Pitching in to Help Out

Community members keep Helping Hands equipped to serve hot meals

With the help of food and financial donations, Helping Hands of St. Louis feeds hundreds of people each day at the soup kitchen and food pantry in East Toledo.

In recent years, the number of clients served at Helping Hands steadily increased due to economic decline.  At the same time, government funding for food assistance dramatically decreased.  But thanks to the generosity of the local community, we remained stocked with meat, bread and vegetables for daily hot meals.

The staff at Helping Hands couldn’t have been more pleased with the extra help from our community.  But the center was soon faced with a new problem.

“There was no place to put donations, and we were getting overwhelmed with frozen meat and vegetables,” says Helping Hands Director, Paul Cook.  “We didn’t want to give it all away because of the need for daily meals.”

Freezer space was not the only problem Helping Hands ran into.  The outreach center’s van needed to be replaced.  Without it, the staff were left without a way to pick up donated food from local grocery stores.

But Helping Hands didn’t have to wait long for assistance.  As has happened so many times before, generous people stepped forward provide what was needed.

With the financial help of Jim Meads and others, Helping Hands of St. Louis expanded their freezer space from 10 x 8 feet to a larger 10 x 22 foot walk-in freezer.

About the same time, Helping Hands received word from Paul Krause and his wife, Carol, that they would be willing to donate their used van.

“Our daughter Gretchen volunteers at Helping Hands, and she became aware of the need for transportation,” Mr. Krause says.

Thanks to the love and care of our “angels,” Helping Hands can continue to be an asset to the East Toledo Community and our clients.

“They have good hearts, and we’re blessed to have their support,” Paul Cook says.  “With their help, we can keep serving 300 to 400 meals a day.”

Budgeting in the Right Direction

Below is a letter from former client, Nicolle Kelley, expressing gratitude for the help she received to bring financial stability to her family.

Nicolle was a client of the Community Emergency Services offered at Catholic Charities in Norwalk.  In addition to providing emergency rent assistance, the program includes a workshop to teach clients about budgeting, identity theft, credit reporting and other useful information to help in making informed decisions about financial issues.

Since attending the workshop, Nicolle has changed her shopping habits, moved into a more affordable house, started volunteering and attends church weekly.

Thanks to you – our donors – we are able to make programs like this possible.

Our family is very thankful and grateful that we were able to receive the assistance that you all so kindly helped us with in our time of need. Marla was the woman that helped us and was wonderful.  We thank you all for your help, and the class I took in budgeting helped us tremendously.

So far with what I have learned by coming here, I have actually been able to budget shop and save a little bit of money for extras or emergencies.  Thank you all very much and God bless every one of you…

I honestly believe that having needed help and coming to Catholic Charities and being treated with nothing but respect, kindness, and caring, and getting the help we needed, has helped me and my family in more ways than with just the rental assistance.

I feel as if I am a better person inside and out since coming to your facility.  We have been able to budget a great deal better than we had before, and it opened us to attending church regularly again, which we are very excited about.

I am just trying to express how thankful and grateful we are knowing that there are good organizations and people left in today’s society …

Thank you all so much!  I have learned a lot from this program and am very grateful that it is out there for people in need.  I believe this is an excellent program that you have, God bless each and every one of you.  I wanted to express to you how much you have helped our family and how we are so grateful for it.  It opened my eyes and my heart and now I am doing volunteer work to help out others in need!

God bless and thank you,

Nicolle Kelley

We would like to give a special welcome to our new Respect Life Coordinator, Peter Range.

peter-range1 Peter graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Masters in Theology and a focus in Biblical Studies in 2009. Preceding Notre Dame, Peter received his Bachelor of Arts in History from John Carroll University in 2004. Upon his graduation from John Carroll, Peter spent a year volunteering in Immokalee, Florida where he worked with immigrant and migrant families. He continued his volunteer experience at St. Martin de Porres High School, part of the Cristo Rey Network of Schools in Cleveland, Ohio where he worked with inner city youth.

Peter subsequently taught Scripture for 3 years at St. Martin de Porres and eventually entered the Society of Jesus to discern a call to the religious life. After experiencing the love of Jesus Christ on a 30 day silent retreat, Peter moved on to ‘Opportunity House’ where he lived with former foster care young men who were formerly homeless. While at Opportunity House, Peter also worked vigorously for the ’40 days for life’ campaign to spread a culture of life in Cleveland and beyond.

Finally, Peter began his time at St. Thomas More University Parish as Lead Campus Minister in the summer of 2011 which included leading a Bible Study at our LaPosada Emergency Family Shelter. The fifth of six children, Peter is passionate about family, service and encountering the one true God, Jesus Christ. He loves to read, play sports and simply converse on life’s biggest issues and questions.

In almost three months, Robert Lupton, nationally renowned author and urban activist in Atlanta, will be a guest speaker  for our 100th Anniversary Celebration in Mansfield.  His latest book, “Toxic Charity,” will be the topic of conversation as members of the Mansfield community come together to find ways to help those who are in need.

For more information about the 100th Anniversary Celebration in Mansfield, please click here.

Urban Activist And Author Relates Problems with Charity Work
By Josef Kuhn
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) Food pantries, clothes closets and mission trips have become unquestioned bastions of America’s charitable landscape. But do these well-intended services — many of them run by religious organizations — really help the poor?

According to Robert Lupton, not really. His new book, “Toxic Charity,” draws on his 40 years’ experience as an urban activist in Atlanta, and he argues that most charitable work is ineffective or actually harmful to those it is supposed to help.

Lupton is the founder of FCS Urban Ministries, through which he has developed mixed-income subdivisions that house hundreds of families. He is the author of four other books and holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Georgia.

Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: You say churches and charities can harm those they propose to help. How?

A: Typically, the giving is one-way: those of us with the resources give to those with a lack of resources. One-way giving tends to make the poor objects of pity, which harms their dignity. It also erodes their work ethic and produces a dependency that is unhealthy both for the giver and the recipient.

Q: What is one of the worst instances of `toxic charity’ you have witnessed?

A: The food pantry idea has led to some fairly ugly relationships. The church or group sets up rules to govern how the food is distributed; the recipients figure out ways to circumvent those rules; and they become upset when they don’t get the food they wanted — there’s a kind of a built-in antagonism that grows between the dispensers and the recipients.

Q: Why do you think ill-formed charity is so pervasive?

A: The feel-good experience draws us back in. In our newsletters about mission trips we report how wonderful and grateful the people are, but what we don’t hear are the ways that the trips damage people behind the scenes.

I don’t think we’ve held up good models of development. When there’s a flood or a hurricane, folks continue operating on a one-way, crisis, give-to-the-poor mentality long after development should have taken place, because it’s easier for relief agencies to sell crisis than development and empowerment.

Q: You advise limiting one-way giving to “emergency situations.” What do you define as an emergency situation?

A: A home burning down, a bad hurricane, a devastating earthquake, a famine. What we interpret as crisis, particularly in the U.S., is a different matter. Many of those who are running our food pantries and our clothes closets, for example, feel they are meeting a crisis need of unemployed families. I contend that those are chronic poverty issues that deserve a development strategy.

Q: What is one of the best examples you have seen of a charity that works well?

A: We converted our food pantry into a food co-op. Members of the co-op put in $3 a week; with that, we can purchase $30 worth of groceries from the food bank. The members of the co-op actually own it, run it, collect the money, do the shopping and decide what the rules are. It becomes an empowering process.

Q: Are there any wide-scale studies or statistical data to support your claims?

A: On a national scale, look at the results of the one-way giving that has gone into countries in Africa or Haiti over the years. Those statistics are available, and they’re blatant. But I don’t know of any studies that have been done to quantify the harm versus the benefits of U.S. food distribution. It’s an unexamined industry.

Q: It seems like you could be facing some heat for this idea; what has been the reaction so far?

A: I’ve gotten mixed reviews. It confirms the suspicions of a growing number of people, but for those who are involved in the distribution, it feels like a slap in the face. I think the whole thing is going to be fairly controversial.

Q: What’s the most controversial idea in the book?

A: It might be that most of our service projects and mission trips are counterproductive. We spend as much as $5 billion dollars annually on mission trips, millions of Americans take them every year, and the amount of good accomplished is very, very minimal compared to the expenditures we’re laying out.

Q: Is your book a justification for libertarian politics?

A: I don’t think it is a political book at all. It is a practical book — it has to do with the practice of charity. It calls for responsible charity, examined charity, rather than mindless charity.

For more, go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/12/robert-lupton-toxic-charity_n_1007751.html

In 2010, a string of deadly tornados tore through Millbury, Ohio leaving very little to come to for Sandy and Bruce Tucker. 

Life for retirees Sandy and Bruce Tucker in Millbury was tranquil.  Their house sat in the midst of a heavy wooded area in a small town surrounded by the peaceful noise of nature.

“We thought that we had paradise,” Sandy says.  “We live out in the deep woods very private,” Bruce adds.  “You couldn’t even hear cars or trains.”

In June of 2010, the Tuckers decided to take a vacation to Daytona Beach, Florida.  Shortly after arriving to their destination, Sandy and Bruce received an urgent phone call.

“My son called me,” Bruce says.  “He said we needed to come home.”

While the couple was in Florida, a string of deadly tornadoes ripped through the quiet towns of Millbury, Lake Township, and other surrounding towns.  The tornados destroyed almost everything in their path, including the wooded paradise the Tuckers called home.

“If we would’ve been home, we would’ve died,” Bruce says.  “The house was 85 percent gone.” Sandy explained. Bruce and Sandy lost everything that day.

“We were bewildered,” Bruce remembers.   “We were sort of like in a daze.  We lived in motels and rented a house.  We had to completely gut everything”

Rebuilding their home was a challenge and finding financial assistance to help clear debris was even more difficult.

“It was really hard to get assistance,” Bruce says.  “Our insurance covered the house and its contents. Outside, it didn’t cover a thing.”

After weeks of recovery, the couple’s prayers for financial aid were answered through a divine message from God.

“We were in church one Sunday and we heard about Catholic Charities’ assistance for tornado victims.”  Sandy says.

Sandy and Bruce contacted Catholic Charities and applied for financial assistance through the Disaster Relief program located in Mansfield, Ohio.

“About a month later we received money from Catholic Charities to use for stomp removal and tree clearance,” Bruce says.

With help from Catholic Charities, community volunteers and organizations, Sandy and Bruce were able to move back into their home November 2010. Now, the couple is back to hosting family gatherings and enjoying their new serenity of beautiful open fields left behind after the massive tree removal.

“My advice to others, It’s not the end of the world. It may look like but it’s not. It gets better day by day,” says Bruce.

Life after the devastating event has never been exactly the same for the couple.  But the union of community volunteers and organizations like Catholic Charities has truly restored their faith in humanity.

“There are a lot of good people out there” says Richard.  “We can’t say thanks enough.” Sandy adds.

img_1096Catholic Charities is thankful to have the Catholic HEART Workercamp teens back at Helping Hands of St. Louis for the third year in a row. In past years, the high school volunteers built a handicap ramp and shelving for the clothing center, fixed a fence and landscaped.

This year, the teens painted several rooms in the outreach center, repaired broken concrete and installed a water drain. One teen astonished staff, volunteers and clients with a mural of Jesus in the soup kitchen cafeteria.

“I look forward to these students coming every year,” said Paul Cook, Helping Hands director.  “They do such a great job and make an impact on the surrounding neighborhood.  The students also seem to get a lot of fulfillment out of helping people.  They don’t often see this level of poverty, and it seems to open their eyes.”

Originally published in the Catholic Digest, January 2013

As college football nears the end of its 143rd season, Lou Holtz is among the many taking it in. The 75-year-old ESPN analyst has seen more than his share of games, mostly from the sidelines as a head coach. He coached a total of 388 games at six Division I schools. Lou Holtz

With a victory over USC on November 24, the University of Notre Dame football team finished a season undefeated for the first time since 1988. That was the memorable year in which Lou Holtz led the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 record and a national championship.

Less known, but no less important to Holtz are the experiences that prepared him for his Notre Dame years, and the encounters he had on campus outside of football.

Holtz shares his appreciation for the religious sisters who taught him in grade school, his wife who has supported him for more than 50 years, and his children who have done him proud.

The sisters of Norte Dame at St. Aloysius Grade School influenced my life tremendously. This was due to the fact that they always encourage their students to make sure that God was the focus of their lives, and they didn’t allow us to do anything expect to the very best of our ability.

When this is passed on the youth in their formative years, I can’t begin to tell you how important it is. I owe the good sisters so much for what they taught me, and I will be forever grateful for their selfless dedication.

I used to pray that God would make me a great athlete, and he never did. Yet he put me in the coaching profession, where I’ve experienced 45 years of being involved in great games and competitiveness and having a positive influence on other people’s lives. Had I been a great athlete, I’m not sure I would have even gone into coaching. I may have turned out feeling that my life ended when my athletic career ended, as happens so many times with various athletes.

I do know this: God does answer our prayers, but it’s not always in the way we expect. God knows what’s best for us, though, so there’s no need to worry when things don’t go how we originally wanted them to go. We just have to be willing to make changes and go a different route sometimes.

Impossible to answer. Every single day being there was very special because there were so many opportunities to encounter and live out the Catholic Faith. Mass and confession were always available, and you could pray the Rosary at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is a smaller-sized replica of the original in France.

If I had to list some top memories, though, I guess they would be having three of my four children graduate from that fine university and one of them getting a second degree from the law school. Just being on campus and being able to represent Notre Dame through football are great memories, but I think the statue they built of me and dedication in 2008 has to rank up there, as well. That was a very humbling experience.

I appreciate my wife, Beth, so much. She has been there through good times and bad, and no one has been more supportive of me. Her loving attention and candor have helped me more than I can say. We’ve always done things as a team, not just me going my own way. That’s essential if you want your marriage to work, and ours has for many years. It has been more than 50, thanks be to God.

It’s a great perspective to live life with similar to the serenity prayer. It’s helpful for anyone, but maybe in a special way for coaches. Coaches can get too focused on results and winning, so it’s good to step back and let go of things a little bit. I just try to change the things I can, accept the things I can’t, and pray I have the wisdom to know the difference between the two.

I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, an always show people you care. You’ve got to make a sincere attempt to have the right goals to begin with and then go after them with appropriate effort, and you must remember that you can’t really achieve anything great without the help of others.

Another way of seeing it is that anything great you do achieve will be for others, in the sense that helping other people realize their potential is what achieving is all about. It’s not a one-man show; it’s about contributing to the good of the team. That’s how you have to see it.

Our perspective in life is so important and this was reinforced by my experience with the New York Jets in 1976. That was one of the best coaching jobs in the country at the time – and yet I didn’t take advantage of it because of my own attitude. I came into it seeing problems instead of opportunities, and this prevented me from getting the most out of the team.

Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is what you learn from it. I like to say that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it. I did learn from the Jets experience, and it has really helped me in subsequent years with other teams.

I think life is a matter of choices and that wherever we are, good or bad, is because of the choices we make. If you choose to do drugs, drop out of school, join a gang, or have five children out of wedlock, you’re choosing to end up in prison or in poverty – and that is not a result of choices I or anyone else made, but of choices you made. We need to get back to holding people accountable for their choices, and that includes people in the Catholic Church.

I think the Catholic Church is infallible when it comes to religious principles [on faith and morals]. That’s what I was taught by the sisters of Notre Dame growing up, and I believe that to this day. Do I agree with the practical decisions of Church leaders on some things? Certainly not. But, by the same token, I try to follow Catholic teachings. That’s what brings meaning and lasting happiness to life.



Categories: Annivesary blog

A New Take on Adoption

It started with an email five years ago from Brenda Starr-Jude, Adult Advocacy Staff Guardian, at Catholic Charities.  During the holiday season, Brenda was looking for donors and volunteers to adopt an elderly client through Catholic Charities’ Project Bethlehem program.

“Most people tend to forget about seniors during the holidays,” says Brenda. “My clients, the majority of them, have no one visiting except for me.”

A lot of Brenda’s senior clients in the Guardianship Program are wards of the state who have little or no family and are unable to take care of themselves.

Brenda reached out to Jana, a 6th grade teacher at Eastern Elementary School.

“I asked the other sixth grade teachers if they would be interested in doing this together,” says Jana.

Every year since then, students and their teachers – Jana, Joni and others – adopted a senior through the Catholic Charities’ program.  

“It’s a great opportunity for the students to think of other people,” Jana continues.  

In recent years, they have adopted two seniors whom they have nicknamed “Grandma Virginia” and “Grandpa Herman.”  During the holiday season, the students bring in monetary donations to help purchase gifts from their adopted grandparents’ Christmas wish list.

img_0868Last year, Grandpa Herman — who was diagnosed with a form of dementia — needed a flat panel television that could be mounted onto his wall for safety reasons.  Joni and her students decided to step up to the task.

“That was our goal, and the students were really excited that we had enough money to buy him the T.V.,” Joni says.

When it came time to deliver the presents, Grandpa Herman was overjoyed.  As Brenda walked into his room with the neatly wrapped television, she asked, “Mr. P., do you want to open this?” He responded with excitement, “Oh no, it’s too big!”

The giving does not stop after Christmas.  Throughout the year, the students participate in projects to send to their adopted grandparents.

“We try to remember them during the major holidays: Thanksgiving, their birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day.  This Halloween, we bought them candy,” Joni and Jana said.   

Grandma Virginia loves to show Brenda the messages the students write on her cards.

img_0871“It’s impacted both of their lives, but it’s been especially wonderful for Virginia,” Brenda says.  “She is fully alert, and the students have become like extended family to her.  She was only married for four or five years and never had any children.  She’s told me they’re like her grandchildren.” 

“It’s not just a one-time giving project during the holiday season,” Brenda adds.  It’s truly an adoption.”

This October, we will continue our 100th Anniversary celebration in Mansfield with Robert Lupton, a nationally renowned author who is best known for his book “Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, and How to Reverse It.”

For more information about our 100th Anniversary Celebration in Mansfield, please click here.

Do you know the difference between a chronic and a crisis? In the following post, Lupton breaks down the difference and shares why it is important to properly address the situation and assess the need according to the issue.

Chronic or Crisis? Learning to Tell the Difference.

by Bob Lupton

A crisis requires emergency intervention;
A chronic problem requires development.
Address a crisis need with a crisis intervention, and lives are saved.
Address a chronic need with a crisis intervention, and people are harmed.

Have you noticed that many of the same people return week after week for free food from your food pantry? Ever wonder whether your handouts were really helping or merely perpetuating a dependent lifestyle? Admitting and verbalizing these observations, at the risk of appearing heartless, is the essential first step toward truly effective service. The point isn’t to judge people who are suffering from a chronic problem; it isn’t to be cruel and deny them help because they “are stuck” and just need to “get a job.” The point is that, in offering food, you are not doing enough. It’s as ineffective as offering a Band-Aid to someone who is suffering from massive internal bleeding.

The key to effective service is accurately matching the need with the appropriate intervention.

The universal need for food is a good place to begin. Starvation is a crisis issue; hunger is a chronic issue. When famine sweeps a land, or a tsunami devastates coastal cities, starvation becomes an urgent, life-and-death situation. Emergency food supplies must be rushed in without delay. But in a stable nation with abundant supplies of food and adequate government food subsidies, occasional hunger—not starvation—is the reality facing the less advantaged. Food insecurity is a chronic, not crisis, poverty issue.

Food security is what free-food advocates talk about these days. That means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. The poor in America, roughly 15 percent of the population, are food-insecure at least sometime during the year. Even though four out of five of these households receive food from the government, there are times when their cupboards are bare.

But food-insecurity is not a crisis issue. It is a function of chronic poverty. Unlike during the great depression of the 1930’s when one in four of our workers stood in bread lines with no government safety net to rescue them, today more than 90 percent of our workforce is employed and our public subsidies are ample. Hunger is not our problem. Poor nutrition perhaps, but not hunger. Food insecurity is a chronic poverty issue and chronic problems require altogether different strategies than crisis problems.

Starvation is a crisis need; hunger is a chronic issue.

Address hunger (chronic) with a free feeding program (crisis) and unhealthy dependency occurs.

Evenings at the Roell’s house are far from uneventful.  With two bright pre-teen girls and two very active toddlers, there is never a dull moment for parents Kendra and Richard.

roell-family-outside A few years ago, the Roell’s decided to open their home and hearts to adoption.

“We lost our son because of a genetic illness and any children we would have had after would have developed that illness,” Richard explains.

“We couldn’t have any children on our own anymore,” Kendra says. “But we still had this desire to love children.”

Bringing Hope

Kendra and Richard took a year to grieve and talk over the idea of adopting their next child.

After reviewing several agencies in the area, the Roell’s decided that Catholic Charities was the right fit for their family.

“The thing I enjoyed was that they cared about the baby, the birth mom, and the entire situation,” Richard explains.

It was not long before a beautiful baby girl named Hope came into their lives.

carolyn-1 The family has an open adoption arrangement with Hope’s birth mother, Carolyn. 

“It wasn’t our initial preference, but it was a step out in faith,” Richard says.

“It’s been nice because honesty has ruled from the time we have been with Carolyn and that will carry forth in our relationship with Hope,” Kendra says.

“Hope will always know and understand they situation. She’s going to know who Carolyn is and she will know who we are. I think open adoption is a great thing,” Richard adds.

The family maintains contact with Carolyn by phone, text message and email.  They even schedule meetings throughout the year to keep Carolyn posted on Hope’s development and progress. 

A Second Blessing

A few months after the Roells settled into a new life with baby Hope, they learned of an infant in need of foster care.

“It was unexpected,” Richard recalls.  “We knew we wanted to adopt a second child, but we wanted to wait another year.  We got a call from Catholic Charities saying we have a child, and we can’t place him.”

The baby’s name was Emery, and his birth mother had a history of mental illness and drugs. Health complications from Emery’s birth made it difficult to find a suitable home for him.  Kendra and Richard were asked if they would be willing to foster the child until placement.

But Kendra and Richard decided to make Emery a permanent part of their family.

“He’s been a joy,” says Richard.  “There have been problems with the drug exposure, but nothing we can’t handle.”

Moving Forward

After adopting the two children, they describe life as nothing short of a blessing.

“Our life seems easier to move forward now,” says Kendra. “There seems to be purpose again. They need me, and I need them.”

“As wild and busy as it is, I couldn’t imagine life without them,” Richard adds with a smile on his face.

“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 that God has for each individual person regardless of their 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.