Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

Kathleen Durkin

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Natural Family Planning Program (NFP) Director, Batrice Adcock, recently trained as an instructor with a new method of fertility awareness called FEMM (Fertility Education and Medical Management).  Pictured here are Adcock and her first group of course attendees from the Catholic Campus Ministry Program at Appalachian State University in Boone. FEMM is a natural method of family planning, but it’s primary purpose is to educate women in health management.  FEMM is a comprehensive women’s health program that:   teaches women to understand their bodies and how to recognize hormonal and other vital signs of health. provides women with support through its free FEMM Health App to track their health and reproductive goals. provides accurate medical testing and treatment based on new research and medical protocols. continues to conduct research to provide women with the latest diagnostic tools and treatments for their health. offers training to individuals so that they can teach FEMM health tracking to women and training to medical professionals in the FEMM methods and protocols.   FEMM has a strong program for teens that teaches and encourages healthy living.  Adcock will be providing workshops around the diocese for teen girls and their mothers, combining this teaching with chastity education.

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Whenever I tell people about our Refugee Youth Program, one of the first questions they always ask is whether the kids speak English, and the second is always how the kids are able to adjust to life and school in the US. These are completely valid questions, and they are both things that we hope to help out with in our program. But my answer is always this: even though our kids have been through more in their short lives than most people who grew up in the US can even imagine, and even though they have to try twice as hard as all the other kids at their school, at the end of the day they are kids! They love being goofy and playing games and running around, and seeing a group of kids who speak all different languages learning and playing together, not allowing their different backgrounds and languages to get in the way, is one of the most beautiful things. That is why I am so thankful for our youth program and why we strive to give every kid the chance to just be the kids that they are, while embracing who they are and where they come

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It is June and that means it’s time for one of the best international holidays: World Refugee Day. This holiday might not get a lot of attention, however it is anoccasion for exciting celebrations. In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 20th World Refugee Day, and since 2001 every year around June 20th cities throughout the world celebrate the accomplishments, traditions, and contributions of refugees. This year Catholic Charities participated in World Refugee Day festivities on Tuesday, June 20th. The World Refugee Day event was hosted by Levine Museum of the New South and Refugee Charlotte. Refugee Charlotte is a group of local individuals working directly with newly resettled families through non-profit organizations and resettlement agencies. Catholic Charities, Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, ourBridge for Kids, Central Piedmont Community College, and Refugee Support Services are some of the agencies that participated in the planning process. During the event, participants were shown the documentary After Spring, which is a film that focuses on the Syrian crisis. Participants were able to see what it is like to live in Zaatari, the largest refugee camp for Syrians. The film followed two families and the aid workers who helped them. Around 100 people were
“Make sure that you always remain as joyful disciples of the Lord and joyful witnesses to the Gospel of Life.”   Bishop Peter J. Jugis spoke these encouraging words as he addressed the hundreds of faithful North Carolinians present at the North Carolina Mass for the Unborn on Friday, January 27th, 2017. This year, the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., took place on the last Friday of January. Pro-life advocates from across the country marched together up Constitution Avenue toward the Capitol Building to advocate for the unborn in a peaceful demonstration. Attendance at this year’s March for Life is said to be the highest it has ever been. Vice President Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway, Senior Counselor to President Trump, both spoke at the rally preceding the march. Before congregating at the National Mall with fellow Americans, the faithful North Carolinian pilgrims gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the North Carolina Mass for the Unborn celebrated by Bishop J. Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte. Many priests of both the Diocese of Charlotte and the Diocese of Raleigh joined him. Bishop Jugis provided a beautiful homily at this Mass. He reminded
  In January, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) intensify their call for Catholics to engage in prayer and activities to help build a respect for innocent human life in society (visit http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/).  Around the nation, Catholics participate in numerous events to mark the January 22, 1973 Supreme Court decisions (Roe v. Wade, and Doe v. Bolton) that legalized, in all 50 states, the taking of defenseless and innocent unborn human life.  Several employees of Catholic Charities will join hundreds of thousands of marchers who will travel to Washington, D.C, to give witness, voice and prayer in the shadow of Capitol Hill in support of executive, legislative and judicial action to protect the fundamental and God-given right to life of unborn children.  Please pray for the success of the March for Life on January 27 and for the safety of all participants.  In the week following the March for Life, Catholic Charities' Respect Life Program Director Jessica Grabowski will share her reflections on the March for Life in a CCDOC blog post.   The U.S. Bishops also seek to raise awareness of poverty across our nation in the month of January, and to this end, the USCCB highlights January as “Poverty Awareness Month.”  Learn more about
Happy Respect Life Month! I am pleased to broadcast that October is Respect Life Month. October 1st kicked off a new chapter of Respect Life with the start of a new USCCB Respect Life Program for the year. The USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities publishes new Respect Life Program materials each year to highlight various Respect Life issues put forth at the start of Respect Life Month (First Sunday in October). These annual materials respond to the needs of parishes, schools and other ministries for basic presentations of life issues. This year’s Respect Life Program theme is Moved by Mercy. This theme is exceptionally fitting this year. As we draw near to the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are reminded that we are called to continue this theme of mercy in our ministries throughout this next year, and in our lives. His Holiness, Pope Francis reminds us that “We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.” We are called to promote life and defend life always. Learn more about the 2016-2017 USCCB Respect Life Program here. http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/index.cfm This year’s Respect Life Program is emphasized in liturgies and featured through a variety of

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  “Most of the most important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” - Dale Carnegie After many years in the nonprofit field, I firmly believe that the secret formula to help our clients achieve their God Given potential is Hope + Empowerment + goals= Case Management. Hope is a powerful feeling, and a powerful tool to inspire our clients to take action, to take that first step, to reach out for help, knowing that there is somebody, a relative, a priest, their spouse, a social worker, an agency believing in them, supporting them and walking the journey with them. I have learned that case management is an intricate process that involves assessing the individual’s needs, identifying their strengths as a tool to help them reach their goals, and knowing realistically the barriers preventing them succeed. Furthermore, since I started working with Catholic Charities I learned that a Social Service provider/case worker means something different. It means to establish a relationship of trust, to be able to put myself in my client’s shoes and walk their walk. Understanding their situation, their circumstances, their background everything

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Kenny’s mother visited the Catholic Charities office with a request for clothing. She explained that Kenny was small for his 12 years. She then very casually asked if she could have change for a dollar. Apparently the family’s cars tires were worn and had many leaks so they had to be filled with air every time the car was used. Kenny’s Mom explained that her family lived in a rural part of the county so they had to go through the routine of filling the tires a couple of times each day because she had to drive Kenny a long distance each day to a special needs school. The change was for the air machine at the gas station. A quick phone call was placed to Kenny’s school to see why he wasn’t being provided the state-mandated transportation daily pick up and drops off by the special school bus. The family had never inquired about school transportation. Communication easily solved this problem which would have an incredible impact on Kenny and his family. Another phone call arranged for Catholic Charities to buy a new set of tires for Kenny’s family car. No one had asked, but sometimes an opportunity is too

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 I consider myself to be a social person because I thrive on opportunities to engage and connect with others but I realize that we as individuals can experience loneliness in the mist of being surrounded by others.  Mother Teresa said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty” because we ultimately all have the fundamental need to belong and be loved.  We often use loneliness and isolation interchangeably. While they can be related, they are different concepts.  Loneliness is best understood as a person’s emotional state, described as a sense of not having meaningful contact with others, accompanied by feelings of emptiness, deprivation or sadness. However, isolation refers to a lack of contact with family or friends or a loss or lack of community involvement.  Therefore, it is possible to be lonely but not isolated and vice versa.    Fortunately, there are ways to combat loneliness, although doing so takes some initiative.  The following are a few ideas and tips that you might find helpful. Get to know your neighbor:  Inquire within your local parish about senior group or other ministries that connect seniors to one another and get involved.  Volunteer at your local parish, Catholic Charities or other organization of interest. Engage in

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Have you ever found yourself in a situation that seems too overwhelming? No matter what you do it seems like more things just keep piling on to your plate. And when you think you have support from family and friends, you learn that they have their own responsibilities to deal with... This is how some of our pregnancy support clients feel. They may already have a young child they’re caring for; be struggling to pay their rent and utilities; or may be dealing with relationship issues, and then learn they are expecting a child. Who can they turn to for support? This is the case with Katie. She came to Catholic Charities asking for assistance as she was eight months pregnant and feeling overwhelmed. She had been asked to leave from her parents’ home and was not able to work due to her pregnancy. She was staying with her sister but would not be able to remain there long term after her baby was born. She had a strained relationship with the father of her baby and felt she could not rely on him for consistent support. As she continued to meet with the Social Worker at Catholic Charities, it was

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Catholic Charities Refugee Youth Program had another successful year! We successfully merged our two elementary program sites into one site hosted at the Galilee Center of East Charlotte. Our new middle school program was a resounding success, allowing us to serve students who had previously been underserved. In the high school program, our students at Garinger continued to be consistently supported during drop-in tutoring on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Underserved students at East Mecklenburg High School were now eligible to attend a weekly drop-in tutoring program beginning January 2016. We also, through generous private support, were able to purchase a 15 passenger mini-bus. It was a busy year! But of all of these successes, two hot mornings in June stand out as being emblematic of our students’ hard work and the dedication of the family, teachers and afterschool staff who support them. On June 9th, 2 of our Garinger seniors successfully walked across the Bojangles Coliseum stage. The following day, 3 of our East Mecklenburg seniors followed in the footsteps of their peers. All were greeted outside the arena by an overwhelming show of support, pride and countless selfies and photo shoots. In context, this joy and pride is more than

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This week, Julia’s and Hank’s family visited Catholic Charities’ food pantry with some special requests. Julia and Hank are home for the summer and cannot get to the community feeding program they use to help with summer meals this week. You see, their family like so many in our community, face more challenges during the summer to keep food on the table. Families with school age children rely on the meals their children receive at school to help provide nutritious meals so the children don’t go hungry. The staples, meats, fruits and vegetables, dairy and kid friendly snacks given to Julia’s and Hank’s family means these children will not go hungry this week.Hunger hurts everyone, but it is especially devastating in childhood because hunger deprives kids of more than just food. On empty stomachs, kids don’t have the energy to focus, engage, learn and grow. Yet, this is the reality for 1 in 5 children in the U.S. who worry about when they’ll have their next meal. According to Feeding America what are the effects of child hunger?  100 MISSED MEALS An average food-insecure family of four may forgo up to 100 meals a month because they lack enough money to

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Employment Staff members are excited for Summer 2016 in Charlotte as new opportunities open up for our clients. It is incredibly challenging moving to a new country and trying to find work. Our employment staff are hard at work making the “Job Search” as manageable and successful as possible for our clients. Employment Staff conduct Employment Orientations once a month to introduce new clients into the workforce and to introduce our staff members. As needed, they are also provided to those who aren’t new arrivals and even to some clients who have been previously employed. Employment Staff is eager to find new opportunities that fit each client’s unique background. When locating new potential employers, staff members look for quality jobs that will promote continuous success. We want our clients to find jobs that they can be proud of and we are happy to help! Staff members offer assistance in filling out applications, building resumes, locating potential employers, preparing clients for interviews and assistance with onboarding paperwork. The Employment Staff recently worked with a male Refugee client from Eritrea who exemplifies our client’s determination and desire for success. The Employment Specialist first met with him on March 11, 2016. During this meeting

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The late Henri Nouwen once wrote that “prayer is not a pious decoration of life but the breath of human existence.” Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic Priest left a prestigious Harvard professorship to serve as the pastor of L’Arche, a place where people with developmental disabilities live in Christian community. It is at L’Arche where after many years of searching Nouwen found what he was looking for, true community. A place where transformation happens.   A place where, through simple human interactions touched by a God of mercy, he learned to see the world differently and experience life in a new way. Not as a series of hurried and anxiety-ridden tasks, what many of us know as normal, but an intentional life full of compassion and connection.Every week hundreds of people come to Catholic Charities looking for food. Some we see every month, a signal that they are stuck in an unjust cycle of poverty from which they cannot emerge. Others experience episodic need, they are in between jobs or they have unexpected expenses. And most of these families have to make difficult decisions each day; will they pay to keep the power on or will they buy groceries? They bring more than hunger
I knew right away she was homeless. All the usual signs were there. She had on layers of tattered clothing. She was surrounded by bags of items that she held close. The expression on her face was that of anger. She snapped at the fellow food pantry visitors that moved in on her space in the makeshift waiting room. She carefully positioned herself in the corner of the room away from others. She almost curled herself up in a ball in the chair while everything about her presence screamed self-protection. When she told volunteers that she wasn’t going to fill out any form to get food, I knew God had sent her to us for a reason.  I carefully moved into the situation by intentionally respecting her space boundaries. Her name was Sophia and she had been homeless for six years. She had an address but it was a homeless address and people respected that the room in the abandoned building was hers. No one messed with her there. She managed to maintain an “off the books” job at a local store. Sofia explained, “They know my mind is different and they don’t care because they know I’m reliable. They know
The mission of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), established in 1943, is to carry out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies.   CRS also serves Catholics in the United States as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world. In the Diocese of Charlotte, the coordination of CRS programming takes place out of Catholic Charities’ Office of Social Concerns and Advocacy, whose director serves as the CRS diocesan liaison, appointed to that role by Bishop Peter J. Jugis. This diocesan based work is assisted by the CRS Southeast regional office in Atlanta, Georgia, a team of volunteers from the Diocese of Charlotte who serve on an advisory committee, and many parish and school Rice Bowl coordinators. CRS resources can be found at http://www.crs.org/get-involved/participate. CRS has also produced special resources to celebrate the Year of Mercy, located at http://www.crs.org/stories/year-mercy-resources. Contributions to CRS are made through the Lenten Rice Bowl, Work of Human Hands fair trade sales, and Helping Hands events. Each of these programs have educational components integrated with prayer to nurture a deeper commitment for those

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National Adoption Month November is National Adoption Month! Did you know that these famous people were adopted? •           Maya Angelou •           Tim McGraw •           Gerald Ford •           Sarah McLachan •           John Hancock •           Nancy Reagan •           Faith Hill •           Eleanor Roosevelt •           Jesse Jackson •           Babe Ruth •           Steve Jobs •           Dave Thomas •           Nelson Mandela •           J.R.R. Tolkien  Catholic Charities has been facilitating adoptions in North Carolina since 1948. Families have been united through domestic and intercountry adoption throughout the years. Currently, Catholic Charities provides support to birth and adoptive parents throughout the entirety of the process, from pre-placement to post-placement, and beyond.  Here are some helpful hints on terminology when referring to adoption: Appropriate: Less Appropriate: Birth parents Real parents My child Adopted child Child in need of a family Adoptable child Parent Adoptive parent Court termination Child taken away Deciding to parent your child Keeping the baby Individual who was adopted Adoptee   “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, and penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou   By Mishaun L. Mitchell, MSWAdoption/Pregnancy Support Social Worker
One of the many privileges I have directing Catholic Charities’ Office of Social Concerns and Advocacy is getting to know firsthand many wonderful organizations and grassroots programs, with their incredibly dedicated staff, that are on the frontlines battling poverty in communities across the Diocese of Charlotte. This opportunity arises because the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) Program in the Diocese of Charlotte is coordinated by Catholic Charities’ Office of Social Concerns and Advocacy. This program offers non-profit organizations, including parishes of the diocese, opportunities for grant funding thanks to the generous support of parishioners who donate through the annual CCHD National Collection. Thanks to last November’s CCHD Collection, our diocese was able to send $108,436 to the national CCHD office at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington, D.C., as well as sponsor a grants program with the $36,145 reserved for local use in the Diocese of Charlotte. The CCHD collection raises funds for these grants, with 75% of distributed funds going to support national grants and 25% of distributed funds supporting grants for non-profits in the Diocese of Charlotte. It is at this time of year, mid-way through the fall season, that parishes are gearing up
November is the month of Thanksgiving – the time we take stock of what we have and gather with family and loved ones to give thanks for the blessings God has bestowed upon us. We each give thanks in our own way for the things we have and the people who have touched our lives in various ways.  It seems appropriate then that we also celebrate National Adoption Month this month. Adoptive families have much to be thankful for in the children who were placed with them. Their joy and happiness is probably expressed each day in their family, but this is a time to acknowledge and promote adoption more publicly. Many people have probably told adoptive parents they think it is wonderful that they have adopted children. In the next breath, some of those people have expressed the same sentiments held by much of society – “How could anyone give their baby up for adoption? They must not have loved it very much.” If adoptive parents hear this occasionally, I can tell you that birth mothers hear it a lot. Women are often encouraged to have an abortion as a “quick fix” to an unplanned pregnancy. They are seldom given

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The first Sunday in October is Respect Life Sunday, and this kicks off the Respect Life Month of October each year, which also begins a new Respect Life Program for the year. The USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities publishes new Respect Life Program materials each year to highlight various Respect Life issues. These Respect Life Program materials respond to the needs of parishes, schools and other ministries for basic presentations of life issues. This year’s theme is Every Life is Worth Living, which not only sheds light on the sanctity of life at all stages (in response to the renewed push for legalizing assisted suicide in many states), but it is also applicable to the wide spectrum of life issues. The program is emphasized in liturgies and featured through numerous programs and events that take place not only during Respect Life Month, but also throughout the whole year. The events occur at various locations-including parish, local, diocesan, state, and national levels. Just a few of these events include: Life Chain: This is an international, peaceful, prayerful, pro-life, public witness where Respect Life advocates join together and stand outside along streets, hold signs, and pray in silence for the unborn, for those
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