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Catholic Charities USA Responds to "Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project" - Catholic Charities USA

June 27, 2017

Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) made the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the travel ban: 

“We are deeply saddened by the potential consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision Click her to read full article.

Refugees find their new homes in IndRefugees find their new homes in Indianapolis'ianapolis

June 20, 2017 - Stephane Wade, rtv6

INDIANAPOLIS – Thousands of refugees from Iraq, Somalia, Burma and Syria have come to America and found their new homes in Indianapolis.

Sajjad Mohammad Jawad said his family fled Iraq in 2010 and found Indy. He said deciding to leave their home in Iraq was a matter of life or death. Click here for full story.

 

Press conference introducing Archbishop-designate Charles C. Thompson

(Watch the video of the press conference here | See a photo gallery)

Photo from the press conferenceJune 13, 2017 - Prepared remarks by the archbishop-designate; Q&A remarks are in the video:

Having been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Bishop of Evansville in 2011, I am yet again humbled and honored that Pope Francis has now appointed me as Archbishop of Indianapolis.  During my seminary formation and education at St. Meinrad School of Theology, I could have never imagined that I would serve as Archbishop of Indianapolis.  I should point out that Archbishop-emeritus Daniel Buechlein, OSB, was my seminary rector.  Following Joseph Cardinal Tobin is more than a daunting task.  Moving from Evansville to Indianapolis, I cannot help but think of the best known song paying tribute to the Hoosier State, “Back Home Again in Indiana.”

I cannot begin to fully express my deepest gratitude and affection for those with whom I have served in the Diocese of Evansville.  These past six years, I have been very blessed to serve with such wonderful priests, deacons, religious, lay colleagues and, most especially, a great mentor and brother in Bishop-emeritus Gerald Gettelfinger.  You helped to form and educate me as a successor of the apostles.  Thank you for your patience and understanding in breaking in a rookie bishop. The Church in southwest Indiana will always have a special place in my heart. 

I look forward to serving in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, comprising the central and southeast part of our great state.  Special thanks to Msgr. Bill Stumpf for his great service as Diocesan Administrator, soon to be resuming his duties as vicar general.  I already know and admire so many of you.  I pledge to dedicate myself to you without hesitation or reservation. Together, we will build on the incredible foundation that already exists, striving to discern the signs of the times and make every effort to participate in framing the essential questions of faith and life, in order promote a shared vision rooted in Word, Sacrament and Service that enables us to respond rather than react to opportunities and challenges.   

I am especially happy to be remaining in the Province of Indianapolis where I will continue to serve with such wonderful brother bishops as Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Bishop Tim Doherty of Lafayette-in-Indiana and Bishop Don Hying of Gary, as well as our wonderful retired Bishops Gerald Gettelfinger, William Higi and Dale Melczek.  I look forward to continuing to work with Executive Director Glenn Tebbe and the Indiana Catholic Conference.

Drawing on my episcopal motto, Christ the Cornerstone, it is my first and foremost prayer that we be Christ-centered in all aspects of our identity, mission and witness in proclaiming the Joy of the Gospel.  Drawing on the Indiana Bishops’ 2015 Pastoral Letter, “Poverty at the Crossroads,” may we continue to see, judge and act with the mind and heart of Jesus.  Drawing on the inspiration of Pope Francis, may we strive evermore diligently to embrace the call to dialogue, encounter, mercy, accompaniment and missionary discipleship, with Mary and the Saints, especially Mother Saint Theodore Guerin and Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté, as our companions along the way.  I still have so much to learn, but I look forward to embarking upon the adventure throughout the Archdiocese and Province of Indianapolis.

Let us never cease praying for one another and commend ourselves to Christ the Cornerstone. Sts. Francis Xavier, Peter and Paul, Pray for Us.

Olympics star shares ‘gold medal’ moments that lead her to serve God and people in need

Catholic Charities Indianapolis presented four individuals and a business with Spirit of Service Awards during an April 26 dinner in Indianapolis. Award recipients, seated from left, are Karen and Don Beckwith and Grace Albertson. Standing, from left, are John Ryan, president and CEO of Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman law firm; keynote speaker Tamika Catchings; Msgr. William F. Stump, archdiocesan administrator; and award winner Gary Gadomski. (Submitted photo by Rich Clark)

Catholic Charities Indianapolis presented four individuals and a business with Spirit of Service Awards during an April 26 dinner in Indianapolis. Award recipients, seated from left, are Karen and Don Beckwith and Grace Albertson. Standing, from left, are John Ryan, president and CEO of Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman law firm; keynote speaker Tamika Catchings; Msgr. William F. Stump, archdiocesan administrator; and award winner Gary Gadomski. (Submitted photo by Rich Clark)

By John Shaughnessy (from May 5, 2017 of The Criterion Online Edition)

As Tamika Catchings shared defining moments from the journey of her life, she never mentioned the four Olympic gold medals she earned as a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team—or how she led the Indiana Fever to a championship in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Instead, the keynote speaker at the archdiocese’s Spirit of Service Awards Dinner in Indianapolis on April 26 recalled a poignant moment from her childhood that propelled her to these accomplishments—and to her launching the Catch the Stars Foundation which helps disadvantaged youths achieve their dreams.

The moment occurred shortly after her family moved to a new city when she was in the second grade, a moment that occurred a few years after she was diagnosed with a hearing disability when she was 3 years old.

“In second grade, I realized I was different. Every single day, I went to school, I got made fun of—for the way that I talked, for the way that I looked, for the hearing aids I had to wear,” Catchings told the 460 people who had gathered at the Indiana Roof Ballroom for the fundraiser for Catholic Charities Indianapolis.

“Every single day I walked home, I’d have tears streaming down my face. I’d stomp into the house and I’d slam the door, and I’d beg my mom, ‘Please, please, don’t make me go back. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll wash dishes. I’ll fold clothes the rest of my life. Just don’t make me go back!’ And every single day, my mom would wipe my tears away and say, ‘Honey, I can’t let you give up.’ ”

That’s when Catchings, whose father played in the National Basketball Association for 11 years, saw sports as a way to fight against those taunts and to follow her mom’s advice.

“I realized real fast that if I became really good at something, and you made fun of me, I’d say, ‘Let’s go play basketball,’ ” she said. “I might not beat you the first time or the second time or the third time, but I guarantee I would practice, and I’d come back and beat you, and that would be the last time we would play.

“You talk about a girl on a mission. When I started playing sports, my idea was I just want to be normal. I want to fit in. I want to be like everybody else. I didn’t understand that being different really wasn’t that bad.”

Later in her talk that was marked by her stories, her charming personality and her touches of humor, Catchings shared another defining moment that happened when she was a sophomore at the University of Tennessee—a year after her college team finished with an undefeated season.

“The team started losing a couple of games, and you would have thought the world was coming to an end. People were yelling at each other and all that,” Catchings recalled. “I remember driving down the street, and there was a billboard up there about this church having a revival. I ran back to the dorm and said, ‘Hey guys, I saw this billboard. We have to go to this church.’

“And the preacher talked about, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ He talked about having a relationship with your heavenly father. My mom and dad were divorced. One of my teammates had never seen her father. Another one hadn’t seen her father since third grade. We sat there that night, all four of us with tears coming down our faces. And at the end, the pastor said, ‘If anybody has lost their way and is looking for direction, I’m asking you to come.’ ”

Catchings and her three teammates rushed to the front of the church.

“We dedicated our lives to Christ. Talk about a gold medal moment.”

She also shared the moment when she saw the impact she could have on other people. It came after her father retired, when he worked for an organization that helped people in need—a childhood moment when she helped to give food to people at Thanksgiving and toys to children at Christmas.

“That’s when the seeds got planted,” she said.

Those seeds have since led to the New Year’s resolution that Catchings made for 2017.

“Every year, we make New Year’s resolutions. One thing I decided was to focus on one word. My one word, ‘Impact.’ Everywhere I go, everywhere we go, we have a choice. We can impact people positively or we can impact people negatively. You have the choice.

“My choice everywhere I go, I want to impact people. I want to impact people to the extent where they want to impact somebody. And the people they impact, they want to impact somebody. It’s all about inspiring. Your job is to impact. Your job is to ignite. Your job is to inspire.”

It’s what Catchings did during her basketball career before retiring last year. It’s what she continues to do with her foundation. And it’s what she hopes to do in her new position as director of player programs and franchise development for Pacers Sports and Entertainment.

“When I look around at all the people here—and all of us come from different walks of life—we’ve all gone through our own journey and we’re still going through our journey, and you think about all the people who have helped us get to where we are today.

“The journey has been awesome. I know what I did on the court. And for you, Catholic Charities, what you have done and what you continue to do for so many people, this is just the beginning. … I’m not finished yet, and neither should you be.”

During the dinner, Catholic Charities executive director David Bethuram also focused on the journey that the agency has made in the archdiocese since its founding in 1919.

“Throughout our history, Catholic Charities has worked to meet the needs of those most vulnerable among us,” Bethuram said.

He noted that the majority of Catholic Charities’12 programs focus on three categories: caring for children, strengthening families and welcoming strangers and newcomers. A principal challenge today is trying to address the plight of poverty that affects so many people and families.

“We will continue to provide ‘safety net’ services that help with food, utility and emergency housing,” Bethuram said. “But today, Catholic Charities is also committed to identifying and implementing strategies and opportunities which will eventually lead those currently living in poverty out of poverty.

“To do this, Catholic Charities has embarked on a major effort to study and research how best to dedicate resources to specifically address the root causes of poverty, including lack of training, lack of education, poor health and unbalanced diets.”

Bethuram also asked for help from the community in this effort. His closing message captured the difference that Catholic Charities wants to make for the families who seek the agency’s help.

“We firmly believe, when this is done right—helping them in defining clear objectives and goals for themselves—they will receive the encouragement and hope they need to obtain the skills that will sustain them for generations to come.”

The efforts of Catholic Charities Indianapolis were also recognized by Nicole Finelli, the event chairperson for the Spirit of Service Awards Dinner.

She praised the agency’s “compassion and efficiency to really touch the people in this community. For every dollar that comes into the door, 92 cents or more of that goes to programming. It goes to helping the people of central Indiana.”

The celebration ended with Msgr. William F. Stumpf saluting Catholic Charities Indianapolis for serving 75,000 people in 2016. The archdiocesan administrator noted how that help matches the direction that Pope Francis has set for the Church.

“As a Church, we talk an awful lot about having a preference for the poor and serving those in need,” Msgr. Stumpf said. “And certainly we all know that Pope Francis has emphasized from the beginning of his papacy that the Church needs to be a Church that is with the poor and is poor.”

He then mentioned that Pope Francis recently made a surprise appearance, via a videotaped talk, during the recent TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Vancouver, Canada.

“He spoke about three things. He spoke about power. He spoke about humility. And he also spoke about hope,” Msgr. Stumpf noted. “What Pope Francis had to say is so relevant for what we’re all celebrating tonight. He said, ‘A single individual is enough for hope to exist. And that individual can be you. And then there will be another you. And another you. And then it turns into us.’

“He went on to say, ‘Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the ‘other’ is not a statistic or a number. We all need each other.’ So let us continue to pray to God that he will give us the strength and wisdom that we might channel his saving grace and be an instrument of his mercy for everyone, especially those around us.” †


Helping others at the heart of Spirit of Service winners’ lives of faith

By John Shaughnessy (from May 5, 2017 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Four individuals and a business were honored for their contributions to the community during the archdiocese’s 19th annual Spirit of Service Awards dinner in Indianapolis on April 26.

Here is capsulized information about the award recipients, who were prominently featured in the March 31 issue of The Criterion.

Grace Albertson, recipient of Spirit of Service Youth Award

A moment on the playground at St. Mark the Evangelist School in Indianapolis changed the focus of Grace Albertson’s life.

The year was 2012, Grace was in seventh grade, and the first wave of Burmese refugee children had just arrived at the south side school. Grace went to the Internet, learned a few phrases in Burmese and used them to greet three of the new students.

It was the beginning of close friendships that have continued.

It was also the start of Grace’s six‑years-and-counting commitment to help refugees to the United States make an adjustment to life in Indianapolis.

During that time, she has taught English to Burmese and Syrian children. She has greeted refugee families at Indianapolis International Airport, and helped them make the transition to life in their apartments. And she has spent parts of two summers in South Korea, teaching English to children there.

“I find myself thanking God for these opportunities, for letting me know these children,” says Grace, now a senior at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. “My faith has grown from being around them. It took me a long time to realize that I’m meant to be a servant to others.”

Karen and Don Beckwith, Spirit of Service Award recipients

Karen and Don Beckwith still remember the first night they set out to help the homeless who live on the streets and under the bridges and railroad arches in Indianapolis.

“We drove into places I was scared to death of, places I would never go into the dark,” says Karen, recalling their initial effort as volunteers for Helping Our Own People.

Yet that night also revealed to them how they could bring some light and life to those areas, and how the people they met could do the same for them.

“I just realized there are people out here who for a number of reasons are not making it in this world on their own—veterans, people with mental health issues, people with addictions,” Don says. “They’re just struggling to make it in this world. We’re giving them soup and sandwiches and blankets. And they encourage us and make us see we need to be the hands and face of Christ to them.”

Since that night in 2004, the couple from St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis has faithfully served the organization that strives to be “a link to the community for our homeless friends.” Don has also served the past seven years as chairperson of the organization’s board of directors.

“It took me a while to understand it wasn’t about handing out the soup and the sandwiches,” Karen says. “They wanted to talk about the Colts, the weather, their lives. It’s the human touch that matters to them.”

Gary Gadomski, Spirit of Service Award recipient

Gary Gadomski begins every week with the same ritual—driving his 1996 “maroon and rust” Ford pickup truck to food distributors on Monday and Tuesday mornings to load up supplies that will help people who are in need.

“I like starting my week giving,” Gadomski says. “That way, no matter how busy I get the rest of the week, I’ve started my week in a good way.”

With his truck loaded with food, Gadomski heads to the Cathedral Soup Kitchen and food pantry, a ministry of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis. There, he’s greeted by the homeless men who line up for breakfast.

Gadomski has been volunteering at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen “for at least 10 years” and about 20 years for Beggars for the Poor, a ministry that provides food, clothing and conversation for the homeless in downtown Indianapolis.

He also volunteers at his home parish, St. Luke the Evangelist in Indianapolis. He helped renovate a home that the parish has converted into a nursery and pre‑school site. He’s also the go-to handyman for many senior citizens in the parish.

“Jesus taught us to be servants,” he says. “It always seems the more I give, the more I’m taken care of. I had some health problems early on in my life. I’m thankful for the things I can do now. It’s happy work. It’s joyful work.”

Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman law firm, recipient of Spirit of Service Corporate Award

As the executive director of the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities, David Bethuram says the law firm received this year’s Spirit of Service Corporate Award “for its values, skills and accomplishments to the community.”

“They have demonstrated a real interest in helping Catholic Charities address the human and health services for those most vulnerable in our community,” Bethuram says. “Their staff has volunteered on our boards, councils, committees and task forces to help provide confidence, integrity and efficiency to how Catholic Charities wants to deliver service to those in need.”

The award was a surprise and an honor for the law firm.

“We were told this reflects ‘a sum of the parts’—that we have a number of people in the firm who are active in their parishes and in the archdiocese,” says Gregg Wallander, a lawyer with the firm. “So we’re excited and appreciative.”

Wallander represents that involvement, helping with the Spirit of Service awards event for more than 10 years. He served as the chairman of the dinner in 2016.

“Everything that Catholic Charities does is for the right reasons,” he says. “They really help people to get on their feet, and they make a permanent difference in people’s lives—and for our community. I’ve just been so moved over the years to see what they do.” †


Tamika Catchings will speak at Spirit of Service Awards dinner

Criterion staff report (from March 31, 2017 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Tamika CatchingsFour-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings will be the featured speaker at the archdiocese’s 19th annual Spirit of Service Awards Dinner in Indianapolis on April 26.

Before retiring this past season, Catchings made a tremendous impact during her long career on the basketball court—both for the U.S. women’s basketball team in the Olympics and in leading the Indiana Fever to a championship in the Women’s National Basketball Association.

She also continues to make an inspiring difference off the court as the founder of Catch the Stars Foundation, which helps young people pursue and realize their dreams.

The Spirit of Service Awards Dinner will benefit and celebrate the efforts of Catholic Charities Indianapolis to help people in need. It’s also an opportunity for business, community and social services leaders to support Catholic Charities as it continues to improve the community of central Indiana by providing services to the poor and vulnerable.

In 2016, Catholic Charities Indianapolis served about 75,000 people. The agency ensures that 92 cents of every dollar goes directly to programming.


Volunteer’s ‘joyful work’ uplifts people in need

By John Shaughnessy (from March 31, 2017 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Gary GadomskiIt’s another early Tuesday morning, and Gary Gadomski is once again first in line at the Midwest Food Bank in Indianapolis, preparing to pick up supplies that will benefit people who are homeless and in need.

Within minutes, the volunteer extraordinaire for the Cathedral Soup Kitchen and Beggars for the Poor will begin to load his 1996 “maroon and rust” Ford pickup truck—filling it with a haul that includes 20 pounds of ground pork, 80 cartons of eggs, and crates and cases filled with bread, cereal, fruit, vegetables and drinks.

“I like starting my week giving,” says Gadomski, who also picks up fruits and vegetables from an Indianapolis food distributor on Monday mornings. “That way, no matter how busy I get the rest of the week, I’ve started my week in a good way.”

With his truck bed and his back seat loaded with food, Gadomski heads to the Cathedral Soup Kitchen and food pantry, a ministry of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis. There, he’s greeted by his fellow volunteers and the homeless men who are lining up to be served breakfast.

“I like the people here,” says Gadomski, one of the 2017 Spirit of Service Award recipients who will be honored by Catholic Charities Indianapolis on April 26. “All the volunteers enjoy each other, and I’ve been here long enough that all the guys know me.

“Last Monday, there was a guy having a tough time walking. I had him come down the elevator with me. I asked him what his problem was, and he said he still had several bullet fragments in him. They have a lot of problems, but they’re still joyful and thankful, although some of them challenge us. I feel comfortable with them, and they feel comfortable with me.”

Gadomski has been volunteering at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen “for at least 10 years” and about 20 years for Beggars for the Poor, a ministry that provides food, clothing and conversation for the homeless in downtown Indianapolis.

He also volunteers at his home parish, St. Luke the Evangelist in Indianapolis.

He sets up the parish’s Nativity scenes during the Christmas season. He also had a major role in renovating a home that the parish has converted into a nursery and pre‑school site. And he’s the go-to handyman for the parish’s convent and other buildings—and for many senior citizens in the parish.

“I just find it satisfying to do things,” says Gadomski, who is 59. “When I was younger, I felt like more of a spectator. When you get older, you have to do your part. You take ownership. And once you take ownership, it’s natural to be involved.

“Jesus taught us to be servants. The things I do allow me to function in that servant’s role. It always seems the more I give, the more I’m taken care of. I had some health problems early on in my life. I’m thankful for the things I can do now. It’s happy work. It’s joyful work.” †


Teen’s touching welcome leads to friendship, honor

By John Shaughnessy (from March 31, 2017 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Grace AlbertsonOne moment, one choice shows why 18-year-old Grace Albertson will receive the archdiocese’s Spirit of Service Youth Award on April 26.

The moment unfolded at the beginning of the school year in 2012 when Grace was a seventh-grade student at St. Mark the Evangelist School in Indianapolis—a year when the first wave of Burmese refugee children arrived at the south side school.

“I was out at recess on the blacktop, and I looked onto the grassy area where three Burmese students were playing soccer together,” Grace recalls with a glowing smile. “They weren’t playing with the other kids. Something struck me about that, and I had a strong desire to talk with them. But they were speaking in Burmese, and I didn’t know Burmese.

“Rather than trying to speak to them in English, I really wanted to learn Burmese to talk with them. That evening, I searched the Internet for Burmese phrases, found some, and wrote them down phonetically on a pad of paper. And I studied those phrases for two hours that night.”

At recess the next day, she saw the same three students playing soccer, so she nervously approached them, holding her pad with the Burmese phrases.

“I mustered up my courage and went up to this girl and said in Burmese, ‘Hello. Nice to meet you. I do not speak Burmese well.’ She smiled at me and said, ‘Nice to meet you, too’—in English. That was really the beginning of that friendship.”

It was also the start of Grace’s six‑years-and-counting commitment to help refugees to the United States make an adjustment to life in Indianapolis.

During that time, she has taught English to Burmese and Syrian children. She has greeted refugee families at Indianapolis International Airport, and helped them make the transition to life in their apartments. And she has spent parts of two summers in South Korea, teaching English to children there.

“I find myself thanking God for these opportunities, for letting me know these children,” says Grace, now a senior at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. “My faith has grown from being around them. It took me a long time to realize that I’m meant to be a servant to others.”

Grace has definitely served as an example for the people of St. Mark Parish, says its pastor, Father Todd Riebe.

“Grace’s openness and concern for the Burmese influenced how classmates and parishioners saw them, and helped our parish and school to create a warm and welcoming environment to receive these brothers and sisters into our community,” he says. “This care and compassion has continued throughout her high school years at Roncalli and continued to affect and shape a truly Christian attitude toward newly arrived refugees to our country and to our community.”

She wants to continue that effort through her service and her studies when she attends Marian University in Indianapolis.

She flashes another glowing smile as she thinks back to that moment on the playground, laughing before she says, “I always jokingly tell people that seventh grade was my high point.”

The smile stays as she adds, “Sometimes when I look at current events in the world—all the struggles and problems—I’m grateful that I’ve learned to care about these problems and struggles. I’m going to dedicate my life to getting lasting benefits for people who need their liberties protected.” †


‘God moments’ bless couple who help the homeless

By John Shaughnessy (from March 31, 2017 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Karen and Don BeckwithKaren and Don Beckwith remember it as a “God moment”—one of those experiences that “happen out of the blue,” a moment clearly touched by God’s grace.

This one happened on a bitterly cold, snowy night as the Beckwiths prepared to set out to bring soup, sandwiches, blankets, clothes and a sharing of prayers and conversation with homeless people who live on the streets and under the bridges and railroad arches in Indianapolis.

“We usually don’t take out shoes or boots, but at the last minute, I picked up a pair of boots that someone had donated,” Karen recalls. “That night, some guy came up to us. He had on shoes that were at least two sizes too small for him, and there was ice hanging off his shoes and his feet.

“I went and got the boots, and they fit him. There was Don on his hands and knees putting new socks on him and these boots that fit. And the guy was saying, ‘Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.’ We were in tears. That was a God moment for us.”

Since 2004, the couple from St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis has experienced such “God moments” as volunteers for Helping Our Own People (HOOP). And for the past seven years, Don has served as the chairperson of the board of directors for the organization that strives to be “a link to the community for our homeless friends.”

Their efforts have led them to be selected as 2017 Spirit of Service Award recipients by Catholic Charities Indianapolis—an honor they will receive on April 26. Still, the true reward for the Beckwiths is the humbling journey of faith they have taken for the past 13 years.

They still remember the first night they helped on the street—a night when “we drove into places I was scared to death of, places I would never go into the dark,” Karen says.

Yet that night also revealed to them how they could bring some light and life to those areas, and how the people they met could do the same for them.

“I just realized there are people out here who for a number of reasons are not making it in this world on their own—veterans, people with mental health issues, people with addictions,” Don says. “They’re just struggling to make it in this world. We’re giving them soup and sandwiches and blankets. And they encourage us and make us see we need to be the hands and face of Christ to them.”

Karen adds, “It took me a while to understand it wasn’t about handing out the soup and the sandwiches. They wanted to talk about the Colts, the weather, their lives. It’s the human touch that matters to them.”

The Beckwiths insist they are just part of the HOOP team, a team of “100 volunteers who go out to the streets, and another 200 doing things behind the scenes”—including cooking, collecting clothes and making sandwiches.

“We have been blessed so much by so many different people and so many different congregations,” Don says.

Karen notes, “We always say a prayer before we go out, praying that we say the right thing, praying to turn a heart. We have had success stories where someone has found a job or an apartment.”

There are also the continuing God moments, including the time when the couple shared soup, a sandwich, clothes and a conversation with a man. As they left, Don told the man, “God bless you.” The man responded, “Well, I think he just did.”

“A lot of what we do is sorting clothing and storing it,” Karen says. “But when we go out, there’s the appreciation we get, and people want to pray with us and for us. It’s very humbling when you come home and lay in your warm bed. But you also know you’ve made a difference.” †


Award-winning Indianapolis law firm demonstrates spirit of caring

By John Shaughnessy (from March 31, 2017 of The Criterion Online Edition)

There are two defining realities about the people and the organizations that are chosen to receive the archdiocese’s Spirit of Service Awards each year.

The first reality is how deserving the recipients are.

That point comes to light again when the executive director of Catholic Charities for the archdiocese talks about the recipient of this year’s Spirit of Service Corporate Award: the members of the Indianapolis-based law firm of Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman.

“They have demonstrated a real interest in helping Catholic Charities address the human and health services for those most vulnerable in our community,” says David Bethuram.

“Their staff has volunteered on our boards, councils, committees and task forces to help provide confidence, integrity and efficiency to how Catholic Charities wants to deliver service to those in need.”

The second reality about Spirit of Service Awards recipients is how much the honor means to them and how humbled they are to be chosen.

That point comes to light again as Gregg Wallander talks about the firm’s reaction to receiving the honor, which will be presented on April 26 during the 19th annual Spirit of Service Awards Dinner at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis.

“We’re surprised,” says Wallander, a lawyer with the firm. “It wasn’t something we ever pursued or asked for. We were told this reflects ‘a sum of the parts’—that we have a number of people in the firm who are active in their parishes and in the archdiocese. So we’re excited and appreciative.”

Wallander represents that involvement, helping with the Spirit of Service event for more than 10 years, including serving as the chairman of the awards dinner in 2016.

“It’s one of my favorite nights of the year,” he says. “Everything that Catholic Charities does is for the right reasons. They really help people to get on their feet, and they make a permanent difference in people’s lives—and for our community. I’ve just been so moved over the years to see what they do.”

Catholic Charities’ focus on improving the lives of about 75,000 people in central Indiana in 2016 not only helps individuals, families and the community, it also benefits businesses—a part of the community that Wallander is always encouraging to become more involved in the work of Catholic Charities.

He shares the story of a man who once lived in Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis, a man who is now a successful business owner.

“Seeing that transformation, that’s a wow!” Wallander says.

Bethuram also knows the impact that happens when Catholic Charities is assisted by businesses such as Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman.

Saluting the firm for its “values, skills and accomplishments to the community,” Bethuram notes, “Catholic Charities’ collaboration with our corporate partners is a cornerstone of the dynamic approach we use to address the needs of poor families in our community. These collaborations help Catholic Charities listen, learn and implement the best long‑term solutions to poverty.” †


‘We are here to serve others’: Speedway president encourages audience to win the race that places others first

Catholic Charities Indianapolis presented four individuals with Spirit of Service Awards during an April 27 dinner in Indianapolis. Award recipients, seated from left, are Domoni Rouse, Phyllis Land Usher and Htoo Thu. Standing are Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin and award winner Tim Hahn. (Submitted photo by Rich Clark)

Catholic Charities Indianapolis presented four individuals with Spirit of Service Awards during an April 27 dinner in Indianapolis. Award recipients, seated from left, are Domoni Rouse, Phyllis Land Usher and Htoo Thu. Standing are Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin and award winner Tim Hahn. (Submitted photo by Rich Clark)

By John Shaughnessy (from May 6, 2016 of The Criterion Online Edition)

As the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it seemed fitting that Doug Boles immediately knew that Howdy Wilcox was the winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1919.

Yet Boles showed a measure of grace and preparation as the keynote speaker of the archdiocese’s Spirit of Service Awards Dinner in Indianapolis on April 27 when he noted that 1919 was also the year when Catholic Charities Indianapolis began helping the poor and vulnerable in central Indiana.

“One of the things as Hoosiers we do is we are so great at figuring out how to help each other,” Boles told the 400 people who had gathered at the Indiana Roof Ballroom for the fundraiser for Catholic Charities Indianapolis.

“That’s the thing we all have to remember—we are the way to light the world. And the way we light the world is the way we invest in others, the way we give up ourselves to invest in others.”

Boles also used his speech to talk about the upcoming 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29—focusing on its history and tradition while also emphasizing the need and the opportunity for continuing innovation.

“Part of what makes us so special is our history and tradition, a history and tradition that was started by Hoosiers. What makes it so special—and many people can relate to this—is the fact that our dad, our granddad, our brother or someone special in our lives introduced us to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Boles, who recalled attending his first 500 race, when he was 10, with his dad.

“To me, that gathering of people, that gathering of pride, is much more than about a race.” Read full story

Spirit of Service winners live out their faith by helping others

By John Shaughnessy (from May 6, 2016 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Four individuals received Spirit of Service Awards from Catholic Charities Indianapolis during its annual dinner event at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis on April 27.

Here is some capsulized information about each of the recipients, who were prominently featured in a page one story of the April 1 issue of The Criterion.


Htoo Thu, Spirit of Service Youth Award recipient

Background: A Burmese refugee who arrived in the United States with her family five years ago. She’s a member of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis and a senior at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis.

Service: Most of her 600 service hours are related to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, helping fellow volunteer Mike Newton distribute items to refugee families while also translating for him. She also helps new refugees by offering them support when they visit the doctor or translating for them when they get a driver’s license. And she serves as a translator during parent-teacher conferences at Roncalli and St. Mark.

Quote: “Since I have been on the receiving end of the generosity of other people, I feel great when I help others. I feel like I grow so much from doing it. Now when I look at someone, I think about what I can do to help them. I feel God is telling me I should do this.”


Phyllis Land Usher, Spirit of Service Community Award recipient

Background: Known as “the fairy godmother of the west side,” she is the president of the Usher Funeral Home in Indianapolis, a longtime business of her late husband Bill’s family.

Service: She is president of the board of the Hawthorne Community Center, leading a successful $3.5 million capital campaign. She is also involved with Hearts and Hands of Indiana, an organization that helps low-income families and individuals become home owners in the area of St. Anthony Parish in Indianapolis.

She also continues the family business’ tradition of taking care of the funeral arrangements of nearly every Little Sister of the Poor in Indianapolis since the 1930s.

Quote: “Bill encouraged me to never be on the sidelines. He thought I could do anything. That’s how I found myself in this position.”


Domoni Rouse, Spirit of Service Award recipient

Background: A longtime member of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis, where she has served as president of the parish council and a religious education teacher.

Service: She directs “Changing Lives Forever,” a St. Vincent de Paul Society program that tries to help people escape the cycle of poverty by pairing them with a mentor who makes the journey with them.

Quote: “I love that [the “Changing Lives Forever” program] opens people’s eyes to the possibilities and gives them hope. And it helps open the eyes of the facilitators who walk with them. If we aren’t educated about each other, nothing will change. People in this program are living a stressful life in an unstable environment. When you understand that, you want to be able to help.

“The love of Christ is supposed to be spread from one person to another. That’s what I’m trying to do.”


Tim Hahn, Spirit of Service Award recipient

Background: Hahn traces the roots of his faith to growing up as a member of Holy Cross Parish in Indianapolis.

Service: He is the founder of “Helping Hand,” the grass-roots, non-profit organization that strives to make a difference, especially with members of the Hispanic community. He taps into donations from restaurants and supermarkets to provide food for about 200 people each week.

At the beginning of the school year, his group gives backpacks filled with school supplies to students. At Thanksgiving, they provide families with everything they need for a feast. In December, they distribute coats and shoes for the winter.

Quote: “When you do this, you see Jesus in these people. And look at all the time he spent with the poor, talking with them, laughing with them, helping them. So why wouldn’t I want to do that?” †

 

Servants’ heart is hallmark of this year’s Spirit of Service award recipients

By John Shaughnessy (from April 1, 2016 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Htoo ThuWhen she arrived in the United States as a refugee, Htoo Thu looked forward to the freedom and opportunity that her new country offered her and her family.

Yet the teenager never anticipated how one chance meeting in her new city of Indianapolis would change her—and lead to her selection as this year’s recipient of the Spirit of Service Youth Award.

Tim Hahn, Domoni Rouse and Phyllis Usher will also receive Spirit of Service Awards from Catholic Charities Indianapolis during its annual dinner event in Indianapolis on April 27.

(Related story: Speedway’s Boles will be featured speaker at Spirit of Service Awards Dinner)

For Htoo, the life-changing meeting occurred shortly after her family moved from Burma to St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, where she started at the parish school as an eighth-grade student. Read full story

Domoni Rouse

Domoni RouseDomoni Rouse has a special motivation as she works to help people find a way out of poverty in central Indiana.

She knows what it’s like to struggle, and she knows the difference it makes when someone makes the effort to help a person through a difficult time.

“For five years of my life, I didn’t go to church. During those years, I had some difficult times in my personal life,” says Rouse, now a longtime member of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis. “It was my church that made me understand what being a Catholic and a Christian are all about, and what my faith is all about.

“I was a member of the choir, and I often say that being able to sing saved my life when I couldn’t hold my head up. The elders of the church put their arms around me, and showed me the way. It helped turn my life truly toward God. I matured spiritually, and decided charity should be the root foundation of my life.”

Now, she puts her arms around the participants of “Changing Lives Forever,” a St. Vincent de Paul Society program that tries to help people escape the cycle of poverty by pairing them with a mentor who makes the journey with them. Read full story

Phyllis Land Usher

Phyllis Land UsherWhen Phyllis Land Usher married her husband Bill, she joined a Catholic family that was dedicated to approaching everyone they met with dignity and the love of Christ—which included taking care of the funeral arrangements of nearly every Little Sister of the Poor in Indianapolis since the 1930s.

Their marriage also introduced the Mississippi native to a world she hadn’t known previously—the west side Indianapolis neighborhood surrounding St. Anthony Parish that Bill and then-pastor Msgr. John Ryan embraced.

“I fell in love with my husband, and I fell in love with the neighborhood. Msgr. Ryan would call Bill to have him help people. My husband grew up in the parish, and knew all the people. He had friends from the statehouse to the gutter, and he treated them all the same—with respect. I saw helping people from a different light because I had not lived in a struggling neighborhood before. I saw how it opened your heart to wanting to help people.”

The couple had been married 10 years when Bill died in 1993—a time when she could have left the neighborhood. Instead, the longtime educator stayed. She has continued in her husband’s path, including serving as the president of the Usher Funeral Home. She has also set a new course of service of her own. Read full story

Tim Hahn

Tim HahnIn nearly 20 years of helping people in need, Tim Hahn has been guided by this belief: “Whenever you take a little leap of faith, God won’t be outdone in his generosity.”

That belief took hold during the dozen years that Hahn worked with his mentor, the late Lucious Newsom, a retired-Baptist-minister-turned-Catholic who helped the poor with a dignity-first, hands-on, caring approach.

And Hahn has continued to follow that belief in the past eight years as the founder of “Helping Hand,” the grass-roots, non-profit organization that strives to make a difference, especially with members of the Hispanic community.

When Hahn once paid a $98 gas bill for a struggling family, he went home and found a $100 check in his mailbox from a friend he hadn’t seen in two years.

On the day he bought a new mattress for a teenager who never had one, Hahn received a phone call from a store owner, saying she wanted to make a donation to Helping Hand, a donation that ended up being a few thousand dollars. Read full story

Speedway’s Boles will be featured speaker at Spirit of Service Awards Dinner

Criterion staff report (from April 1, 2016 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas BolesIndianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles will be the featured speaker at the archdiocese’s 18th annual Spirit of Service Awards Dinner in Indianapolis on April 27.

The selection of Boles as the speaker for the event connects with this year’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.

The dinner will benefit and celebrate the efforts of Catholic Charities Indianapolis to help people in need. It’s also an opportunity for business, community and social services leaders to support Catholic Charities as it continues to improve the community of central Indiana by providing services to the poor and vulnerable.

The event at the Indiana Roof Ballroom begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., and dinner is at 6:30 p.m.

Tables for eight can be purchased at these sponsorship levels: $10,000 for a benefactor, $5,000 for a patron, and $1,750 for a partner.

In 2015, Catholic Charities Indianapolis served more than 70,500 people. The agency ensures that 92 cents of every dollar goes directly to programming.

“Funding from the Spirit of Service Awards Dinner supports our programs that lead people to a more independent life,” said David Bethuram, agency director for Catholic Charities Indianapolis. “Often, it starts with direct services that lead to other programs to help stabilize families and individuals. We are always grateful to our donors whose gifts help their neighbors succeed.”

Businessman’s commitment to employees and faith strikes chord at poverty summit

Business owner Jim Huntington, left, talks with Marian University president Daniel Elsener during a break at a Catholic Charities Indianapolis poverty summit at the college on Feb. 24. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Business owner Jim Huntington, left, talks with Marian University president Daniel Elsener during a break at a Catholic Charities Indianapolis poverty summit at the college on Feb. 24. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy (from March 4, 2016 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Sitting at one far edge of the panel of distinguished speakers, Jim Huntington waited patiently to share his humble story of how his small business is trying to do its part to help people stay out of poverty.

For most of the morning of Feb. 24 at Marian University in Indianapolis, Huntington respectfully listened to the other speakers who shared their insights during a meeting of about 60 central Indiana business leaders—leaders who had been invited by Catholic Charities Indianapolis to discuss concrete ways to support the Catholic bishops of Indiana in their efforts to help people out of poverty.

(Related story: Leaders share ideas, discuss efforts to help Hoosiers out of cycle of poverty)

Huntington nodded affirmatively as Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin opened the poverty summit by talking about the bishops’ commitment to making a difference through their pastoral letter, “Poverty at the Crossroads: The Church’s Response to Poverty in Indiana,” which was published in March 2015.

And Huntington’s attentiveness continued as his four fellow panelists shared their thoughts.

Sheila Gilbert, the president of the national St. Vincent de Paul Society, discussed the importance of having people in poverty be involved in efforts to “help them get ahead instead of just helping them get by.”

University of Notre Dame professor William Evans dwelled on his college’s efforts to study the approaches of social service agencies to ending poverty, and finding the most effective ones so they can be used nationally.

Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann focused on the state’s emphasis to lure jobs with higher wages, while attorney Phil Sicuso stressed the importance of developing new mass-transit programs that will help low-income and unemployed people get to the jobs that can help change their lives.

Then the spotlight finally turned to the humble Huntington, whose plain business card of black ink on a white background doesn’t even mention that he is the president of AAA Roofing in Indianapolis.

Poverty pastoral reflection guide aims to help people grow in faith

By Sean Gallagher (from February 5, 2016 of The Criterion Online Edition)

Poverty pastoral reflection guide coverLent is a season when many Catholics seek to enter more deeply into their faith. Parishes often respond to this desire by offering adult faith formation sessions in the weeks leading up to Easter.

During this Lent in the Holy Year of Mercy, Catholics across central and southern Indiana from middle-school age through adults can learn more about the Church’s teaching on helping those in need and its spiritual meaning by studying “Poverty at the Crossroads: The Church’s Responses to Poverty in Indiana,” a pastoral letter issued by the five bishops of Indiana last March.

A reflection guide to the pastoral letter developed by archdiocesan leaders is available at www.archindy.org/holyyearofmercy.

“We feel like this could be a resource that could be used far and wide,” said Ken Ogorek, archdiocesan director of catechesis. “And we believe that people as young as junior high could make great use of this resource for learning, discussion and faith sharing.” Read full story

Mother’s life of kindness and mercy inspires daughter in her care for others

In her work at A Caring Place, Cathy Lamperski Dearing has helped Lucian Jones recall his days as a preacher by sharing the words from Psalm 122:1.  (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

In her work at A Caring Place, Cathy Lamperski Dearing has helped Lucian Jones recall his days as a preacher by sharing the words from Psalm 122:1. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy (from January 15, 2016 of The Criterion Online Edition)

As she shares the touching scene, Cathy Lamperski Dearing hopes to make a point about the immense power of a small act of mercy and kindness.

The scene happens regularly as Dearing and Lucian Jones take a walk together at A Caring Place, the Catholic Charities Indianapolis program that provides day care service for older adults—a program that’s housed in a few rooms at Fairview Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.

Dearing is the physical therapist at A Caring Place, and one of the people she helps is Jones, a husband, a father, a military veteran and a former deacon of a church. He uses a cane to walk, and he has dementia.

“Every session, we go on long endurance walks,” says Dearing, a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis. “Being housed inside a large church building, we walk from our space through the sanctuary. We always go to the back of the sanctuary where hanging on the wall is an engraved plaque with Psalm 122:1.”

The plaque reads, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” (Ps 122:1).

“I read those words out loud to him,” Dearing notes. “He has significant language impairment because of his dementia, but he is able to repeat the words after I say them. He recites them back clearly, prayerfully. He sounds like a preacher again!

“So I am moved every time by the way he speaks those words with such depth and emotion. I feel I give him something back—of who he was in his life as a preacher, in his love for God and Scripture. And every single time we finish that passage with, ‘let us go into the house of the Lord’ [Ps 122:1], he always says, ‘Thank you.’ I think he’s saying ‘thank you’ to me and to God.” Read full story

Connecticut governor blasts Pence over refugees

(Maureen Groppend and Justin Mack, IndyStar November 19, 2015)

The status of a family of four that was supposed to arrive Dec. 10 in Indianapolis, where they have friends, is in limbo as Catholic Charities weighs how to respond to Pence's request that the family be directed elsewhere.

"There’s still just a lot of information that we’re all waiting on," said Heidi Smith, director of refugee services for Catholic Charities Indianapolis. "In the meantime, there’s refugees that have no control of their lives and no place to go and nobody wants them. And we have to think about what it would be like to be in their shoes."

The state Division of Family Resources sent a letter Tuesday to Exodus Refugee Immigration and to Catholic Charities Indianapolis asking that all Syrian arrivals be “suspended or redirected to another state that is willing to accept Syrian placements until assurances that proper security measure are in place have been provided by the federal government.”Read full story

Indiana-bound Syrian refugees redirected to Connecticut

(Maureen Groppend and Justin Mack, USA TODAY November 18, 2015)

The family of three fled from Syria to Jordan when their 5-year-old son was less than 1, and is the first family to be redirected after 26 governors objected this week to accepting Syrian refugees, according to The New York Times.

Indiana has also asked that a Syrian family set to arrive in Indianapolis Dec. 10 instead be sent to a state that’s willing to accept them.

"It's heartbreaking. It's a really sad week for Hoosiers," Carleen Miller, executive director of Exodus Refugee Immigration, told The Indianapolis Star Wednesday. "I don't think this represents Hoosiers as we've been overwhelmed with calls from supportive people wanting to help Syrian refugees. We need to have a welcoming message for refugees in this state."

The state Division of Family Resources sent a letter Tuesday to Exodus and to Catholic Charities Indianapolis asking that all Syrian arrivals be “suspended or redirected to another state that is willing to accept Syrian placements until assurances that proper security measures are in place have been provided by the federal government.”

"We find the letter to be extremely disappointing because this is a family that has been waiting for three years because the security process is so intense," said Heidi Smith, director of refugee services for Catholic Charities Indianapolis."People are calling to offer their time. People are calling to offer their homes." Read full story

"Pence stops Syrian refugee resettlement in Indiana"

(Stephanie Wang, IndyStar November 16, 2015)

Local nonprofits that work with refugees say security checks are already rigorous -- so rigorous that the only Syrian family resettled by Catholic Charities Indianapolis had to wait three years to gain clearance, said director of refugee services Heidi Smith.

"We hope that any concerns Gov. Pence has concerning Syrian refugees be resolved quickly because the lives of so many families are at risk," she said in a statement. "Thousands of refugees from the Middle East, primarily from Syria, have been fleeing their homeland due to the barbaric acts by terrorists, and these are the same groups responsible for recent terrorist acts in other parts of the world. Regardless of their religious affiliation, refugees from Syria deserve our respect care and protection from this horrible persecution."

A bridge of faith: St. Mark parish, school welcome Burmese refugees with open arms

The close friendship of Kho Ti, left, and Sophie Albertson—two sixth-grade students at St. Mark School in Indianapolis—reflects the welcome that Burmese refugees have received in the past five years at St. Mark Parish and its school. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

The close friendship of Kho Ti, left, and Sophie Albertson—two sixth-grade students at St. Mark School in Indianapolis—reflects the welcome that Burmese refugees have received in the past five years at St. Mark Parish and its school. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy (from Oct. 16, 2015 The Criterion Online edition)

Cathy Boyle gets emotional as she recalls watching the friendship develop between two children from different worlds.

The seeds of the friendship were planted last year in her eighth-grade homeroom at St. Mark School in Indianapolis.

At the beginning of that school year, Boyle watched as one of her students who had attended St. Mark’s for eight years made a conscious effort each day to befriend another boy whose family had recently arrived in the United States as refugees from Burma, which is also known as Myanmar.

“He made it his goal to personally welcome the other boy into the group,” recalls Boyle, who teaches middle school social studies. “In the beginning, he would talk about soccer because that’s a big sport for the Burmese. Before long, they were joking and teasing each other. And by the end of the year, they were doing things together and going places together.” READ MORE

A Caring Place photo from Criterion

A Caring Place celebrates 25 years of providing compassion, care for older adults

By John Shaughnessy (from Sept. 25, 2015 The Criterion Online Edition)

If one moment could capture the depth and the history of the love between an aging parent and her grown children, this could be the one.

In this moment, 87-year-old Dorothy Porter sits between the oldest of her four children, Madeline Bonds, and her youngest child, Berton Graves. And the three of them are laughing with such pure joy as they remember how Berton—the baby of the family—never got in trouble with his mother when he did something wrong as a child, and he still never does.

It’s a moment to savor for Madeline and Berton, a moment when the light of life shines in the eyes of their mother, who suffers from moderate-to-late-stage dementia. READ MORE

LawLogix Honors Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Indianapolis for Innovative Use of Technology in Immigration

PHOENIX, Ariz. – May 14, 2015 – LawLogix Group, Inc., a leading Software as a Service (SaaS) provider to immigration attorneys and human resource professionals, announced the Catholic Charities  of Indianapolis as the recipient of the 2015 LawLogix Innovation in Immigration Award. 

“LawLogix is pleased to honor the Catholic Charities of Indianapolis with the LawLogix Innovation in Technology Award,” said Kathleen Judd, Director of Customer Relations at LawLogix.  “The EDGE immigration case management system helps Catholic Charities centralize their office operations, enabling them to fulfill their mission of strengthening families through legal immigration services.  Congratulations to the Catholic Charities of Indianapolis for their work.”

Catholic Charities of Indianapolis deployed EDGE case management for every part of their operation:  from the moment a client calls for an appointment, the Catholic Charities of Indianapolis uses EDGE to capture and store important case information.  EDGE is used when the client comes to the office for a consultation, and important data is collected and entered into EDGE.  Catholic Charities of Indianapolis immigration practitioners consult EDGE at every turn:  recording activities, setting reminders, storing scanned documents and creating closing letters. 

“We are honored to receive this award for use of technology in our immigration practice,” said Tim Winn, [Supervisor of Immigration Legal Services].  “EDGE is an integral part of our operation, and we wouldn’t be able to serve our clients without it.”

The LawLogix Innovation in Immigration Award, given by LawLogix to a non-profit organization for innovative use of technology in their immigration practice, is in its second year.

http://www.lawlogix.com/lawlogix-honors-catholic-charities-archdiocese-of-indianapolis

Behavior plan helps kindergartner adjust to school

July 10, 2015    Friday Success Story - United Way of Central Indiana
Kids in School

“Michael”, a 5-year-old kindergartner at an Indianapolis Catholic elementary school, was having trouble adapting to school life. He acted out by hitting and throwing things at his classmates, shouting in class, getting out of his seat without permission and had difficulty following directions. His teacher referred his parents to the School Social Work program at United Way supported Catholic Charities Indianapolis.

Staff, who provide professional counseling services for Catholic school children, worked together with Michael’s teacher and his parents to develop a behavior plan. The plan’s goal was to build Michael’s understanding of classroom and school behavior expectations while identifying incentives he could earn by behaving appropriately. READ MORE


Videos from our 2015 Spirit of Service honorees

Brother and Sister Adjusting to New Environment

About a year ago, St. Joan of Arc Neighborhood Youth Outreach (N.Y.O.), a program of Catholic Charities, began providing afterschool care for "Robbie" and “Melissa", a brother and sister who, because of neglect, had been removed from their parents’ home and placed in the care of relatives.

The effect of this action on the children was understandably traumatic. They both became very emotional. Melissa cried constantly and Robbie was angry and aggressive. Melissa soon settled into her new environment, becoming less emotional and much happier with the transition. Robbie however became even angrier and more aggressive, particularly toward his teacher and classmates. School officials were considering removing him from the school due to his behavior.

N.Y.O. staff intervened by sitting with Robbie during the school day, pulling him out of class for respites when he seemed overwhelmed. They developed a positive reinforcement plan that was utilized both during the school day and afterschool, and were in constant communication with Robbie’s teacher. Progress was slow, but eventually the frequency and intensity of Robbie’s outbursts began to decrease.

He continues to work through his anger with N.Y.O.’s afterschool staff, but he is a much more happy and settled child. Discussions of removing him from the school have ceased and his need for breaks from class are now very limited. Both children are doing wonderfully and their guardians are so appreciative of the extra care and attention given Robbie while he was working through this transition. These efforts provided something he desperately needed – the knowledge that someone truly cares about him.

Teen Received Compassionate Support During Pregnancy

One Sunday afternoon in September, St. Elizabeth|Coleman received a phone call from a Pregnancy Resource Agency. The caller was a volunteer counselor, who has been working with a 16-year old girl named "Theresa". Theresa was 7 months pregnant and was hiding her pregnancy from her parents and others. Theresa lives in a small Hispanic community and her father holds a significant position within their church – an out-of-wedlock birth would be a disgrace to her family. The young girl was afraid what might happen if her father found out about her pregnancy.

Our caring social worker scheduled a meeting the next day with Theresa, her volunteer counselor and a translator at the High School. During the meeting, we discussed her current pregnancy, educated her adoption choices and talked in depth about her fear of her father.

Following the meeting, we scheduled Theresa’s first prenatal appointment at a local clinic and researched maternity home options, to ensure both she and the baby would be healthy. We also contacted Child Protective Services (CPS) to report safety concerns we had for Theresa. A CPS social worker met with Theresa and her parents to discuss her pregnancy and safety concerns. The meeting went well, but father demanded Theresa continue to hide her pregnancy.

Due to her father’s strict demands to keep her pregnancy hidden, Theresa had a very limited support system. However, with the help of St. Elizabeth|Coleman, a few friends and High School employees continued to support Theresa however they could to make sure she was safe, healthy, loved and able to receive the prenatal care and counseling she needed.

In November, Theresa safely delivered a baby girl. Theresa not only met the loving, adoptive couple, but also continues to receive updates on a regular basis. 

Months after her delivery, we continue to provide Theresa with ongoing counseling and support. Theresa returned to her normal school activities and is looking forward to graduating High School. She is confident in the decision she made to give her daughter up for adoption. Thanks to St. Elizabeth|Coleman, Theresa knows she is well taken care off and loved by her adoptive family. 

Youth Adjusts After Traumatic Life Changes

Adolescence can be a difficult stage in a child’s life. Trying to fit in with peers and testing their independence by rebelling against parents are typical behaviors of youth as they transition from childhood to adulthood. Young "Lily" was dealing with even more extreme circumstances.

Because of family dysfunction, Lily had been removed from her parents’ home and placed in the care of an estranged aunt. This meant a move to the city from a rural community lacking diversity of any kind. A new home, new guardian, new school and new classmates compounded Lily’s adjustment with different racial and cultural backgrounds than hers.

Lily’s attitude and behavior reflected how traumatic this upheaval was for her. Her academic performance was poor. Her behavior earned her weekly detentions, and her relationship with her aunt was strained to the limit. Lily’s interactions with her fellow students were also strained and often she was verbally abusive toward them. To help reduce the stress at home, get Lily help with her homework and to facilitate better peer relationships, the school recommended that Lily enroll in afterschool activities at Catholic Charities Neighborhood Youth Outreach (NYO) Program.

At first, Lily didn’t like attending NYO and she expressed her dislike in several ways. She would leave the facility without permission. She’d refuse to bring her homework to the center, was disrespectful and had many angry outbursts.

NYO staff worked with Lily and her aunt to help them both adjust to their new situation. They gave Lily individualized attention, letting her know they were there to listen to her concerns and worries and to help in any way they could. They also let her know she was not alone. Eventually, their efforts paid off and improvements slowly began to take root.

Lily began responding more positively to her teachers at school. Her outbursts lessened and she was given far fewer detentions. Although still not working to her potential, she began consistently completing her homework. Perhaps just as important, she began developing friendships with other students.

Lily’s relationship of trust with the NYO staff continues to flourish. She is comfortable talking to them about her good school days, as well as her bad ones. She works hard to not have bad days and doesn’t want to disappoint the staff – even though they always tell her everyone has bad days. Lily is proud of the growth and development she has achieved and it’s reflected in her improving grades and positive attitude.

Behavior Plan Helps Kindergartner Adjust to School

"Michael", a 5-year-old kindergartner at an Indianapolis Catholic Elementary School, was having trouble adapting to school life. He acted out by hitting and throwing things at his classmates, shouting in class, getting out of his seat without permission and had difficulty following directions. His teacher referred his parents to the School Social Work Program at United Way supported Catholic Charities in Indianapolis.

Staff, who provide professional counseling services for Catholic school children, worked together with Michael’s teacher and his parents to develop a behavior plan. The plan’s goal was to build Michael’s understanding of classroom and school behavior expectations while identifying incentives he could earn by behaving appropriately.

Throughout each school day, Michael and his teacher would each rate his behaviors on a scale of 1 to 3. If their ratings matched, Michael would receive points towards earning incentives. Those incentives included extra time using the classroom I-Pad, picking a treat from the classroom treat bucket or choosing an activity to share with the class. Michael’s parents also worked with him to identify larger incentives to be earned outside of school.

Michael also met one-on-one with a counselor to explore ways to use coping skills to express and manage his emotions, build problem-solving skills and to discuss peer and social interactions. The counselor met with Michael four times during the first semester and met with his parents three times. She also had regular consultations with his teacher.

During the first eight weeks of school, Michael had eight conduct reports for behavior issues. During the second eight weeks, he only had two. By the third quarter, he had none. Approaching Michael’s behavior as a team and including input from his parents, his teacher and Michael himself allowed Michael to build confidence and a clear understanding of expected behaviors. Michael now enjoys school and is making friends. His parents report they are also seeing positive improvements in his behavior at home.

Homeless Mother Struggles to Support Three Children

Prior to last summer, 43-year-old single mom "Trudy" struggled but managed to support herself and her three children. Then the family suffered a devastating blow when the youngest child, 8-year-old Anna,* was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. This crisis proved too much for Trudy’s already-shaky circumstances. She often had to miss work in order to take Anna to medical appointments and hospitalizations. She soon lost her job, and then their apartment. At first they stayed with family members who Trudy had helped during their own hard times. Her past generosity was not reciprocated for long and, in desperation, Trudy turned to Holy Family Shelter.

Holy Family Shelter not only provides temporary emergency housing, meals and other basic needsfor up to 30 homeless families every day; it also offers a safe and supportive environment where families in crisis can begin to heal. Case managers provide comprehensive services to help these families in need set goals and priorities while they work on life skills such as budgeting, parenting, proper nutrition, communication and stress management. The Shelter collaborates with a network of other agencies to provide the resources families need to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.

Soon after arriving at the shelter, Trudy met with a case manager who helped her create a resume and provided several job leads. Anna continued her medical treatments and although chemotherapy often made her sick, she attended school most days. The individualized tutoring she and her older siblings received at the Shelter helped them all keep their grades up during this difficult time.

Within ten days, Trudy found a job with hours that accommodated Anna’s treatments. With employment secured, her case manager then helped Trudy begin the intense application process required to move from the Shelter into Holy Family’s Transitional Housing Program. One month after they entered the Shelter, Trudy and her family were moving into their own apartment in Fountain Square where they can live for up to two years.United Way funding helps to significantly subsidize Trudy’s rent so they can save more for their future.

Transitional Housing has provided a fresh start for Trudy and her family. During weekly meetings with her case manager, she continues to work on budgeting and debt management strategies. More importantly, she has somewhere to turn when the challenges of being a single mother begin to weigh her down. She is regaining confidence in her ability to successfully support her family. Her despair has turned to hope for their future.

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