JAN. 29, 2014—The staff and volunteers of Helping Hands of St. Louis, a soup kitchen in East Toledo, are doing their part to help the Toledo firefighter community by adopting Fire Station 6 as part of the city-wide effort to cook meals for firefighters.

Director Paul Cook will prepare a meal of pork, mashed potatoes and vegetables Thursday morning, Jan. 30, and he and volunteers will deliver the meal at noon to the fire station located at 1155 Oak St., Toledo.

“It’s saying thank you to those who put their lives on the line every day,” Cook said.  “We want to step up and do our part.”

In today’s world of technology, if you get lost on the road, you would pull out your navigation system. Finding where you need to go has never been easier. But what if you got lost in a life crisis?

That’s where Linda Kraft comes in as our Crisis Navigator at Catholic Charities. “If somebody’s in a crisis, I help them navigate through it by helping them find the community resources that can help.”

Getting On the Right Track

[singlepic id=131 w=320 h=240 float=right]Linda has dealt with every kind of crisis one can think of. “Car troubles, prescription assistance, utilities, furniture, glasses, it’s really all over the board,” Linda says as she names off problems for which she has helped find solutions.

Two days a week, she spends time at Helping Hands of St. Louis meeting with clients who need assistance beyond what Helping Hands can provide through their soup kitchen, food pantry and clothing center. Her other days are spent taking calls that come into our Toledo office.

“We cover 19 counties in northwest Ohio,” she adds. “I’m most familiar with the resources in Lucas County, but I do get calls from other counties. Sometimes it’s a matter of helping them connect with the resources in their community.”

Linda recently worked with Mary, a client of Helping Hands, to help her prioritize and manage her funds. Together, they created a budget that helped Mary pay her bills on time and catch up on her rent.

“I was going to Helping Hands, and I didn’t know what to do,” says Mary. “I saw Linda and I explained to her my situation.”

“Linda made me believe that there are some really good people out there who don’t mind helping you. But once they help you, they go a little step further. Before her, I never had my priorities in order.”

Co-Piloting

Linda’s primary goal is to help clients make life changes. “We help with the short term but look at the long term to make life easier,” she explains.

Whether it’s creating a budget or writing a resume, the smallest tools help create new paths for clients. “It’s not just about making that connection. Clients will call me back and say they are grateful that somebody was there for them.”

Faith plays a large role in Linda’s daily duties. When asked how is she able to handle over 120 calls a month, she replies humbly, “It’s not me helping. I’m just the person sitting here. The Lord is the one who guides.”

Funding support for this program is made possible through the generous support of the Toledo Community Foundation, the St. Marguerite D’Youville Foundation and the Walmart Foundation.

JAN. 22, 2014—Catholic Charities is offering a free educational service to help with budgeting, paying off debt and saving for the future.  Financial Life Skills workshops will be offered 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, and Thursday, Feb. 20, at Catholic Charities’ offices at 34 Woodlawn Ave. in Norwalk.

To register for either workshop or for more information, please contact Catholic Charities Case Manager Marla Sommers at 419-668-3073, ext. 103.  Funding for the workshops is provided by United Fund, Key Bank Foundation and GeoTrack Foundation.

In a line full of people, Gary was not shy about sharing his story. “Anything I can do to help, since you guys helped me,” he said with a friendly tone and a smile.

In April 2012, Gary made a brave decision to start going to Catholic Charities’ HOPE Food Pantry in an effort to supply food for his family.

Encouraging healthy lifestyles

A few years ago, Gary moved to Mansfield from Marion, Ohio, after finding a new job and a place for his family to live in Mansfield.[singlepic id=130 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Not long after moving, there was a sudden downturn in the economy, and his family’s income took a big hit.

“I sell appliances and with the economy the way it is right now, people aren’t buying things. Sometimes I don’t make enough money to cover the bills, the food, and the rent,” he says.

The transition of moving to a new town and the challenges of a slow economy not only impacted Gary’s income, but his health was at risk, too.

“I’m a diabetic, and I was waiting for my (public) prescription assistance to be approved. I needed medication to get me through until then.”

His doctor referred him to Catholic Charities while he waited for his assistance. “I needed my insulin, and Catholic Charities paid for it. If I didn’t get the insulin, I probably would’ve been in the hospital, if not worse.”

The HOPE Food Pantry was also able to help Gary maintain a healthy lifestyle. “It’s not just food to eat. It’s really important that I try to manage my diet.”

“Catholic Charities helped me because I don’t have to go out and buy the cheapest food possible, which may not be good for my health.”

A Powerful Force

After coming to the pantry for over a year, Gary sees the services of Catholic Charities as nothing short of a blessing.

“It’s just amazing when you sit down and look at what you’ve prayed for,” he says. “What you have and what you don’t, it all adds up. I think prayer is probably the single most powerful thing in the world. Without God, I wouldn’t be here today. Without God in my life, I would be dead right now.”

Gary’s advice to other families who are going through tough times is clear: “Don’t be embarrassed because you need help. Sometimes we get in the way of ourselves and you can’t let pride get in the way of helping yourself or your family.”

JAN. 20, 2014—Hundreds of youth and adults from churches and schools in northwest Ohio are traveling to Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual March for Life on Jan. 22.

The event draws tens of thousands of youth and pro-life supporters from across the country each year to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.  The March for Life begins at the National Mall and concludes at the Supreme Court building.

The following local groups will participate in the march this year.  For group leaders’ contact information for media inquiries, please contact Catholic Charities Marketing and Communications Manager Andrea Slivka at 419-244-6711, ext. 231 or aslivka@toledodiocese.org.

Parish Youth Groups:

  • Youth and chaperones from throughout northwest Ohio will travel together on a bus organized by the Diocese of Toledo’s Youth Ministry Office.  Participating groups include: Carey Our Lady of Consolation, Defiance St. Michael’s Ridge, Gibsonburg St. Michael, Kalida St. Michael, Ottawa SS. Peter and Paul, Marblehead St. Joseph, Millersville St. Mary, Toledo Christ the King and Van Wert St. Mary of the Assumption.

Allen County:

  • Delphos St. John High School; 30 students and chaperones.

Crawford County and Seneca Counties:

  • Bucyrus, Galion, New Washington, Bellevue and Attica — Forty-three youth and chaperones from Bucyrus Holy Trinity, Galion St. Joseph, New Washington St. Bernard, Bellevue St. Gaspar del Bufalo and Attica Our Lady of Hope Catholic Churches will travel with a group from Mansfield St. Peter High School.

Erie County:

  • Port Clinton and Marblehead — Members of Port Clinton Immaculate Conception and Marblehead St. Joseph are leading a group of adults from their churches and surrounding counties; 42 people participating.

Hancock County:

  • Findlay — Two 8th grade contest winners and their chaperones from St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church’s “Prolife Essay Contest” will travel with a group from Bowling Green St. Thomas More University Parish.
  • Fostoria — St. Wendelin Catholic School; 50 students and chaperones.

Lucas County:

  • Oregon — Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School; 51 students and chaperones.
  • Toledo
    • Students of Central Catholic High School and Maumee St. Joseph will travel together; 38 youth and chaperones.
  • Youth groups from St. Joan of Arc, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Patrick of Heatherdowns and St. Rose of Lima in Perrysburg will travel together; about 50 youth and chaperones.
  • Students from St. John’s Jesuit High School, St. Ursula Academy and Notre Dame Academy will travel together; 43 youth and chaperones.

Paulding County:

  • Paulding Paulding Divine Mercy; eight youth and chaperones.

Richland County:

  • Mansfield St. Peter High School; nine youth and chaperones.

Wood County:

  • Bowling Green — St. Thomas More University Parish is coordinating a trip for 110 college students and parishioners.

Were you able to guess the location of this painting?

If you guessed the Helping Hands of St. Louis Clothing Center,
you are correct!

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Helping Hands of St. Louis Clothing Center

Volunteers sort donations at the Helping Hands of St. Louis Clothing Center.The picture was taken at the Helping Hands Clothing Center during the preparation of the annual BYOBB (Bring Your Own Big Bag) Event held every fall by the center’s volunteers.

The Helping Hands of St. Louis Clothing Center operates out of the old St. Louis Church in East Toledo and is adjacent to Helping Hands’ soup kitchen and food pantry.  The clothing center is open two mornings a week and is run entirely by volunteers.  The idea itself was proposed by volunteers who saw a need for a free clothing center in East Toledo.

“It was full of black bags when I started working in this building three years ago,” says Anita, volunteer for Helping Hands.  “It was eight, ten bags deep you couldn’t walk from the front to the back,” adds another volunteer, Joan.

Those black bags, stored throughout the St. Louis Church, were filled with clothing donations that Helping Hands received over the years.

With the help of volunteers and youth group organizations within the Diocese of Toledo, Anita and Joan were able to sort through the chaotic “mountain” of black bags and organize the donations into a tidy clothing center that officially opened July 2011.  Since then, the center has served thousands of Toledo residents in need of clothing, shoes, and much more.

The donations are neatly placed on clothing racks and divided by size, age group, and other categories.  Clients who come to the center are now able to sort through donations with ease and peace of mind.

Fun Fact: St. Louis Church in East Toledo was built in 1871 and was originally a French-speaking church. The church was named after the 13th Century French King, Saint King Louis IX. Comme c’est intéressant!

We have some of the best volunteers in Northwest Ohio and they deserve to shine!

“Volunteer Spotlight” gives us the opportunity to highlight our outstanding volunteers.  Our volunteers truly make a difference in the lives of the many we serve.  For that reason, we want to shed light on a few volunteer moments throughout the duration of our blog as our way of saying thanks for a job well done.

Lourdes students picking up trashOn May 8, 2013, a group of students from Lourdes University’s Sociology 320: Gender, Family and Society course could be seen walking up and down streets with La Posada clients throughout the Old South End picking up trash with amazing spirits and bright smiles.

“This project came about as a result of the strong partnership Lourdes has formed with La Posada,” says Dr. Sharon Everhardt, Ph.D and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Lourdes.  “The partnership allows students the opportunity to study real social issues in our own community and meet community needs.”

The trash collection was a neighborhood beautification project required by the city of Toledo for funding received by La Posada.  It was great to see college students come together to work side-by-side with La Posada staff and residents to help the Toledo community.

This was not the first time Lourdes students pitched in to help at the family shelter.  Dr. Everhardt’s classes have also cooked dinner and hosted a movie night for the residents.

Thank you Lourdes University for the exceptional service from faculty, students and others throughout the years!

Check out these photos of Lourdes University’s students not “wasting” any time to help others:

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Members of the community have been an essential part of our work at Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo since 1914.  Our ministries are strengthened through the work of volunteers, the material donations of local businesses and community members, and the financial donations of those who donate directly to us and through the Annual Catholic Appeal.  Our staff and clients also benefit from those who remember our ministries in their prayers.

Whether you are a longtime supporter of Catholic Charities or are just becoming acquainted with our work, we invite you to join us for these Anniversary events in 2014:

100th Anniversary Mass

Rosary CathedralThe 100th Anniversary Mass will take place at the Holy Rosary Cathedral on February 25, 2014 at 10 a.m. The community is invited to celebrate with Catholic Charities as we thank God for His blessings in the past 100 years and as we ask for His continued blessings in the years to come.

Fun Fact: Our first director and third Bishop of Toledo, Bishop Karl J. Alter, dedicated the church as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral in 1940.

Catholic Charities Team at the 2014 Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon

[singlepic id=51 w=320 h=240 float=right]In 2013, Catholic Charities’ Team members at the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon raised $10,000 in support of our ministries of providing food, clothing and shelter in northwest Ohio.  As part of our 100th anniversary celebration in 2014, we are raising our goal to $50,000 and are seeking to involve people of all ages and skill levels – from those wanting to fulfill a New Year’s Resolution to exercise more to those looking for their personal best on race day.

Team participants are welcome to choose their race and walk or run at their own pace. The Glass City Marathon’s 5K, half marathon, relay and marathon races are in the morning of April 27.  Youth age 12 and under may participate in the ¼ mile, ½ mile and mile races on April 26.  Children are also welcome to participate in the 5K on April 27 with their parents.  Team members seek sponsorships from family and friends to raise money for Catholic Charities.

We are also happy to announce a partnership this year with Medical Mutual and the Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Toledo. By participating on our team and raising funds to benefit Catholic Charities, Catholic schools have the opportunity to earn grants from Medical Mutual for health and wellness programs.

For more information or to register, please visit www.catholiccharitiesteam.kintera.org.

Habitat for Humanity House Build and rehab

Habitat for HumanityCatholic Charities is partnering with Maumee Valley and Firelands Habitat for Humanity to give back to the community during the spring and summer of 2014.  We are seeking volunteers from area churches to join us in providing a new beginning for families in Toledo and Norwalk.  More information will be posted on our website and shared through church bulletins in the coming months.

This is made possible through the help of Habitat for Humanity and the giving hearts of several donors and businesses in the northwest Ohio area.

100th Anniversary Gala featuring keynote speaker Lou Holtz

[singlepic id=109 w=320 h=240 float=right]Join us for a special centennial celebration of Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo on September 18, 2014, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Perrysburg, Ohio.  Keynote speaker, Lou Holtz, is an ESPN analyst and retired head football coach, most notably of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish.

During his coaching career, Holtz guided twelve college football teams to win bowl games.  He is also noted for leading teams from four different schools to finish in top 20 rankings. His 243-127-7 career record ranks him third in victories among active coaches and eighth in winning percentage.

He is also the author of the best-selling books, Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success, The Fighting Spirit: A Championship Season at Notre Dame and Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography.

Fun Fact: Ohio is one of many homes of Lou Holtz. Holtz grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio and attended Kent State University. He went on to coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes during the 1968 season.

Our Mission

Catholic Charities makes real the love God has for each individual regardless of faith or background, by serving the poor, speaking for and assisting the neglected and forgotten, respecting and promoting life from beginning to end, and nurturing and supporting individuals and families.

Catholic Charities Northwest Ohio