Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

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The Newcomers ESL Class introduces basic English to newly arrived refugee youth.  The aim of the class is to prepare the children to begin school in the United States.  Catholic Charities has offered this class since the summer of 2006.  The class meets during the months of June and July for two hours a day Monday through Thursday.  This year the class meets for five weeks, devoting one week to each of the following topics:  classroom objects, the school building, American foods, the human body, and family.  Program participants learn not only English, but also accepted classroom behavior, and they make new friends too.  The current teachers are K’Sang Bonyo, and AmeriCorps members Taneah Bryant and Katrina Hruska.  A typical day at the class might look like this:   2:45 The teachers arrive at the class to prepare for the arrival of the students, only to find one 8-year-old Karenni girl from Burma waiting outside the classroom.   3:00 Two young Bhutanese girls arrive at the class.  All three students begin taking out books to look at the pictures.  Eventually one of the girls deposits her book on the shelf and picks up the Connect 4 game.  She carefully inserts the

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For many, the journey to adoption is about a choice.  It's about a choice to love a child into their family.  Many children are born into families, but there are special ones who are loved in.  Parents who adopt are parents who make a purposeful choice to welcome and grow their family through the love of their new child.  For many of our families, they may have tried several avenues to fulfill that lifelong dream of becoming a mother or father. At times they are successful, and other times they look at additional options, like adoption. It is a journey not to be taken lightly, but also one that can bring so much joy to a family.  Recently, a family was able to bring home their fourth child with special needs, a baby with Down syndrome. They have always been a family who believes in helping their children achieve all they can by focusing on their abilities and not their disabilities. When the call came in about the baby with Down syndrome, they knew he would be the perfect child for their family. They have welcomed him into their family with open arms and cannot imagine life without him. They are grateful
Catholic Charities’ presence in far western North Carolina has been known as the Office of Economic Opportunity, OEO for short, for most of its 15-year history.  The program, housed in the Bishop Begley Center for Economic Development in Murphy and offering services in Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Swain Counties, succeeds through a network of partnerships with other agencies and through a collaborative ecumenical approach.  Shining a spotlight on this ecumenical approach will bring into focus just how Catholic Charities successfully assists in the far western NC region to strengthen families, reduce poverty and build communities. When a tornado struck Cherokee County in March 2012, Catholic Charities and its partner St. William Catholic Church were designated to distribute CCUSA disaster relief funds to victims.  An elderly woman got a new ramp for her mobile home, a young family relocated to a donated mobile home, households received needed appliances, and other households had windows replaced.  Catholic Charities staff worked in tandem with two other Christian disaster assistance groups – Nehemiah’s Neighbors of the Methodist Church and NC Baptist Men to offer assistance. Church partnerships are the foundation of Catholic Charities’ success in far western NC.  At the recent “Stompin’ Out Poverty” event, held

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Hey teens! Do you….   Feel tired for no good reason? Have headaches or unexplained back pain? Eat a lot more or a lot less than usual? Have trouble sleeping? Suddenly have flashes of anger, or fight more with your family members and friends? Let little things bother you? Feel sad, moody or lonely? Have trouble thinking as clearly as you usually do?   If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be overly stressed!   Suggestions for managing stress:   1.  Go easy on yourself.  No one is perfect and gets things right all the time. If you are trying hard and doing your best, that’s all anyone can ask of you. Give yourself credit.   2.  Take one thing at a time and prepare.  Set small goals and break tasks into manageable chunks. Manage your time wisely.   3.  Take care of yourself.  Eat healthy foods. Limit caffeine and get enough rest. Using drugs and alcohol to cope with stress won’t solve anything and will lead to bigger problems.   4.  Laugh or cry a little. Releasing emotion may help to ease feelings and improve your outlook.   5.  Relax.  Making time to relax is vital

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The factors motivating a refugee to become a U.S. citizen can be many and vary from person to person.  Here are a few common motivators refugees applying for citizenship have expressed to those of us who have helped them along in the process.       Do you sit on pins and needles waiting for the next presidential election to come around, or pour over the Charlotte Observer for information about each candidate in the upcoming local election?  Some Americans gladly exercise the right to vote at every opportunity, however, many of us take this right for granted.  Only U.S. citizens can vote in county, state, and federal elections.  Many refugees were denied a voice in government before coming to the U.S.  Becoming a U.S. citizen finally allows them the opportunity to participate in government.      Five years can be a long time to wait!  That’s the minimum amount of time it takes a refugee to become a U. S. citizen.  When refugees are admitted for resettlement in the United States, the expectation is that they will become Permanent Residents and later citizens.  Becoming a U.S. citizen is, therefore, one step in the process of resettlement, and the final fulfillment of a commitment
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