to each of you.

One powerful example of Catholic Charities’ numerous efforts to feed the hungry are the Evening Suppers held five nights a week in our St. Vincent Center. For the last 10 years, along with three other downtown agencies and numerous Catholic parishes from city and suburbs, we have organized and hosted weekly sit-down suppers for 130 low-income and homeless persons who live in the Near North area of Chicago. This has been a remarkable coalition of charity by churches, restaurants, and the downtown business community to feed our hungry neighbors.

Above all, I am deeply grateful to our clients and our supper guests, for the privilege of serving them, and offering the charity of Christ Himself to them: of being a source of hope and dignity and a better future to each person and each family. I am also grateful to our thousands of volunteers and donors, and to all who pray for the work of Catholic Charities and our neighbors in need.

We never forget that the people we serve throughout all our programs are our neighbors! They are families and children struggling in a one-time crisis or persistent poverty. They are our homeless brothers and sisters in need of a helping hand, food, clothing, shelter, counseling. Whatever each individual’s situation, we remember that Jesus commanded us to “Love one another!” – without judgment, and with compassion: “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it for me!”

For several decades, the motto of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has been “Compassion in Action!” This statement of our mission is lived by everyone associated with Catholic Charities: our social workers, staff members, Board members, donors and thousands of volunteers. They are truly a peaceful “army” of charity for all who come to us in need.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving with our families and friends, I give thanks to God for them, for our readers and our benefactors, and for each and every person who comes to Catholic Charities seeking assistance and the basic necessities of life. It is a great privilege indeed to care for those in need or in crisis, as Jesus showed us.

I give thanks as well for each of our generous benefactors: the restaurants, parishes, downtown churches and individual donors and volunteers from all over the region who last year provided 69,495 sit-down meals to feed our dinner guests at five nightly suppers hosted each week at Catholic Charities’ Near North St. Vincent Center.

I give thanks to God especially for the prayers and generosity of each and every person who supports Catholic Charities and creates these “Positive Impacts” of food, respect, dignity and charity for our neighbors in need. May God bless you and your families as you give thanks and celebrate His goodness!

With gratitude, I offer the following “Thanksgiving Day, U.S.A” prayer of the Church for all our readers and benefactors. May you and your families have a blessed Thanksgiving!

O Lord our God,

You have shown us the depths of your love for all your children;

Help us, we pray, to reach out in love to all your people,

So that we may share with them

The good things of time and eternity.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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