PERRYSBURG, OH—You won’t want to miss this moving program, sure to inspire your Lenten journey. Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo’s Jail & Prison Ministries is hosting this double presentation on Sunday, March 8, from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. at Saint John XXIII Catholic Community, 24250 Dixie Highway, Perrysburg, OH.
Rev. Herb Weber, founding pastor of Saint John XXIII, will share his experiences working with death-row prisoners at Mansfield Correctional Institution and accompanying one man as his personal chaplain to his execution at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. It is an overwhelming story Father Herb rarely tells.
Johnny Harvey, convicted of homicide and released after 32 years of incarceration, will share his witness testimony about being saved through the love of prison ministry volunteers. When all seemed lost—hope was restored and a new life through Christ Jesus was the result. A moving story of a Redeemed Life!
Deacons attending will be eligible for 3 CEUs. For more information, contact Deacon Ed Irelan, Catholic Charities Justice Ministry Coordinator at 419.214.4958 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
[singlepic id=14 w=320 h=240 float=right]“This is what we do – we help people,” J.T. said, smiling modestly.
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.
“A good cause”
The men who serve the Time Warner Cable system customers in the Norwalk area recently spent some time helping around the house – Miriam House, to be precise.
[singlepic id=22 w=320 h=240 float=right]Rick Tarr, a Time Warner employee from Willard, said the men were happy to be able to help out. “Miriam House is a nice place – a good cause. We’ve kind of adopted it as a place we’d like to help out from time to time.”
And they certainly have, washing the front deck and ramp, washing the siding, pulling weeds, pruning bushes and spreading mulch.
They also have plans to return and replace the planking on the ramp, Rick said. Miriam House looks better, and clients and staff are exceedingly grateful.
An example of ‘Men for Others’
[singlepic id=16 w=320 h=240 float=right]It was the kind of work wives frequently have to remind their husbands to do – cleaning out and sprucing up the basement. But these men needed no reminder.
It was the St. John’s Fathers’ Club, and they were helping make the basement of La Posada a cleaner, brighter, more secure place.
“The motto of our school is, ‘Men for Others,’” Joe Gernheuser, club President, said. “But it’s better to show that than it is just to say it. Just saying it doesn’t mean anything.”
So Joe and several of the other fathers, including Gerald Mitchell, Drew Lindecker, Denny Pritscher and Dave Bethel – with sons present as their study and athletics schedules permitted – cleaned out the basement, painted the walls, installed a large padlocked security cage and a wall of lockable cubbies.
Their objective was to provide clients with a clean, secure place in which to store belongings such as bikes, furniture and computers.
“Everyone should have a safe place to keep things,” Joe said. “Just because you don’t have a home of your own doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t be able to have a bike.”
A gift given out of love: Bryan St. Patrick Catholic School gives bibles to Charities’ clients
Students provide God’s word
Lisa Cinadr, Principal of St. Patrick School in Bryan, says that doing things for others is nothing new for her pre-school through eighth grade students. So, during Right to Read week in March, it was only natural for them to spend the money they’d raised selling mission lunches on 39 New American bibles.
The bibles they purchased will go to Catholic Charities clients at La Posada family shelter and elsewhere.
“We’re thrilled to be able to pray with and provide people with the word of God,” Rodney Schuster, Charities Director, said. “There are times when our clients ask for a bible, and now we’ll be able to say, yes, we have one right here.
“We’re grateful to St. Patrick Catholic School and all the students who participated,” Rodney said.
“We are hoping to encourage the people who will be using the bibles,” Lisa said. “So one of our classes is taking the time to inscribe the flyleaf in each copy.
“We’d like people to know that these bibles are provided out of love.”
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.
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.”