New Veterans, New Needs
Posted on February 21st, 2013
Our nation is deeply indebted to members of our military. They have made America the land of the free. But we must remember that freedom is not “free.” Many of our veterans pay a high price for their brave service to our country, and it is our duty to serve and protect them, as they have served and protected us.
We know that an inadequate response to returning soldiers after military conflicts can impact veterans for decades afterwards. At Catholic Charities, we see this first-hand in the thousands of former soldiers who come to us for assistance.
Whether it’s a hot meal , a warm place to sleep, counseling and substance abuse treatment, employment and job training programs, medical care, or a combination of all these services together, Catholic Charities is privileged to serve courageous veterans who have made extraordinary personal sacrifices for the good of our nation.
Catholic Charities recognizes that serving veterans in the future will require a two-pronged approach: while we must enhance services for aging veterans, we must also design and expand services for the thousands of “new” veterans arriving home from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Developing a comprehensive and effective response to this group of heroes takes on new urgency as hundreds of thousands of new veterans will make their way back to U.S. soil over the next several years. There are already 76,000 new veterans in Illinois alone, and that number will grow as more return home.
This “new” group of veterans has a vastly different set of needs than their older counterparts. They are younger, have less civilian work experience, and are much more likely to have been exposed to combat and have multiple deployments than previous generations of veterans. There are also more female veterans than ever before.
New veterans are returning home to an economy with few decent paying jobs, a shortage of affordable housing, systems of care that have grown accustomed to serving older and predominately male veterans, and complicated and confusing veteran benefit programs that are often backlogged and overburdened. These systemic problems are exacerbated by soldiers’ physical and psychological wounds that can contribute to substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.
Considering these challenges, it is remarkable that the majority of veterans return home and make a successful transition to civilian life without additional help. However, far too many end up jobless, homeless, hungry, and living in poverty. It is for this group of soldiers that we must do better.
The Veteran’s Administration, while paramount in veteran services, cannot alone bear the responsibility of struggling military, whose problems are too complex and needs far too great. We must have the partnership of government agencies, veteran’s organizations, educational institutions, employers, philanthropic and community groups, religious organizations, churches and volunteers. Over the past 10 years, Catholic Charities has been a leader in bringing these diverse groups together to create collaborative programs that get veterans the help they need to lead healthy and productive civilian lives.
I would like to personally invite you to join us at Catholic Charities’ Veterans In Need Dinner on April 26, 2013 where you can learn more about the innovative and effective ways Catholic Charities is serving both aging and new veterans, and recognize how you—as an employer, parishioner, donor, or volunteer—can get involved in this effort.
We, as a community and nation, must help veterans find their peace and prosperity, as they so bravely fought for ours.
To purchase dinner or raffle tickets to support the Veterans In Need Dinner, please visit www.catholiccharities.net , or call (312) 655-7907.
Protecting Religious Liberty
Posted on January 15th, 2013
There has been a lot of news coverage about the threats to religious freedom contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare.
Unfortunately, this debate has been publicized as a “women’s health issue,” and the typical pro-life and pro-choice groups have lined up on both sides. Yet, viewing what has come to be called the “HHS Mandate” (Health and Human Services Mandate) as being primarily about contraception or abortion is missing the real issue. Make no mistake, the alarming matter at hand is that the government is trying to step in and not only define what it means to be religious, but also force religious believers and institutions to act against their teachings in order to comply with the law.
The main concern with the HHS Mandate portion of ObamaCare is that it attempts to force all employers, including religious employers like Catholic Charities, to provide contraceptives, female sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs to all employees. Employers would be forced to pay for these services even if they have a religious or moral objection to them, or face crippling, multi-million dollar fines.
The Catholic Church is opposed to contraception, sterilization and abortifacients because we believe they interfere with the creation and protection of human life. Forcing us to pay for drugs and medical services that go against our deeply held religious convictions violates our constitutional right to religious freedom guaranteed not only by the First Amendment, but also by subsequent laws and court decisions that establish a clear distinction between Church and State.
The HHS Mandate does include an exemption for religious employers, but the definition of “religious employer” is so narrow that it excludes religiously-based social service agencies, universities, and hospitals. In order to be considered “religious” and earn the exemption, employers must employ only people of their own faith, serve only people of their own faith, and be in the business primarily of inculcating religious teachings. Consequently, because we serve and employ people of all religious backgrounds and we do not proselytize to those in our care, Catholic Charities and other faith-based service providers are not considered “religious enough” to qualify for the exemption.
For Catholics, our service institutions are essential in the exercise of our faith. The government is suggesting that we are not “religious” as we serve the poor, heal the sick, educate children, shelter the homeless, or alleviate suffering. Yet, following our religious beliefs is precisely why we perform all of these life-affirming acts because in so doing, we fulfill our Gospel duty to protect and enhance human life. For the government to tell us otherwise is a clear and unprecedented violation of our religious liberty.
As you can imagine, the result of the HHS Mandate has been the proliferation of hundreds of lawsuits across the country, as not only faith-based employers, but for-profit employers owned by individuals with deeply held religious beliefs, challenge its legality and constitutionality. In a recent ruling in December, a federal appellate court in Washington D.C. forced the Obama Administration to issue new rules by March 31, 2013 that will, hopefully, clarify how it will better accommodate religious employers and protect religious freedom.
I urge Catholics and all Americans concerned with religious liberty to pray that this forthcoming ruling will indeed protect our religious freedom and enable the Church’s essential institutions like Catholic Charities to continue our Gospel mission to love and care for our brothers and sisters in need.
For if we don’t protect our religious liberty now, what might be next?
Celebrating 65 Years of Giving
Posted on December 1st, 2012
They shop with great thoughtfulness and even delight, but they will not see the look of wonder on a 4-year-old’s face when he plays with his shiny new fire truck, the smile on the face of a little girl as she hugs her new doll, or a teenager’s eyes light up at his new computer game or her beautiful sweater! They will not see a mother in a family shelter wipe away tears as she watches her children try on new winter coats – or an unemployed father’s joy as he helps his child try out her new bike.
In 1947, Catholic Charities’ Adoptive Parents Guild initiated their annual “Toy Shower” for children in need. Over the years, the annual toy collection has expanded with the agency, today providing gifts for thousands of children across our 157 programs whose families – or the children themselves – are receiving Catholic Charities services.
For the last 65 years, generous people of all ages, faiths, and ethnic backgrounds have given out of sheer love to Catholic Charities so that children and families suffering poverty or crisis will have a joyful Christmas – and know that someone cares about them. These “givers” take time out from their own busy schedules and reach into their own limited resources to make a poor child or family happy. And they expect nothing in return.
This year from December 1 through December 19, hundreds of unseen heroes will donate thousands of new Christmas gifts for children and families in need.
This is the true “Spirit of Christmas” and the true “Celebration of Giving!” Today, each of the approximately 10,000 children from the neediest families receiving Catholic Charities’ services receives three gifts: something to cuddle, to read and to play with. And our “Sponsor-a-Family” program in Cook County provides 500 of the poorest families in our care with new clothing, household items, books or school supplies.
Last Christmas, through the generosity of our donors, Catholic Charities Lake County Services provided gifts for children whose families were in need, and each child received between one and three gifts each. At this time, many children in need of Christmas gifts are currently matched with donors, but we welcome other generous givers who wish to participate.
Of course, the spirit of giving is alive all year long at Catholic Charities. But during the “Celebration of Giving,” we are blessed with great “Giving” events from an enormous number of generous and enthusiastic donors and volunteers from corporations, small businesses, grade and high schools, scout troops and parishes across the Archdiocese who collect, sort, pick up and distribute gifts for our children and clients. The Catholic Charities Junior Board of young adults hosts a huge party for the children and parents who are clients of our Early Childhood programs.
Everyone loves a parade! – especially at Christmastime. For the last 13 years, The Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2 and Paramedics and their families have shared the joy of Christmas with families who might not be able to afford Christmas gifts for their children. Each winter, they collect, load and deliver 7,000 gifts, including new bicycles and red wagons, onto antique fire trucks and into family cars for an exciting and colorful “Toy Shower Parade” to Catholic Charities.
The day may be cold, but the Chicago firefighters’ and paramedics’ spirit of Christmas love, joy and selfless generosity warms every heart at Catholic Charities as we see the joy of the hundreds of children and families they help.
Since 1917, Catholic Charities has been caring for children and families in need. Today, we protect and nurture the poor and vulnerable children and youth benefiting from our early childhood and after-school programs; or participating in our programs for pregnant and parenting teens, and our maternity and adoption services.
Christ came into this world as a poor child with nowhere to lay his head. I am profoundly grateful to all those who share their joy and generosity with God’s beloved children, parents, elders and families who are poor in the eyes of the world.
Throughout the year in Cook and Lake counties, Catholic Charities feeds elderly or disabled seniors, and those living alone, who are so often forgotten – with home-delivered meals. At Christmas, our thousands of donors and volunteers also happily share gifts of food, clothing and toys with the children of low-income families; as well as thoughtful gifts with the elderly who are living alone. No matter how much or how little they can share, they do so with generous hearts in the true spirit of loving and giving.
My prayer for our readers this Advent and during the Christmas Season is that – in your families, neighborhoods and workplaces – through your outpouring of loving prayers and thoughtful gifts of the necessities of life to God’s beloved poor – you will make the Advent and Christmas Seasons a truly blessed “Celebration of Giving!”
May God, the giver of all good gifts, bless you and your families this Christmas and always!
Giving Thanks For Positive Impacts
Posted on November 1st, 2012
“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.
Patricia Drott, HIV/AIDS Liason to the Archdiocese of Chicago
Posted on October 1st, 2012
Patricia Drott is a woman with a major mission—a mission about which she is passionate. As the Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS Liaison to the Archdiocese of Chicago she wears many hats. She is a resource person to the parishes in the Archdiocese, to various Offices in the Archdiocese, to the departments and staff of Catholic Charities, and to the Cardinal.
Formerly a full-time faculty member in the Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University Chicago, she is a Master’s-prepared Registered Nurse whose specialty is Community Health Nursing, and whose area of interest is Infectious Diseases. In this position for the past nine years, she carries out a variety of activities in order to fulfill the Mission of her ministry which is to provide leadership and direction in ministry to persons living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by it. She works two days a week, and her role emphasizes education and outreach throughout the Archdiocese in her efforts to educate about HIV/AIDS, to combat the stigma and discrimination which still accompany the disease, and to encourage a compassionate response to all.
In this capacity, Pat co-chairs the Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS Task Force for the Archdiocese and the Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS Program Services Advisory Committee. The Task Force is composed of 12 members from different areas of expertise and advocacy in the area of HIV/AIDS services and ministry. Representatives include the Archdiocesan Office for Councils and the Office for Catholic Schools; Catholic clergy, chaplains and deacons; physicians and nurses; the Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry; and Catholic Charities staff. This group meets to share ideas and to plan and implement strategies to fulfill the Mission. The HIV/AIDS Program Advisory Committee is a group made up of our clients living with HIV/AIDS and Catholic Charities Case Management staff, and is led by a member of our Board of Advisors. They meet to share and discuss issues of concern in the service areas and work together to continually improve service.
In addition to these two committees, as a Task Force project, Pat developed and maintains the Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS Services and Ministry web site; prepares timely announcements related to varied topics such as World AIDS Day or HIV Awareness Days, which are sent to the parishes for their bulletins; provides educational and outreach presentations for groups such as Departments in the Archdiocese, Seminarian groups, the Diaconate Community, Catholic Charities’ departments and programs; and has made presentations at the annual Archdiocesan Leadership Day. She also coordinates HIV screening at the Catholic Charities summer Health Fairs at local parishes.
Another area of activity involves World AIDS Day which is observed on December 1 in over 150 countries worldwide. She has planned and facilitated interfaith prayer services and collaborated on other observances in the Archdiocese. In cooperation with the Office for Catholic Schools, she initiated a Poster/Poetry contest for World AIDS Day, open to students in all of the Archdiocesan elementary and secondary schools, around the theme of “HIV: It’s About You and Me.”
Pat collaborates with Catholic Charities Volunteer Services for Team Catholic Charities in the annual AIDS Foundation of Chicago Walk/Run and has been a participant and fundraiser for the past nine years. She has also developed educational media and literature such as DVDs, brochures and handouts (English and Spanish), which are widely distributed to spread the word about her mission. She is an active collaborator with various other local agencies which provide HIV/AIDS Services.
Pat consistently asks the questions: “What do you know about HIV/AIDS?” and “What can you do about it?” There is no cure for HIV/AIDS; the disease will not go away. While education and awareness regarding HIV/AIDS has increased over the 30 years since it was first recognized, it is vitally important to educate ourselves and our families about the disease and the issues which are part of it. Preventing AIDS is a challenge which we cannot ignore. We can consider getting tested for HIV at the time of other ordinary health encounters. Understanding HIV/AIDS can help us to respond with intelligence and compassion instead of fear.
Our lives and our health, spiritual and physical, are God’s gift to us. These gifts hold each of us personally responsible for our health and the health of others. By better understanding HIV/AIDS we can help to decrease the hurtful stigma; we can pray; we can volunteer to help our neighbors; we can participate in HIV/AIDS education and awareness activities in our own communities and parishes.
Compassion, hope and understanding drive all of Catholic Charities’ services to people, including our neighbors affected by HIV/AIDS. At Catholic Charities, our love for God and our concern for all of our neighbors are expressed in hundreds of ways in programs that inform, heal, feed, clothe and serve our neighbors. Thank you for your involvement, prayers and support in the works of charity. May God bless you and your families.
October 15th, 2012 is National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
December 1, 2012 is World AIDS Day
Looking Forward, Giving Back with Catholic Charities’ Junior Board
Posted on September 1st, 2012
“There’s always something going on!” This is the way Director Lisa Pauletto describes Catholic Charities’ Junior Board. That non-stop “something” started 10 years ago, when Catholic Charities initiated an organization that unleashed an explosion of charitable energy: The Catholic Charities Junior Board.
A bold new effort, the Junior Board was envisioned as a vibrant organization of young adults, ages 21 through 45, committed to assisting and promoting the compassionate works of Catholic Charities. The goal was to encourage and develop leaders in the church through effective community action that includes volunteer service, social fundraising and theological exploration. Practically speaking, the mission of the Junior Board is to create advocates for the poor, who not only help their brothers and sisters in need – of all faiths and racial and ethnic backgrounds; but also spread the word about Catholic Charities’ mission and programs in their communities. It’s clear that the Junior Board has lived up to their mission in its first decade!
Today, as Catholic Charities’ Junior Board celebrates its 10th Anniversary, 350 members are actively assisting Catholic Charities clients and programs throughout the year: serving thousands of seniors, children and families, and our hungry and homeless neighbors. Over the years, they have donated thousands of dollars and thousands of volunteer service hours. Many have gone on to become members of the Board of Advisors or the Board of Directors of the agency.
These energetic young adults volunteer regularly in more than 10 programs at various sites in Cook and Lake Counties, and take on one-time volunteer projects as needs arise within Catholic Charities. They also conduct multiple fund-raising events each year that bring them together to support programs for our clients with unique or urgent needs. Weekly e-mails keep all of the 515 members, sponsors and friends in touch. For young adults who want to stay connected via common values, service to those in need, and social events, the Junior Board is the place to be.
2011 was a banner year for the Junior Board, achieving several highs of service. These young men and women volunteered a total of 5,967 hours at Catholic Charities and Junior Board events, and raised $44,692 to support Catholic Charities programs. The 5th Annual Charities Royale Casino Night raised more than $34,000 for our Emergency Assistance Programs, providing services for clients with urgent basic human needs such as food, clothing and shelter.
Participation and giving opportunities abound at Catholic Charities. To celebrate their first decade of service, Junior Board members enthusiastically pitched in and supported several 10th Anniversary Initiatives to feed and benefit our clients, such as the 27th Annual Greater Chicago
Food Depository Hunger Walk at Soldier Field, followed by a “Party in the Park” at River City;
and Catholic Charities’ Annual “After Supper” Photo Exhibition and Sale, featuring the artistic work of our Wednesday night supper guests. Business and industry sponsors, as always, were encouraged to donate and sponsor “JB” events in return for program book recognition.
In honor of their 10th Anniversary, the Junior Board’s WEB page currently features: “10 Ways to Give.” These include donating toiletries for the low-income and homeless families and individuals who come to us for such basics as soap; sponsorship opportunities for events; and referring friends and families to businesses that support Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities annually assists more than one million men, women and children in Cook and Lake Counties with food, clothing, housing and professional social services. The young adult members of the Junior Board, through their generous, active participation and support of the clients and work of Catholic Charities, contribute greatly to the health, welfare, happiness and human dignity of thousands of our clients. Junior Board members participate wholeheartedly in the mission of charity – thus assuring that it will continue far into the future.
Whether on a fund-raising Boat Cruise, or serving our nightly suppers for 130 low-income or homeless guests at Catholic Charities St. Vincent Center, or at one of our suburban supper sites; organizing clothing drives for our clients; or holding monthly happy-hour events at local establishments to support programs for our neighbors in need – the generous and enthusiastic members of the Junior Board find a myriad of ways to serve as many of our nearly one million clients each year as possible.
The Junior Board is an integral and necessary part of Catholic Charities’ sacred mission to serve the poor now and in the future, and I am deeply grateful for their dedication, enthusiasm and generosity of spirit! As we celebrate their Tenth Anniversary – on behalf of the million people in need whom we serve each year – I say a sincere “Thank you and God bless you!”
“Ad multos annos!”
Serving and Celebrating Fathers Year Round
Posted on June 12th, 2012
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!
Looking Forward to Mother’s Day on May 13th
Posted on May 8th, 2012
Each year, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago takes up its Annual Collection on Mother’s Day! This year, as the Church continues to celebrate the Easter Season and the Resurrection of Christ, I ask you to consider how together, we can give new life to our neighbors in need.
How appropriate it is that—even as we honor our own beloved mothers, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church— we are generously providing help to poor and struggling mothers, fathers and children—and people of all faiths in need of the basic necessities of life throughout Cook and Lake Counties.
Let us consider the mothers who will be in great need on Mother’s Day, especially those who work outside of the home. They may not be able to focus on the joys of motherhood. They may be preoccupied with worry for their children, or feel overwhelmed by the demands of family life. The majority of women, 63 percent, work outside the home; and 77 per cent of all mothers with school age children work. One in four working families earns too little to meet basic needs.
On Mother’s Day and every day, these great needs of families drive Catholic Charities’ mission. “Love one another as I love you.” These words of Jesus from St. John’s Gospel (15:12) are Christ’s command for every day of the year— and Catholic Charities lives them every day in our 157 programs at our 162 sites!
Thanks to the generosity of our donors last year, 1,910 members of homeless families were sheltered and guided toward self-sufficiency. We offered quality, affordable day care for 1,577 poor children whose parents worked or attended school. We provided safe, affordable housing to 1,725 older adults living on fixed incomes in our beautiful senior residences. We served nearly 2.2 million emergency meals to hungry individuals and families, and provided more than 20,000 hours of professional counseling.
If it were not for the generous hearts and offerings of parishioners throughout the Archdiocese, on Mother’s Day and throughout the year, we would not be able to help so many people. We also owe tremendous gratitude to the 5,000 volunteers who deliver meals, hold fundraisers large and small, read to the children in our family shelters, organize our donated clothing rooms for men and women, and assist Catholic Charities clients in job preparation and placement—among many other services!
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” May these words from the First Letter of John (4:7) summarize our faith and commitment to charity.
Thank you for your love and prayers for your neighbors in need and for your generosity during Catholic Charities’ Annual Mother’s Day appeal. Without your help, we could not meet the needs of our struggling neighbors.
May the love of Christ and His Blessed Mother bless your families and keep you close to each other and to God’s people in need.
Happy Mother’s Day to all our faithful readers who are mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers! Enjoy your special day and God bless you!
Catholic Charities: Celebrating 95 Years of Service
Posted on April 19th, 2012
“Christ is risen from the dead!
Dying, he conquered death:
To the dead, he has given life!”
This ancient prayer and eternal truth proclaims what the Church throughout the world believes: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!”
As you read this, the Church throughout the world is celebrating – or preparing to celebrate – the Feast of Easter: The resurrection of Christ from the dead, and the promise of eternal life for all.
This truth and this hope is what drives the work of Catholic Charities as we serve all people in need. The hope of resurrection, of a new life of dignity and justice for our neighbors who are poor or struggling is our goal and our mission.
And through the grace of God, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has lived Christ’s mission for the last 95 years. As we celebrate, we look back in gratitude and we look forward with anticipation to the future.
April 10, 1917. On that historic day, as the United States prepared to enter the Great War raging in Europe, 300 representatives from Catholic parishes in Chicago met with Archbishop George Mundelein of Chicago for one purpose: to increase financial assistance for the growing numbers of poor families and individuals living within their parish boundaries – of all faiths. The result was the founding of the Board of The Associated Catholic Charities and its coordination and service arm: the Central Charity Bureau. The nucleus of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago had been formed.
April 2012. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago celebrates our 95th Anniversary. The men who met with Cardinal Mundelein on that historic day in 1917 were members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the charitable organization named for its 17th century founder.
For decades, they had served as the parish-based “safety net” for poor families and individuals, the elderly, and the indigent. But they acknowledged the great need for the creation of a formal archdiocesan agency “to lessen the suffering of the widows, the orphans, the sick, the friendless and the penniless,” and the Catholic Charities was founded.
Today, Catholic Charities serves more than a million people in Cook and Lake Counties with 157 programs at 162 locations that are administered by more than 2,500 staff members. Our mission is to people of all races and religions who are in need: those who are poor, hungry or unemployed. We assist elders and spouses who suffer abuse. We care for the children of low-income and formerly homeless working families, and assist immigrants as they strive to achieve financial independence, and education for themselves and their children.
“Whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me!” These words of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew sum up the first 95 years of Catholic Charities’ service to the poor. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, welcoming the stranger, strengthening families, protecting children, safeguarding seniors, offering recovery to the addicted, lifting up the discouraged, speaking up for the poor, the helpless and the unborn to the public and to presidents, restoring the human dignity of all the children of God. …This remains our mission.
As we observe this historic milestone, we do so with great gratitude to God for the privilege of serving His people in need. Please keep Catholic Charities and all whom we help in your prayers. God bless you and your families! Happy Easter!
Child, Youth and Family Services: Hope and Light
Posted on March 1st, 2012
Those of us who endure the darkness and cold of a Cook or Lake County winter really look forward to Spring. We can’t wait for the sun to shine, the weather to warm up, and spending time outdoors instead of cooped up inside the house. During this Lenten season, it’s all about new life: the expectation of something better, of being able to come and go freely.
I think this is what it must be like for our Catholic Charities clients who live in the isolation of poverty or abuse or a family crisis. Except that they are not sure that Spring will ever come.
Children and youth are especially vulnerable. They cannot vote; they do not hold positions of power; they do not have a voice. They are not able to advocate for themselves. Yet, they are our future. At Catholic Charities, we are their voice. In 2010, 32% of children in Chicago lived in poverty. Here are some of their stories, as reported by Catholic Charities’ Youth and Family Services Vice- President, Laura Rios.
Last year, Catholic Charities therapists in our Child, Youth and Family Therapeutic Services Program served over 670 children and adults, including children and youth exposed to violence and trauma. Staff in our maternal and child health and pregnant and parenting teen programs are devoted and dedicated, going above and beyond. In addition, 700 children and 306 families received frequent home visits for case management and counseling from our Family Based Services workers who helped them to address the factors contributing to child abuse and neglect, as well as the resulting trauma.
Our Child Development Centers continued to help prepare children for a successful transition to kindergarten and provided a safe, nurturing educational environment for children while their parents were at work. More than 1,500 children were served at our centers in 2011, which provided numerous activities to strengthen and support families. As a result of these efforts, more than 580 fathers participated last year throughout all our Child, Youth and Family programs, a highly successful outcome. Catholic Charities Maternity, Adoption and Post-Adoption services staff provided support in times of crisis, placed children in “forever families,” and helped to preserve and strengthen adoptive relationships.
Several successful new programs have been initiated. Funding was sought and received from the Latino Policy Forum to hold the Abriendo Puertas parent involvement curriculum at St. Joseph Child Development Center and Our Lady of Tepeyac in Chicago. The Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership awarded Catholic Charities a grant to receive Infant Mental Health consultation for our Roseland Adolescent Parent Program; the Chicago Community Trust awarded us a grant to pilot a father’s group in Roseland; and the Children’s Advocacy Center awarded our counseling department a grant to provide support for child victims of sexual abuse in the Roseland community.
Catholic Charities remains committed to our mission of providing compassionate, competent and professional services that strengthen and support individuals, families and children. As we look forward to the beauty of spring and Easter joy, please keep the children and families we help in your prayers. God bless you!