STORIES FROM THE FRONT LINES
Thank you to staff who are sharing their stories of navigating through the COVID-19 crisis while continuing to provide services for their clients. Below are just some reflections we gathered from staff. A common thread is that by staying open, Catholic Charities is able to meet unmet needs due to other organizations closing. Thank you all for the work you are doing! We are making a difference!
“We are all eager to step in, go the extra mile, and do whatever it takes to help. This is our 100th year of service, and while it’s not what we expected it to be, it’s brought out our mission in a new and different way.” Jessica Brandt | Volunteer Coordinator | CAO
"Our leadership sets us apart from other agencies during COVID-19. Instead of reacting in fear, we are being proactive. Our leadership is removing silos of our specific programs and allowing us to modify services to create new opportunities to support our community. This is very different from other agencies because the unknown of new ventures can seem like a risk. But, when you are dealing with a whole community who are at risk, it takes a brave leader and agency to step up to new challenges." Carla Alejo | Director of Hoarding & In-Home Support Services | MAO
"We are taking the term essential service to heart. We are staying open & continuing our great work. We knew we needed to change as an agency in the short-term by responding to changing needs. It happened quickly for us. We had a whiteboard full of ideas and changes were visible within 2 weeks." Jay Sugar | Parish Relations Coordinator | CAO
"The transition [during COVID-19] has been the biggest surprise for me! I thought video or phone therapy would be awkward for people. In some ways, I've found that it can be better. I've been able to reach clients in the comfort of their own home during a really stressful time. Our meetings are more informal and clients are able to be more vulnerable." Geoff Malone | Behavioral Health Therapist | RAO
“Refugee families still want and need our support and education programs more than ever before. We made the transition to remote volunteering and virtual education programs. Today, many of our Refugee learners are continuing their in-home education remotely through virtual meetings with volunteers.” Claire Reuning | Refugee Integration Specialist | RIS
“We saw an unmet need and worked as a group to get more food to seniors and families in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Sheboygan counties.” Courtney Messplay | Home Coach | MAO
Sacred Heart Parish in Racine is eager for us to expand our food drive. When Father Ricardo Martin expressed food scarcity within their community, our Parish Relations Coordinator, Jay Sugar, said we could help. Father Martin said, “You bring the food, and we’ll find the families who need it most!” Since then, Jay and volunteers have delivered 20 boxes of food each week, serving over 80 families and counting.
RACINE AREA OFFICE UNITED WAY SPOTLIGHT
Our Racine office was featured in a United Way of Racine County Impact Partner Spotlight. This spotlight was emailed to their donors and partners and was also shared on their Facebook page on June 22.
When asked to reflect on Catholic Charities’ impact, Sue Howland responded, “Since I began working at Catholic Charities sixteen years ago, I have witnessed the genuine kindness and caring our staff have for the people we serve and for each other. Day in and day out, our staff work with individuals and families to provide quality care, but I believe that our clients respond even more to how they are treated—with respect, dignity and kindness.”
REFUGEE & IMMIGRATION SERVICES TEAM ADDRESSES COVID-19
Leaders with the Refugee Community Advisory Board (RCAB) are coming together to create YouTube videos with important public health information about the Coronavirus in different languages. You may see some familiar faces!
The RIS team continues to create engaging videos for the refugee and immigrant communities we serve! Check out their latest videos, a study playlist with 100 Questions & Answers for Citizenship Interviews. To see more videos from our Refugee & Immigration Services team, visit the RIS YouTube page.
ADULT DAY CENTER BLOOD DRIVES
The first Catholic Charities sponsored blood drives were a great success. 38 units were collected which will help save 114 lives. A special thanks to all of the staff, their friends, and family who helped out. For some donors, this was a first!
VOLUNTEER UPDATES: RIS GONE VIRTUAL
Due to the pandemic, we were no longer able to offer in person sessions with our refugee learners, but we are creating new and exciting ways to serve that help our learners thrive.
This led us to finding the next best thing, virtual! We are able to reach out to our learners and match 47 learners with volunteers. Sessions are being held using WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom and FaceTime. As expected, it has come with it's challenges, like how to teach writing and how to use certain apps. However, since we went virtual, we now have volunteers locally and from several other states including: Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Minnesota and Florida!
100 YEARS OF SERVING NEIGHBORS IN NEED
As we reflect on our 100 Years of Service, we see compassion, dedication, and adaptability. Catholic Charities was there for individuals through the Great Depression, war years, times of hardship, and times of prosperity. Today, through one of the worst health crises our world has ever seen, Catholic Charities stands committed to serving those most in need.
We could not do this work without our amazing team of dedicated and compassionate staff. Thank you, Catholic Charities team, for serving those with nowhere else to turn in their times of need. We are proud of the great work you all do!
Created with an image by Raphaël Biscaldi - "Summer has come"