At Catholic Charities we provide our services to all people in need living in the Archdiocese of Dubuque regardless of their faith, background or income. Services are personal and confidential and can be sought through our eight regional offices.
Select a program to read the personal story of a client assisted by Catholic Charities. For the protection of our clients, fictional names have been used for the following stories.
Affordable Housing – Fiona’s story
After the sudden and unexpected death of her husband, Fiona and her two young children were left to start over. It was a struggle for them to find an affordable place to live with no landlord history and very limited income. Fiona was relieved when Catholic Charities was able to find housing for her and her children in a three-bedroom apartment. They felt welcomed and safe in a home they could afford. Fiona reflects on the experience. “Now the kids are doing well in the school I can see outside my apartment window. My income has stabilized and we are moving forward.”
Mental Health Counseling – Michelle’s Story
When Michelle came to counseling she was severely depressed and drinking heavily. She expressed that she was dealing with “death and anger issues” having lost her husband, mother, father, brother and sister. Michelle lived in constant fear of death and restricted herself from relationships in fear of losing another person close to her. Drinking had become her strategy for happiness, but instead it turned her anger into meanness, and her two teenage daughters were watching her spin out of control.
Throughout her counseling, Michelle began to confront her grief and accept that she had no fault in the deaths of her family members. Michelle began to separate herself from the abusive relationship that was reinforcing the negative feelings she had about herself. She quit drinking and started to become more financially independent and an active parent in the lives of her children.
Michelle is currently involved in a positive relationship, but continues her financial independence. She works on parenting challenges, and takes care of herself physically. She has lost a significant amount of weight and has developed a more supportive social network that does not depend on alcohol.
Crisis Pregnancy Counseling – Julie’s story
Julie was 17 when she found out that she was pregnant. She wasn’t sure she would be able to raise the baby on her own and she was scared. Julie was in an unhealthy relationship and wanted her child to have a loving home with a mother and a father. She was told about Catholic Charities by a priest and scheduled an appointment to learn about her options. After having her birthparent rights explained by a counselor, she decided to further explore the possibility of adoption.
Julie met with her counselor for several months. She looked through profiles of prospective couples and chose a family. Julie worked with the child placement agency that Catholic Charities connected her with to arrange a semi-open adoption, which meant they could meet when they chose to, and share pictures and letters with each other. The bittersweet day of placement arrived, and the group had a ceremony to celebrate the adoption. Julie met the couple she had chosen to be her child’s parents, and everyone knew that this baby was placed out of love into love.
Post Adoption Search – Allison’s story
When Allison contacted Catholic Charities she was filled with excitement, hope and trepidation. She was 42 years old and had been adopted at birth by loving parents. Still, Allison experienced emptiness and a lifelong desire to know her birth mother. Allison requested Catholic Charities begin the adoption search process. Her counselor and adoption search coordinator helped her to fully understand the search process and to prepare herself for the possible thoughts and feelings sometimes associated with the experience: loss, rejection, guilt, and questioned identity. When Allison’s birth mother Faye was located, she was surprised, but thrilled! Faye had also been waiting her whole life to meet Allison. Faye and Allison began to exchange letters and phone calls. After several weeks, they both felt they were ready to meet face to face. Faye and Allison discovered that they had similar interests, hobbies and mannerisms. Both felt that the void and emptiness they had experienced for so long had dissipated. They continue to share a close relationship.
Refugee Resettlement – Mya’s story
For most it would be impossible to imagine daily life in a refugee camp. Take a moment to think about the lack of necessities, limited and poor-quality food, crowded and unsanitary living conditions and extreme poverty. At the age of 20, Mya was forced to leave her home country of Burundi during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. While divided tribes tore apart her homeland, Mya’s mother was killed and she was separated from her father. She and her husband migrated to a refugee camp in Tanzania, but during a camp transfer Mya lost her husband and firstborn son. She never saw them again.
For more than 15 years, Mya lived in refugee camps. She married again and gave birth to four more children. Camp life meant no electricity, or water, strictly rationed food, sleeping in tents and rampant disease. Mya prayed that God would help her and dreamed of coming to America. She had nearly lost all hope when one day she learned it would actually happen. Then shortly after the announcement, Mya’s husband died in the camp from malaria and pneumonia.
Catholic Charities accepted Mya’s resettlement application from U.S. Migration and Refugee Services. Although a family member, who had filed the paperwork for their resettlement, had originally agreed to host Mya and her children, he did not welcome them once they arrived. Catholic Charities secured the services of a Swahili translator, and became Mya’s sole support system, providing emergency housing, and then an apartment, buying groceries and finding clothes for the family. Staff continues to guide her to assistance and resources she needs to become self-sufficient and adjust to her new life. Her children attend school and are learning English. Mya is learning English and looking for a job. “I knew I would be thankful once I arrived,” Mya said. “This is the life I prayed for”.
Immigration Legal Services – Marcus’ story
Eighteen-year-old Marcus and his family were granted permission to legally enter the United States. The family was overjoyed as their Visa’s began arriving shortly after their move, but Marcus’s Visa never arrived. He patiently waited for six years until the family moved to Iowa. Four separate agencies advised Marcus to continue investing money in filing forms and to keep waiting. Marcus had spent thousands of dollars on the effort, when he met one of Catholic Charities’ Immigration Outreach staff members. They met one-on-one to establish a plan, and together traveled to the immigration office in Des Moines. During their third appointment the assisting officer reviewed Marcus’s file in disbelief, acknowledging the multiple applications, expense and time span of the process. She told him to expect his green card in the mail in two weeks, which made him laugh. In re-assurance, she said he could call her personally if it didn’t arrive.
Marcus did receive the Visa, which he had awaited for thirteen years. During those years he never received public assistance benefits, he worked to buy his home and paid for two vehicles. Marcus has been determined to, and will continue to live the American dream.
Jail and Prison Ministry – Martin’s story
After 17 years of incarceration in the Anamosa State Penitentiary, Martin was ready to begin a new life. With no family to turn to he knew he needed support to resist the temptations of his former lifestyle. Well acquainted with a group of laymen and deacons who made up his RCIA team in prison, Martin chose to settle in Dubuque, where he would have a healthy support network and a trusted mentor to help him to get back on his feet.
Martin began participating in regular Circle of Support and Accountability sessions, and continues with these today. With the help of his mentor, Martin was connected to a local business for a welding job. Catholic Charities was able to help Martin with emergency financial assistance to purchase the steel-toed boots he needed in order to accept the position. Martin is well on his way to independence and expresses that he hopes to be able give back someday for what he has received.