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Catholic Charities Hosts Mansfield Consumer Resource Fair

MANSFIELD—Catholic Charities is celebrating their 75th anniversary in Mansfield and is hosting the 7th Annual Consumer Resource Fair, as part of National Consumer Protection Week, on Saturday, March 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Richland Mall.

“The purpose of National Consumer Protection Week is to educate and empower consumers on how to make informed decisions when it comes to their financial affairs,” said Rebecca Owens, Regional Director for Mansfield Catholic Charities. “We continue to see many people being preyed upon by scams and identify theft because they’re desperate to meet basic needs of food, shelter and medical care.”

CatholicCharities_logoCatholic Charities and 20+ organizations will provide free information on managing money and debt, protecting personal identification, and avoiding identify theft and scams. Participants include the Ohio Attorney General’s office, Civista Bank, Mechanics Bank, Richland Bank, Sutton Bank, Woodforest National Bank, Richland County Adult Protective Services/JFS, Mansfield-Richland Public Library/First Call-211, Habitat for Humanity, NECIC/ Temp2Higher, and Ohio Division of Financial Institutions. Richland County Sheriff’s office will be fingerprinting.

“Catholic Charities partners with the Ohio Attorney General’s office each year,” said Rebecca Owens, Catholic Charities Regional Director. “We do our best to be proactive in educating our community on important financial matters.”

Bridges Out of Poverty Workshop Hosted in Ontario, OH

Catholic Charities is hosting a Bridges Out of Poverty Workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Area Agency on Aging, 2131 Park Avenue West, Ontario, OH.

Bridges Out of Poverty helps social work, healthcare and legal services professionals who work with those in poverty gain a deeper understanding of their challenges – and strengths – to better partner with clients and create opportunities for their success.

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Based on the book, Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities, by Dr. Ruby Payne, Phillip DeVol, and Terie Dreussi Smith, the workshop addresses poverty at the individual, community and structural/policy levels, with an understanding people in poverty can be planners and decision makers in the process of moving from welfare to work.

Workshop facilitator Anne Seifert is a Lifetime Certified Bridges’ Trainer. Topics covered include:

  • Eleven key resources of a customer/employee
  • Economic realities affect patterns of living
  • Mental models as effective interventions for cognitive and language barriers
  • Principles for improving outcomes with individuals from generational poverty

CEUs are available for SW, DODD and RCH. The $40 registration fee is due by November 10. For more information, contact Diane Bemiller at 419-524-0733, ext. 228 or email dbemiller@toledodiocese.org

First Friday Book Club Series - Hosted at Our Mansfield Office

Our next First Friday Brown Bag Book Club Series begins Aug. 7, 2015, and features the work of Dave Philips who will speak at Catholic Charities’ Fall Breakfast on October 6. We invite local businesses, organizations and anyone interested in helping people to help themselves to participate in this monthly book discussion.

Why Don’t They Just Get a Job? describes the journey and incredible results of Dave and Liane Phillips’ efforts to help those in poverty find their way to self-sufficiency. Under the premise that existing job-readiness programs only focus on job placement and not retention, Dave and Liane Phillips created a poverty to economic self-sufficiency program called Cincinnati Works with an 80% one-year employment retention rate.

In the past three years, the non-profit has brought $25 million in wages to over 1,500 families in the Cincinnati area. The program offers a complete spectrum of free, lifetime employment services for the entry-level job-seeker to sustain and advance in today’s work climate. The model is a winner of the 2009 Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneur Award.

Following its success, Dave Phillips is now volunteering as a consultant for similar programs in other cities.

When: The first Friday of every month, noon to 1 p.m., August through December.
Where: Catholic Charities Mansfield Office, 2 Smith Ave., Mansfield, Ohio 44905
For more information, please contact Rebecca Owens at 419-524-0733 ext. 225 or email rowens@toledodiocese.org.

It’s been 10 years since Herbert came to Catholic Charities Community Emergency Services in need of prescription assistance, but he still says that his experience was life changing.

Herbert, 54, came to Mansfield from Atlanta, Georgia, in 2004 to visit his sick mother. His weekend visit turned into a permanent stay after Herbert gave his life to Christ and joined a local church.

“I had nothing. I had my own business in Atlanta, and I left everything there,” he said. “I had no job and no transportation.”

Herbert moved into his niece’s basement until he could get settled. While there, Herbert started having medical issues and was in need of prescription assistance. That’s when his niece told him about the Community Emergency Services program at Catholic Charities.
“She knew I needed prescriptions, and I didn’t have any resources,” Herbert said.

The Community Emergency Services program helps families and individuals in Richland and Huron Counties who are struggling to manage finances, pay bills or maintain a stable residence.

“I called Catholic Charities, and they gave me an appointment to come in. I did an interview and took a budgeting course.”

He received financial assistance for his prescriptions through the program.

“Having medical assistance alleviated a lot of stress. I was able to focus on other things like finding a house and getting a job.”

But it wasn’t just the financial assistance that helped Herbert while he was in need. The time and care of staff made an impact on him.

“It’s difficult sometimes to ask for help. The staff at Catholic Charities treated me with love and kindness, and it gave me a desire to help others. It helped me to get past the fact that I needed assistance.”

Today, Herbert is a case manager and program director at Family Life Counseling where he goes to local schools and works with at-risk youth. He is actively involved with his church and several other community organizations.

“The giving spirit of Catholic Charities’ staff was a seed that produced a much greater harvest. I now refer some of the people I help to Catholic Charities for food, housing and other services.”

“I think sometimes people give to Catholic Charities and really don’t see the fruits of it, but many lives are touched. Their gifts continue to give. By helping me, I am able to help others.”

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 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.”

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.”

Gold Star Charity

By: Amber Stargell

In elementary school, one of my teachers had a big “Good Job” poster with every student’s name listed down the side. Next to the names, the teacher put a gold star sticker for every good action she saw a student perform throughout the year within the jurisdiction of the classroom. If we got an A – gold star. Helped a classmate on a difficult assignment – gold star. Did something or said something nice – gold star. At the end of the year, the students with a certain amount of stars were invited to an ice cream social.

Gold StarThroughout the year, we performed our tasks and made sure that these were seen and evaluated by our teacher. Gold stars became competition, and we would find ways to get more. I remember group assignments were like goldmines to us youngsters. Students who performed well on assignments were heavily pursued by students who struggled. As sort of a win-win, students who knew the answers on group assignments would give the answers to those struggling so everyone would get a good grades and, well gold stars of course.

The end of year came and only eleven of the twenty something students were invited to the ice cream social. How in the world did this happen? Reality began to sink in. A lot of our friends were not on the list. The things we did to earn those gold stars didn’t help our friends earn enough gold stars to go to the ice cream social. Blinded by ice cream and our youth, we didn’t think about their long term needs. Instead of telling our friends the right answers when they asked for help, we could have worked through the problems with them. Instead of studying by ourselves, we could have formed a study group with other students to make sure everyone received high grades on ALL their assignments.

There was so much we could have done to make sure our friends received their gold stars for the ice cream social – but we didn’t. Wasn’t that an elusive lesson for some grade schoolers?

This type of “gold star” behavior has crossed over in our churches and our charities. People find themselves in competition with others for gold stars to gain access into several ice cream socials – the news, a certain organization or even Heaven. The vision of charity has become blurred between helping others and doing things for the benefit of ourselves.

In his book, “Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help and How to Reverse It”, Robert Lupton writes about Opportunity International. Opportunity International invests in poverty-stricken populations through micro-loans to help locals build their small, life-sustaining businesses. This initiative has provided new income for many families in struggling areas throughout the world. However, in some areas, this concept has been destroyed by missions of gold star volunteers and missionaries.

Juan Ulloa, Opportunity International’s Nicaragua director, explained to Lupton that many churches in Nicaragua were focused in their evangelism efforts. Though the churches were set with good intentions, they did little to assist in the struggles of the locals’ daily lives.

Juan talked about regions in the country where microlending ceased to exist due to large numbers of church partnerships. He describes how dignity had been eroded as people came to view themselves as charity cases for wealthy visitors. Wealthy visitors who would rather give handouts and money, instead of coach and teach.

“Why should we borrow money when the churches give it to us?” Juan says to Lupton. “They are turning my people into beggars.”

Tarius Smith - have release, working mother of twoThese actions were not necessarily bad, but did it truly address the needs of the Nicaraguans?

In Ephesians 4:28, Paul says in his letter, “The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work* with his (own) hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need.”

True charity requires us to evaluate a situation and coach, teach and encourage those we do help. It’s very easy to fall in the trap of gold star charity. Who wouldn’t want to be on the news for their efforts? Or claim that tax write-off at the end of the year? To prevent our actions of helping other from being toxic, we must go beyond temporary fixes that we think will earn us a gold star. We – as volunteers, donors, charities and more – must strive to help others reach their entire God-given potential and take personal interest out of the equation.

Join the conversation on our Facebook page:
Should incentives to do charitable works be considered good motivation for helping others? Why? How do we, as Christians, correct our gold star mentalities?


The Body of Giving: How Should We Respond to People on the Streets?

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.

Homeless on street - MicrosoftHe 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.”

Lupton’s Response

“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

The Oath for Compassionate Service

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
Robert Lupton

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.

Changing Charity from Toxic to Transformative

Celebrate 100 years in Mansfield with Nationally Renowned Author Robert Lupton

This October, Catholic Charities will celebrate 100 years of service by bringing author Robert Lupton to Mansfield to challenge the understanding of charity in the community and surrounding area. Lupton will speak at three Do Something events in Mansfield including a youth rally at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on October 26, a workshop for professionals on October 27 and an evening wine and cheese fundraiser also on October 27.

bobphoto1Lupton is most notable for his latest publication, Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, and How to Reverse It. He has worked for 40 years in inner-city Atlanta rebuilding urban neighborhoods where families can flourish and children can grow into healthy adults. He is the founder of FCS Urban Ministries, a non-profit organization that developed two mixed income subdivisions, organized a multi-racial congregation, started businesses and initiated a wide range of human services.

Catholic Charities staff members Rebecca Owens and Roxanne Sandles heard Lupton speak at an event in Cleveland. Impressed with Lupton’s service philosophy, they started a book club in Mansfield and read Toxic Charity with other service agencies in the community in August 2013. After the group finished reading the book, they reconvened at the beginning of 2014 to take action based on Lupton’s principals.

“Toxic Charity’s motto is about helping people help themselves,” says Rebecca Owens, Mansfield Site Manager.

Lupton challenges charities and individuals to examine whether their assistance is creating dependency on aid. In his book, he shares about a church mission group that built a water well for a remote village in Honduras. When the group returned a year later, women were caring water for miles because the pump had broken and the villagers didn’t know how to fix it. The group fixed the pump for them. Each year the group returned, the scenario was repeated.

Lupton contrasts this with a group who helped a Nicaraguan village build a well through involving villagers in creating a business plan, obtaining an affordable loan, building the well and setting up a water commission to maintain it.

“When relief does not transition to development in a timely manner, compassion becomes toxic,” Lupton writes. He also, “When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves, we disempower them.”

Catholic Charities’ Do Something events are intended to bring communities together for a discussion on how to best help people locally.

“Our ultimate goal is to help the community realize it’s not just the government or the non-profits who are helping people. Everybody has a role whether you are a donor, funder, volunteer or someone seeking assistance,” Rebecca adds.

The title of the events came from a song by Matthew West called Do Something. In the song, Matthew asks God why he doesn’t do more about the poverty and suffering in the world. God responds by saying, “I did, I created you.”

For more information about the events, please visit www.catholiccharitiesnwo.org/mansfieldcelebration or call contact Cheryl Dix at 419-524-0733, ext. 224 or cdix@toledodiocese.org.

“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