Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Georgetown & GW Basketball, Maryland Football: Coaches Come Together & Talk Teamwork

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While sports and spirituality may not seem to have much in common, four local coaches  - Georgetown University Head Basketball Coach John Thompson III, Georgetown University Women's Basketball Coach Natasha Adair, Maryland University Football Coach Randy Edsall and George Washington University Men's Basketball Coach Mike Lonergan - proved they were plenty alike.

The four Beltway coaches served on a panel, moderated by Washington Capital's announcer Joe Beninati, during Catholic Charities' annual Spirituality Retreat (with this year's theme focusing on building a team). While each coach had his or her own perspective on how to construct a winning team, the common denominators among each  were building trust within the team, understanding the players and how they respond to discipline and rewards, and serving as a role model in faith and in character to the student-athletes.  

As the panel ended, employees were thrilled to ask their own questions of the coaches - everything from the NBA Finals to working with athletes who have mental disabilities (such as ADHD). Retreat-goers thoroughly enjoyed this out-of-the box type panel, connecting athletics to faith and team-building - the centerpiece of the entire day.

We are grateful to have such inspiring and passionate leaders in our community, and we look forward to watching each of them coach their teams as basketball and football seasons approach! 

Read Georgetown Athletic's press release for more.  
Go Hoyas, Colonials and Terps! 
From Left: Mike Lonergan, Randy Edsall, John Thompson III, Natasha Adair, Joe Beninati & Father John


Thompson and Adair Participate in Catholic Charities Panel

WASHINGTON - Georgetown University's Head Men's Basketball Coach John Thompson III and Head Women's Basketball Coach Natasha Adair were among four panelists of local coaches at Catholic Charities' Spiritual Retreat on Wednesday morning at the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center at The Catholic University of America in Northwest Washington, D.C. 

The group included Thompson, Adair, George Washington Head Men's Basketball Coach Mike Lonergan and University of Maryland Head Football Coach Randy Edsall. It was moderated by local sports broadcaster Joe Beninati and the event was run by Monsignor John Enzler of Catholic Charities. 

Nearly 500 people attended the panel where the local coaches spoke on teamwork, leadership and the importance of compassion and faith in the work that they do. The attendees included people from the many branches of Catholic Charities, and the lessons were applicable to each separate program.
Thompson discussed the importance of the team concept among all players. 

"It's not about each individual person, it's about us as a team and you can't have slippage," said Thompson. "Our players have to understand who we are and how we do things. 

"You can't treat each and every person the exact same way, some people respond to reward, some people respond to punishment." 

Adair also touched upon identifying leaders and their role in a team environment. 

"You can identify a leader immediately, because they surface to the front. You watch them when they enter a room, how they respond, how they interact," she said. "You meet with them, you challenge them and you reiterate your goals. You don't put the onus on them, you tell them that we need you to help the team. Always refer back to the team concept." 

"I tell leaders that I see greatness in them. I try to motivate from a positive standpoint and not make a pressure situation, leadership is their gift." 

Questions came from both Beninati as well as the audience. Thompson was asked about his relationship with players at Georgetown and beyond when student-athletes turn into professionals. 

"One thing that is often lost by the general public about intercollegiate athletics is that with all the attention that all our teams get in this day in age, we're still coaching, teaching, helping to raise 17-22 year olds," Thompson said. 

"You might see a Georgetown game on TV and start to think of them like they're pros, but the reality is that our job is very different from coaches at a professional level. Probably 20 percent of my job is basketball, maybe less, so much more is helping these young men and women hopefully after four years that we can kick them out of the nest and they will be ok." 

Adair, in her first year with the Hoyas as the head coach, used her transition to show what team needs to be successful. 

"Our motto this year is `Earn It' and everything we do, we're going to earn together. Once we earn it, we'll `Own It' and once we get past that, we'll celebrate it. When you celebrate it, you do it together." 

The panel was the beginning of a day-long retreat that included mass in the morning and workshops in the afternoon. 

View the photo gallery here

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Five Star Friday!

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Big, big news for us here at Catholic Charities. Our Behavioral Health Services was awarded the very first five-star rating by the DC Department of Behavioral Health! Our services providing ongoing care to low-income people with mental illness has been part of the community for more than 50 years, but we're jumping for joy as we are the first provider in the city to ever earn the highest rating possible!

To celebrate, we're decreeing today #FiveStarFriday. Want to meet just one of the thousands of clients who have been helped? Meet Faustino

Here's our press release:

Catholic Charities Behavioral Health Services earn first five-star rating
ever awarded by District of Columbia Government

The DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) awarded the first ever five-star rating to Catholic Charities Behavioral Health Services in its annual review of all providers contracted to the agency. Each contracted provider is rated annually through an in-depth quality review of case files, reviews of procedures and a financial indicators audit. This is the first time a provider agency earned a five-star rating.

“I am incredibly proud of the staff of our Behavioral Health Services,” said Msgr. John Enzler, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. “To know how challenging this work can be and see it carried out with such a high-degree of expertise is very inspiring.”

For Catholic Charities Behavioral Health Services Director Karen Ostlie the rating justifies a constant culture of quality improvement among the staff.

“We focused on creating a consumer-centered atmosphere, one where consumers are empowered by having a choice in their care,” Ostlie said. “I know how much effort everyone here has put into their careers and into serving our neighbors who struggle with persistent and ongoing mental illness. I can’t even begin to say how wonderful this is and what it means to all of us.”  

Catholic Charities Behavioral Health Services has operated for more than 50 years in the District, for many years under the name Anchor Mental Health. Annually, the program today works with more than 1,000 consumers and offers a full-range of care from psychiatrists and comprehensive community support to supported employment and counseling to specialized teams going out into the community to reach isolated and often homeless consumers or responding to the crises of teenagers and children.

“Anchor Mental Health worked very hard to get the highest score possible on compliance with regulations and quality of care.  This is a significant achievement,” said Steve Baron, Director of the Department of Behavioral Health.  “Grading providers fosters quality improvement and helps individuals choose a mental health provider that is right for them.”

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington meets the most pressing human needs,  serving more than 116,000 people annually through 65 programs in 48 locations throughout the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties in Maryland. We serve everyone who comes to us in need. Catholic Charities is accredited by the national Council on Accreditation. For more information, visit

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kennedy School Class of 2014: One graduate finds joy in serving others

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Guest Post by Allysha Sneed

When first meeting Chris McClam, prepare for a bright smile followed by a warm and caring hello radiating joy and positivity about life. Chris is preparing to graduate from our Kennedy School, a school focused on teaching students with a developmental or intellectual disability. On May 28, Chris celebrated his last day as a volunteer with one of our local partner nonprofits, SOME (So Others Might Eat), the same way he did every other day: by working hard and sharing laughs.

As Chris sat and talked about his time with SOME, he couldn’t help but look around and smile as he reminisced on all the people he had helped, friends he had made, and fun things he had experienced while working in the dining area. Chris has been a dedicated volunteer at SOME since October 2012, working three days each week assisting kitchen staff.

“I help by serving the food, cleaning the plates, washing and spraying tables, taking out the trash, and resetting the tables. My favorite thing to do is clean the tables and wash the dishes,” Chris said. His volunteer work was part of his education -- an important part of Kennedy’s core curriculum is teaching students to build on their strengths and life skills through real-world experience, with aim toward self-sufficiency.

SOME, which serves the in need community through food, medical, and clothing assistance, serves breakfast and lunch daily. As a volunteer Chris had the opportunity to assist in this fast paced environment and became very fond of the staff and members of the community. In volunteering Chris has learned to embody all of these skills and continues to work hard at being his best.

Chris with his one-to-one teacher Patrick Huff
“Breakfast and lunch are served in shifts and Chris works hard serving food the entire time. During his time with SOME Chris has made friends with just about everyone, kitchen staff and members of the community alike. He is always smiling and loves to be apart of virtually every picture taken,” said his One-to-One Support Teacher Patrick Huff. “Chris has become a staple to the people at SOME and he will be greatly missed here.”

Chris says he will miss working with SOME and shares that his favorite memory of getting to serve with the DC United Soccer Team.

Chris will walk across the stage to receive his certificate of completion from the Kennedy School today as part of the class of 2014, decked out in the Kennedy School colors of blue and white. He hopes to take the lessons he learned as a volunteer into the working world, ideally at a local grocery store. But he certainly won’t forget SOME. Chris was quick to say, “I love SOME and will be back to volunteer soon.”