It is always good to begin this time of the year, the holiday season, with our Thanksgiving celebrations. Having once again gathered with family and friends, observing traditions that include meals shared and a variety of customs; thoughts of gratitude for family love and blessings that we can too often take for granted, give me the inspiration to share my message for this edition of our Catholic Charities Employee Newsletter!
My message is a simple and sincere one. As Vicar for Catholic Charities, I am very grateful to serve as a colleague with you, the many talented and generous employees of our agency.
Our recent annual gathering of our growing donor base of the Good Samaritan Society that brings together people who are very willing to support our mission and ministries reminded me, that you are the ones who bring about so many amazing results in people, who need affirmation and reasons to hope!
Thank you and God bless you,
Father Dave Reith, Vicar
Outreach & Case Management
The Paths to Faithful Caregiving sessions that were held at St. Helen’s in Milwaukee and the Catholic Charities Waukesha office in September and October were well received by those who participated. St. Helen’s parish may continue to offer these sessions to their parishioners several times per year. All parishes involved were grateful for the training they received from Age Options and Carlos Perez and Nancy Munoz.
In early November Lisa Krolow received updated training for the HUD Homelessness Prevention Program which she oversees in Walworth County. Through this program Lisa is able to help assist families who qualify with rental and utility assistance.
Leah Amboise has become a member of Partners for Community Development in Sheboygan County. The committee serves the Hispanic community with programs such as citizenship classes, translation/interpretation and weatherization programs for their homes.
Laura Martinez and Peggy Caceres have been involved in several large Racine/Kenosha community events the past two months. Participating in these events allows other agencies and potential clients to become aware of the services provided by Catholic Charities.
November 1st started the open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act and Sue Howland, a Certified Application Counselor, has been busy assisting clients with questions and enrollment into various heath insurance programs. Open enrollment runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017, so far the number of people enrolling in the Marketplace is up from previous years.
Mr. J.O. came to my office looking for someone to help him with his medical bills. He was a victim of a felony crime. He was assaulted at his own house. Luckily, one of his roommates was in the house and called the police. By the time police arrived, the perpetrators had fled the scene and my client was on the floor. He was taken to the hospital. As a result of this crime, my client ended up with a huge hospital bill amounting in the thousands. As I started to call the different billing departments, I found out that my client had qualified for Community Care at Wheaton Franciscan Hospital in Racine. He was not aware of that. His bills were balanced to zero which is a stress less for Mr. J. O. However, we still had the ambulance bill. I called Victim and Witness Program, and they will pay the ambulance bill.
Client is happy that thousands of dollars in medical bills have been written off and very thankful to our agency for stepping up to his full plate. I asked each vendor involved if they were willing to honor my client’s Community Care letter through Wheaton and they did!!!
As little as this may sound, any little bit helps… We really make a huge difference.
In-Home Support and Hoarding Intervention & Treatment
Dalia Segarra, our new Home Coach who started in the end of September, is already serving 18 people that suffer from Hoarding Disorder. We also implemented a support group for family and friends of those who suffer from hoarding disorder. This is a monthly group usually held on a Thursday evening at 6pm led by Elizabeth Johnson. Next support group is Dec 28. We are hoping to a start a support group for those who have hoarding disorder in the beginning of 2018.
Hoarding Intervention & Treatment Program
This year Catholic Charities Hoarding Intervention and Treatment Program received a call from a woman whose 67- year old cousin was not passing apartment inspections and was facing another eviction.
Jane is a retired teacher and never had children of her own. She is a very sweet, intelligent, caring individual who developed hoarding behaviors after losing her husband. In her grief, she isolated herself and pushed family away, as they had already helped her move twice due to evictions.
We found that most of the items in her home and storage units pertained to teaching and children. We quickly realized that particular items triggered anxiety and overwhelmed her. She began working with our Home Coach who was able to simplify the process and help her establish new and healthy routines. Most of the things in her home were still very usable and she found that it felt good to donate supplies to schools and other charities where they could be used.
Jane also worked with our behavioral health professional who helped her to identify her sources of anxiety and also how to properly deal with the emotions of losing her husband. This was monumental as she had not properly grieved the loss of her husband.
Now that she is not overwhelmed and emotionally attached to the items in her home, she is able to make quick and proper decisions to clear away clutter and she is able get out and socialize more. She is very active at the local senior center and back to volunteering at a local school. In talking with her family members they expressed their gratitude for us and now look forward to spending time with Jane.
CQI…”Continuous Quality Improvement” corner
Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is about knowing where we are at every step of the process, doing and documenting what is best for our clients.
It is the role of CQI to assist program directors in any way which furthers the program capabilities and documents those activities essential to determining if the desired positive client outcomes are being achieved. Outcomes are client centered and are the results of staff/client interactions following a well-defined plan of care. Each unique program follows a Logic Model or road map listing the intended desired client outcomes and those indicators (statistics) used to measure the progression of those outcomes. Logic models are not limited to client program outcomes but also have a shared value with administrative functions as well. New in 2018 the Parish Relations Committee will be creating a logic model with the intent on providing structure to the process of relationship building between CC and the parishes of South East Wisconsin.
Ongoing: Meetings with directors, meeting with staff, participating in home visits, reviewing regulatory statutes, updating logic models, monitoring case closures, monitor survey collection and site visits.
Quarterly: Meeting with volunteer groups, conducting CQI Meetings with directors and staff if appropriate to review current trends and outcome achievement results, file reviews, and data collection methods as required.
Compliance: As with any agency there are a certain number of activities which are required by regulatory, funding and agency directives that must occur. This is the compliance piece. CQI will assist in writing action plans to address findings and create an audit response if requested. CQI will also assist when State Audit visits are scheduled and help provide the required audit documentation as requested.
Legal Services for Immigrants
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. To be eligible for DACA, a person must meet certain requirements, including arriving in the United States before turning 16, completing a high school education, and being physically present in the United States since at least June 15, 2007. Many of them were brought to the United States by their parents as young children. In addition, the applicant cannot have been found guilty of a significant misdemeanor or a felony, and cannot have committed more than two non-significant misdemeanors.
Once a person is granted DACA, they are eligible for a work permit, a social security card, and a driver’s license. It allows them to remain legally in the United States, though it doesn’t provide a path to permanent residence or citizenship.
Since the DACA program was announced in June of 2012, the Legal Services for Immigrants program has completed DACA initial and renewal applications for close to 650 clients. The Pew Research Center estimates that over 690,000 young people are currently enrolled in the program. According to USCIS data, 12,491 of current DACA holders are from the state of Wisconsin.
The September 5 announcement effectively cancelled the DACA program, and gave applicants whose work permits expired between September 5th and March 5th only 30 days to submit their renewal applications. Our office completed between 40-50 renewal applications in the 30 day period. The majority of these cases were completed and submitted by our current Jesuit Volunteer, who manages the DACA program, in her first month of service with LSI. Normally, our office would have between 3-4 months to complete those renewals as they came close to their date of expiration.
On top of this, LSI received 7 applications back that had been submitted well before the deadline, but were rejected by immigration because they were received late. Some of these applications were placed in the PO Box on the deadline, but were not picked up by immigration until October 6th. Most of these were delayed due to USPS error, which the post office has taken responsibility for. Immigration has since reversed their position, and have said they will accept applications which were received late due to USPS error. It is estimated that close to 4000 applicants nationwide were affected by USPS processing delays, and is caused considerable stress for staff and clients.
Many of the DACA recipients that our office represents have work permits that expire after March 5th. After March 5th, they will no longer be able to renew their work permits through DACA. For all people with DACA, we have encouraged them to speak with an attorney to see what other options they may have to remain in the country lawfully. For some who have no options, they are at a higher risk for deportation than they were when they were protected through DACA.
The DACA recipients that our office represents with are truly incredible. Many are pursuing advanced degrees at Milwaukee Area Technical College, Marquette University, and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Some of our DACA recipients have received full scholarships to pay for the cost of school. Others are employed as engineers or computer technicians, or are owners of small businesses. All of this has been possible because through DACA, they can obtain a work permit and a social security card. With the rescission of the DACA program, they may be forced to return to the shadows once again.
This has created a considerable amount of fear in the immigrant community. Our office has tried to mitigate this fear through consultations with attorneys for DACA holders where we can inform them of their other options. We have received many more requests from consultations for DACA holders and their families who are afraid of what their future in the United States might hold. We continue to hope that Congress will come to a humanitarian solution for these young immigrants.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
LSI has represented many immigrant families in their TPS applications from Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The Trump administration announced on November 5th that it is ending temporary protected status (TPS) for Nicaraguans. The administration still has made no decision as to Salvadorans and Hondurans.
TPS protection for Nicaraguans began in 1999. TPS currently ends on January 6, 2018. The law required the administration to make a decision as to any TPS extension for Nicaraguans before November 6, 2017. Because the administration did not, the law requires that TPS be extended for 6 months. The administration is extending the deadline for more than the required six months. TPS is now scheduled to end on January 5, 2019. After January 5, 2019, any NIcaraguan with TPS will revert to whatever status or lack of status held prior to receiving TPS.
The administration failed to make a timely decision as to extending Temporary Protected Status for the 86,000 Hondurans who live in the United States. The law requires that TPS be extended for six months anytime the administration fails to make a timely decision. Therefore, TPS is automatically extended for Hondurans until July 5, 2018.
Pregnancy & Parenting Support
As part of my Social Work program at UWM I have been able to be a part of Catholic Charities for the last semester and will be able to continue for the semester to come. In my time here I have been able to work closely with Sarah Chidister and her team in Pregnancy and Parenting Support. I have learned a lot about the needs of the communities we serve, especially those in Milwaukee County. I have been able to learn about the resources available here in Milwaukee and have been working to find more resources to connect families with goods and services that they are in need of. I have also been learning about the social work process and how impactful people in this profession can be to those they serve. I am very grateful to the team for being so supportive and teaching me so much! In the semester to come I am looking forward to continue learning through interacting with women and families in the community and being able learn from the experience of the team here at Catholic Charities.
We recently moved our support group from a church to MAO so you will see us once a month in the conference rooms. Jessica Brandt has found some great volunteers to work with us so the moms (and dads) can focus on connecting with others.
Every November is National Adoption Month. This year we held a celebration at a local church where we viewed an adoption documentary and held a discussion. While the adults connected the kiddos enjoyed activities with volunteers.
We had a lot to celebrate this year because we continue to see growth in our adoption program. So far this year we have placed 10 babies into their prospective adoptive homes, vs. just 3 babies in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
BRAVELOVE is a great website to check out if you are interested in learning more about adoption. Their mission is to “change the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption.”
To hear birthparent stories please visit: https://www.bravelove.org/nam_2015
We are already starting to plan for our fifth annual Birthmother’s retreat with the Lacrosse, Green Bay, and Madison dioceses. This is a day to celebrate the brave and very difficult decision that our birthmother’s make. This event is open to any birthmother, no matter what agency they made their adoption plan through.
Within the last year we created secret Facebook groups for our Adoption and Pregnancy and Parenting Supportive Services programs. We use the groups to share information, highlight community events, and build connections between our clients in between the support groups that are held for each program.
Adult Day Services
ADC has been thriving with various volunteer groups. We have been working with area colleges and high schools getting students to help with activities.
DSHA freshman service day occurred on Nov. 1st and learned lots of stories of our Veterans. Seminary students from St. Francis sends us two returning students from last year and a new student from Sacred Heart. Their one on one time with members has made significant impacts on them and helped with spiritual growth. Marquette High students are spending service hours after school and have been learning lots of war stories from our vets here in the evening.
It’s been an exceptional year at the center. We have served 70 members and their families so far this year. Increases from the VA and Family Care are noted. Daily census averages about 32 and roughly 45 baths are given monthly.
Welcome to our new therapist, Joe Halaiko, who works at the Milwaukee office. He is a recent graduate of Mount Mary University’s counseling program.
The healing garden therapy project at MAO was a huge success! Clients enjoyed planning, working and reaping the fruits of their labor. The healing garden will continue next year with planning efforts to begin in early spring.
Staff members from United Way Kenosha recently visited our office at Holy Rosary Parish. During their visit, they noticed that the office furniture was a bit dated and generously offered to donate newer chairs for Jose and his clients. The new furniture has made the office more welcoming and gives our clients a comfortable place to meet with our therapist.
For the second year, members of the Hayssen Family Foundation contacted us to learn about our services in Sheboygan and selected our agency to receive a grant. They first contacted us last year after seeing an interview with our behavioral health director on CBS 58 news. We are very grateful that they continue to value our services.
The challenge of having five siblings, a mother who works full time and a father who is away from the house due to the demands of his job is a situation that can add stress and tension to a child.
In this case, our client is Tom, a 7 year-old boy who was the third of six siblings whose ages ranged between fifteen and two years-old.
At home, Tom was having frequent tantrums and starting fights with his siblings. After receiving complaints from school about his behavior (getting involved in fights with other children, refusing to follow rules, and not doing his work on time), Tom’s mother called our Fond du Lac office for counseling services for her son.
Tom’s mother shared that her work schedule did not allow her to dedicate enough time to the children and that she was the primary caretaker since her husband was working in a different city.
When meeting with Tom, he explained that his fifteen-year-old sister took care of him and his siblings until mom came home from work. Tom mentioned that he didn’t want to follow his sister’s rules and described the rivalry he felt with his younger siblings.
During the therapy sessions Tom explored his feelings and reflected on better responses to situations that made him react negatively. Tom felt that he was treated unfairly by the mother and siblings, feelings that he replaced with more positive thoughts with the help of cognitive-behavior therapy.
Tom’s mom implemented strategies discussed in session to help improve the interaction between Tom and his siblings in order to lessen conflicts.
One of Tom’s complaints was that he was ‘always’ the first that had to take a shower and go to bed which allowed less time for him to play. To avoid that conflict Tom’s mother set up a rotation schedule so Tom did not ‘always’ have to be the first to stop playing to take a shower.
Mom made changes in her work schedule in order to get home earlier and be able to spend more quality time with the children, supervise their activities, and also help them with homework.
The behavior modification strategies implemented by Tom’s mother in addition to having a more structured routine helped Tom stop reacting negatively to events at home and school as well as improve his interaction with his siblings and classmates.
Migrant & Refugee Services
The number one goal we have for our clients is self-sufficiency and we take this to heart. Upon arrival into America, we take 100% of our clients in for health screenings and register all school aged children into schools right away.
The parents are provided with an 8 week Cultural Orientation class that helps them prepare for the responsibilities they will have here in their new country. They learn about safety and the class helps them to become more familiar with American culture and norms.
Our ESL program currently has about 25 students at both our north and southside locations with 19 active volunteers helping out and teaching the classes. Learning English is very important for our clients, which is why we try to motivate them to attend morning ESL classes and work a second shift job. We are working on updating all of the curriculums in order to provide an even better learning experience for our students.
Recently we started providing In-Home ESL to one mom who is not able to make it to classes because of children she has at home. She is receiving classes twice a week and so far it has been very beneficial for her. As the need arises, we will continue to offer this service for individuals who cannot leave the home to attend classes.
Through our Employment program, our Job Developers work tirelessly to ensure that our clients are being placed in jobs that are mutually beneficial for both the clients and the employers. They have created excellent relationships among many employers including Cargill, Goodwill, many hotels including the Marriot, Hilton, and Intercontinental. They understand the employer’s real needs and know which clients to place where.
Our Job Developers are often assisting both the client and the employer in arranging appointments, interviews, interpreting for safety trainings, and transportation. They do a great job following-up with employers in order to ensure a good retention and to keep our clients employed. Our Job Developers have done such a great job that employers are now reaching out and calling them asking for more refugees to fill available positions. With the clients that have been resettled through Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and are eligible for employment, we have been able to place 98% of them in jobs within 4-5 months of their arrival. They are working full-time and receiving benefits. Our Job Developers have also been making the drive to Sheboygan and have helped our Sheboygan case managers place 100% of our eligible clients in full-time work.
We serve not only our clients who were originally resettled through Catholic Charities, but over half of the clients we are placing in jobs are second migration clients and walk-ins. They speak 20 different languages and dialects including Arabic, Burmese, Karen, Chin, Swahili, French and Somali to name a few.
The women who participate in our crochet class continue to use plastic bags to create a variety of items including picnic mats and baskets. They love being able to give back to a community that has been so welcoming to them. If they aren’t able to attend our weekly class, they work on their projects at home and bring them in on a later date.
To date, 7 women from the Congo and 2 women from Burma collectively have already sold 20 baskets, 3 picnic mats and have earned a combined total of $522. Their confidence, self-esteem, and friendships among one another continue to blossom.
Featured Site - WAO
We, at WAO, strive to make the office comfortable, welcoming and joyful for the people we serve. We have all been in situations where the building/office atmosphere sets the tone for the service that is provided, whether it is for the good or the bad. Based on those experiences, we like to connect with all who walk through our doors in a friendly, open manner. Decorating for the seasons, offering warm beverages, sending a smile and making eye contact is our way of showing our people that they are valued and important. And we really believe that all that walk through our doors are valued and important, no matter where life has led them.
Most of the clients who come to the behavioral health office have had extreme difficulties. These difficulties can often time become more exasperated during the holiday season. With so many advertisements, movies, and songs about the importance of family and connection; many clients can struggle as they may be alone and disconnected from others. More often than not, I have seen the impact that a one-hour session can make for people who are isolated and alone. We all want to feel valued and heard and for many reasons, we sometimes cannot achieve that. Psychotherapy can be an important support to those in need year-round. In particular, though, around the holidays, it can provide a necessary boost to survive what might otherwise be a crisis for some clients. This is the time of year that I will more frequently hear clients say, ‘I’m so glad that I came in today.’
Employee Appreciation Day 2017
Welcome to Beth Geiger who is our new Development Associate. Beth joined our team following the departure of Hailee Moore who accepted a new position back home in Chicago. If you stop in our office on Tuesday or Thursday mornings, you can meet Emily Perron who is our Social Media Intern this semester. With many thanks to Sarah for kicking off our employee newsletter and many other initiatives, we will be searching for a new communications coordinator as she prepares to move to Ohio.
Our consultant, Erin Kelly, received feedback from more than 430 individuals through in-person and phone interviews, focus groups and email surveys. Clients, staff, Board members, donors and community partners were included in the outreach for their perceptions of Catholic Charities. She presented a summary of her findings to the management team and the Board. Applying what we have learned from our research, we will review our logo, brand image and messaging in early 2018.
Have you seen our Facebook, Twitter or website recently? We would love your feedback on new posts and content on the website. If you have pictures of your program in action, please send them to Sarah with details about the photo and we can post to our social media sites. Our emphasis is on promoting your core program activities to help strengthen community understanding of who we are and what we do.
What is on your program webpage? Keeping content fresh and up to date is key to your program webpage appearing in searches. Google Analytics show that our primary website viewers match client demographics – primarily millennial age women. The top 4 program pages viewed on our website are LSI, Behavioral Health, In-home, and Adoption. Contact Sarah to discuss ideas – writing a blog, featuring client support information online, modeling content after another agency, etc… With the help of a Spanish Communications intern next semester, we hope to provide more content on the website in Spanish.
Many donors make their annual contributions at this time of year. Our activities throughout the year help to keep Catholic Charities in the minds and hearts of our donors. One of those activities is our Good Samaritan Society Mass & Dinner for donors who contribute $1000 or more annually. This year the event was held on Saturday, September 16 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Archbishop Listecki and our Vicar, Father Dave Reith, concelebrated Mass. A reception and dinner were held in the Vue Ballrooms atop the Hyatt overlooking the city. Attendance reached 93 guests, an increase of 55% over last year when we presented this new Saturday evening program for the first time. We showcased the agency video and introduced our new co-chairs of the Works of Charity Fund, Laurie and Bruce Arnold. Many thanks to the staff and Board members who joined us for the evening!