“The healing power of listening and being listened to cannot be overstated.”
It is estimated by the Department of Veteran Affairs that nearly 900,000 veterans live in Ohio. Over 10,000 of those men and women who served our country live in Richland County.
With so many veterans in one area, many needs go unnoticed and unmet. But for Sue Warren, case manager at Catholic Charities and wife of a Vietnam War Veteran, one need stood out and had to be addressed.
“There was a social need in the veteran community,” she explains. “A lot of veterans are home bound and don’t have a lot of social outlets or opportunities to learn more about the benefits that are available in the county.”
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In June 2013, Catholic Charities hosted the first Donut Club meeting in Mansfield. This gave local veterans an opportunity to connect with each other and discuss community programs for veterans.
“I like to get together with the veterans,” says Sue’s husband, Dale. “From a vet to another vet, you can ask them anything about their lives without hesitation. We’ve just got a bond.”
“I love to come over here and meet with the other veterans,” says George, army veteran. “The other guys educate me with all that they have been through.”
Every Friday morning, the group of veterans get together at Catholic Charities for a few hours over coffee and donuts to share advice, stories and comradery.
“I like coming here because it’s an outlet,” said Duke, who served on the first USS The Sullivans. “I’ve seen some veterans come in who are a little tight lipped. But once they get talking, they begin to loosen up.”
Recently, Catholic Charities partnered with the Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project to provide additional social programs to veterans. The program, “Listen to Veterans,” trains non-veteran volunteers how to listen to veterans who struggle with extreme isolation or past military experiences.
“This project has found a welcome place among the various programs offered to veterans by Catholic Charities,” says Steve Stone, project director of the Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project.
“The art of listening has been lost in our busy and distracting culture,” says Steve. “The healing power of listening and being listened to cannot be overstated.”
And listening is an art that has made an impact on many veterans in the area. Young and old. Being able to talk to others about their experiences has helped Richland and Crawford County veterans, many of whom recently returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I like to help these young guys from Afghanistan get back into the community,” says Dale who offers his wisdom and experience to the younger generations of veterans. “The program is really trying to help veterans re-adjust.”
“Over time, I have seen the veterans start to realize that the community really does care about them,” Sue adds.
“If the civilians don’t continue to reach out to them, then the connections will not be made. We need to keep reaching out to our veterans.”
Today, hundreds of Toledo residents lined up for a serving of Little Caesars pizza at Helping Hands of St. Louis. The pizza was prepared and cooked inside a semi-truck called the “Little Caesars Love Kitchen,” which was parked outside the center’s soup kitchen doors.
The Little Caesars Love Kitchen is a pizza kitchen on wheels that “travels across the continental United States and Canada meeting the needs of the hungry, the homeless and disaster survivors,” according to the company’s website. Employees from Little Caesars Pizza helped prepare and cook pizzas for an estimated 300 guests. All food and services were donated by Little Caesars Pizza.
After the pizzas were baked inside the truck’s kitchen, they were delivered to the Helping Hands’ kitchen and served to a long line of excited people. The clients at Helping Hands loved every slice. Waves of appreciations and thank yous could be heard from satisfied individuals within the dining hall.
“It’s a really good thing that they did here today,” said one Helping Hands regular. “Everything was really good.”
The rooms at Miriam House were not unfamiliar to Ashley, a current resident. Ashley lived at Miriam House once before when hard times had hit the single mother of three in 2006. It was a minor bump in the road, and Miriam House was a place to regain stability.
“I graduated from the housing program a year later, and I moved into an apartment here in Norwalk. I lived there for seven years.”
Things were going well for Ashley and her family, but then her life started to spin out of control, fast.
“I got involved with the wrong people. Drugs and alcohol. My life was a very fast downward spiral. I was in and out of jail. It got to the point where Children Services had to step in, and my kids were taken away. I really had to look at life from another point of view.”[singlepic id=614 w=320 h=240 float=right]
After being evicted from her home and having no other place to go, Ashley turned to Miriam House again for guidance in December 2013. But the transition was not easy.
“It was rough. It was really hard to hold still. There was a big change from doing whatever I wanted to do, to doing what the staff and others wanted me to do.”
With help and praise from Miriam House staff, Ashley was able to focus on activities that would get her life on the right path.
“The staff got me involved with volunteering, counseling, classes and things to do throughout the day. I was busy doing positive things.”
After months of hard work and sobriety, Ashley is back on top and in control. She now spends some of her time writing poetry about her experiences, interviewing for jobs and enjoying visits with her children.
“They love it at Miriam House. There are a lot of things to do as a family: board games, movies. My daughters love to help cook and help out around the house.”
Ashley is now attending church regularly. She credits the power of faith and prayer as guiding lights out of a dark time.
“Miriam House was the answer to my prayers. Escaping out of that world led me here. I believe that everything happens for a reason. God guides you down the path that you need to go down. Since I’ve been here, I’ve really tried hard to listen to what he wants me to do.”
“While living here, they support you and motivate you to move in the right direction. If anything happens, they are there to lift you up and guide you to where you need to be.”
Ashley works with her case mangers daily to stay sober and to find stable employment and housing for her and her children.
“It’s like your own personal safe haven. You don’t have to worry about any personal problem or have any doubts in your mind that you are safe.”
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Over seventy children, parents and volunteers attended the Halloween Party at Helping Hands of St. Louis. Adding their own spin to trick or treating, people throughout the East Toledo community had a great time dressing up in costumes and getting together for the event. Candy, graciously donated by community members, was passed around as the sounds of children laughing could be heard throughout the center. There were arts and crafts activities, food, face painting and a huge inflatable green Frankenstein for families to take pictures and create memories.
On October 27, Robert Lupton, founder of FCS Urban Ministries, addressed a crowd of over 150 people from 60 organizations and churches of all faiths at the Do Something Workshop in Mansfield. Mr. Lupton shared his success trying new methods of charity in innercity Atlanta.
Wanting to impact troubled youth and neighborhoods, Mr. Lupton had moved into an innercity neighborhood several years ago. Below are some highlights from what he learned and implemented successfully after observation, conversation with local residents, and trial and error:
- Christmas Toy Shop: As a new resident in the innercity neighborhood, Mr. Lupton noticed that fathers left the room when his organization delivered Christmas gifts through his Adopt a Family program. He realized these fathers felt ashamed and exposed in front of their children for not being able to provide for their families. The following year, he changed the Christmas giving program. He asked the program’s sponsors to allow them to set up a toy shop and sell gifts to recipient families at prices between garage sale and wholesale prices. Parents could select and purchase gifts for their children. Parents who did not have money could work in the toy shop and earn money to buy gifts. They called the new program Pride for Parents. Through the experience, Mr. Lupton said he learned people would rather work to earn toys to purchase for their children than stand in the free toy line with their proof of poverty to get gifts that someone else purchased for their children.
- Tapping into Talents: “Everyone has something of value to contribute,” Mr. Lupton said at the workshop. Mr. Lupton encouraged helping community members in poverty to identity the gifts and resources they could bring to the table. He suggested we need to change our perspective that those with low income have nothing to give. He gave the examples of homebound seniors participating in a neighborhood block watch just by watching out the windows. Or a graffiti artist being invited to create a beautiful mural to welcome people to the neighborhood.
- Hearing from the Local Residents: Living in an innercity neighborhood allowed Mr. Lupton to develop relationships with the residents and hear their opinions on efforts to fight poverty. One neighbor said the neighborhood residents should be part of determining what service projects that wealthier church members would do in their neighborhood rather than the churches assuming what should be done. Another said the church members treated them like pagans by preaching to them, when in reality, the neighborhood residents were the ones clinging to faith in God when they had no more food. This person wanted the neighborhood residents to be able to share their faith with the church groups coming in to do service projects.
- Mixed-income subdivisions – Mr. Lupton and his organization, FCS Urban Ministries, were instrumental in the creation of mixed-income housing in Atlanta. Residents of middle and upper income levels are invited to live among and be good neighbors to residents in lower income and public housing. Neighborhood issues are discussed and resolved in neighborhood association meetings. Neighbors look out for each other and support each other, providing job referrals and parenting support. Children and teens provide positive peer pressure to stay in school and get jobs. Crime is low because neighbors look out for each other.
To learn more about Robert Lupton and his proposals for effective charity, read Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help and How to Reverse It.
Earlier this month, Catholic Charities hosted the Academy for Life Symposium to help build a culture that embraces every human, including the unborn, as being #CreatedEqual.
Seth Drayer, Director of Training for Created Equal and a member of the Board of Directors for Allen County Right to Life of Indiana, challenged the audience to think deeply about their reasons for being pro-life. He offered two questions for people to ask themselves and others: “What is the pre-born?” and “Are we call created equal?”
He quoted embryology to show first that the pre-born is human: “A zygote (created at fertilization) is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization,” (The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th Ed. Moore and Persaud). Seth took it a step further by stating the pre-born is also a person, something which is key to the argument for the pre-born’s right to life because personhood is often cited now as to why they should be allowed to be terminated, i.e. it’s ‘only a few cells’ in the beginning.
Seth demonstrated how personhood has always been at the core of the struggle for human rights quoting historical sources to illuminate this fact:
“The Reichsgericht (Court of the German Empire) itself refused to recognize Jews… as ‘persons’ in the legal sense.” ~ German Supreme Court decision, 1936.
“An Indian is not a person within the meaning of the Constitution.” ~ George Canfield, American Law Review, 1881.
“Women are persons in matters of pains and penalties, but are not persons in matters of rights and privileges.” ~ 1876 British Common Law
“[T]he word “person,” as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.” ~ Roe v Wade. US Supreme Court. 22 Jan 1973.
Finally, Seth challenged those who would argue for abortion to ask themselves a simple question. Would you terminate a child or newborn for the same reasons that you would terminate a pre-born? A human person’s worth, argued Seth, is not based upon their size, level of development, it’s environment or it’s degree of dependency on another human being. If that were the case, then many of those arguments used to kill a pre-born could be applied to newborns as well. Instead, our worth comes from the fact that we are human, period, and every human deserves the right to life.
As part of Respect Life month, we ask for you to continue to pray for mothers, the pre-born and all who are affected by the decision of abortion. Ask yourself: what is the pre-born? Are we all created equal? If the pre-born is human and they, like all of us, are created equal – then each of them, like each of us enjoys, deserves the right to life.
On Thursday, Oct. 16, Ohioans to Stop Executions hosted the “Voices of Experiences: The Death Penalty” at the Franciscan Center of Lourdes University. The event was sponsored by Catholic Charities and was part of a series of Town Hall Forums to address the recommendations given by the Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force to increase the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty in Ohio.
In 2007, Ohio was assessed as falling short in 93% of the American Bar Association (ABA) standards for a fair and accurate state death penalty system, according to www.oste.org.
Early this year, The Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force made over 50 recommendations to address the findings of the Ohio Death Penalty. Those recommendations have yet to be implemented.
At the event, students and members of the community heard testimonies of people who has experienced death row from different viewpoints. Speakers included Charles Keith, whose brother was on Ohio’s death row before his sentence was commuted, Terry J. Collins, Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and oversaw more than 30 executions, and Derrick Jamison, who spent almost 20 years on death row before being exonerated in 2005.
Jamison is one of six people exonerated from Ohio’s Death Row. He was convicted in 1985 for the murder of Gary Mitchell, a bartender who fell victim to a bar robbery, which Jamison did not commit. After spending nearly two decades on death row, Jamison’s conviction was overturned due to evidence that was withheld from his original trial. He is now free man who lives in Cincinnati and voices his experience on death row.
“I don’t think one person should have the right to say you live or die,” says Jamison in an interview for the Dayton City Paper in 2011.
“The government says it’s wrong to kill and then they turn around and murder you. I watched them take young men out of their cells and murder them. I watched a lot of my friends die. I tell stories all around the world and people are astonished that this sort of thing is still going on. We are the only civilized country in the world that still kills its citizens.”
Click here to read more of his story.
Death Row Facts from otse.org:
- There have been 316 death sentences in the state of Ohio since 1981.
- An innocent person on death row will spend an average of 17.5 years in prison before being exonerated.
- Since 1999, there have been 53 men executed.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27
“My husband was on and off from his job. I was at home with my youngest son when he came home and wanted out of our marriage.”
Frightened and scared of what would happen, Rose didn’t tell her husband that she was pregnant with their third child. She was a stay-at-home mom. If her husband left, she had no other options.
Rose thought her husband had a difficult time at work and that it was a temporary phase. Eventually, he would calm down and everything would be fine. Rose kept quiet about the pregnancy and waited.
Weeks later, there was no sign of a change from her husband. He still wanted a divorce. Rose was faced with telling her husband her secret.
“I don’t want to be married, and I don’t want the kid,” were the words Rose remembered after a final plea to her husband. Things took a sharp turn, and Rose was faced with several tough decisions.
“I knew I had to get out, get back to work and find a house. I had two sons at home. My oldest was finishing high school and my youngest was in kindergarten. My mother was very ill. Everything was falling apart. I wanted a quick way out.”
“I decided that I was going to have an abortion. I told my husband about my decision, and he said, ‘Fine. We’ll go together.’”
Rose was 10 weeks pregnant when she and her husband drove to the abortion clinic. After the procedure was done, Rose was on her own. Her husband left her that day.
“I got to the point where I was in such depression. If a baby sat next to me, I couldn’t handle it. I kept dealing with this over and over. My family knew about the abortion, but I never talked about it. I even thought about suicide.”
In the midst of the chaos, it was the voice of a sweet angel who turned things around for Rose.
“My oldest son came to me and said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t do anything crazy.’”
With those inspiring words, Rose started to seek help and understanding for the pain that she was feeling.
It would be over two decades before Rose could finally let go of her pain. Rose saw an announcement about the Project Rachel retreats in her parish bulletin, but it was a final push from her therapist that made her decision clear.
“I went to a Project Rachel retreat and thank God!”
“I met people who were able to put a name on that shame. They knew what I felt, and they knew what I had been through.”
Project Rachel is a post-abortive healing ministry offered by Catholic Charities. Project Rachel provides confidential help for those struggling with issues of grief, isolation, confusion, and regret after an abortion.
“At the retreat, I found hope, forgiveness, understanding, compassion, love and friendship. They all accepted me, and they encouraged me.”
As a result of her healing experience through Project Rachel, Rose is now a sidewalk counselor for Catholic Charities’ Respect Life program. Rose currently volunteers and prays outside of Toledo’s last abortion clinic and has allowed God to transform her pain into a testimony for the protection of the unborn.
“Let go and let God. Go to Project Rachel to get healing. God works in strange ways, and He has given us Project Rachel for help.”
“God has his arms wide open. Don’t walk, run. Run towards the Lord.”
Hurting after an abortion? Find local confidential counseling at 1-888-456-HOPE or visit our Project Rachel page.
In the third chapter of “Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help and How to Reverse It,” Robert Lupton discusses the financial, psychological, and emotional effects charity has on those we seek to help. Lupton illustrates in the chapter, entitled “The Anatomy of Giving,” that the body of giving is composed of both mercy and justice. Justice to mean fairness and reasonableness. Mercy to mean compassion, kindness and forgiveness.
He challenges the reader to consider all elements in a person’s life justly before helping out of the impulse of compassion. He states that the Bible places equal emphasis on both mercy and justice and that both should be used to provide a holistic response to those in need.
Toward the end of the chapter, Lupton talks about an article by Christianity Post that explained three different opinions from three veteran ministry leaders who answered the question: Should we give to people on the street? Their answers varied. Here is what each ministry leader had to say.
Option 1: Freely Give
Gary Hoag, the Generosity Monk, says that we should be willing to give money to people on the street freely and without judgment. “Freely you have received, freely give, (Matt. 10:8)” Hoag says in support to his claim.
He adds: To be generous “on every occasion” requires faith to believe that God will, indeed, care for our needs if we show his love by caring for others. As Brennan Manning says, “God’s call for each of us to live a life of unlimited generosity is rooted in his limitless love and care for us.”
Option 2: Only as a Last Resort
Andy Bales, chief executive of Union Rescue Mission, believes that “giving cash to some in need is the least helpful and most temporary solution and should only be a last resort.” Based on experience, Bales’ says that most panhandlers are not truly homeless or impoverished and may walk off with $300 a day from generous people only to walk to their car and drive home. So what’s Bales approach to helping the homeless?
“When someone approaches me and asks for funds to get a place to stay, I connect them with resources, often hand them my card, and ask them to come to our mission. I also work to get them enrolled in a program that will provide not only a roof over their head but also, possibly, a life-transforming experience.”
Bales pulls support for his article from Acts which tells the story of Peter and John healing the lame man. The response to the beggar was not to give his money but to give him the gift of healing. Bales says that giving money to homeless should happen rarely and only when there are no other options for other services.
Option 3: Don’t Give
“Love is acting in the best interest of others. Providing money so some can continue immoral destructive behavior is simply not a loving act,” says Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action.
Sider says that givers should not provide handouts to support irresponsible behavior. He says that it is extremely difficult to quickly distinguish such persons from those in real need. We should give our money and resources to holistic programs that “liberate, empower and transform.”
“Due diligence. If you don’t have time to invest in forging a trusting relationship, give your money to a ministry that does. Even so, every once in a while we might feel an inner nudge to stop immediately and help a person, offering food or money or a ride. This may well be the intervention of the divine showing unconditional grace at a critical point in someone’s life. Still, there is no way of knowing until the curtain of history is pulled back to reveal the unknowable.”
Join the conversation on our Facebook page
Which response do you agree with? Why? Are there past experiences that may have led you to agree with that response? Are there other ways to consider being just and merciful to those on the streets?
To read the full article referenced by Lupton, go to: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/january/18.60.html?start=2
In Toxic Charity, Robert Lupton asks his readers to take part in the Oath for Compassionate Service. This oath is derived from the Hippocratic Oath – a pledge taken by doctors to establish high ethical standards when practicing medicine. It comes from one principle: Above all, do no harm. The Oath for Compassionate Service is very similar to Catholic Charities’ core beliefs. As we move into the next 100 years of serving others, we ask you to read and consider this oath before making the decision to become a donor, volunteer or a helper in our community so that we can better serve those who are in need.
The Oath for Compassionate Service
Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
Personal responsibility is essential for social, emotional and spiritual well-being. To do for others what they have the capacity to do for themselves is to disempower them. The negative outcomes of welfare are no different when religious or charitable organizations provide it. The struggle for self-sufficiency is, like the butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon, an essential strength-building process that should not be short-circuited by “compassionate” intervention. The effective helper can be an encourager, a coach, a partner, but never a caretaker.
Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.
Is the need crisis or chronic? Triage may be the appropriate intervention in an emergency situation, but it is hardly the strategy for a continuing need. The victims of a devastating tsunami need immediate medical attention, shelter, essential supplies, and hoards of volunteers. Over time, however, survivors’ needs shift to expert consultation, a practical plan, and a combination of grants and loans to help them rebuild their destroyed community. Giving that continues beyond the immediate crisis produces diminishing returns.
Anyone who has served among the poor for any length of time will recognize the following progression:
• give once and you elicit appreciation;
• give twice and you create anticipation;
• give three times and you create expectation;
• give four times and it becomes entitlement;
• give five times and you establish dependency.
While one-way giving may seem like the “Christian” thing to do, it can undermine the very relationship a helper is attempting to build. Such charity subtly implies that the recipient has nothing of value the giver desires in return. To the extent the poor are enabled to participate in the systems intended to serve them, their self-worth is enhanced.
Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements.
Lending to the poor establishes mutually beneficial relationships characterized by responsibility, accountability, and respect. It is a method of legitimate exchange that requires the lender to be responsible for assessing the risk while leaving the dignity of the borrower intact. Lending, done well, builds mutual trust and respect. Investing – making money with the poor – is the ultimate method of sharing resources (including expertise, connections, energy). It economically strengthens the poor through job-creating partnerships. Investing implies an ownership stake. To invest well with those who have limited access to capital requires a sound business plan, reasoned risk/reward ratio, adequate controls and accountability. The investor has a stake in the sustainability and profitability of the venture. Grants are best used for R&D and gap funding to achieve sustainability.
Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served.
Organizational interests can subtly take precedence over the interests of the poor. When the agenda of a church is to create inspiring, enriching, and well-planned mission experience for members, the real needs of the poor (like decent schools or stable employment) may be over looked and dismissed as too complex or time consuming. Putting the front-burner agendas of those in need ahead of the self-interests of the helping organization may require considerable retooling, but it is a legitimate price for effective service.
Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said – unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.
The poor we serve my be reluctant to reveal “the whole story” to would-be helpers for a host of reasons – intimidation, fear of judgment, fear of losing support, fear of appearing unappreciative. A single mother trying to clothe her children will be hesitant to tell the clothes-closet volunteers that their hours of operation make it difficult for working parents to shop there. But like good physicians whose thorough examination yields an accurate diagnosis and treatment, effective helpers must learn to carefully observe behaviors, ask insightful questions, use their intuition, and hear what is not being said.
Above all, do no harm
Every change has consequences. Church growth may cause traffic congestion; successful sheep breeding may lead to overgrazing. While we cannot foresee all the potential consequences of our service, we should at least make some attempt to predict its impact. Before we embark on any new service venture, we should conduct an “impact study” to consider how our good deeds might have unintended consequences. Are we luring indigenous minsters away from their pastoral duties to become schedule coordinators for our mission trips? Are we creating dependencies that may ultimately erode self-sufficiency? As Hippocrates admonished: above all, do no harm.
Lupton, Robert. “Take the Oath.” Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2011. 128-131. Print.