Catholic Charities Newsletter

August 2017 

From the Director’s Desk

It is that time of year again, as summer schedules are wrapping up and parents and children are adjusting to a new school year to begin! Amidst the busyness, it is good to be reminded of the importance of providing support to families in our own community, as well as to families around the world. 
We are excited about Pope Francis’ Global Migration Campaign kick-off, coming up September 27th. He is being joined by bishops across the U.S. and around the world in launching this public awareness campaign to promote opportunities for communities to come together with a vision of a united global human family. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world have fled their homes seeking a decent and safe life for their families.  This historic campaign, “Share the Journey”, will respond to some of the most desperate of God’s children and promote a culture of encounter by greeting migrants and refugees. 
I invite you to join in the effort to strengthen the bonds between migrant families in your own communities. You can help your parish, school or other group participate through prayers, acts of compassion, support and shape conversations and actions to answer the Gospel call to love our neighbors. Please like our Facebook page to keep updated on more information coming up about this exciting campaign.
In our mission of reuniting families through our Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Legal services ministries, we like to share stories from those we have served and the impact we have made on their families’ overall well-being. The following is a recent testimonial from a client:
“My husband and I are so grateful to Catholic Charities and the support our CC immigration attorney gave us through my husband’s immigration process to the USA. We had already faced a year apart, and with young children, that is not an easy time.  Our immigration attorney helped us work through the overwhelming task of completing immigration paperwork, something I could not imagine doing on my own.  The process was still long, but it went smoothly and we felt so supported.  We are now a family reunited living together, with a bright future ahead!”
As always, thank you for your continued support.

“The future is made of you, it is made of encounters.”    – Pope Francis
God bless,

Tracy Morrison, Executive Director

First Job Readiness Class for Refugees is Successful

In June, Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement Employment Services program congratulated four graduates from the first Job Readiness Class! Focusing on basic employment skills to assist participants with securing employment, these participants engaged in a five week curriculum that included classroom style lessons and group activities. 

All the students in the class arrived in the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa, within the past year to be reunited with family members in Iowa. Olive, one participant, stated, “When I started this class, I didn’t know any English, I didn’t even know how to say hello to someone, I now feel more confident in being able to go out and get a job.” 

Huguette, a student, thought the most beneficial part of the class was that she learned how to manage money and how to use public transportation. “I can’t drive, so now I can get a job and use the bus to get there.” Devotaha, another participant, added, “I didn’t understand basic things like shapes, letters, colors and numbers and now I’ve learned them all. They also helped me understand how to fill out a job application.”
Three out of the four graduates have now secured employment and with the increase in income, are on their way to moving from poverty to self-sufficiency. This training class continues to be offered for refugees, with interpretation services available. To learn more, please contact Terina Heidelberg, Employment Specialist, at or 319-364-7121.

Pictured are class participants, left to right: Olive, Huguette, David and Devotaha




Community Foundations award grants to Catholic Charities 

Pictured accepting the award is Stacy Martin, Grant Writer, Tracy Morrison, Executive Director, and Sr. Margaret Mary Cosgrove, BVM, Board member

The Women’s Giving Circle, from the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, awarded Catholic Charities a $5,000 grant to support the Jail & Prison Ministry program. 

The Women’s Giving Circle (WGC) offers an opportunity for women in the community to come together to participate in philanthropy through education, grantmaking and various community activities. The Jail & Prison Ministry program helps ex-offenders establish positive relationships, experience healthy social activities, and connect with community resources that can aid in finding work, affordable housing, and meeting basic needs. For more information, please visit our website. 

Pictured is Lori Williams, Director of Quality Assurance accepting this grant at the award ceremony

The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa in Waterloo granted Catholic Charities a $10,000 grant to support Immigration Legal Services in Black Hawk County. Immigration Legal services’ mission is to help reunite families split by immigration by providing affordable legal services. Catholic Charities assists with paperwork for green card and citizenship applications, family and visitor visas, deferred action for childhood arrivals, temporary protected status, violence against women act, and other family-based immigration legal services. For more information, please contact Yer Vang, Director of Immigration & Refugee Services, at 319-364-7121 or

New Resident Manager at Kennedy Park West 

Aaron Gerrad is pictured above with his wife Tracy and their children Anthony, Dominic and Patrick

Aaron Gerrard is the most recent addition to the Affordable Housing team, at Catholic Charities’ largest family complex, Kennedy Park West. His primary duties are maintenance and janitorial, so he spends his days completing work orders, getting vacant apartments ready to rent, and making sure the buildings and the site are beautiful and orderly. Since he and his family live onsite, Aaron is able to respond quickly to urgent calls, and his family’s presence at Kennedy Park West contributes to the quality of life and sense of community at the property. 
Aaron and his family moved to Dubuque from Alaska in March of this year and expressed that finding a family-oriented place to live was key in their happiness. Aaron shared, “Kennedy Park West is a perfect fit for us, and it is so comforting to work for Catholic Charities, a place that is people-driven, not money driven.” The Gerrard family are members of Resurrection Parish and are overjoyed to be part of an active faith-filled community.

World Refugee Day 

World Refugee Day was recognized on June 20th to bring awareness to the critical humanitarian situations that refugees face throughout the world. Mary Ready, Refugee Resettlement Manager, pictured on the right, spoke about Catholic Charities’ program at the peace rally held at Washington Park in Dubuque. 
In honor of World Refugee Day, Catholic Charities sponsored a Donation Drive throughout the month of June to help refugee families in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, the two communities in which Catholic Charities is actively resettling refugees. Several parishes and volunteers contributed items such as new car seats and dining kits for refugee families in need. 
Please take 30 seconds to watch our new video in honor of the immigrants and refugees that we serve through our Immigration Legal Services and Refugee Resettlement programs.


United Way partnering with Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities has been a long-standing partner agency of the United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States. Through that partnership, the agency has assisted thousands of individuals in the tri-state area thanks to this support. United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States has awarded Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque with a grant totaling $125,000 for the 2017-2018 grant cycle. The funding will help support Mental Health Counseling and Jail & Prison Ministry in the Dubuque area.

Catholic Charities is also collaborating with United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States on a Mental Health pilot project with other social service agencies that tackle difficult community issues such as access to quality mental health care. This partnership is launching a pilot group to develop shared outcome measures, which is an exciting step to measure program success for United Way funded partners that provide mental health-related programming, such as Catholic Charities’ Counseling program.
Pictured below is Catholic Charities’ licensed, professional counselors that have a combined 93 years of experience working in the field! To learn more about our mental health counseling services, please visit our website or call 1-800-772-2758 to make an appointment in Ames, Decorah, Dubuque, Mason City or Waterloo.








United Way of North Central Iowa awarded Catholic Charities a $10,000 grant to support Mental Health Counseling in Mason City. Sr. Rita Cameron, PBVM, (pictured to the right) joined the Catholic Charities’ team as the full-time counselor in Mason City.  Sister Rita has her Master’s degree in School Guidance and Counseling from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Northern State University.  Sr. Rita has worked in public school settings in South Dakota, Catholic Schools in Mason City and Dubuque, Iowa, and has also worked with college students as a member of the Campus Ministry staff at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. 


Volunteer of the Month – Brittney Miller
This summer, Brittney Miller, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Coe College, volunteered as one of the first volunteers in our Job Readiness Training for Refugees classroom. Brittney reflects on her experience, “I really enjoyed volunteering in the Job Readiness Class. The students were great to talk to and very dedicated”. 
Brittney will continue to volunteer and work with this class this fall, but in a different capacity. The First Year Seminar class that she teaches will learn about the plight of the refugees and the services Catholic Charities provides, which includes the Job Readiness class. “I thought the class was very successful and the instructors incorporated a lot of active learning techniques to keep the students engaged. It was an awesome experience, and I’m excited to have my class volunteer in the Fall.”
Thank you to Brittney and to Coe College partnering with us to host the Job Readiness Class this summer and for providing a new opportunity to have their students grow and learn as they help our clients grown and learn.
If you would like to volunteer with Catholic Charities, please contact Agnes Kress, Volunteer Coordinator, at 319-272-2080or or click here to see our current volunteer opportunities.