Monday, September 30, 2013

D.C. United Kicks Out 400+ Cup of Joe Meals

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It's hard to imagine what homelessness is like. When clients enter our low-barrier shelters each night, they are exhausted, hot or cold depending on the weather, and most of all hungry - often the meal served at the shelter is the only one they'll eat that day. 

Our Cup of Joe program provides our homeless neighbors with an extra bagged meal to help sustain them throughout a long day on the streets - and it's all made possible through the efforts of thousands of volunteers across our area who spend a few hours in service to others. 

Some volunteers gave an expert 'kick' to Cup of Joe - as staff and players for D.C. United held a Cup of Joe packing session on September 26 following the team's practice at RFK Stadium. "It's always good giving back to the community and we had a great time getting the packed meals together," said Chris Korb, defender for D.C. United. 

"D.C. United is a true good neighbor of the community," said Kevin O'Brien, Catholic Charities' outreach coordinator. "Players and staff packed over 400 bags that were delivered right across the street to Catholic Charities' Harriet Tubman women's shelter." Midfielder John Thorrington even brought his wife Krista and two kids to help out - his daughter helped pack the bags into bins for delivery! In addition to Korb and Thorrington, midfielder Jared Jeffrey (#25) , midfielder Collin Martin (#32). midfielder Lewis Neal (#24) also joined the volunteer effort. "It was a great feeling knowing we were helping someone in need," said Neal.

In September alone our volunteers packed 8,000 Cup of Joe bags with healthy snacks, fruit, juice and coffee, with groups from The Catholic University of America, Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, Maroon PR, and the John Carroll Society.

And the group helped make the very short journey across the street to deliver the breakfast bags to our women's emergency shelter, Harriett Tubman, which helps more than 100 women each night. "Our mission is to 'Win Championships and Serve the Community,'" said Kat Chesire, program coordinator for D.C. United. "Working with Catholic Charities' Cup of Joe program was a great experience and allowed D.C. United players and front office staff to volunteer and 'Serve the Community' together."


Step 1 of a Cup of Joe volunteer project: packing paper bags full of healthy, protein-filled snacks and fruit to help sustain our homeless neighbors during a long day. 

Krista and Elle Thorrington, the family of midfielder John Thorrington, help pack a bin for deliver to Catholic Charities' Harriet Tubman women's shelter.

Step 2: Transporting bins filled with the packed brown bags to a van, where they can be delivered to one of our five emergency shelters in Washington, DC. 

Volunteer groups like D.C. United are helping Catholic Charities reach our goal: to provide a Cup of Joe meal to-go bag to each of our homeless clients every morning. That's about 1,000 bags every day! To help us, please email or sign up your volunteer group online

Friday, September 20, 2013

When You're One Paycheck Away from Crisis

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Keep my family together. Keep up with the rent. Keep food on the table.

Those were Nubia’s desperate goals as she worked long hours as a housekeeper and nanny. Though she was exhausted at the end of the day and money was very, very tight, her life was actually on an upswing: Just months earlier she had fled from a domestic abuse situation, leaving her the sole provider for her children and a young grandchild. They were scraping by, but they were safe – to Nubia, it made the hard work worth it all.

Until she lost her job. Suddenly Nubia and her family went from living on the edge of poverty to falling off the cliff. For families like Nubia’s living paycheck to paycheck, an unexpected job loss, or illness, or car repair, can throw off a fragile balance.

“Suddenly, everything felt hopeless,” Nubia said.

She had heard Catholic Charities’ Montgomery County Family Center (MCFC) distributed emergency funds to help families in crisis. She met with Cindy Mendez, a family support specialist at our MCFC, who made sure Nubia got the funds she needed to keep up with her bills until she could get back on her feet. Cindy also provided additional guidance, referrals, and helped her develop a family budget.

“Somebody can hear you here,” Nubia said. “They really listen and help. I feel calm. I can move on now. With Cindy’s help I remained a mom and a grandmother my family can count on.”

In his recent interview with America Magazine, Pope Francis reminds us: "God is in every person's life. God is in everyone's life...You can, you must try to seek God in every human life." His papacy has reaffirmed again and again the importance of service to those in need - people who are sick, or hungry, or homeless, or mentally ill, or victimized, or struggling. People like Nubia, who are just trying to feed their kids. 

It was 60 years ago that Pope Francis was first called to the priesthood on the Feast Day of St. Matthew, September 21. Like St. Matthew, the Pope feels called by God to be the hands and face of Christ to those in need. It's a call he extends to each of us - it's a call our staff answers each day at Catholic Charities. 

Help us to ensure we have resources to show compassion and mercy to all who come our way. Please make a gift today to support our work.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Feel Good Friday

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As the week wraps up, we wanted to share this short video of Nadia Richey, a young mother of three who was diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition to her medical needs, the family was struggling to keep up with bills as she was unable to work as often. Thankfully, Catholic Charities was able to help her through the In the Name of the Mother Fund.

The fund provides support to single mothers with cancer, helping to cover many of the hidden costs these mothers struggle with as they try to support their family and face their illness.

As it so happens, the major fundraiser for this great fund is coming up in two weeks -- the In the Name of the Mother Golf Tournament.

So, watch the video. Be inspired. Come golf with us!