Author Archives: Catholic Charities – JZ

Originally published in the Catholic Digest, January 2013

As college football nears the end of its 143rd season, Lou Holtz is among the many taking it in. The 75-year-old ESPN analyst has seen more than his share of games, mostly from the sidelines as a head coach. He coached a total of 388 games at six Division I schools. Lou Holtz

With a victory over USC on November 24, the University of Notre Dame football team finished a season undefeated for the first time since 1988. That was the memorable year in which Lou Holtz led the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 record and a national championship.

Less known, but no less important to Holtz are the experiences that prepared him for his Notre Dame years, and the encounters he had on campus outside of football.

Holtz shares his appreciation for the religious sisters who taught him in grade school, his wife who has supported him for more than 50 years, and his children who have done him proud.

The sisters of Norte Dame at St. Aloysius Grade School influenced my life tremendously. This was due to the fact that they always encourage their students to make sure that God was the focus of their lives, and they didn’t allow us to do anything expect to the very best of our ability.

When this is passed on the youth in their formative years, I can’t begin to tell you how important it is. I owe the good sisters so much for what they taught me, and I will be forever grateful for their selfless dedication.

I used to pray that God would make me a great athlete, and he never did. Yet he put me in the coaching profession, where I’ve experienced 45 years of being involved in great games and competitiveness and having a positive influence on other people’s lives. Had I been a great athlete, I’m not sure I would have even gone into coaching. I may have turned out feeling that my life ended when my athletic career ended, as happens so many times with various athletes.

I do know this: God does answer our prayers, but it’s not always in the way we expect. God knows what’s best for us, though, so there’s no need to worry when things don’t go how we originally wanted them to go. We just have to be willing to make changes and go a different route sometimes.

Impossible to answer. Every single day being there was very special because there were so many opportunities to encounter and live out the Catholic Faith. Mass and confession were always available, and you could pray the Rosary at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is a smaller-sized replica of the original in France.

If I had to list some top memories, though, I guess they would be having three of my four children graduate from that fine university and one of them getting a second degree from the law school. Just being on campus and being able to represent Notre Dame through football are great memories, but I think the statue they built of me and dedication in 2008 has to rank up there, as well. That was a very humbling experience.

I appreciate my wife, Beth, so much. She has been there through good times and bad, and no one has been more supportive of me. Her loving attention and candor have helped me more than I can say. We’ve always done things as a team, not just me going my own way. That’s essential if you want your marriage to work, and ours has for many years. It has been more than 50, thanks be to God.

It’s a great perspective to live life with similar to the serenity prayer. It’s helpful for anyone, but maybe in a special way for coaches. Coaches can get too focused on results and winning, so it’s good to step back and let go of things a little bit. I just try to change the things I can, accept the things I can’t, and pray I have the wisdom to know the difference between the two.

I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, an always show people you care. You’ve got to make a sincere attempt to have the right goals to begin with and then go after them with appropriate effort, and you must remember that you can’t really achieve anything great without the help of others.

Another way of seeing it is that anything great you do achieve will be for others, in the sense that helping other people realize their potential is what achieving is all about. It’s not a one-man show; it’s about contributing to the good of the team. That’s how you have to see it.

Our perspective in life is so important and this was reinforced by my experience with the New York Jets in 1976. That was one of the best coaching jobs in the country at the time – and yet I didn’t take advantage of it because of my own attitude. I came into it seeing problems instead of opportunities, and this prevented me from getting the most out of the team.

Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is what you learn from it. I like to say that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it. I did learn from the Jets experience, and it has really helped me in subsequent years with other teams.

I think life is a matter of choices and that wherever we are, good or bad, is because of the choices we make. If you choose to do drugs, drop out of school, join a gang, or have five children out of wedlock, you’re choosing to end up in prison or in poverty – and that is not a result of choices I or anyone else made, but of choices you made. We need to get back to holding people accountable for their choices, and that includes people in the Catholic Church.

I think the Catholic Church is infallible when it comes to religious principles [on faith and morals]. That’s what I was taught by the sisters of Notre Dame growing up, and I believe that to this day. Do I agree with the practical decisions of Church leaders on some things? Certainly not. But, by the same token, I try to follow Catholic teachings. That’s what brings meaning and lasting happiness to life.

This October, we will continue our 100th Anniversary celebration in Mansfield with Robert Lupton, a nationally renowned author who is best known for his book “Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, and How to Reverse It.”

For more information about our 100th Anniversary Celebration in Mansfield, please click here.

Do you know the difference between a chronic and a crisis? In the following post, Lupton breaks down the difference and shares why it is important to properly address the situation and assess the need according to the issue.

Chronic or Crisis? Learning to Tell the Difference.

by Bob Lupton

A crisis requires emergency intervention;
A chronic problem requires development.
Address a crisis need with a crisis intervention, and lives are saved.
Address a chronic need with a crisis intervention, and people are harmed.

Have you noticed that many of the same people return week after week for free food from your food pantry? Ever wonder whether your handouts were really helping or merely perpetuating a dependent lifestyle? Admitting and verbalizing these observations, at the risk of appearing heartless, is the essential first step toward truly effective service. The point isn’t to judge people who are suffering from a chronic problem; it isn’t to be cruel and deny them help because they “are stuck” and just need to “get a job.” The point is that, in offering food, you are not doing enough. It’s as ineffective as offering a Band-Aid to someone who is suffering from massive internal bleeding.

The key to effective service is accurately matching the need with the appropriate intervention.

The universal need for food is a good place to begin. Starvation is a crisis issue; hunger is a chronic issue. When famine sweeps a land, or a tsunami devastates coastal cities, starvation becomes an urgent, life-and-death situation. Emergency food supplies must be rushed in without delay. But in a stable nation with abundant supplies of food and adequate government food subsidies, occasional hunger—not starvation—is the reality facing the less advantaged. Food insecurity is a chronic, not crisis, poverty issue.

Food security is what free-food advocates talk about these days. That means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. The poor in America, roughly 15 percent of the population, are food-insecure at least sometime during the year. Even though four out of five of these households receive food from the government, there are times when their cupboards are bare.

But food-insecurity is not a crisis issue. It is a function of chronic poverty. Unlike during the great depression of the 1930’s when one in four of our workers stood in bread lines with no government safety net to rescue them, today more than 90 percent of our workforce is employed and our public subsidies are ample. Hunger is not our problem. Poor nutrition perhaps, but not hunger. Food insecurity is a chronic poverty issue and chronic problems require altogether different strategies than crisis problems.

Starvation is a crisis need; hunger is a chronic issue.

Address hunger (chronic) with a free feeding program (crisis) and unhealthy dependency occurs.

Published in the Norwalk Reflector
By Joe Centers

“Fabulous.”  That one word sums up the feeling Saturday morning at the wall-raising ceremony for the new Firelands Habitat for Humanity house on 2 Fuller Drive in Norwalk.

house-blessing-and-wall-raising-may-10-2“Everything really went smoothly,” said Steve Schumm of Catholic Charities, which is helping out on the project.

 “Probably 50 to 60, counting the workers, were there for the ceremony.  That was good.

“It worked out well with the weather.”

Work on the house is scheduled every Wednesday and Friday and everybody is invited to help.

“They will find something that you can do,” Schumm said.  “The first couple of days takes a lot of skill.  But there are things for everybody to do.  If they want to help they can get a hold of us at Catholic Charities or call Mike McCall at Habitat.

McCall, executive director of the Firelands Habitat for Humanity, talked about the start of this newest house.

norwalk-reflector-wall-raising-may-10-2 “We try to get all of the churches involved and the different organizations in town,” he said.  “We rely strictly on volunteer help.  Everybody is welcome to pick up a hammer.  You do not have to be a trained carpenter – we accept everybody and find them something to do.  And we train people.  They walk away knowing something they haven’t known before.”

 Trena Garrison, an employee at Fisher-Titus Medical Center, will get the new Habitat home.

 New home owners must put in “sweat equity” before moving in.

“All of our partner families must earn between 400 and 500 hours,” McCall said.  “Trena Garrison is already over 450 hours and by the time the house is done she will be over 500 hours.  Some of those hours can be donated to her by her family and friends.  Fisher-Titus is going to have a day in June.”

Saturday’s wall-raising ceremony was done in conjunction with National Women Build Day, sponsored by Lowe’s.

McCall said Firelands Habitat for Humanity is scheduled to do three houses this year.

“This is the 88th house and we just broke ground for the 89th house in Willard,” he said.

The new home owner in Willard will be Eva Matter, who works at Berry Plastics in Monroeville.

Schumm said he will be back at the Fuller Drive location Wednesday serving lunch for Catholic Charities and Saturday for the Rotary Club.

We are excited to announce our first graduating class from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) at Helping Hands of St. Louis! Last week, four students graduated with a Certificate of Completion from the program.

EFNEP is a free eight-week course and is offered through The Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture and Environment Sciences.

[singlepic id=420 w=200 h=175 float=right]The course is highly suggested to people who feed children but is open to anyone interested in learning more about nutrition. Throughout the course, students learned how to spend less and buy more, how to increase physical activity and make healthy recipes on a budget.

My biggest thing I took away from the class is how to look at the box to find what is good for you and what is not good for you.~ Gina, EFNEP Graduate

One thing I took away was how to compare the unit price on food products so we would know whether or not we were getting a good deal on the food we were buying. We thought we were paying by the pound, but in fact we were paying by the unit price of what the store charged.~ Donna, EFNEP Graduate

Registration for summer session is currently open. For more information, please contact Linda Kraft at 419-244-6711 ext. 221.


Wanda Dean

Wanda helping a H.O.P.E. Food Pantry client. Photo Courtesy of Ignatian Volunteer Corps

Congratulations to H.O.P.E. Food Pantry volunteer, Wanda Dean for her extraordinary work that landed her in a featured article on the Ignatian Volunteer Corps website. Wanda has been serving as a volunteer at the H.O.P.E. Food Pantry in Mansfield for four years.

Wanda says that her time as a volunteer at the pantry is “humbling” and presents her with the “opportunity to journey with folks for a short moment in time.”  She remembers one particular moment with a client that truly made an impact on her understanding of helping others:


“One day, an older gentleman came in. His stench was overpowering. As I was walking with him through the small loop that is our grocery store, I found the grace to see Christ in him. And then I thought, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’. My service brings home in a real sense what’s important. It’s not that I go there as a do-gooder, but I go in the spirit of being a companion to them.”

To read more about Wanda’s efforts as a H.O.P.E. Food Pantry volunteer and the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, please go to:

Looking to stretch your food dollars?

Catholic Charities is currently offering Nutrition courses at Helping Hands St. Louis through the Ohio State Extension Services. Classes are every Thursday 12:30-1:30 p.m.

This 8-week course is highly recommended for those who feed or prepare foods for minors but is open to anyone who is interested. Students will learn budget saving tips, recipes, how to make healthy snacks for kids and more.

Students receive a free kitchen tool each week of attendance along with free food samples and a certificate of completion at the end of the course.

For more information, please contact Linda Kraft at 419-244-6711 ext. 221


Thanks to our team runners, we had a very successful year at the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon. As a team, we raised over $40,000 and counting! Through their donations, thousands of people in Northwest Ohio can rely on a hot meal, a warm bed and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Why They Ran

A few of our marathon runners gave us some feedback as to why they dedicated so much of their time and resources to helping Catholic Charities and here are a few of their answers:

I think it’s good to be in something that gives back to other people. It’s about going outside yourself to help others. ~Jeffery Smith, Diocesan Seminarian, Runner

Our school got involved for the Health and Wellness grant that will help our students  immensely. Once we explained to the students the services that are provided at Catholic Charities, they were excited to get involved. The students held penny wars and one student sold lollipops to help raise money. Why wouldn’t you want to get involved in such a great cause? ~Beth Strbik, Principal of Blessed Sacrament, Runner

It’s for reasons other than just yourself. I felt like I could raise money and I wanted to do that to help others. I knew that even if I couldn’t make it across the finish line, at least I would be helping other people in need. ~Ashleigh Pennington, Runner

I thought that it was good to run for a cause. It makes me feel better that I did it for a purpose. My family and I have nothing to complain about in life compared to the people that Catholic Charities helps. Why not help extend that hand? ~Dennis DeLapp, Runner

I saw the announcement for the Catholic Charities Marathon team in my church bulletin. I was planning to run anyways so I figured I’ll join the team. It’s for a great cause and your helping others. ~Diane Dunbar, Runner

For more information about our team or to help us reach our goal, please go to our team page at:

Our Runners in Action

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April 30, 2014—NORWALK—In honor of Catholic Charities’ 100th Anniversary, Catholic Charities and Firelands Habitat for Humanity are partnering to construct a house for Norwalk resident, Trena Garrison. The wall raising and house blessing will take place on Saturday, May 10, at 7:45 a.m. during Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Day.  The house is being built at 2 Fuller Drive off Willard Ave. in Norwalk.  The public is welcomed to attend.

Catholic Charities has coordinated with over 20 local churches of all faiths to provide volunteers and lunches to workers.  Other partners for this build include: Fisher-Titus Medical Center, Wasiniak Construction and Cantelli Block.

Additional volunteers are needed on Wednesdays and Saturdays 7:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the build location.  Volunteers are not required to bring tools and do not have to be skilled. Those who are interested must be 18 years of age or older to participate.  For more information, please contact Mike McCall at 419-621-7818.

 “We are really excited about helping this family and the community,” says Steve Schumm, site manager of Catholic Charities Norwalk office.  “It’s a positive event and a great opportunity to help others in celebration of our 100th Anniversary.”

img_0502On Sunday, April 27, 2014, Catholic Charities Team members ran in the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon for the second year in a row.  Our team of over 130 runners has raised close to $40,000 for our ministries of food, shelter, and more in northwest Ohio.

Despite the cold, our runners had fun coming together to help others in our community.  With such a large team and an additional 20 volunteers, our red team shirts could be seen throughout the event inspiring other runners and event attendees to know that “With God, all things are possible.”

The impact of donations to Catholic Charities at the Glass City Marathon goes far beyond any dollar sign.  Because of people like you, we can continue to make real the love of God to all who come to us in need.  If you can help reach our team goal of $50,000, please visit

img_0955At our team dinner, we heard the testimony of Celeste – a mother of four who lost her home after being laid off from work.  Her story touched many in attendance as she explained how she was caught unprepared without enough savings to cover the lack of income.  Celeste had sought shelter for her family at Catholic Charities’ La Posada.  With the help of caring staff and loving donors, Celeste and her children are now in a four bedroom home and she is working on finishing her college degree.

We would like to offer special thanks to Dave’s Running Shop, Medical Mutual and the Toledo Diocese Catholic Schools for supporting our efforts.  And of course, we would like to thank our dedicated runners, donors and volunteers for their efforts in helping us raise money to help those in need.

We’re already looking forward to the 2015 Glass City Marathon.  Team registration will open with the opening of the Glass City Marathon registration after Labor Day.  We invite people of all ages and skill levels to walk or run and join us in making a difference in our local community.

For years, Helping Hands of St. Louis has helped thousands of people who have struggled to make ends meet.  Located in the heart of East Toledo, the center has risen to the call of meeting the needs of the population in this area that has been hit hard with economic struggles.  See how your hands are helping families and individuals who need it most.

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