Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marching with a message!

Best Blogger Tips
We were so proud to have staff from our Sanctuaries for Life Program hit the streets of Washington, DC for March for Life, held on Monday, January 23. The annual event attracts hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists each year. Despite the rainy weather, our staff were thrilled to take part in and witness the amazing show of support for a cause so integral to Sanctuaries for Life's life-affirming mission. Scroll down for pictures from our staff's experience at March for Life!

Above: Jenny (left), Resource Coordinator for Sanctuaries for Life, poses with Julia Shelava (right), Director of the Project Rachel Ministry of the Archdiocese of Washington. Jenny and Michelle Williams, Senior Manager for Sanctuaries for Life, helped Project Rachel distribute information at St. Matthew's Cathedral.

Archbishop Wuerl processes through the Verizon Center for the Youth Rally and Mass for Life.

Thousands of pro-life supporters packed the Verizon Center for the Youth Rally and Mass for Life, including Ana, our Sanctuaries for Life Prenatal Care Coordinator.

Marchers gather before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The rain and cold did not deter marchers from getting their pro-life message heard!

Read On! 

Take Action!
Support the life-affirming work of Sanctuaries for Life through in-kind donations of baby items (diapers, formula, strollers, car seats). Hold a drive within your parish, pro-life organization, or youth group! You can also make a financial donation to Sanctuaries for Life. Staff is also seeking volunteers who share their pro-life philosophy to assist with clerical work - call 301-441-1472 for additional information!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Make yourself at home...the green way!

Best Blogger Tips
Hilda is one of the program's most recent grads!
Is concrete flooring environmentally friendly? Are formaldehyde-treated products safe for your home? And what’s the deal with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

If you’re aiming for a greener lifestyle, these are some important questions...and the recent graduates from our Spanish Catholic Center’s Green Construction Training Program have all the answers for you! 

The program, which runs for 12 weeks, gives its students a basic foundation of understanding in all aspects of construction, and specializes in how to build energy efficient and sustainable construction. The goal of the program is give immigrants, especially in the Hispanic community, employable skill sets that will help them land jobs improving the community.

Jaime Marcello Ortiz, a recent graduate of the program, has already secured a construction job that will begin next week. A native of Ecuador, he came to the United States to work with his father as a salesman nine years ago, but never felt satisfied with this career.

On-site training is an essential part of
the Green Construction Training Program.

“I wanted to do something else. I wanted to change my life. And for me, as a salesman, I’d never change my life,” he said.

Jaime’s aunt runs a construction business, but she said she couldn’t hire him because he had no knowledge in the field. “I didn’t even know how to use a screwdriver,” Jaime admitted. Now, he’s prepared to join his aunt’s business, applying all he’s learned from the Green Construction Training Program.   

As part of the class, Jaime and his fellow classmates even had the opportunity to hear presentations from David Johnston, a pioneer of green construction in the United States. David has become a regular lecturer for the program, sharing his 30-plus years of experience in the field. “David is a great teacher, very passionate, and what I like most is that he keeps the class interesting and lets you give your opinion,” Jaime said.

We got to sit in on the class during one of David’s lectures and couldn’t believe how approachable he made the material. He used hands-on (and sometimes pretty funny!) examples to back theoretical concepts, like describing how one party full of women wearing high heels could puncture laminate flooring beyond repair.
The students were eager to participate in David’s lecture and volunteer their insights. When the session ended, the class even broke out into applause to thank David for his time, and several students asked him to sign their textbooks!

David (left, seated) signs textbooks for members of the class.
“This is like a gold mine for me,” said Hilda Addai, another recent graduate from the program. “I enjoyed all of it, because this class contains the most well-detailed information I’ve ever had about construction.”

Like Jaime, Hilda is an immigrant looking for a fresh start with a new career. She often shared what she knew about construction practices in her native country, Ghana. David really relished the multicultural angle he got from her and other students. “Everyone brings something of richness from his or her culture,” he said. The most recent group alone included students from Ecuador, Honduras, Sudan, Panama, Ethiopia, and more.

David’s wife, Elena, helps out with the class. She particularly admires the courage of the students who show up for the program. “Most are immigrants – and they had the courage to leave everything they knew in their home to start over.  And man, that’s hard!”

But as the class itself can testify, the education they receive from the Green Construction Training Program is well worth the challenge. Because the program does more than teach students about constructions – it allows them to feel positively about their ability to make a valuable contribution to their community. And that’s something you won’t find in any textbook.

More information about the Green Construction Training Program – including an informational video! – is available right here.
Get Involved!
The Spanish Catholic Center offers holistic services to immigrants from around the world.  
--Sign up to volunteer at the Spanish Catholic Center with this online form!

Read On!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thanks to all you Kris Kringles out there...

Best Blogger Tips
Our Refugee Center hosted a Christmas luncehon

We’re kicking off the New Year with an immense feeling of gratitude for all those who helped make it a very Merry Christmas here at Catholic Charities. Thanks to staff, volunteers, and plenty of kind-hearted “Kris Kringles” who generously gave what they could, we ensured that the holidays were bright and hopeful for our neighbors in need.

Here’s a quick Christmas Wrap-Up to show you just a few holiday highlights from our programs, all made possible through your support:
  • We were overwhelmed at the enormous response to our Angel Tree. We were able to give gifts to nearly 200 children in our programs and local community, with contributions from Catholic Charities employees and volunteers, businesses, organizations and individuals (including one of our “tweeps”!).
  • Our Southern Maryland Food Bank distributed enough food to prepare an incredible 3,000+ holiday meals! Additionally, they supplied 56 children at risk for food insecurity with 32 snacks each to ensure these kids would have enough to eat over the extended holiday break.
    Patiently waiting for Santa Claus at our Kennedy Institute

  • Men and women at our Hermano Pedro Day Program received brand-new winter clothing this Christmas through the generosity of St. Andrew Kim Korean Catholic Church in Olney, Maryland, led by Father Bang J.Y. Thanks to donations, Father Bang was able to purchase 150 sets of thermal underwear, winter hats, socks, and mittens.
  • New and expectant mothers at our Sanctuaries for Life program enjoyed a Christmas luncheon with games, prizes, and presents for their children from local parishes. Many of the new moms brought their babies, and the whole group listened together about the birth of Christ, read aloud from the Gospel of Luke. The event was even featured in the Catholic Standard!
  • St. Bartholomew’s Choir of Bethesda held a holiday concert that raised funds to benefit our Mt. Carmel House. Several residents even attended the event – Program Manager Lorraine Lynch said it was “an evening of elegance for them.”
  • The array of gorgeous gifts you see to the right were donated to our Southeast Family Center by staff at Georgetown University Hospital. Thanks to them, over 400 families in the program received presents!
  • Our Refugee Center hosted a Christmas party for over 100 refugees complete with live music, Christmas gifts from Catholic Charities USA, and a fantastic homemade spread from volunteers Carol and Ann. For many of the refugees, this was their first Christmas celebration in the United States!
  • At our Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute, Christmas spirit abounded at several holiday parties hosted by staff and outside organizations International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) and Gallup. The little ones from the Child Development Center loved meeting Santa, and the older kids from The Kennedy School made sure the man in red knew what was foremost on their Christmas list. IFDA also hosted a party for the adults in Kennedy's Community Living program.
  •  The men at our New York Avenue and 801 East Shelter received the gift of warmth this Christmas thanks to generous clothing donations from Gifts for the Homeless, Friends Meeting of Washington, and Keys for the Homeless Foundation.
And don’t forget - all of our 77 programs need your support not just at Christmastime, but all year round. So make a New Year’s resolution to give of yourself in some way – whether it’s taking advantage of one of our many volunteer opportunities, organizing a clothing drive, preparing a meal, or donating directly to a program – to help empower all those who turn to Catholic Charities in their time of need.

And from all of us at Catholic Charities – Happy New Year!

Read On!