The cross has always been a symbol of hope for people who are suffering; the cross identifies human suffering at its worst, but it also proclaims Christ’s victory over death.
At Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, our tagline is “To Serve & To Lift.” Our goal for every person walking through our doors is to serve their immediate needs, relieve their anxieties and remove their burdens. At the same time, we want to lift them to the dignity of self-reliance.
The holidays are a special time of gathering with family and friends, pausing to give thanks for the bounty God has blessed us with. Unfortunately, for many people we serve at Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, a home accompanied by these descriptions is evasive, either because a person lacks the physical space to call their own, the food to fill their plate, the peace of mind to know their home is well within their means, or the spirit of love which should permeate all homes is simply vacant.
As I reflect on my education, I am grateful to have attended Catholic schools for all but two years and was fortunate to work at a Catholic university for five years. Being a product of the Catholic education system has prepared me well for my current role as Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
As we approach the Lenten season, I have begun reflecting on what I could do to put forth greater sacrifices for the glory of God. Usually, the first thing that comes to mind is fasting, but there is also great reward in charitable works for the poor.
On March 19, we celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and spouse to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have had a devotion to this great man of God ever since my childhood and even chose the name Joseph as my Confirmation name. However, the impact of St. Joseph on my life was present even before I was conceived.
What if your utilities were about to be shut off because you couldn’t pay your bill? What if you were on the brink of eviction and didn’t know where to go? What if your only means of transportation was an unreliable car needing costly repairs, and you struggled to get to work every day? We are called to serve beyond our urban locations. We need to “extend the welcome.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States set a new three- month record for the hottest summer. In the Kansas City area specifically, temperatures for June, July & August averaged just over 88° causing a spike in utility usage and costs. This spike was acutely felt by vulnerable families, those living on the edge of poverty whose wages don’t allow for any kind of deviation.
Last year we served people by providing more than $900,000 in utility and rent assistance. We also make an impact by using the opportunity of that initial Welcome Center interaction to aid those who need help in lifting themselves out of poverty by beginning the work of long-term sustainability planning.
It’s the first cold day of winter and the Welcome Center is packed with families. Before being ushered into a private room to meet with a resource specialist the parents share their plight while their children play on the floor. Each parent’s story is different, however, they do share a common thread – housing instability.
Your support for Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Fund does so much more than meet immediate needs. Every day, mothers come to the Welcome Center, holding the hand of a shy toddler or carrying an infant in a carrier seat. Despite her best efforts, she just can’t keep up with her bills – rent, utilities, food, infant formula and diapers. Thanks to you, we’re able to help through the Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Fund.
In just a few days, we’ll mark the beginning of the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. For Christians it’s a time of reflection and voluntary self-denial before celebrating Easter, with the goal of becoming a better person, more faithful, more compassionate, and closer to all that God would have us be.
Social work is not easy, and that’s putting it lightly. Days consist of long hours, ever-shifting levels of stress, and busy schedules that can change at the drop of a hat. It consists of skipping meals, waking up in the middle of the night to tend to an emergency, and exhausting yourself of everything you have to help a client. Being a social worker isn’t easy, but at Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the greater good of the human person is deemed a worthy cause.
Children & Family Services
It’s in our heritage. Founded in 1879 as an orphanage, the services and even the name of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph have morphed throughout its 139 years of community service. Beginning as Mount St. Bernard’s Orphanage, it changed its name to the Catholic Welfare Bureau around the Great Depression, then to Catholic Family and Community Services, and finally, to Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
The ABCs every caretaker should know. If you love and care for a baby, you must know the ABCs of safe sleep. Their lives depend upon you knowing safe practices during all sleep times.
Here’s one look at what we did last year to help strengthen families–the bedrock to a successful community.
Many SNAP recipient families will be walking into a hidden emergency inadvertently spawned by government good intentions.
Children in poverty may have heard up to 30 million fewer words than children in middle to upper income households. Therefore, as Dr. Suess would say, the time is prime!
While stress is normal in an adult’s life and by adulthood we’re expected to have developed ways to offset it, to a child, exposure to prolonged stress or chronic trauma can have life altering effects. This is especially true for children from birth to six years of age when their brains are still developing.
Local employers say applicants often lack “soft skills,” such as work ethic, learning ability and teamwork. Companies rated these skills most important to their business.
With unemployment rates at 4 percent or below, one might think the Employment Services department at Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph would be on extended vacation. But, nothing could be further from the truth.
Our data shows that when the average person walks in the door seeking service at Catholic Charities, his average income is about $704 per month. After participation in our employment service activities, whether it be in our Employment Services Program or within another program in the agency, that average monthly income increases to $1849 – an increase of 162 percent!
Did you see the recent headlines boasting the 7.6 percent unemployment rate? Probably not, because almost every media outlet in the United States has reported a record low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent. But, what if I told you both numbers are true?
At Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, our motto is “To Serve and To Lift”. For our Employment Services this is accomplished by helping people break the chains of poverty binding not only them, but one, two, or even more generations before them.
By strict definition, the term wellness is defined as the state of being in good health. Eating well, exercise, drinking enough water or fluids, and periodic doctor check-ups, likely spring to mind. But, what about employment? According to the National Wellness Institute, one’s occupation is a key dimension of wellness.
In this series, Jarrod Sanderson looks at the first of four critical factors that most often contribute to housing insecurity, and some of the steps Catholic Charities is taking to help restore stable housing hope.
A seasoned veteran with over 40 years of non-profit experience, Jan Motl, director of Catholic Charities northwest office located in St. Joseph, explains why “good” housing news isn’t always so good.
An 11-year Catholic Charities of Kansas City and St. Joseph veteran, Sanderson in this issue discusses some revolutionary steps the organization is now undertaking to meet the chronic issue of income insufficiency in terms of affordable housing.
Asking for help is hard. In fact, consistent feedback from the people Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph serves says that asking for help is often accompanied by a sense of shame, guilt, and eroded self-confidence. Now, consider what it’s like for a veteran to ask for help.
Not having stability in housing impacts every aspect of a person’s life: employment, health (mental and physical), education, safety and interpersonal relationships.
Neighborhoods of Hope Community Housing (NHCH) is a non-profit organization created by Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph to provide access to affordable housing for low-income and hard-to-house populations (those who suffer from disabilities or have past evictions or convictions on their record).
It was my last semester of college and I was fortunate enough to land an internship with Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph working alongside the Supportive Services for Veteran Families team (SSVF). This team is committed to helping veterans avoid homelessness, and, if life’s circumstance does deal them such a blow, to rapidly rehouse them.