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: http://www.ivcusa.org/volunteer_story/finding-the-extraordinary/

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: catholiccharitiesteam.kintera.org

Our Runners in Action

Helping Hands of St. Louis in East Toledo makes Thanksgiving and Christmas special for many who might otherwise face empty refrigerators and stockings. Director Paul Cook anticipates providing about 200 food baskets for each holiday. Donations of turkeys, hams, instant mashed potatoes and other side dishes are needed, along with gravy and onions. Families usually receive enough food for three or four meals in a holiday basket.

About a week ahead of each holiday, Helping Hands also hosts traditional dinners for those in need of food and comfort. If Helping Hands receives more turkeys and hams than needed, they are donated to local organizations that also distribute food to those in need.

Those donating turkeys for Thanksgiving are asked to drop them off or arrange pickup at the beginning of November. (Please, no bone-in hams, as they have to be taken to a butcher for carving.)

No sooner will thanksgiving be over and the elves at Helping Hands will be collecting candy canes, toys for kids 12 and younger, underwear, coats, mittens, gloves, scarves, socks, shoes and boots. Gifts are distributed when Santa visits children at Helping Hands a few days before Christmas. Last year, 108 children enjoyed time with Mr. Claus.

For more information about helping with holiday needs, please contact Paul at 419-691-0613, ext. 2.

Despite the rain, participants of the 2013 Catholic Charities Glass City Marathon Team were energized on April 28 to raise money for Catholic Charities’ ministries in northwest Ohio.

Thanks to the perseverance and generosity of our runners, the team of 20 runners raised $10,000 for our ministries. Participants of all skill levels joined Catholic Charities’ efforts, participating in the 5K, half marathon, relay race and full marathon.

“Whenever I found myself getting tired during training runs or on race day, I thought of the testimonies we’ve heard from Catholic Charities’ clients and thought of their struggles to find some peace and happiness in their lives,” said Ellen Huntebrinker. “And I realized my struggles while running were nothing in comparison.”

Walkers and Runners Welcome for Next Year’s Team

Next year is Catholic Charities’ 100th anniversary. Our team israising the bar by increasing the goal to $25,000. We hope more people will join us in making a difference in people’s lives by raising money to support our ministries.

We welcome people of all ages to join the team, from those who want to walk the 5K to those who want to take on the challenge of the full marathon. Children are also welcome to raise money for Catholic Charities by running in the children’s races.

Race registration opens after Labor Day at www.glasscitymarathon.org. Visit our Glass City Marathon Team page for information on how to join the Catholic Charities team.

Helping others is one of the most important lessons taught at the Foundation Academy in Mansfield. Which is why the students there conduct a food drive each year.

The theme of this year’s effort is ‘Feeding Others Feeds Us.’ Students throughout the K through 9 charter school are encouraged to bring in non-perishable items – peanut butter, soups, canned meats, paper goods, etc. – which this year were donated to Catholic Charities’ H.O.P.E. Pantry in Mansfield.

An entire SUV filled with good things

The amount of food collected was impressive, filling the entire rear compartment of a Suburban SUV.

Krista Wade, a school mother who helped to organize the effort, said that in the past her family has been helped by the H.O.P.E. Pantry.

“My husband was a contractor, and there were times food was scarce. It helped knowing we could get help when we needed it,” she said.

Individuals in need benefit from the H.O.P.E. Pantry donations.

“We depend on the generosity of individuals and organizations like the Foundation Academy,” said Patrice Scott, Community Outreach Coordinator for Catholic Charities in Mansfield. “We’re grateful to those kids and their parents. Without people like them, we couldn’t be doing what we do.”

Most nights at La Posada, the clients themselves trade off the responsibility of preparing good and wholesome dinners.  But not all of the clients, we’re told, are up-to-date on their culinary school accreditations, so it’s viewed as a treat when there’s a change in the regular fare.

On May 9, the Lourdes College class of Assistant Professor of Sociology, Sharon Everhardt, came in and grilled dinner for the twenty-plus grateful La Posada clients.

The sixteen members of the Gender, Family and Society Class brought in and prepared a feast of chicken wings, burgers, hot dogs – with all the trimmings, of course – along with wing sauce, chips, veggies, cake, pie and cookies.

“I was looking for a service project for our students to take part in that had a learning component,” Professor Everhardt said.

“A lot of the La Posada clients are going through the kinds of pressures and situations we study as a class, so coming here to help out and observe seemed like a perfect fit.”

One of the students in the class, Neiko Jones, agreed that the evening was a learning experience.  “I was surprised to see the presence of fathers in the home.  You don’t often see that at the other shelters.It’s good.

“I think events like this make a big difference to the people here.  They see that people who don’t even know them take time out of their lives to help,” said the student, who is working on her Master’s.

One of the residents, Jermel, aged about three, said he had enjoyed the meal very much.  Then he asked if he could have another piece of cake.

The Charity Soldiers in Norwalk have helped raise more than $10,000 for the Miriam House through their program, Metal for Moms, in which they go around picking up old appliances, selling them for scrap and donating the proceeds.

In 2012, the soldiers expanded their workforce and their website.  They’ve brought onboard a new, eager young worker, J.T. Smith.J.T. said he joined the squad because he was drawn to the generosity of Josh and Kevin.  “These are good guys.I’m just happy to be able to work with them.

“This is what we do – we help people,” J.T. said, smiling modestly.

Charitysoldier.com

Recently, the Charity Soldiers began putting used items up for sale on their website, charitysoldier.com.  Delivery is free, and, as the website states, proceeds go to “small charities that make a big impact on their communities.”

In fact, the bulk of their giving has been to Catholic Charities’ Miriam House in Norwalk.  They have funded – among other things – children’s play equipment with the Metals For Moms donations.

The charity is the brainchild of Josh Roeder, who wanted to give something back after God had seen him through a difficult time.

“It’s funny how God works,” Josh said.  “All this has just kind of fallen into place.”

The hand of God

Josh started hauling for Metals For Moms with a borrowed pickup truck, and after the truck broke down, he had no way to transport the scrap.“I told God I had no truck – in fact, no plans at all.  Just a strong back and a pair of willing hands.  I told Him He was going to have to help me find a way.

“Then Kevin, a friend of mine, saw an article about Metals For Moms in the paper, and decided he wanted to help.”

Kevin, who happened to have a truck, was recuperating from a near-fatal motorcycle crash, and he had also decided to try to give back.

“I was just about given up for dead,” Kevin said.  “They’d taken a part of my skull out to relieve pressure on my brain, and they’d told my Mom I might not live through the night.

“When I did finally start to get better, I couldn’t walk.  I couldn’t talk.  I had to learn all that again.

“I know I wouldn’t be here if not for the hand of God, and I’ll always be grateful,” Kevin said.  He holds out his arm to show the large cross tattooed there.

“I’m your guy”

Kevin decided to call Josh when he saw the first article about Metals For Moms.  “When Josh said he needed a truck, I told him, ‘I’m your guy.’”

Josh asked that any families in the Norwalk area who have old appliances or used goods to donate, call 419-577-4943.

The Charity Soldiers t-shirt pretty much sums up their 18 months of dedicated service:

God’s Foot Soldiers: Faith. Heart. Guts.

Amen.

Most of us consider the holiday season the brightest and happiest time of the year.  The celebratory warmth of Thanksgiving and the clear hope of Christmas give us an opportunity to gather with loved ones in the embrace of God’s all-consuming love.

But it’s important to realize the holidays don’t feel that way for everyone.  Some, because of setbacks like job loss, domestic upheaval or addiction – or because of memories of difficult holidays past – actually dread the holiday season.  To them, it only underscores their feelings of isolation and loneliness.  Catholic Charities’ Christmas outreach program, Project Bethlehem, is designed to brighten the holidays of families with children who would otherwise not be able to afford to celebrate.

Michelle Poole, Housing Program Coordinator with Catholic Charities, said that in Toledo in 2010, 53 families were helped.

“These are low and no income families, people who would not have had  any Christmas if not for Project Bethlehem.”

Partnering with Santa

The program works by matching sponsors with families in need.  The sponsors buy gifts for the entire family – age and gender appropriate gifts for the children, and useful items for the parents as well.  The sponsors bring the gifts to Catholic Charities, who sees that Santa delivers them in time for Christmas.

“The sponsors can be parishes, businesses or individuals in the community who want to help a family enjoy Christmas.  Some sponsors actually give to more than one family,” Poole said.

Catholic Charities also runs similar Project Bethlehem operations for dozens more needy families in Mansfield and Norwalk.

“Santa always appreciates our help,” Michelle said.  “I’m told that even he’s having trouble making ends meet these days.”

In late 2005, Tonya Brown-Munn and her daughter, Veronica, stayed for several weeks at the La Posada Family Emergency Shelter in Toledo.  Her own home had burned down, and she had nowhere to turn and no funds to tide her over.

Now, fortunately, Tonya is doing much better, but she still remembers the time she spent at the shelter as a time of healing, learning and growth.

“Being there was humbling.  It made me reflect on how tenuous our lives really are,” Mrs. Brown-Munn, now a Business student nearing graduation from the University of Toledo, said.  “Those people made us feel like we were at home when we didn’t have a home.  They were so good to us.  Now whenever I drive by, I beep the horn just to say hi, just to say thank you.”

In fact, Mrs. Brown-Munn does much more than that.  This past April, she organized a Build-a-Bear and pizza party for the 20 children who were staying at La Posada at the time.

Dogs, ponies and an alligator

The party’s sponsors – Build-a-Bear and Marco’s Pizza – were approached by Mrs. Brown-Munn, who wanted to do something for the children of La Posada.

“I was working with executives at both Build-a-Bear and Marco’s on a project for school.  In the course of that work, I happened to visit a Build-a-Bear store, and I saw the smiles on the faces of children who were enjoying building their own animals,” she recalled.  “I thought, I’d like to bring those same smiles to the faces of kids who aren’t as fortunate, who maybe can’t afford to go to Build-a-Bear.”

She approached both organizations about sponsoring a party at La Posada, and she got a green light.  So, on Good Friday evening last April, parents brought their little ones into the front room at La Posada and opened the bags of assorted stuffed Build-a-Bear animals – fluffy dogs, a huggable unicorn, an alligator, a few ponies, and – not surprisingly – several teddy bears of different sizes, textures and colors.

The smiles took place as scheduled, as wide-eyed children, excited at their sudden good fortune, clutched their furry new friends.

Good feelings

It was a party worth remembering for both parents and children, Jeanelle Addie, La Posada’s Case Manager, said.  “I don’t think any of them will forget it any time soon.”

“Doing things for people – paying it back, paying it forward, whatever you call it – just makes you feel good,” Tonya said.  “The people staying at La Posada don’t have much, and they can’t always do what they’d like to for their kids.  But they enjoy good things as much as anyone.  I just remember that the people who took us in at La Posada were able to make my daughter and me feel really good at a time when we were feeling really bad.  And I wanted to do something to make the people who are staying there now feel good.”

It’s hard to get the whole story because Katie Barnes is so modest, so unassuming, about the good work she does.

“I don’t do anything so special,” she says, “There are a lot of other people – a lot of other people – who help. There are a lot of generous people here in Norwalk.”

And that’s certainly true. And now, thanks to Katie Barnes, all those generous people know who they can give their cash donations to, and their bake sale proceeds, and the clothing their kids outgrow – all the while knowing that their charity is going where it can do the most good.

“We’ve kind of adopted Miriam House,” Barnes says, speaking of the Catholic Charities shelter for mothers and children located in Norwalk. “It was back around Thanksgiving of 2009 that we really started getting involved.”

With Katie Barnes, it’s always “we,” never “I.” She heard somewhere that Miriam House needed help – food for the residents, and clothes and toys for the children.

“It was sad. The kids were wearing old clothes that didn’t fit very well, and they hardly had anything to play with. Just a couple of old puzzles. So I called my friend Toni who works at Miriam House and asked her what we could do for these people. We had a fund-raiser, raised some extra money, and bought them food for Thanksgiving – potatoes, bread, fresh vegetables and fruit. Then we had them put a wish list together for Christmas. We helped get them what they needed. I remember we made them some nice Christmas cookies that first year.”

Since then, the entire Wal-Mart family, including store manager Kathleen Sullivan, has pitched in.

“I remember getting a tour of the home after Thanksgiving,” Barnes says. “It was always clean and bright, but it wasn’t luxurious by any means. One of the mothers was giving me a tour. When we got to her room, she showed me a little Christmas tree. There was nothing under it for her child, nothing there for her. That really got to me. That’s when I realized, these people have nothing. It makes you grateful for what you have, I’ll tell you that.”

“A friend told me about La Posada. I came and I was surprised because it doesn’t look like a shelter. It looks just like a home. I was so glad when they told me we could stay. They’ve been so good to me. Honestly, none of this would be happening if I hadn’t been here. They’ve helped me so much.” – Marquita, La Posada resident

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

 

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