Bringing Light and Hope In Darkness
Posted on January 11th, 2012
For most of us, the New Year brings a review of the “old” year’s accomplishments and a new start. So it is with Catholic Charities! Each year on November 11, Veterans Day, 1,100 of our more than 2,000 Catholic Charities employees gather at our Annual All Staff Meeting at Drury Lane in Oakbrook to celebrate our past, our present and our future. We review and recognize the professional achievements of our staff, who are the hearts and hands of the agency, and celebrate their anniversaries of employment. We take time to honor all American veterans, including our own staff members who are veterans of the Armed Services.
In 2011, thanks to our outstanding Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, staff, and thousands of generous donors and volunteers, Catholic Charities upheld the highest professional standards as we provided compassionate social and human services to the poorest of the poor, assisting more than one million people.
Whether these neighbors of ours are desperately poor, homeless, frail and alone, or in need of food, clothing and shelter; or better off financially, but suffering a devastating crisis, Catholic Charities strives to provide what they need. That could be food, clothing, housing, rental or emergency assistance; the skills to manage money, or counseling services to heal a personal or family relationship.
But it also takes the efforts of thousands of heroes in our very real “army” of volunteers, such as our Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, our young adult Junior Board, and parishes and parishioners throughout Cook and Lake counties, whose generosity and energy are astounding.
- For example, the hundreds of Catholic Charities’ young adult Junior Board members brightened the lives of countless seniors and children, recording over 5,300 volunteer hours last year and raising nearly $40,000 for Catholic Charities programs. Hundreds more board members and volunteers helped their neighbors in need by serving on the committees of our 31 annual agency-wide and regional fund-raisers such as “The Spirit of Saint Nicholas Ball,” which support specific programs such as our Children’s Programs.
- Family and Parish Support Services: In Fiscal Year 2011, our housing programs brought light to the darkness of homelessness by providing 458,747 nights of stay for homeless individuals and families; and 80% of our clients achieved stable permanent housing upon leaving these programs. We provided services to 4,502 veterans; and 2,352 domestic violence victims benefited from many of our services, including housing and counseling. Our Homelessness Prevention Call Center and Central Information and Referral programs answered 139,943 calls for help, keeping people housed.
- Seniors have always been a very high priority at Catholic Charities, so I am proud to say that last year our Senior Services helped 99,005 older adults with 2,154,098 units/hours of assistance. In addition, we built and manage 1,533 safe and dignified apartments for seniors, the disabled, and veterans; and have broken ground for the new 42-apartment All Saints Residence for seniors in Roseland.
- Catholic Charities’ Community Development & Outreach Services runs several community food and nutrition education programs promoting health and prevention services, while developing a variety of job training programs for youths and unemployed adults. This past year, we gave 176 at-risk youth an enhanced quality of life through employment and leadership opportunities. Our “Lunch-n-More Catering and Food Service” enterprises provided 730,678 fresh, healthy meals for children and families, (a 289% increase from previous year).
- New initiatives that provide job training for Catholic Charities’ clients include our Painting Enterprise, Child/Adult Care Food program (CACFP), and the Mentoring Plus Jobs program. Nutrition programs for families include our WIC (Women, Infants, Children) Centers, now offering fresh produce. This past year, our nutrition program for Seniors, Mothers and Children distributed more than 159,000 nutritious food packages.
These are just a few of our 157 Catholic Charities programs at 162 sites that provide food, clothing, housing, rental assistance, counseling services, emergency assistance and hope to people of all faiths and means throughout the year.
As we launch into this New Year with renewed faith and charity, I remain deeply grateful for the light that your prayers and support bring to our neighbors who need our help to live lives of dignity and hope. Thank you for bringing your light of love and hope into the darkness of their poverty and despair. May God bless you and your families!
Catholic Charities Today: Now More Than Ever
Posted on January 2nd, 2012
“Wishing to lend every assistance practicable to alleviate the suffering and ameliorate the condition of the widows and orphans, the feeble and infirm, the weak and faltering, the abandoned and cast-off…”
So began the letter from concerned Chicago businessmen to His Eminence Cardinal George E. Mundelein in 1917, urging the formation of a central fundraising mechanism to help parishes struggling to meet the needs of the poor.
On November 29, 2012, in our 95th year, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago held the Annual Meeting of our Board of Directors and Board of Advisors. As 370 board members and staff convened at the Hilton hotel in downtown Chicago, we reflected upon the nearly ten decades of growth, change, adaptation and dedicated service to the needs of the poor that this social service agency has provided to the people of Cook and Lake Counties.
Since the First World War, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has pursued our mission of service to poor and struggling families and individuals, using every available resource to reach our most vulnerable neighbors during challenging times.
Today, faced with increasing diverse and complex requests for assistance from individuals and families throughout Cook and Lake Counties, Catholic Charities continues to remain aware, flexible and adaptable to the evolving needs of our one million neighbors who come to us for assistance each day, year after year.
Here is just a sampling of our 157 programs that serve or impact people 24 hours a day.
*1 a.m. Our Mobile Outreach telephone hotline dispatches a van to meet a young adult on the street and provide free transportation to a safe shelter.
*2 a.m. A Chicago mom quiets the cries of her baby daughter, who will now sleep through the night with a full tummy because the young family visited one of Catholic Charities’ 16 Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Centers.
*3 a.m. For the first time in more than a year, a mom, dad and their two children safely rest at one of Catholic Charities Interim Housing facilities for homeless families. Recently selected by the City of Chicago to expand its transitional shelter services, we provide more beds at night, and during the day offer numerous services such as counseling, access to available benefits, transportation to school for the children, and employment training for their parents.
*5 a.m. A 62-year-old man finds security and privacy in his Section 202 apartment in one of Catholic Charities’ 20 Affordable Housing Residences for low-income seniors, including two new buildings completed this year. He will make himself breakfast before heading downstairs to a meeting of the Building Resident Council, followed by an information program on smoking cessation and a quick conversation with the site’s social worker.
*6 p.m. In the early evening, Madonna House, Catholic Charities’ renovated shelter for women and children in Wrigleyville, welcomes young adult volunteers from Catholic Charities’ Junior Board to read a story, share a snack, and work on a craft with the children, while the parents pursue goals of generating savings and finding employment.
*Last year, Catholic Charities’ Senior Services and Health Care helped 102,210 older adults and their families, especially those with low incomes, to maintain quality of life and independence for as long as possible, with in-home and community-based services that kept them grounded in familiar settings. Homemaker and Elder Abuse Services, as well as Senior Centers, assisted and protected these seniors with a range of programs and improved their quality of life.
At all hours of the day or night throughout the year, Catholic Charities embraces each opportunity in our 157 programs to assist, protect and encourage the families, seniors, children and individuals we serve, especially those who are most in need.
The heart of our mission is service to the poor, because in serving our struggling neighbors, we serve Christ Himself. For many decades, our time-honored maxim has been: “Caritas Christi Urget Nos – The Charity of Christ Impels Us!”
Our Mission Statement sums up our purpose and our vision: “Catholic Charities fulfills the Church’s role in the mission of charity to anyone in need by providing compassionate, competent and professional services that strengthen and support individuals, families and communities based on the value and dignity of human life.”
Now, more than ever, as we embrace and continue our 95-year tradition of serving our most vulnerable neighbors in ever more challenging times, we receive increasingly diverse and complex requests for assistance. Strengthened by faith and hope, our tradition of professional excellence, the outstanding support of our Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, and our generous volunteers and donors throughout Cook and Lake counties, Catholic Charities gratefully looks forward to serving families and individuals in need for years to come.
From all of us at Catholic Charities, a grateful prayer for you and your families during the New Year:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace.