Catholic Charities Newsletter
From the Director’s Desk
Merry Christmas from the Catholic Charities Leadership team (back row, left to right, Lynne Lutze, Carol O’Brien, Stacy Martin, Lori Williams, front row, left to right: Stephen Schmitz, Tracy Morrison, Matthew Roddy)
It is that time of year again to reflect on the services that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque has provided since 1931. We have continuously evolved to respond to the ever-changing needs of people in our communities.
Our newsletter this month will include stories of how blessed we are as an organization to share joy with those we serve and how grateful we are for all our supporters who make it possible for us to share that joy. This season is a time for God showing His great love for us and giving us renewed strength and healing for those who need help during difficult times. May we keep those individuals in our prayers as we appreciate our decorated trees, our holiday cards, our family dinners, and as we attend Christmas services.
From all of us at Catholic Charities, we hope you, your family and your friends have a lovely holiday season filled with happiness and peace. As gifts are given and received this season, may we all express gratitude to one another and value the true meaning of Christmas.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ROM 15:13
Tracy Morrison, Executive Director
Spreading Holiday Cheer
For the 12th year in a row, Kwik Stop has sponsored families in need through Catholic Charities. This year, Kwik Stop employees provided 19 families with a very special Christmas. On Wednesday, December 21, the Kwik Stop office closed their doors to dedicate the delivery of these gifts, including home-delivery to 9 families in the Dubuque and Cedar Rapids area. The other 10 families’ presents were delivered to the Pastoral Care Center in a semi with the above group of employees to unload and organize them to be ready for each family to pick-up. The Kwik Stop employees were welcomed with a large group of staff from the Archdiocese of Dubuque, singing Christmas carols and welcoming them with treats and hot chocolate. Jill Reimer, Kwik Stop’s “Chief Elf” stated, “This is the true meaning of Christmas. We are thankful for our partnership with Catholic Charities to provide a wonderful conduit for those in need.
The Kurt Warner Foundation supplied Christmas stockings for all members of our refugee families that Catholic Charities helped resettle to the United States within the past year. The Foundation family and friends helped personally deliver the gifts to the homes of families in the Cedar Rapids area along with Case Manager Caleb Gates and Director of Immigration and Refugee Services, Carol O’Brien.
School-based Counseling Services
Did you know that Catholic Charities’ licensed counselors provide mental health counseling services in eight parochiol schools in Iowa, serving approximately 95 students? Catholic Charities contracts these services with each school, that do not have their own counselors, in order to fill a gap for those students who need individual counseling or group therapy. Services are provided to students in schools from preschool age up until 8th grade and Catholic Charities subsidizes the cost in order for some of the schools to be able to afford these services. Students’ mental health needs vary, from those who need help with social skills, peer relationships, management of anger or anxiety to those who may be coping with family issues, such as divorce or death.
Lori Eastwood has been providing school based counseling through Catholic Charities for schools in Cresco, Ossian, Decorah and Waukon for 12 years. In addition to being a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW), she is a Certified Nurtured Heart Approach Trainer and also teaches parenting classes in 4 counties. “I like walking down the halls and seeing the students smile at me, knowing that they are improving, knowing that I am making a difference in their lives,” Lori states, “some of them have such complicated life experiences for their age, that we couldn’t even imagine, it affects their schoolwork and their relationships and we have to help them develop the tools to cope with that.”
Another important part of the counselors’ role is to provide support to the teachers, the principals and even family members. Wendy Schatz, principal from Notre Dame Catholic School in Cresco, Iowa, shared the following, “Lori has helped so many, many students and their families that have been in all kinds of situations. She is someone we can always turn to; we have students that may not talk to anyone, including their parents, and they will confide in Lori. That is a real gift. She is a tremendous resource for us; she has trained our staff on programs such as ‘1-2-3 Magic’ and ‘Love & Logic’ and also attends parent teacher conferences in order to communicate with family members.”
Thank you to our talented team of counselors that provide mental health services in our area schools: Sr. Rita Menart, Amy Mahoney, Maggie Lee and Lori Eastwood (pictured above).
Know Your Legal Rights
The cold, blustery weather did not sway people from coming to listen and learn about their rights as immigrants. On December 13, 2016, Immigration Attorney, Yer Vang, gave a Know Your Rights presentation to over 30 people, including adults and children, in Hampton, Iowa. The presentation provided an overview of relevant immigration law and possible immigration changes that would impact the immigrant communities across the nation.
Specifically, many in the audience were particularly concerned about what will happen with President Obama’s executive order regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and whether President Elect Trump will be deporting families. Attorney Vang provided suggestions on ways to help reduce some anxiety and also provided concrete ideas for immigrant families to prepare in the event of a crisis. One such suggestion was helping immigrant families have a plan of action, which meant designating a trusted individual who could take care of the children or the home in case the immigrant parent was detained or deported. Equally important information that was shared with the community was understanding their constitutional rights, regardless of immigration status. The information provided to the community was of most help and generated further interest in having future workshops to help more families create action plans.
Above, Yer Vang is pictured on the right, facilitating a discussion with some participants.
Affordable Housing Staff Celebrate Anniversaries
Catholic Charities is proud to recognize this dedicated and hard-working team from our Affordable Housing program and congratulate them on their years of service. From left to right: Aaron Wenzel, Maintenance (35 years), Patrick Huseman, Maintenance Supervisor (35 years), Matthew Roddy, Housing Director (5 years), Steve Jacobs, Site Manager (10 years).
Thank you for all you do!
Diaconate Community Donates Coats to Halfway House Residents
By Jill Kruse
Witness Editorial Assistant
WATERLOO – Winter has come to Iowa, and with it, bitterly cold temperatures, but thanks to the generosity of the local diaconate community, this December is a bit warmer than it would otherwise be for the men of the Residential Facility, a halfway house in Waterloo.
The deacons of the Archdiocese of Dubuque have donated more than 40 winter coats and other warm clothing items, such as hats and gloves, to the residents of the correctional facility as part of a recent clothing drive.
“I think it’s wonderful that we’ve been able to do something to help,” reflected Deacon Jeff Harris, who, with his wife, Nancy, serves St. Mary Parish in Marshalltown. Deacon Harris is also the assistant coordinator for the Jail and Prison Ministry for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. This fall, he learned that with the winter months quickly approaching, there was a great need for coats among the men living at the Residential Facility, or the RF, as it is commonly called. The men at the RF center (and the women there, too, in a separate section) are court appointed by local county jails to be there, or are state or federal prisoners residing there as a transitional step before reentering society. Many residents lack cars or drivers licenses and walk to get to their places of employment.
Lisa Dow, a probation/parole officer, and Helen Kemp, a mental health counselor, who both work with residents at the facility, shared with Deacon Harris that there were a lot of men there who had nothing more than a denim jacket to wear outside to protect against the coming cold; many had no winter coat at all.
That problem was only made worse by the fact that some of the local stores run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Salvation Army were depleted of their second-hand items earlier this season than normal as a result of the flooding in the area this past summer. “I was told there was a lot of need for winter coats, and in a variety of sizes. There was even one man who was walking to Cedar Falls from Waterloo for a construction job every day that needed something warm to wear,” Deacon Harris remembered. “I thought this might be a good opportunity for the deacon community to help.”
The annual retreat for the deacons of the archdiocese was only weeks away, so Deacon Harris reached out to his fellow deacons prior to their late-October gathering, telling them about the need for coats and requesting their assistance. “The deacon community quickly stepped forward to help,” Deacon Harris said. “They brought items with them to the retreat, both new and used; they covered the whole spectrum.”
Some used items needed to be cleaned, so Deacon Harris contacted Prestige Quality Dry Cleaning in Waterloo, owned by Patrick and Jodi Klein, parishioners of nearby St. Edward Parish. “When Jeff called and told me what the deacons were doing, I told him I was happy to clean the coats and do it for free,” Patrick Klein said. “It was a good cause, and I wanted to help in any way I could.” After they were finished being cleaned, the used items, along with the new ones, were delivered to the RF center and are now in the process of being distributed.
Kemp, who is helping to pass out the coats and other warm clothing items, said there is a lot of gratitude among the men receiving them. “This morning I gave out two coats,” she said recently, on a day when the high temperature was only in the single digits. “The first guy came in with just a sweatshirt and a light jacket over that. He was so thankful to have the coat when he left. The second person came in wearing his prison jacket, which is just a denim jacket with a light lining. He left here with a hooded warm coat – and all smiles!”
“The clients are thrilled when they get a new coat,” Kemp added. “It means so much to them. The generosity of the donors is much appreciated.” Deacon Harris said he is happy that he and his fellow deacons have been able to give some assistance to these men who don’t have many material items and are doing their best to rebuild their lives. He believes the project was also good for the deacons themselves and gave them the opportunity to put their faith into action and live out the Christian call to serve others.
“Many of us had second or third coats, and then there were others who didn’t have any coat at all,” Deacon Harris said. “Thinking back to what Jesus said in Scripture – ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.’ The person we were really giving our coats to was Christ.”
Deacon Jeff Harris (above) poses with Shane Fink, a recipient of one of the coats collected in the recent coat drive for those in need who have recently been released from prison. The diaconate community also donated other warm clothing items such as hats and gloves. The coats were cleaned free of charge through a business owned by St. Edward Parish members and were distributed at a residential facility in Waterloo.
Welcome to Carol O’Brien
We warmly welcome Carol O’Brien to our team as Director of Immigration & Refugee Services. She provides leadership and vision in the advancement of Catholic Charities services to immigrants and refugees, including assisting in the exploration and development of emerging issues and parish engagement. Carol has 20+ years of experience in non-profit ministry serving a variety of vulnerable populations through her positions at Goodwill of the Heartland and Foundation 2, both in Cedar Rapids. Carol has a special interest in providing supportive services to refugees and immigrants and is a welcome addition to our team to support our rapid growth in these two programs. Carol and her husband, Dan live in Cedar Rapids and are a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hiawatha.
The Immaculate Conception/St. Joseph Parishes in Gilbertville and Raymond demonstrated their generosity this month when they volunteered to sponsor a family that was arriving from Burma. The parishoners and confirmation class collected items needed and set up the home to make it move in ready for when the family of five were welcomed. This group also donated household items for two additional refugee families that Catholic Charities resettled. Thank you to these dedicated group of volunteers that have made a tremendous impact to those served in our Refugee Resettlement program.