Does praying in front of an abortion clinic make a difference? We invite you to read the story of baby Justice, which we received from Bob Schoen who prayed in front of the Toledo abortion clinic during our 40 Days for Life campaign during Lent:
I just want to share with you a couple of things that happened at the 40 Days for Life march Thursday.
Three of us were finishing up the 2-3PM hour. All of the patient cars were now gone and we had taken a short pause from our praying to just walk around the facility and talk. A car pulled through the parking lot, blocked our walk down the sidewalk, and a lady put down her window to talk to us. She spoke about her baby and put down the back window so we could see the baby (her name is Justice) in her car seat. This lady told us that she had intended to abort her baby, but did not because of people marching at the clinic. She wanted to let us know how much she appreciated it and that it had saved the life of her baby. She often drives by and sees people marching and praying. This time she decided to stop and say something.
Earlier in the day, a car pulled into the lot, also blocking the path of a marcher. The man driving wanted to know what was going on. Why were people marching, and why were all of the cars there? There were over 20 patients inside the clinic at that time. All of the parking spaces were taken and some of the patients had parked along North Haven. He hadn’t realized the building was an abortion clinic, and couldn’t believe they had so many patients there.
We know that for every person that actually stops there are many others who have their awareness raised, or who have been otherwise impacted by the praying and marching.
I just want to post a reminder that it doesn’t matter if the clinic is open or closed when you march and pray, and you may never have the blessing of someone stopping to tell you about their baby not being aborted, but the marching and praying does matter.
Throughout Lent, Catholic Charities is hosting a 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil in front of Capital Care Network at 1160 W. Sylvania Ave., Toledo, OH. Individuals or groups may sign up to pray for an hour from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. from March 1 to April 9.
Can you join us in our peaceful prayer mission to end abortion in our community? Click here to learn more and sign up.
“My mom was one of the first women realtors in the state of Ohio,” Janice explains as she shared her earliest memories of working with her mom in the Sandusky real estate business.
“I worked with my mom, and we shared her real estate company,” Janice reminisced. “I worked as a realtor for at least 25 years. I would list properties and do house viewings.”
Although she only worked part-time, Janice made enough money to provide a decent life for herself working at her mom’s company.
“The pay was average at that time. I was able to afford a car. I also managed one of my mom’s properties,” she says.
Janice was following in her mother’s path. But life soon took a different turn for the Sandusky native. Due to some bad choices, Janice lost almost everything and developed a brain disorder that left her with a mental illness and an inability to work.
“I really don’t have much of anything now, but I have God’s peace of mind,” adds Janice.
Since then, Janice supported herself with income provided by various government agencies, help from a court appointed guardian and food from various food pantries in town. Her budget and living expenses have left her financially limited and unable to plan for anything outside of her basic needs.
Janice went to Holy Angels Catholic Church for their food services when she received information about the Basic Budgeting Skills workshop offered by Catholic Charities in Sandusky.
“I wanted to go so I could stay educated and up-to-date on budgeting,” Janice says. Janice told a friend about the workshops, and they decided it was a good idea to go together.
Catholic Charities hosts the workshops monthly in Huron County but recently expanded the program to reach more people.
“We started the Basic Budgeting Skills workshop in Sandusky as a way to raise awareness about Catholic Charities and to assess the needs in Erie County,” says Rodney Schuster, Catholic Charities Executive Director.
The Basic Budgeting Skills workshop teaches clients how to manage a limited income by creating a savings and budgeting plan.
“It helped me to stretch my money out and save,” says Janice. “One thing I learned was to make sure that my priorities are put first. I also learned to put money aside every time that I get paid. They even gave us a calculator to use at the grocery store.”
Janice considers saving money to one day own a car, but for now, she is focused on saving for emergencies and joining local donors to help others in her community.
Janice has also managed to tithe to her church and give back to local organizations that have helped her over the years.
“I guess it’s like a pay back to pay forward. God has been so good to me that it is easier to be good to others.”
She thanks the supporters of Catholic Charities for making this possible.
“Thank you for supporting programs to help people who are trying to better themselves,” she says. “We are really striving to be better.”
After losing his job, Greg, a single father of four, was evicted from his home and lost everything. While trying to become stable again, Greg said Helping Hands of St. Louis helped his family get through the tough times.
“How does it make me feel sometimes as a father not being able to take care of my family?” Greg asked with sorrow hidden in his voice.
“I feel bad. I feel real bad. Because I had a good job, and I lost it when my company got shipped to Indiana,” Greg said.
“I’ve been doing temp service jobs and any job I can to make money. Having a pay cut, it’s been bad … hectic,” he says as he shakes his head in defeat.
“I got evicted from my home and all my kids’ clothes and my clothes were tossed out. It was wintertime, and the trash men came and took everything.”
Since then, Greg moved in with his mother. He has tried to replace his family’s belongings that were lost after the eviction, but it has been difficult.
“You know, it’s like I’m trying. I’m struggling. I feel terrible knowing my kids used to have good things like video games and all that stuff.”
Greg had once heard about Helping Hands from a friend who volunteered for the East Toledo center. Helping Hands provides food and clothing to hundreds of low-income individuals and families each day through its on-site soup kitchen, clothing center and food pantry.
In the midst of his struggle, Greg turned to the staff at Helping Hands and told them about his situation. They were willing to assist.
“They knew I got evicted, and they gave me extra clothes for my kids – including school clothes.”
During the summer months, Greg brings his children to the soup kitchen for meals when money is tight. He says the center has also helped him with diapers for his youngest son and other services when he is in financial need.
“The staff and volunteers make me feel welcomed. They’re nice and I never had a problem,” said Greg.
“I would like to thank the volunteers and donors for everything! I just thank them because they helped me a lot.”
As Tiffany and her two sons, Lorenzo and Josiah, sat and played in the Miriam House living room, there was no question this place was once home. Now the family lives in their own home, but they still come back to visit the place that gave them new hope.
Tiffany and her four children moved to Miriam House in spring 2013 after she and her husband separated.
“My husband and I bought a house in New Mexico together, and it didn’t work out between us,” Tiffany said.
“My children and I stayed with my in-laws before we came back to Ohio to stay with my family. But when I got back to Norwalk, there was no room, and it was a lot of stress being back around my family.”
After being home for a few months, Tiffany made a phone call to Miriam House.
Located in Norwalk, Miriam House is a transitional housing program that offers safe and stable housing to homeless women and their children.
“I never thought I would be in a position where I would need help,” she said.
“Times got kind of hard, and I had to figure something out. I thought maybe I could come here and get myself back together,” Tiffany recalled.
The family of five moved into Miriam House a few days later. Tiffany said that it was stressful at first, but after some time, Miriam House became a safe place where our staff became like family.
“I liked that we could play outside, watch T.V. and play on the playground,” said 11-year-old Lorenzo as his four-year-old brother Josiah sat next to him nodding his head in agreement.
Tiffany used her time at Miriam House to go back to school for her high school diploma.
“At first I kept saying, ‘I couldn’t do it.’ It was hard having to take care of my kids, go to work and get the credits I needed to graduate. I think being here helped me because I was able to talk to someone. I was never able to talk to anyone before about my situation.”
With encouragement from Miriam House staff, Tiffany was able to finish her credits and receive her diploma.
“I am now in school at the Ohio Business College in Sandusky for my degree in Medical Administration,” she said proudly.
Tiffany secured a house four months after she moved into the Miriam House. She attributes her success to the help she received while living there.
“I appreciate all that they have done. Being at Miriam House helped me and my family. Thank you to all who make Miriam House possible.”
A group of 30 young men in Norwalk decided to make the Easter season special for 30 seniors served by Catholic Charities.
The Norwalk Squires of Circle 4552, a group of young men ages 13 to 17 associated with the Knights of Columbus, delivered small gifts and Easter cards to senior citizens in the Catholic Charities Guardianship program.
The Squires called it Project Resurrection, an idea presented by the circle’s Chief Squire, Matthew Schild.
“Since we participated in Project Bethlehem during Christmas time, Matt thought we should do something similar during Easter,” said Paul Depinet, the Squires’ counselor.
Catholic Charities staff members, Allison McDonald, Marjorie Cassidy and Carol Wheeler, compiled a list of 30 guardianship clients who resided in eight different nursing home facilities in Clyde, Bellevue, Milan, Norwalk and Sandusky for the Squires to visit and deliver gifts.
Catholic Charities provides legal guardianship services for adults age 55 and older who suffer from dementia or other illnesses that limit their decision making capacity. Seniors in the program have no appropriate family to make decisions for their medical care and estate.
“It was lovely to witness young men take time to extend compassion to an elderly individual,” said Carol Wheeler, Program Coordinator for Catholic Charities’ Adult Advocacy Services.
The young men who participated in Project Resurrection said the program had a positive impact on their lives. Many of them expressed how they would like to do Project Resurrection again and how nice it was to visit the elderly.
“I remember visiting several people who were very thankful for visiting them and bringing them something,” said Squire Matt in his refection about the visits. “We also saw and visited other people there, and they were grateful. Many of these people do not get visits very often or not at all. We should not only visit them for the Easter season, but we should try to have it [Project Resurrection] year round.”
Squire Sam said his favorite part about Project Resurrection was “brightening the seniors citizens’ day and seeing their reaction to our presence.”
Sam goes on to say, “It was a great experience because I believe it had a positive impact on my life.”
“The seniors were delighted to have young people visit and engage in conversation with them. It meant the world to our clients who live in nursing homes with little visitation from family or friends,” Carol said.
Learn more about our Guardianship Program and how to become a volunteer.
This was the first Christmas Kimberly was able to celebrate with her three-year-old son. After years of living in an abusive relationship, Christmas had faded on her calendar to just a regular day.
“All the holidays were ‘just another day,’” she said. “I had this man who came home drunk and wanted to fight and argue. My son never even had a Christmas tree.”
She became homeless after she left the house she shared with her abusive spouse. A counselor at a Toledo shelter referred her to Catholic Charities Permanent Supportive Housing program where she was able to find a safe home for herself and her son.
Determined to give her son Christmas, Kimberly applied for the Project Bethlehem program through Catholic Charities. The program matches clients with community sponsors who fulfill clients’ Christmas wish lists for toys and household items. Kimberly and her son were one of 124 families who were helped through the program this year.
A volunteer component was introduced to the program last year. People we served had expressed a willingness to share their gratitude for those who helped make Christmas possible for their families. They helped serve meals or volunteered in other ways at Helping Hands of St. Louis.
“They really enjoyed volunteering,” said Vickie Williams, program coordinator. “A couple of people said volunteering for Project Bethlehem made them interested in volunteering again. That’s part of the reason why we continue to do it.”
Volunteering was a change in perspective for Kimberly. She volunteered at Helping Hands of St. Louis Clothing Center. She said it was a joy to hang and organize clothes for the Clothing Center’s guests.
“It’s different being on the giving side,” Kimberly said with a smile. “Instead of receiving things from the Center, I was able to help give back to others.”
When she picked up her gifts, she said she looked forward to decorating her new home with a Christmas tree and lights.
“I’ll probably have to tell my son to leave the tree alone. He’s going to want to touch it and say ‘Mommy look,’” she chuckled.
She is grateful for those who helped provide a happy Christmas and a new beginning for her and her son.
“I was able to give to others, and I was able to give my son Christmas by helping. That made me feel good. I am so thankful that I have my own household and Christmas celebration because of these programs.”
Nearly 1,000 youth and adults from churches and schools in northwest Ohio traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual March for Life on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.
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.
This year, Bishop Daniel E. Thomas marched with groups and individuals who traveled from the Diocese of Toledo to the nation’s capital. Bishop Thomas led the group from the National Mall to the U.S. Supreme Court Building as they walked and witnessed to the dignity and sanctity of each unborn child.
“Jesus Christ came to give us life. That life is precious and sacred,” said Bishop Thomas in a interview with EWTN.
The group marched side by side wearing bright orange ski caps embroidered with “Holy Diocese of Toledo!”
Peter Range, Catholic Charities’ Respect Life coordinator, and representatives from the diocese’s Young Adult and Campus Ministry, led and traveled with a group of 90 young adults, ages 19-39, to Washington D.C.
“It truly represents being one body, and to have our shepherd [Bishop Thomas] call us together shows his desire to be a leader in this issue, and also a desire to lead his flock to a greater respect for life,” said Range to the Toledo Blade.
Other groups from the diocese included:
The Diocese of Toledo Youth Ministry Office, Attica Our Lady of Hope, Bellevue St. Gaspar del Bufalo, Bucyrus Holy Trinity, Clyde St. Mary, Galion St. Joseph, Mansfield St. Peter, New Washington St. Bernard, Shelby Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Glandorf St. John the Baptist, Kalida St. Michael, Marblehead St. Joseph, Port Clinton Immaculate Conception, Divine Mercy, Delphos St. John High School, Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic High School, Toledo St. Joan of Arc, Toledo St. Patrick of Heatherdowns and Perrysburg St. Rose.
To read the Toledo Blade’s article about the March for Life group, go to: http://www.toledoblade.com/Religion/2015/01/23/Protesters-from-area-March-for-Life.html#ZC6ddWmhKCDUcL4S.03
Top Feature photo credit – Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
Sacred Heart School in Shelby, Ohio, held an assembly in December to present more than 1,000 rolls of toilet paper to veterans in need who are served by Catholic Charities and other local agencies.
Dale Warren offered a thank you on behalf of the veterans.
“It means a lot to a veteran to have you children do something for us. Some of the most special people for veterans are children, so to have you guys help us like this is really special,” Warren said to the group of students.
Sacred Heart students Kassie Stine,11, and Rylee Gregson,13, winners of this year’s Patriot Pen Essay Contest, read essays on the theme, “Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans.”
“The veterans fight for us so that we can have freedom,” said Stine. “I personally have friends and family who are veterans. I’m really worried about them but I’m also really proud of them. They have the bravery to fight for us.”
“I appreciate veterans because they fight for people who can’t fight,” said Gregson, who has two cousins currently serving in the military. For example, some elderly people would love to still be fighting for their country but they physically can’t, so other people take their place and fight hard to keep the people they love safe.”
Throughout the month of October, Sacred Heart School students participated in a toilet paper drive for the veterans. The idea for the drive came when Principal Lisa Meyers inquired about items needed to help local veterans.
“Sue Warren (case manager for Catholic Charities) explained to me that Catholic Charities could get funding for things like housing and food for veterans, but they couldn’t get funding for basic necessities like toilet paper,” Meyers said.
Sacred Heart School’s 98 students collected a total of 1,039 rolls of toilet paper.
“Living without basic hygiene necessities can reduce one’s self-esteem. The toilet paper collected in the drive will provide a basic need to our veterans and make their lives easier,” Sue Warren said.
“Our students, staff and parents are very thankful for what our veterans have done for our country. Through Christ, this is our way of showing our gratitude,” Meyers said.
The hands at Helping Hands were busy as volunteers served Thanksgiving lunch to 500 people in need of a meal for the holidays. Lunch included turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams, dressing, mixed vegetables and dessert.
The occasion brought hope to David and his nephew Shaun who were first time visitors to Helping Hands. The holiday lunch was their first holiday meal after losing their landscaping business, income and car over the summer.
“When we walked in today, we were amazed at how many people who are in the same position as we are,” says David.
“We had no food and my neighbor told us about this place. Thank You. We never thought we would be in this position. We truly would not be here if we didn’t have this option.”
For many Helping Hands clients, lunch was more than just another meal. This was their opportunity to spend the holidays with people they called family.
“We are very thankful for this place,” says Rhonda, Jodi and Dino all who are not related but have formed close relationships since coming to Helping Hands over the years. “This is our family right here,” says Dino.
“I think that Thanksgiving lunch is a great thing that they’re doing,” says Angel. “It give people a hot meal to eat on cold days.”
“I come because I like this place, and I like the people. There are a lot of good reasons for coming to here. Not just the food, it’s the people. There are good people who are here to help,” she adds.
“It gives you a chance to stretch your food at home,” says Dennis, a regular to Helping Hands. “When you run out of food at home, you can come here to get a meal.”
This year, Catholic Charities teamed up with Maumee Valley and Firelands Habitat for Humanity to provide homes for two Northwest Ohio families.
Catholic Charities was the lead sponsor for a Habitat rehab project in Toledo and a partner in a new home construction build in Norwalk. Hundreds of volunteers pitched in to help the families own a new home.
“We are thankful that Maumee Valley and Firelands Habitat for Humanity have agreed to partner with us in our 100th Anniversary year,” says Rodney Schuster, Executive Director of Catholic Charities. “Habitat’s approach fits with our mission, which is to provide a hand up, not just a hand out. This provides dignity to the people being served by these new home projects.”
Participants purchase their homes with a 0% interest rate loan from Habitat for Humanity. To be eligible, individuals or families must currently have poor living conditions such as overcrowding, a dangerous neighborhood, a poorly maintained rental or unaffordable rent. Habitat prepares future homeowners through education and “sweat equity” ‒ time working on the construction of their home and other Habitat projects.
Single mother and Norwalk resident, Trena Garrison, was elated after receiving news from Firelands Habitat for Humanity that she would be the owner of a brand new home.
“I knew I could never afford a home on my own,” says Trena. “I think it’s wonderful that so many people were willing to help.”
The blessing and groundbreaking ceremony took place in April, and by mid-summer, Trena’s home was complete. Catholic Charities helped coordinate volunteers from churches of all faiths in Huron County for the build.
In Toledo, volunteers from Maumee St. Joseph, Sylvania St. Joseph, Perrysburg St. Rose and St. John XXIII, and Toledo St. Joan of Arc helped rehab a South Toledo home for Jon, Trisha and Jon Jr.
Jon and Trisha wanted to ensure that their son, Jon Jr., grew up in a safe neighborhood. However, it was hard for the family to find adequate and affordable housing.
“It means the world to me and my family,” Trisha says. “There is so much love on these builds. It’s inspiring.”
The family is now settled in their new home for the holiday season.
The Toledo rehabilitation was also made possible thanks to:
Associated General Contractors of Northwest Ohio
Alliance of Construction Professionals
Bricklayers/Tile Setters Local 3
Cement Masons Local 886
Iron Workers Local 55
Floorcovering Contractors * Floorlayers Local 351
Glazing Contractors * Glaziers Local 948
Painting Contractors * Painters Local 7
Mechanical Contractors Association of Northwest Ohio
Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 50
Sheet Metal Contractors Associations of Northwest Ohio
Sheet Metal Workers Local 33