Catholic Charities Newsletter

November 2017 

From the Director’s Desk


Pictured above is the Catholic Charities team during their all staff meeting November 1st

Catholic Charities’ Annual Report is hot off the press! I think you will enjoy some of the personal stories shared by clients who have found hope through our programs, like Tom who received counseling and expressed, “When I prayed about what to do, I knew I had to come to Catholic Charities, knowing there is an organization that cares, a place where I am not a number or dollar amount and that they are just there to help me, makes all the difference in the world.” 

In addition, our Annual Report includes outcomes from all of our ministries, demonstrating the impact made for the 18,204 individuals that we served throughout the year. For example, 89% of clients who received counseling learned new ways to cope with mental health concerns and 82% of ex-offenders were successful in not re-offending three years after release. 

If you did not receive a copy of the report in the mail, but would like to have one, please do not hesitate to give us a call and we will gladly mail it to you. If you would like to view our 2017 Annual Report on our website, please click here.
From all of us at Catholic Charities, Happy Thanksgiving. We would like to extend our appreciation for all  that you do to support us throughout the year. During this holiday season, may we remember those less fortunate than ourselves and be thankful for our blessings.


God bless,

Tracy Morrison, Executive Director


Jail & Prison Ministry client expresses ‘It saved my life’: drug court program offers offenders a chance to change

 (KCRG-TV9) — For full article, please follow this link

Amy McFarland (pictured right) graduated from the drug court program on September 21, 2017. “For me, it saved my life, and I know it’s done the same thing for others,” McFarland said. McFarland had a long struggle with using meth. When police arrested her in March of 2016, she knew there was only one option. She said, “I knew that this drug court was it. This was my last shot. And I was going to make it work.”

“I think a lot of her gifts were hidden under maybe some lack of confidence or maybe some doubt, self-doubt, but she just has blossomed as a person,” Bill Hickson, Catholic Charities’ Jail & Prison Ministry Coordinator, said. Hickson is part of Amy’s support group. As a drug court requirement, McFarland had to attend three different meetings a week, whether it be at NA, AA or with a support group. She chose Catholic Charities as her support group. “We are there as their backup, their friends. It’s an opportunity for them to meet positive role models and good citizens,” Hickson said of the support group. In this room, these friends help her set goals. With Amy, they focus on family, housing and work. “We try to help them find the resources that they need in order to achieve those things,” Hickson said. 
And it’s not only Amy who has gotten something from this group; it’s the volunteers, too. “It’s made me stronger and more aware of people’s situations and how strong the addiction is and how it just, it’s really hard to break the addiction,” Joyce Smith, one of McFarland’s support group sponsors, said.


Catholic Charities staff took part in disaster relief efforts in Houston  

Catholic Charities’ staff supporting recovery efforts in Houston

Jill Kruse (Witness Editorial Assistant) – For full article, please follow this link
Just weeks after Hurricane Harvey hit, Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) was scheduled to hold its annual conference in Houston from Sept. 27-30. As a result of the storm, CCUSA coordinated with the local Houston Catholic Charities’ office to make adjustments to the conference agenda to allow participants time to engage in disaster response activities. Stacy Martin, Lori Williams, Lynne Lutze and Mary Ready, (pictured above) all representing Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, took advantage of the altered conference schedule to do their part to help. 

“At this point, recovery was still all about getting people basic necessities that they still needed,” Martin said. Many families that had been displaced during the flood were just returning to their houses and beginning to absorb the impact of the destruction. “When we spoke to people and came with donations, some had tears in their eyes. Many said, ‘God bless you,’ and they were overwhelmingly grateful to Catholic Charities USA for their help,” Martin said. “It was amazingly powerful to see all the monetary contributions that people had given from all over the country being put directly into the hands of those affected.”

Williams, who coordinates disaster services for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, knows from her work how devastating natural disasters are for the families and communities impacted by them, and she said she was happy to be able to help storm victims in Houston and those working to assist them. “For us to be able to help in Houston, for just two days, helped lighten the load for those responding to this need every day,” Williams said. “And, to show the community that Catholic Charities (agencies) across the nation are united in prayer and support for them was perhaps the most important thing we could provide.”
Ecumenical Tower Open House Celebration 

Above: residents, family members and community partners enjoy time together during the open house.

On October 25th, Ecumenical Tower, an 88 unit senior/disabled adult complex in downtown Dubuque, hosted an Open House to celebrate the completion of a five year renovation project. Several community partners had the opportunity to tour the building and socialize with residents to celebrate the newly remodeled floors and common areas. 

Thank you to the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque for their partnership in this renovation project with funding from the Grants to Green energy program. The heating and cooling system was replaced and in addition, new lighting was installed throughout the building. Pictured above (left to right) Kayci Schumacher, Site Manager at Ecumenical Tower, Katie Decker, Grants Coordinator from Community Foundation and Matthew

Roddy, Housing Director of Catholic Charities.

Inspired by the Gospel message, Catholic Charities Housing strives to provide affordable, equal housing opportunities to qualified residents in developments that are beautiful, orderly and sustainable. Pictured right is Jim Milligan, resident at Ecumenical Tower, getting use out of the new exercise machine in the fitness center.


Welcome new Immigration Attorney, Emily Rebelskey  

Emily Rebelskey joined the Immigration Legal Services team in August to help expand Catholic Charities’ outreach to immigrants and refugees in need of legal assistance. Emily is a 2015 graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law, where she worked in the University Legal Clinic and interned with the ACLU Immigrant Rights project.  After law school, Emily worked with Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) as a staff attorney and Refugee Green Card Clinic Coordinator. 
Over 370 individuals received professional and affordable immigration legal assistance from Catholic Charities last year. Catholic Charities’ immigration staff provides legal services to help reunite families by assisting them in navigating the immigration system and advocating on their behalf. Catholic Charities assists with paperwork for green card and citizenship applications, family based visas, deferred action for childhood arrivals, temporary protected status, violence against women act, and other family-based immigration legal services.
Please enjoy the video below featuring Yer Vang, Director of Immigration & Refugee Services, talking about Immigration Legal services during a recent interview she with Mediacom Newsleaders in Cedar Rapids. 


Employment Services provided for refugees and immigrants in the Cedar Rapids community

Pictured above are class participants with community volunteers from Collins Community Credit Union in Cedar Rapids who spoke to the students about money management

Securing stable employment in the United States is key for refugees who have been resettled in the Archdiocese of Dubuque to achieve self-sufficiency. To help families find and secure employment, Catholic Charities provides Job Readiness Training and Employment Placement Services. Our Employment Specialist and Workforce Development Coordinators work one-on-one with refugees and immigrants in the Cedar Rapids community to obtain and retain employment. Participants in this program are navigated through each part of the employment process: from assistance in creating a resume and filling out applications, which includes having access to transportation and interpretation during interviews and orientations.

The Job Readiness Class is an intensive 5-week class offered for those with little to no English skills. It provides an overview of the U.S. workplace culture, and provides participants the opportunity to learn job skills such as customer service, numbers and money, computer basics, safety and sorting/filing/organizing. The curriculum also includes service-learning objectives that address work habits, such as getting along with others and time management skills. Results from those who participated in the Job Readiness Class demonstrate knowledge of English proficiency with scores increasing from 48% to 79% and level of understanding of the workplace environment increasing from 36% to 79%. 

Pictured right is Georges Dakonsa and Gloire Kakuru, Workforce Development Coordinators from the RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps program, who help Catholic Charities’ clients navigate their employment search and assists with the Job Readiness Class. George and Gloire are both from the Democratic Republic of Congo and speak the native language of Swahili, the language spoken by most refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Jail & Prison Ministry Volunteers receive Governor’s Awards
Local area Catholics received the Governor’s Volunteer Awards from Governor Kim Reynolds during two special recognition ceremonies held August 30 in Cedar Rapids and September 1st in Cedar Falls. JoAnn and Charles Olson, Dick and Joyce Smith, Ellen and John Markham and Joy Lippstock (pictured right) all from Dubuque County, were honored with a Group Length of Service Award with Catholic Charities for their 5+ years as volunteers in the Jail and Prison Ministry program. All have served as members of several different circles of support.

“Volunteerism is such an integral part of what it means to be an Iowan,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “I’m pleased to honor those who have given of themselves to meet the needs of others.  Their commitment helps improve the lives of those around them and consistently keeps our state’s volunteerism rate in the top ten nationally.”
This year, Catholic Charities had over 220 dedicated volunteers that served more than 9,700 hours, contributing a community value of over $236,000. If you would like to volunteer with Catholic Charities, please contact Agnes Kress, Volunteer Coordinator, at 319-272-2080 or or click here to see our current volunteer opportunities.