Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.
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
1. About 70% of new arrivals to Charlotte in 2013 were from Bhutan and Burma.  Each year nearly 70,000 new refugees arrive in the United States, with CCDOC welcoming between 300-400 to the Charlotte area.  2. The Bhutanese lived for about 20 years in refugee camps in Nepal waiting to be accepted for resettlement.  The majority of refugees are never resettled.  Over the past ten years only 836,500 refugees have been granted the opportunity, compared with 15.4 million people in the world who claimed refugee status last year alone.  Less than 1% of refugees are ever resettled into other countries. 3. Most refugees want to work 2nd shift so they can go to English as a second language classes.  In Charlotte, the top 3 industries that hire refugees are distribution warehouses, food packaging and preparation, and hospitality. 4. Refugees do pay taxes just like the rest of us.  They are immediately and permanently authorized to work in country upon arrival.  Employers also receive tax credits for hiring refugees. 5. Many refugees want to become citizens, but they must wait 5 years after arrival and pass the citizenship test.  Before they are granted citizenship, they are considered stateless, and lack many basic
"I just want to have a place for when I cross to the other side"....These words were spoken by an 83 year old woman who called Catholic Charities after a visit to her doctor.  Her health was failing and her steps were now slower.  She shared that after living a full life, facing death brought a terrifying fear.  It was not death she feared; instead she feared what would happen to her body at the time of her death.  This once proud now frail woman spoke of taking care of her husband of 65 years until his death.   After her husband's passing, making ends meet was tough.  There were days she did not eat so that she could afford her medicine; other days she did not take her medication so that the pills would last through the month. As the years passed and her health failed, her expenses increased.  The visit to the doctor helped to bring about a stark realization, one day she would not be here.  She wondered where would she go, what will happen to her? There was no life insurance, no prepaid plans, and no excess money each month.  Every bit of income was used to sustain
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