Catholic Charities Newsletter
From the Director’s Desk
April is recognized annually as National Mental Health Awareness Month, which gives me the opportunity to write about something that is close to my heart, both personally and professionally. For ten years prior to joining the Catholic Charities team, I was a practicing mental health counselor and forensic interviewer, specializing in working with children who were sexually abused. I know first hand both the growing need for mental health services, and also the life-changing impact counseling can have.
The need for counseling services was first recognized by Catholic Charities as the divorce rate among married couples began to rise in the 1960’s. Being Catholic and experiencing a divorce can bring additional worry and need for support. Since that time, Catholic Charities’ counseling services have broadened, both in the faces of those we serve, as well as the expansion of services offered. Catholic Charities is proud to offer counseling services in all six of our office locations, (Ames, Cedar Rapids, Decorah, Dubuque, Mason City, and Waterloo) staffed with graduate level, licensed social work and mental health professionals. Today, the need is greater than ever. We are not only seeing a rise due to the most common reasons people seek counseling services; depression, anxiety, stress, and marital difficulties, but other common reasons as well; addiction, parenting issues, abuse, and children’s behavioral issues.
Catholic Charities is always seeking to help where we can. At this time, we are in the beginning stages of piloting telehealth service to reach areas in the diocese that may not have access to a counselor. Initially, these services are being offered in our Cedar Rapids office location, with plans to expand into other areas yet this year.
I invite you to learn more about Catholic Charities Counseling Services and staff by clicking here to visit our website.
Thank you for your support of this ministry and God Bless,
Tracy Morrison, Executive Director
Catholic Charities Purchases Affordable Housing Property in Maquoketa
Catholic Charities announces the purchase of a 28-unit Rural Development affordable housing complex in Maquoketa. “I’m so very excited to be expanding our mission of providing beautiful and orderly affordable housing for the most vulnerable in the Archdiocese with the purchase of Heartland East, as it is known locally”, states Executive Director, Tracy Morrison. Catholic Charities conducts periodic studies of economic health by county in the Archdiocese of Dubuque and Jackson county was identified as the #1 ranked county when measuring indicators such as poverty rates, unemployment rates and affordability of housing.
Housing Director Matthew Roddy explained the 3-year acquisition process this way. “It started with Fidelity Bank and their commitment to placing the property in the hands of Catholic Charities, for the benefit of the residents and the local community. With the support of Maquoketa local partners, including the Jackson County Economic Alliance, the Maquoketa Ministerial Association, and Sacred Heart Parish, we obtained a grant of $170,000 administered by the East Central Intergovenmental Association (ECIA). The final piece was a commitment from USDA for rental assistance to the residents as needed for the next 30 years.”
The 3-building complex, consisting of 17 one-bedroom and 11 two bedroom apartments, was acquired by Fidelity Bank when the previous owner dropped off the deed at the bank. Some years later and needing TLC, Heartland East is in the beginning stages of a $275,000 renovation, including new heating/cooling units, vinyl plank flooring, some new kitchens and baths, as well as two fully accessible wheelchair apartments.
“I want to thank our partners from Fidelity Bank and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development office for working with us to ensure this affordable housing property was preserved. We could not have successfully ensured this property will be available for families many years in the future without their dedication and passion for affordable housing,” states Morrison.
With the acquisition of Heartland East, Catholic Charities Housing now has 209 apartments and approximately 400 people living in these homes in Maquoketa, Waterloo and Dubuque. “I am so very proud of the work our housing team does every day to ensure these families, seniors and adults with disabilities have a safe, beautiful and orderly place to call home. In the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘a home is much more than a roof over one’s head. It is a place for building and seeking one’s life.’ “
Pictured above left-right: Jim Kennedy Jr., Steve Baumhover, Derek Olberding (Fidelity Bank representatives) and Matthew Roddy (Catholic Charities’ Housing Director)
“God Gave Me a Circle”
By Teresa King,
Community Outreach Coordinator
“I’m really glad God gave me a Circle,” stated Jim Henry with such truth and conviction.
As the Volunteer Coordinator with Catholic Charities, I was recently allowed to sit in on one of Jim’s Circle of Support meetings and honestly, later in the evening while going over the experience in my head, I cried. These were not tears of happiness or sadness, but the kind of tears that surprisingly appear when you are genuinely moved in your spirit. If you have not experienced volunteering as Circle of Support member, I highly recommend the life changing experience. I say life changing because from what I have witnessed, it is not only life changing for the “Core Member/Client,” but also those who so generously volunteer. It reminds me of the saying you often hear, “Who rescued who!”
As I watched Jim and each member of his Circle, what I saw and heard through each of them was love. Jim came to the attention of the Jail & Prison Ministry through his involvement in Drug Court. He was desperate for change in his life. Some may conclude that he was desperate only because he was looking at the possibility of prison time if not accepted into the program, but the truth is, he had a baby on the way. Jim was already a father to a ten-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter, but he knew he wanted to be the kind of father his children needed.
If you ask the members of Jim’s Circle, Dianne Heim (pictured-right who joined by phone while out of state), Laurie Ready, Jim Sands, and Deacon Bill Hickson they would tell you that he made a very difficult course look easy. Jim has consistently been on the Drug Court’s All-Star list, which recognizes participants for following all the Drug Court rules and making regular progress towards their goals. Jim has consistently credited his faith in Christ as his motivation and inspiration for changing. He says, “The devil was always able to enter my life through boredom, but now I keep busy and have no time for things that don’t make me happy.” Jim now has a good job, a driver’s license, a vehicle, is working towards attaining his GED and has plans to buy a house soon. With all these accomplishments, what Jim can be most proud of is that he is a responsible family man, making sure all the needs of his family are met. His “Circle” could not be prouder of Jim’s achievements and recognize how hard he works at maintaining his sobriety.
Society can sometimes be unforgiving of those with criminal histories, often not recognizing that these individuals are some of our most vulnerable. Unfortunately, this attitude only compounds these individuals’ ability and desire to make positive changes, not only for themselves and their families, but also their communities. Catholic Charities’ Jail & Prison Ministry is blessed with invaluable volunteers with caring hearts who recognize this and want to stand beside these individuals and extend their hand offering support.
Annually, National Volunteer Month is recognized in the month of April. As the Volunteer Coordinator, and as I get to know each of our volunteers, it has been a very humbling experience. I find each one truly inspirational. All of us at Catholic Charities express how grateful we are for our invaluable volunteers.
Pictured above-left to right: Laurie Ready, Jim Henry, Deacon Bill Hickson, and Jim Sands
James Worley has not had an easy life from a very young age. He and his siblings were separated, forced to grow up in multiple foster homes. James tells of living with one foster family for several years before the “system” moved him to yet another foster home with “strangers.” As a result of some of the experiences James has lived through, he struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
By all accounts, James was homeless the day he walked through the doors of Catholic Charities’ Ecumenical Tower for the first time. He had been staying in a less than desirable motel, which cost him nearly every bit of his monthly Social Security check. James reports that with what little he had left, he was consistently short of having enough to eat. That was until he was given a tour and turned in his application for an apartment, and as they say, the rest is history. James jokes while pointing to his belly, “I now have too much to eat.”
James explains that he is very happy with everything Ecumenical Tower offers, noting the convenience of the downtown location, the cleanliness of the building, and the staff. He especially appreciates Aaron Wenzel (Maintenance), stating “He’s a cool guy and makes sure everything is in good shape.”
James is very appreciative for his apartment and the secure feeling of living among friends. Truth be told, Ecumenical Tower is appreciative of him. James is often found helping out during lunch and calling out the letters for the occasional Bingo game.
Beauty In Christ Conference – Donation
The Archdiocese of Dubuque, along with the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Theisen’s Home | Farm | Auto sponsored this year’s Beauty In Christ, Archdiocesan Women’s Conference titled, “Perfect ISN’T Perfect.”
Catholic Charities was honored to have an exhibit at this amazing event and having the opportunity to meet so many of the beautiful women in attendance. It is always such a blessing for Catholic Charities to share the ministries they offer that directly impact the lives of women, right here in the Dubuque Archdiocese. Women seek out Catholic Charities, often at that moment when they finally admit to themselves that their lives are out of control and what they have been continuing to do, is no longer working for themselves or their children.
Catholic Charities’ Director, Tracy Morrison (pictured above, center) recently accepted this days offering from the event organizers, Mary Pedersen (pictured above, right) and Joanne Pohland (pictured above, left). With loving partnerships such as these, Catholic Charities is able to continue to open our door and hearts to walk alongside women as they begin their journey toward their “new” definition of the perfect life.
Disaster Task Force Volunteers Needed
Due to flooding, Gov. Reynolds has issued a disaster proclamation for 20 counties in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. This activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with the Disaster Case Management Program. The Iowa Individual Disaster Assistance Grant Program (IIAGP) offers grants to families whose household’s annual income is at 200% or less of the federal poverty level. If you know someone who has been affected by the flooding, please have them contact their local Community Action Agency to apply for funding. The list of these agencies for each county is on Catholic Charities Disaster Resources page, please click here.
Catholic Charities is looking for 10-15 committed volunteers across the Archdiocese of Dubuque to join a Volunteer Disaster Task Force. Those interested in serving on this committee will receive training on disaster preparedness and recovery and will serve as a liaison between their parish and parishes within their region. Volunteers will assist in recruiting and keeping an active list of volunteers from their own parish who may have flexibility within their schedules and are willing to mobilize to help respond to parts of the Diocese during times of disaster.
If you are interested, please contact Teresa King, Community Outreach Coordinator, via Teresa.King@dbqarch.org or by calling (319) 272-2080. You may also complete a volunteer application on Catholic Charities website, by clicking here.
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