Catholic Charities Newsletter August 2018

From the Director’s Desk

Recently, two of my colleagues and I met with Senators’ Grassley and Ernst directors to discuss the devastating fall out of the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration practice which has left thousands of children separated from their parents. Immigration detention has proven to traumatize vulnerable populations, jeopardize basic health and safety of those detained, and undermines access to legal counsel, especially in rural areas. We shared several alternatives to detention (ATD) with the legislators including release on recognizance, parole, bond, etc., as immigrants pose little flight risk or harm to the community.  
In addition to legislative advocacy, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, with the coordinated efforts of Catholic Charities USA, has deployed staff to McAllen, Texas to help with immigrant families. Pablo Guevara, Immigration Legal Assistant, with his wife Karla, left on Tuesday July 31st and are in Texas to assist a local Catholic Charities agency until August 5th. 


Charities USA President & CEO Sr. Donna Markham recently visited the US/Mexico border witnessing first-hand the family separation crisis & the uncertainty faced by those seeking asylum. She states, “We as human beings and American citizens need to extend compassion and respect to these folks as they struggle to find a way forward for their lives whether it is in the United States or their home countries.” 

Senators recently introduced legislation aimed at preventing the separation of immigrant families detained along the U.S. – Mexico border while seeking asylum.  However, this legislation promotes, among other things expansion of detention centers. Detaining families, removing babies and children from their parents and treating immigrants as criminals is inhumane and strips people of their basic human rights and dignity.  It is not ok, and it is going to take every one of us (yes, that’s you) to allow your voice to be heard, here’s how……
  1. Educate your family, friends and community about family separation issues. Visit Justice for Immigrants website for further information. 
  2. Visit your local legislative office; call, email – don’t assume others are doing it
  3. Donate to Catholic Charities USA or other non-profits helping families at the border
  4. Pray – Prayer for Immigrant Children
For more information about Catholic Charities’ Immigration Legal Services and how to help us keep immigrant families together, please visit our website
God Bless,

Tracy Morrison, Executive Director



Catholic Charities Staff Receive Mental Health First Aid Training

Catholic Charities’ staff (pictured above) were trained by Clinical Director, Dr. Lynne Lutze, and two of our own Mental Health Counselors, Lori Eastwood and Lisa Turner, (pictured left to right below) and are certified in M
ental Health First Aid! 

This 8-hour course utilizes role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help in a mental health crisis and connect people to the appropriate professional, peer, social and self-help care. The program also teaches common risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia. 
Like CPR, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person in crisis and connect the person with help. Aiders do not diagnose or provide any counseling or therapy. Instead, the program offers concret
e tools and answers key questions like, “What do I do?” and, “Where can someone find help?”
If you or your organization is interested in being trained in Mental Health First Aid, and joining the fight against stigmatizing mental illness, please contact one of our certified instructors (pictured below):






Every year, Volunteer Iowa coordinates with organizations throughout the state to show appreciation for volunteers in our local communities. The Governor’s Volunteer Award program recognizes volunteers who have given their time and talent to help an agency or organization deliver on its mission.
In 2017, due to their hard work and dedication, 77 ex-offenders were paired with mentors. Our volunteers logged 9,780 hours of service, an estimated $224,000 value. While we are extremely grateful for each and every volunteer in this program, this year, 18 were nominated for this recognition. The volunteers and the Jail & Prison Ministry program were recognized at three ceremonies: Des Moines (June 19), Cedar Falls (June 21, pictured above), and Marion (July 30). Thank you to everyone who plays a role in this important ministry! Pictured above, first row (left to right): Dee Wilberding, Michelle Covey, Renee Boge, Deacon Gary Pusillo, Dianne Heim. Second row: Kieth Nilles, Susan Maas, Vincent Meis, Eugene (Jim) Foust, Rev. Chuck Lane, Gov. Kim Reynolds
Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Awards Catholic Charities $60,000 Program 


Catholic Charities is honored to receive a Program Grant from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation to support the expansion of the Immigration Legal Services program. The program was at capacity and was having to turn away individuals in need of an immigration attorney each day. In order to fill the needs of those who need affordable, quality immigration legal consultation and representation, Catholic Charities hired their third immigration attorney in April and is recruiting for a fourth attorney. This which will enable

the program to accept new clients and serve many more immigrant families each year. 

Berthe Termadji (Immigration Legal Services’ client pictured to the right) states, “I’m so happy to have Catholic Charities as my helper for the work permit and asylum. The work permit will allows me to be able to have a good job to help support myself and my family. I had a very good experience with Yer, my lawyer. I recommend Catholic Charities to anyone!”
Kennedy Park West Begins Community Garden

Families from Kennedy Park West, affordable housing community in Dubuque, are working together this summer on a community garden for everyone to enjoy!
Iowa and Catholic Charities Usher In New Age of Telehealth

By Lisa Turner, Mental Health Counselor
According to the Iowa State Data Center, in 2016 almost 36 percent of Iowans lived in rural areas. Community needs assessments conducted within the boundaries of the Archdiocese of Dubuque indicate that long wait times for appointments because there aren’t enough providers, and lack of transportation to and from clinics and appointments are barriers in accessing healthcare and mental health services in rural Iowa.

While Catholic Charities offers mental health counseling services in many locations, distance from a person’s home to a counseling office can also be a barrier to mental health services. TeleBehavioral Health addresses that barrier. Telemedicine, or TeleBehavioral Health, is the delivery of counseling services to clients using technology. These technologies can include videoconferencing, as well as other online applications, to conduct counseling visits by interactive video, with the provider and client in different locations. In practical language, this means that it doesn’t matter if there is a provider in your area, and it doesn’t matter if you can’t travel 60 miles to get there. TeleBehavioral Health can potentially be offered in a location that is convenient for you, the client.

In April of this year, the Iowa Legislature passed House File 2305, requiring commercial health insurers in the State of Iowa to “provide healthcare services via telehealth to the same extent those services are covered via in-person care.” This includes mental health servics. Until recently, Iowa was just one of a few states that did not allow this, but has now reached a certain level of parity, or equality.

This new law means that there should no longer be discrimination in how a healthcare service is delivered. For example, if your private insurance plan covers mental health services, a resident of Iowa should be able to receive those services in person or by telemedicine.

So what does this mean for residents of the Archdiocese of Dubuque? Imagine visiting with your therapist from the comfort of your local community, without the added time constraint of traveling 30 to 60 miles? Catholic Charities will be piloting this project beginning in the fall of 2018. For example, using technology, a client may be able to go to the Cedar Rapids office and receive a counseling session from a counselor in another Catholic Charities office.

The experience of telebehavioral health will be similar to face-to-face counseling in that, within the privacy of an office, you will be talking with a Catholic Charities counselor through the computer. The computer will be equipped with HIPAA compliant video software, as well as high speed and confidential internet capabilities. Qualified staff will assist you in getting settled in the counseling office, troubleshooting any technical problems that might arise, and connecting you with a counselor on the other end.

If you are interested in being a part of this pilot project, and live in or near the Cedar Rapids area, please call 319-364-7121 for more information on TeleBehavioral Health, or to schedule an appointment.



Join Us in Congratulating Three Staff on their Retirements! 


Three long-time Catholic Charities staff members, Steve Jacobs (Kennedy Park West Site Manager-Dubuque), Mary Jo Pfeifer Wulf (Counselor-Ames), and Steve Schmitz (Parish Social Ministry Director-Cedar Rapids) will be retiring. While it is difficult to see them go, we are extremely grateful for the combined 40+ years of dedicated service they have given to our agency. Please join us to saying “goodbye” and “congratulations” to these three remarkable team members!