Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Community Service Night with the George Washington Colonials

Best Blogger Tips
On Monday night at the George Washington University men's basketball game, a 30-second Catholic Charities commercial played twice on the jumbotron. Father John stood at half-court to be recognized. The Catholic Charities logo was splashed all across the auditorium for every spectator to see. Was this our dream come true? You bet -- except it wasn't a dream. 

It was Catholic Charities Night at the Smith Center, home to the GW Colonials.

This was an almost unprecedented night where we were able to introduce ourselves and the important work we do in the community to the team's legion of fans. We want to give GW a big thanks for starting this partnership and we hope to see you at the next game!

Father John did a halftime radio interview with Byron Kerr, the Voice of the George Washington Colonials. Listen here:

Welcome to the Smith Center! With help from student athletes and community volunteers, Catholic Charities collected over 100 coats for Joseph's Closet.

Pre-Game Warm-ups: the visiting Mountaineers of Mount St. Mary's run through a drill.

Our Outreach Team collected over 100 winter coats at last night's game, which will be made available to families in need at our Joseph's Closet.

Father John accepts a signed ball from Patrick Nero, Athletic Director at George Washington University. 

More Catholic Charities!
Have coats to donate, or know a family who in need? We are still collecting and distributing. Info here!

Be an holiday hero! Our Angel Tree is accepting gifts and donations for families who are in a tight spot this Christmas. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Love is Mom's Hot Dog Casserole

Best Blogger Tips

Guest Post from Father John
President and CEO
Catholic Charities

We all have our own special Christmas memories. Believe it or not, one of my most cherished is my mother’s Hot Dog Casserole!

It’s a memory time cannot erase. I can still see my brothers and sisters – all thirteen of us! – crowded around the tree…

Jean and Carol are playing Sorry or Monopoly. Jerry and me read from our big book of Bible stories, and Eileen and Brenda sit in front of the hearth with their paper dolls.

I remember Dad in his big chair, smiling contentedly from behind his newspaper as he looks out at his happy family.

And Mom's in the kitchen, humming to herself as she prepares her famous Hot Dog Casserole. For us kids, it was one of our favorite holiday treats!

It was very simple fare. In a house bustling with thirteen kids, there was not a lot of fancy stuff. But there was a lot of love. And Mom and Dad raised us to understand that Christmas was not about how much we could get, but how much we could give.

That simple but powerful principle – that it is more blessed to give than to receive – has stuck with me my whole life. And today, it is the very foundation of my work at Catholic Charities.

I hope you’ll participate in this year’s 2012 Christmas Fund Drive. It’s one of our most important campaigns of the year. And it’s your opportunity to turn your faith into action for the thousands of brothers and sisters here in our own Archdiocese who need you.

As I write these words, more than a quarter million people in our area live in poverty. And many thousands more struggling families are facing the fear of it.

I know you agree with me that, as Christians, we cannot, and will not, leave suffering people with nowhere to turn.

And because you help, those are the very people we reach every day.

Our annual Christmas Fund Drive is critical to our ability to bring life-changing help and hope…to mothers and children who find safe refuge at our shelters…to families struggling with hunger, who receive nutritious food… to men and women who have lost their jobs, and are restored to the dignity of honest work.

As we prepare for the holiday and joyfully anticipate the coming of our Lord, let us remember that He too, was born in the most humble of places:  a manger of hay.  Let us respond to our neighbors in need as He would want us to. 

Please give a gift today to our 2012 Christmas Fund Drive!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Spanish Catholic Center receives the 2012 Luminosa Award

Best Blogger Tips
On Saturday evening, Rev. Mario Dorsonville, Executive Director of Catholic Charities' Spanish Catholic Center, accepted the Focolare Movement's 2012 Luminosa Award, which recognizes each year an individual or organization who works to build community among Christian groups and all major faiths.

With more than 200 supporters of the Spanish Catholic Center, members of the Focolare Movement and other well-wishers watching, Father Dorsonville spoke of the Center's ongoing efforts to be as inclusive and loving as possible in serving the needs of the community.

"Diversity is the challenge and opportunity of the decades to come, just as it was 45 years ago when the Spanish Catholic Center was just starting," said Father Dorsonville. The ceremony featured the musical talents and work of classical guitarist Nilko Andreas Guarin and the beautiful voice of Angelica de la Riva, who performed a number of wonderful pieces to complement the evening.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our Coat Drive goes poolside with Olympian Katie Ledecky at Stone Ridge!

Best Blogger Tips
Yesterday swimmers from three high schools here in the Archdiocese of Washington - Stone Ridge, St. John's, and Gonzaga - opened up their season by collecting over 70 coats to support our Joseph's Coats of Many Colors Drive!

The swim meet attracted some media coverage as Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, a sophomore at Stone Ridge, hit the pool with her team, breaking two of her own school records! Watch Katie on Channel 9 news below, showing some love for Catholic Charities:

Thank you to all athletes and their families who helped make the poolside coat drive such a tremendous success! Check out more photos from the swim meet on our Facebook (and please 'like' us while you're there).

More Catholic Charities!

If you need a winter coat, or would like to learn more about Joseph's Coats of Many Colors Drive, check out our site!

These incredible student athletes are helping Catholic Charities during one of our busiest seasons! Find out ways you can get involved, too! 

Thanksgiving is right around the corner - be a holiday hero by helping us provide a nice warm meal to families in need. The Do-Gooder's Guide to Thanksgiving is here!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Your Do-Gooder's Guide to Thanksgiving 2012 at Catholic Charities

Best Blogger Tips
Volunteers prep food at our women's housing program
O God, when I have food, help me remember the hungry."
Samuel F. Pugh

Every year it's amazing when phone calls and emails start rolling in from do-gooders across the DC metropolitan region. Their question is simple: "How can I help?" And with Catholic Charities' 63 programs in 48 locations, there is always a need for volunteers. 

Fr. John shares a meal with clients from our Refugee Cente
Here are a few ways you can help families and individuals in need this Thanksgiving - volunteering, delivering, shopping, and more. Can we count on you?

Food Needed! 
  • Catholic Charities' Mt. Carmel House for homeless women needs donations of turkeys, dressing, and desserts to help provide a traditional meal for its 15 residents.
    • Contact:
  • Catholic Charities' Montgomery County Family Center is helping provide Thanksgiving food packages to local families, so they can prepare and enjoy their own meal. Pick up these items when you do your holiday grocery order to make a basket: frozen turkey, boxes of mashed potatoes and stuffing, and cans of sweet potatoes, green beans, corn and fruit. 
    • Contact:
  • Let us do the shopping for you! Purchase a discounted Thanksgiving Package through our SHARE Food Network (only $28) and donate it to our Montgomery County Family Center or to SHARE for distribution.
    • Order by phone: (301) 864-3115
    • Make an online donation to SHARE here
Start Your Engines!
  • We need drivers on November 20 to help pick up food packages at several sites in Rockville and Washington, DC before they are distributed to families in Montgomery County. 
    • Contact:
The Gift of Time
  • 200+ families will be picking up food packages at Catholic Charities' Montgomery County Family Center on November 20. We need volunteers to help unload packages, distribute to families, and clean up between 3 and 8 pm. Great idea for a small group or family!
    • Contact:
Food service at Catholic Charities' location on Lawrence St.
In a season when we all count our blessings, we also remember the families who count on us to help them through a difficult time in their lives, whether they're recently unemployed, grappling with a mental illness, or new refugees who fled a dangerous situation in their homelands. We're so grateful that, with your extra hands, we're able to help these men, women and children experience the warmth and joy of a Thanksgiving meal, in addition to the many services we provide them throughout the year. 

More Catholic Charities!
We understand Thanksgiving is a busy time for everyone. If you can't help us around the holidays, we have ongoing volunteer opportunities throughout the year. You can also make a gift to support our work.

Stay tuned - plenty of Christmas opportunities to share your time and talent will be coming soon on The Open Door! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Do Gooder, Voter Edition: Catholic Charities distributes coats to cold voters on Election Tuesday

Best Blogger Tips

One of the most important rules to community service -- be available where people can reach you. Taking that thinking to heart, Jackie Ogg opened up the Joseph’s Closest Coat Drive this morning at St. Francis of Xavier Parish in southeast Washington, DC to reach voters who might need a warm jacket.
With temperatures in the low 30’s this morning, there were plenty of interested people. More than 100 coats were given away for a $3 donation between 9 am and noon on Election Day. St Francis also serves as a polling location in Washington, DC’s Ward 7.

“As I delivered some coats yesterday, I realized it would be a perfect chance to reach the community at a time when they were probably going to be cold,” said Ogg, who is the director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington's Outreach Division. "We have been looking for a way to get the word out that we have all of these coats. And suddenly it dawned on me that many people in the neighborhood would be here today."

Jackie Ogg helps a shopper and voter.
As the line to vote snaked around the building, Jackie greeted folks on their way out from the polls and showed them racks of coats in great condition. The coats were donated by Catholic parishes across the Archdiocese of Washington as part of Catholic Charities' first-ever Joseph's Coats of Many Colors Drive.
It seemed to be the right moment to reach people, as many stepped in and did some shopping. "I felt like a personal shopper today. It was a ton of fun," said Ogg.
Father Jim Boccabella, pastor at St. Francis of Xavier Catholic Church, said the coat program is part of a larger effort to put a face to the Church.

“Just as St. Paul said Jesus is the visible face of the invisible God, work like the coat drive is often the public face of the Catholic faith,” said Father Jim. “It gives us a chance to show people who we are. When people come to us or to Catholic Charities, we never ask about religion. And I think that surprises a lot of people in the community.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Weathering Sandy - How Catholic Charities helped the most vulnerable through Superstorm Sandy

Best Blogger Tips
Homelessness, disability, poverty – these problems don’t take a day off for inclement weather, and neither can the men and women who devote their lives to helping others overcome these obstacles. And so while most of the District hunkered down, Catholic Charities staff at our shelters, food service programs, and group homes geared up to ensure a safe passage through the storm.

Here’s a look at their work over the past few days:

1,101 homeless men and women stayed in one of Catholic Charities’ five emergency shelters on Monday night during the peak of the storm, with many staff members working extra shifts to ensure the safety and comfort of all.

These shelters, normally open at night, stayed open all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, to ensure that no one was out in the elements while Sandy hung over the area.

Young adults in Catholic Charities’ Independent Living and Teen Parent program met with case managers before the storm to ensure they were well-stocked with food and water and up-to-date with weather and safety information.

Catholic Charities’ ACT Team, which provides mobile services to people with profound mental illness, checked in on both Monday and Tuesday to ensure their vulnerable clients had food and a safe place to stay.

At Catholic Charities’ group homes for adults living with developmental disabilities, some staff had trouble commuting to work in Sandy’s aftermath. On-duty staff immediately stepped up to work extra hours, ensuring the adults under their care were never left alone.

On Monday Catholic Charities’ Enterprises made sure that the homebound elderly received enough meals to tide them through the storm. Staff also showed up very early Wednesday morning to begin preparation of that day’s meal to seniors.

At Catholic Charities’ TEN program for homeless families, each parent was briefed on emergency preparedness that helped them face the storm fearlessly and neighbors worked together to help each other when a few apartments lost power.

And we’re very happy to report there’s been no major damage to any of our facilities. Our thanks goes out to staff, volunteers, and friends whose hard work and generous support helps us carry out our ministries to those in need no matter what the weather. 

Help Now - Make a donation to support our work in the Greater Washington region.

More Sandy Coverage

Helping Others Weather the Storm - posted by The Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington
Catholic community helps East Coast prepare for Hurricane Sandy - posted by DFW Catholic