Monday, April 29, 2013

A Record Event! $2.1 Million Raised Supporting Everyday Miracles

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From left to right: Doug Donatelli, Chair of Catholic Charities
Board of Directors; Raul and Jean-Marie Fernandez,
2013 Gala Chairs; Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington;
 and Msgr. John Enzler
What is a miracle?

At Catholic Charities, we see miracles every day, when hope blossoms where once there was despair. When food gets on the table of a hungry family. When a sick child can see a doctor. When someone unemployed and homeless finds works and can finally pay rent. 

Urban Nation HIP-HOP Choir welcomed guests
into the beautiful ballroom.
Our annual Gala on Saturday night was a celebration of these miracles that you help us create. This year we feel so blessed to have raised a record $2.1 million to fund so many more miracles for people who need them most!

This theme for the evening - "Believe...Together we can create everyday miracles" - was selected by our Gala Chairs, Jean-Marie and Raul Fernandez. "We strive to follow the example of Christ, who performed many miracles in his ministry to teach us the value of every life and the importance of loving our neighbor," they said. 

"Looking around the room, we see people from many different fields, backgrounds, and lives. Yet tonight, we all share the common bond to see our community made even stronger, to see those who have fallen get a hand up. We believe that we can be a part of creating everyday miracles!"

Cardinal Wuerl greets Pat and Mary Anne Clancy,
longtime supporters of Catholic Charities
The Fernandezes added several exciting new features to our annual event. Our live auction gave lucky bidders once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience the history and majesty of the Catholic Church, including a dinner with Cardinal Wuerl and a pilgrimage to Rome to highlighted with the chance to witness one of Pope Francis' weekly audiences. And guests raved over the evening's live entertainment from Urban Nation HIP-HOP Choir and the Spazmatics, a high-energy 80s cover band. Catholic Charities' Young Professionals kept the party going into the wee hours of the morning with our first-ever after-party!

It was a truly memorable night - both because of all the fun we shared, and because of all the good we can do thanks to the support of more than 1,000 guests. Thank you, thank you, thank you! All those whom we serve are blessed by your love, compassion, faith-filled service, and support.

Get a first look at the event in the pictures below:

During his remarks, Father John focused on Pope Francis' example of humility and service for the world. The everyday miracles of love and compassion he performs for those in need are true inspiration to us at Catholic Charities!

 Father John greets Mayor Vince Gray (right) and Robert S. Bennett

Why do the Trones look so excited? They placed a winning bid at our live auction for a wonderful trip to Rome - including attending the Pope's weekly audience!

High fives for Catholic Charities!

Catholic Charities' Young Professionals joined the main Gala for the band - then enjoyed a DJ dance party afterwards!

The Spazmatics were a huge hit...

...rocking the stage with favorite songs from the 80s!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Our "Cup of Joe" Means So Much More than Coffee

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Joe Robert, Jr. was a well-loved businessman and philanthropist, committed to his community here in Washington, DC – particularly to the less fortunate. He gave his time and treasure freely to numerous causes that uplifted children and adults in need: Children’s Hospital, Fight Night, the Archdiocese of Washington, and Catholic Charities.

After a three-year struggle with brain cancer, Joe passed away in December 2011. Now, as a legacy to his inspirational work, our President/CEO Father John Enzler launched Cup of Joe - a healthy breakfast program for Catholic Charities' five low-barrier emergency shelters, which host more than 1,000 men and women each night. 

Cup of Joe addresses a very real need for the women and men who stay in our shelters overnight. Through a partnership with DC city government, we are able to provide protection from the weather and the streets, a bed, a shower, and a hot supper at our five shelters. Breakfast is not provided, and clients leave the shelter by 7 am. 

Volunteers from Cardinal Stritch packed 2,000 bags!
Cup of Joe helps Catholic Charities increase our commitment to our homeless neighbors by providing more than just the basic services. As Father John explained, "A healthy breakfast is just the start of ensuring that our clients have the physical, emotional, psychological  and spiritual sustenance to begin each day ready to improve their situation."

Essential to this initiative are volunteers to pack the bags with fresh fruit, juice boxes, instant coffee packets, granola bars and peanut butter crackers,and a reusable coffee mug. 

Deacon Jim works with WTOP Volunteers
The program has already bagged 14,500 breakfasts thanks to over 400 volunteers from local schools and parishes, community groups and businesses. Most recently, high school students involved in our Youth Service Day packed an incredible 8,240 bags in just one afternoon! It's a lot, but it's a number that needs to keep growing. 

At elementary schools, older students often pack bags
while younger kids write notes or color bags to brighten the
day for the clients who will receive them.
"We're just beginning," said Deacon Jim Nalls, Parish and School Program Manager. "Our goal is to provide breakfast every morning, to each of the women and men staying in our low-barrier shelters." That's some 7,000 meals a week, 28,000 a month - we'll stop there, but you can see that we need a lot of volunteer effort to make this program a success - and to make sure that our homeless neighbors don't need to start their day with an empty, grumbling stomach. 

Now, it's your turn! Commit your parish, your office, your class, etc. for a one-time or ongoing commitment with Cup of Joe. We need your manpower and energy to help us fill these bags to feed our homeless neighbors. Contact the  Volunteer Office for more information at

Thanks to all who have volunteered so far, including groups from Cardinal Stritch University, WTOP, St. Patrick's, St. Augustine's, Blessed Sacrament, Holy Cross Alumni, the University of Maryland, Novartist, and clients at Catholic Charities' Supported Employment programs, plus generous contributions from a friend of Joe Robert. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Warmer Washington

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It all started with a simple question:

What if everyone who had a coat to spare gave it to someone who couldn’t afford one?

The answer we got was a warm one – literally – with over 7,000 coats collected and distributed at our Joseph’s Closet. Seven thousand coats is a lot, but the number that really makes us smile is 7,000 children, men and women whose winter got a lot warmer, despite financial hardships in their family.

The doors of Joseph’s Closets opened weekly from November through February, and delivered coats directly to the shelters and programs where they were most needed. “It was overwhelming at times,” said Jackie Ogg, director of Catholic Charities’ Outreach. “People were lined up outside. It really made you realize the incredible need in the community.”

The effort depended on incredible volunteer leadership at individual parishes, schools, and community groups – 54 in all. They collected coats. They counted and sorted the donations. They even served as “personal shoppers” for the thousands of clients who came for a coat.  Here are just a few highlights from their efforts:

One client was so grateful for the coats she was able to receive for herself and her family that she crocheted dozens of scarves and hats, which volunteers were able to distribute along with the coats at Joseph’s Closet.

St. Patrick’s in Rockville was eager to help, but collecting coats was a challenge as their parish underwent major renovations. Their creative solution? Stuff the coats – 600 in all! – into two vans, easy for delivery to a distribution site.

Collaboration among St. Mary of the Mills, St. Vincent Pallotti High School, and the Boy Scouts helped collect over 500 coats.

The youth group at St. Francis Xavier (headquarters for Joseph’s Closet) volunteered to sort, hang, and bag coats for delivery to Catholic Charities homeless shelters. Other student groups hailed from Georgetown Prep, Visitation, Mater Dei, and St. John’s College High School.
A volunteer slips a note into a coat pocket to be discovered later
by the coat's new owner.

Olympic gold medalist Katie Ladecky and her teammates on the Stone Ridge swim team held a poolside coat drive, with over 70 coats collected. Stone Ridge Brownies also made hundreds of cheery notes to place in coat pockets.

And those who could afford to made a small donation for their coat. This money was used to purchase coats in special sizes for others in need.

Planning is already underway for next year, with hopes of new distribution sites in Maryland counties. Find out more ways you can get involved in our work in the coming months. 

Special Opportunity for High School Students: Catholic Charities' annual Youth Service Day returns on Saturday, April 13. Don't miss this great opportunity to serve your community with friends (new and old) from all across our archdiocese. After working hands-on at Catholic Charities programs, enjoy a reflection and after-party.