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‘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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