CCUSA Update Vol 48 No 2

Catholic Charities USA’s Board of Directors welcomes new member

CCUSA is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Ray Madoff to its Board of Directors. Professor Madoff teaches at Boston College Law School. A faculty profile from the school’s website notes that she is the co-founder and director of the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good, a non-partisan think tank that convenes scholars and practitioners to explore questions regarding whether the rules governing the charitable sector best serve the public good.

Read the Year One Report of Catholic Charities USA’s Healthy Housing Initiative.

The CCUSA Healthy Housing Initiative combines health and housing services to help chronically homeless people remain off the streets. The Catholic Charities ministry – with 167 agencies nationwide – is a unique space where both comprehensive care for the whole person and safe shelter can be provided at single locations to address chronic homelessness in local communities.

The effort is being implemented by five pilot agencies: Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan; Catholic Charities of St. Louis; Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada; Catholic Charities of Portland; and Catholic Charities Eastern Washington. The agencies are collaborating with local arch/dioceses, Catholic health systems and other partners such as financial institutions and governmental agencies.

Finalists for the CCUSA 2021 National Volunteer of the Year Award

The effort is being implemented by five pilot agencies: Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan; Catholic Charities of St. Louis; Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada; Catholic Charities of Portland; and Catholic Charities Eastern Washington. The agencies are collaborating with local arch/dioceses, Catholic health systems and other partners such as financial institutions and governmental agencies. The effort is being implemented by five pilot agencies: Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan; Catholic Charities of St. Louis; Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada; Catholic Charities of Portland; and Catholic Charities Eastern Washington.

Bernard Michel serves as a mentor in Catholic Charities Atlanta’s Refugee Youth Mentoring Program, which matches refugee children and adolescents with caring adults who offer friendship and support. When staff were asked to identify a mentor for a bright young man whose family had resettled recently from Central Africa, Bernard’s warmth and dedication made him a clear choice. Bernard and his mentee, A., planned a family movie night, basketball at the YMCA, and outings around Atlanta. Then, only a month after Bernard and A. began, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted their plans. Bernard found himself asking how he could best support and empower A. now that in-person mentoring had been suspended indefinitely. When poor internet access interrupted virtual learning, Bernard not only advocated for A.’s family but also joined a new local task force working to close the digital divide in our community. Bernard also stepped forward to recruit more caring adults to serve as mentors as more and more refugee youth felt isolated. When fellow mentors have felt discouraged by the challenges of supporting their mentees virtually, Bernard has always shown up, offered support, and brought his kind and steady presence to his peers. This year has called on us all to reaffirm our commitment to social justice and to find new ways to connect and care for each other – often from a distance. Bernard exemplifies how much is possible when one of us steps forward to answer these calls.

The Relief & Hope telephone line of Catholic Charities Maine (CCM) Emergency Services is the number no one ever wants to call. The individuals who dial in are at the end of their rope, in despair and feeling hopeless. Thankfully, when they do muster the courage to call, they are greeted by the soothing, friendly voice of volunteer Julie Abbott who has manned the hotline since 10/28/2011, racking up 3,630 hours of service during her tenure. Volunteering from CCM’s central office in Portland, Julie has fielded 5,000 calls in her 10 years from across Maine to the hotline established to provide one-time financial assistance and access to many community resources through our Parish Social Ministry program. This equates to about 454 calls a year! She has become an incomparable source for everything from ‘where to find a hot meal’ or food pantry, help with a bus ticket home for a stranded traveler, transportation for a senior to the doctor, security deposit help for an apartment, or helping fire victims replace household goods or clothing. Julie impacts the lives of those living on the margins. The clients who call are people with insufficient resources to meet the most basic human needs. Patiently and compassionately she talks to callers with mental health issues, the elderly, new Mainers, or someone who just needs a “helping hand.”  Julie’s volunteer work provides a way to solve small problems that public support will not pay for and yet can make a big difference in someone’s life.

Click here to watch a video about Julie Abbott.

Mr. Timothy Gunderman’s lifelong commitment to live out the Word of God through his deeds and in his relationships reflects the best of the Catholic faith. He puts his faith into action, whether working on the front lines of food distribution efforts, volunteering overnight at a men’s homeless shelter, or figuring out how to resolve a complicated refugee issue to reunite a family. With over 45 years of experience as a developer of low to moderate income housing, Tim turned out to be the perfect fit for Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice’s Disaster Recovery program. Since 2017, the program has been helping farm workers in Southwest Florida recover from Hurricane Irma by repairing damaged homes. Some of these homeowners were not eligible for federal funds because of their immigration status. Mr. Gunderman volunteers as Construction Manager for the program.  He travels to affected communities, assesses damages, and makes written cost estimates for repairs. He finds licensed, insured contractors and supervises repairs, making sure permits are obtained and work is completed in a safe manner and meets all building codes. Mr. Gunderman volunteers about 30 hours per week with the program. His expertise and dedication have ensured not only the program’s success but has allowed more program funds to go directly to the cost of home repairs. The Disaster Recovery program, with funding from CCUSA and private foundations, has helped dozens of low-income farm workers rehabilitate their homes, prevent homelessness and restore a sense of security and hope in their lives. 

Click here to watch a video about Tim Gunderman.

For 20 years, Juanita Rendon experienced traumatizing physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband. The abuse didn’t end until Juanita courageously fled Mexico to the United States. Coming to America, Juanita faced many barriers as she acclimated to new surroundings, a new language, and newfound freedom. Courage and determination led her to Catholic Charities of Omaha, which became Juanita’s “safe haven.” She took part in our Domestic Violence and Food Pantry Services. After completing the programs, Juanita felt a call from God to give back. She began volunteering at our Family Resource Center helping other families acclimate to the U.S. Soon after, she transitioned to Food Pantry Services and led efforts to feed the hungry. In March 2020, the impact of the pandemic on our food services was detrimental. We experienced a 75% decrease in staff and volunteer assistance, yet we saw a 400% increase of people in desperate need of food. Juanita immediately began volunteering 35 hours a week, while still working two full-time jobs. Each morning, she greeted everyone with words of encouragement. Juanita brought friends and family with her to help, quickly turning the single-staff team into an efficient workforce. Juanita exemplifies the mission of Catholic Charities of Omaha: Ministering to the greatest and most fundamental needs of our community. As Catholic Charities is there every day for people, Juanita has been too, helping to spread our works of mercy and promoting the dignity of all people.

Click here to watch a video about Juanita Rendon.

In 1993 Stan Fitzgerald created a parish partnership with Cathedral Social Ministries through his parish, St. Francis of Assisi. He links affluent parishes with poor parishes and Catholic Charities. Stan supports our free primary healthcare clinic serving the homeless, immigrants, and migrant workers. He volunteers with our homeless drop-in office, “The Window,” providing donations of toiletries, service navigation, a place to receive mail and sandwiches. He created sandwich-making teams serving 150 people a day. He volunteers with the Day Worker Center, ConXion, assisting immigrants with employment. Pre-Pandemic he provided space and volunteers in his parish for CC Senior Day Care Services, artistic activities, exercise, and lunch while families were at work or at home in need of respite relief. Stan volunteers with Campaign for Human Development and writes reflections for CCUSA. He developed St. Vincent DePaul’s voice of the poor advocacy letter-writing project. Inspired by Brian Massingale he created a presentation on The Structure of Social Sin and Racism presenting the material in many parishes. Stan visits our young adult Jesuit Volunteers in their community home, Casa Arrupe, bringing books on social justice and facilitating conversations.  Stan is known for the phrase “Did you Know?” which is his entry to educate, advocate, and introduce you to other people who serve the poor; changing the world for good, mobilizing the catholic community and all people to make a difference. Stan has created relationships amongst programs and people that long surpass the expectations of one person, creating a soul-filled legacy empowering others.

Click here to watch a video about Stan Fitzgerald.

Tammy Goodman has been bringing hope to life at St. Vincent Centers’ food bank for the past eight years.  She began serving there when her father was lead volunteer.  When he retired, she took over his position and has been serving as lead volunteer for three years. This past year, facing new challenges with the pandemic, Tammy demonstrated her ability to change and grow. At the beginning, most of her crew of faithful volunteers from various parishes had to stop volunteering because they were from vulnerable populations.  So she trained new crews both from parishes and the broader community (as there was turnover every few months) and worked with a team to re-vamp the service model to distribute food with no contact. Making sure there is enough food to distribute is important to Tammy.  On days when the food bank is closed, she goes to Safeway and Yakima Union Gospel Mission to pick up donations.  Then, she and the volunteers put the food away. Tammy is great at spreading her dedication to the food bank with her network of friends and family.  She has shared the joy of volunteering with her neighbors, her boyfriend, her daughter, and other people in her community.  Tammy’s big heart for people is definitely contagious. Catholic Charities Serving Central Washington is blessed to have such a dedicated volunteer to lead St. Vincent Centers’ food bank.

Click here to watch a video about Tammy Goodman.