Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

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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
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