Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Quick Note of Thanks to Randy Wittman

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Today Randy Wittman was notified that he will not be returning as the head coach of the Washington Wizards next season, ending four-plus seasons as the coach. Now, I’m a Wizards fan, but I’m not the most savvy basketball fan – most of the X’s and O’s go right over my head and I’m happy to watch the eye-popping talent and athleticism on display.
Randy Wittman (left) with Wizards players delivering
Christmas gifts before the holidays.

But I do know a little something about charity, compassion and volunteerism. And I wanted to say a big thank you to Randy for always making time when the Wizards partnered with Catholic Charities (along with the outstanding folks at the Monumental Sports Foundation).

For the past three years, we’ve had some incredible opportunities where families being served by Catholic Charities have been able to meet and greet Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics players, either in the families’ homes or at the Verizon Center. And without fail, Randy Wittman always made time to greet our families and offer some kind words.

Last year, the Wizards invited wounded veterans and their families to attend and watch a full Wizards practice and then afterward join in with players and staff to do a Cup of Joe volunteer event with us. And again, I was struck by Coach Wittman’s compassion and interest to spend time with some of those who had given so much to our country. His graciousness was genuine.

Post-practice Cup of Joe with Wizards players and coaches!
All of these events took place during the season, by the way, when I know the coaching staff had many other priorities. Professional sports is obviously a high-pressure situation where a lot changes fast. Coaches and players come and go. I am just so thankful that with Monumental Sports, we had a coach who knew the value of giving back.

Best of luck to Coach Wittman on his next steps, and thanks for some really fun years as a basketball fan.

~Father John
President and CEO, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

You're hired! Catholic Charities partners with local employers for on-site interviews

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Monarc CEO John Bellingham interviews a prospective hire.
The line outside of our Spanish Catholic Center on a cold December morning formed several hours before the doors would open. Today was a special day – our Michael H. Kappaz Workforce Development Program was hosting a hiring event with Monarc Construction, where they would be conducting interviews on-site.

All morning and into the early afternoon, potential employees moved through a series of interviews with hiring managers and even Monarc Construction President John Bellingham himself. Others patiently waited, their resumes protected neatly.

By the end of the day, more than 100 men and women had gone through the interview process.

Interviews took place all morning.
Months later, the same space would be filled with hiring managers from CVS and clients from various Catholic Charities programs. Dressed in their business best, 20 men and women listened intently to the CVS hiring managers as they explained company culture, described positions available, and fielded questions. The hiring managers also explained the type of candidate CVS is looking for: someone with a smile who is willing to learn.

Down the hall, Pre-Apprenticeship Green Construction Program students looked over their notes and textbooks as they waited to conduct mock interviews with the CVS hiring managers. Albeit a different field of work, the construction students are set to graduate in a few short weeks and need all the practice they can get with interviewing. Catholic Charities’ partnerships with companies, both local and nationally, expose clients to resources that would not normally be available to them.
CVS staff lead a hiring seminar giving our clients tips for
applying to work at their company.

This is what the Michael H. Kappaz Workforce Development Program hopes to do for thousands of DC and Maryland residents who need employment. Named for the late Michael H. Kappaz, a longtime benefactor of the Spanish Catholic Center who deeply believed in the power of employment and opportunity to change lives, his legacy lives on today.

From hands-on job training to wraparound supports to job search support and placement, the program aims to be a one-stop shop for employment. A major component of that program, however, is the partnerships we have with local employers ready to take on a good employee who is eager to work.

That’s where Susana Marino comes in. As Manager of Workforce Development, her job is to make that connection between employee and employer, making the final link from unemployment to self-sufficient.

“Developing and sustaining solid partnerships with employers is the lifeline of the Kappaz Program,” said Marino.  “We try to pay attention to employers wants and needs and forecast, develop and align the skills of our students to the needs of the market.”