August Update

Bio Pic - For Website

Christopher Meehan – Director of Development, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Harrisburg

Hello from Catholic Charities!  I hope you have had a wonderful summer.  It is my pleasure to update you on some important news from our office.


“Hope for All”


In 2012, three of the Catholic Charities residential programs (Evergreen House, Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families, and Lourdeshouse Maternity Home) moved from three separate facilities into one new location in Harrisburg – the Saint Samuel Center.


Collectively, these three programs are known as our “Homes for Healing.”  Each of these services provides help and creates hope for different client groups.  Evergreen House helps women recovering from addiction.  The Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families is the only shelter in the tri-county region that keeps families together during a homeless crisis.  Lourdeshouse offers various types of support for pregnant women and their babies.


If you need an example of the kind of work being performed by Catholic Charities, the Saint Samuel Center is the perfect illustration.  I have been there many times, and I am both proud and humbled every time I visit there.  I am proud of the staff who do everything they can to help individuals facing various issues, and I humbled by the people who are trying to face these challenges.


While the move to the Saint Samuel Center has been beneficial for us, there is one challenge that still confronts our programs in the facility.  The building is not accessible for handicapped individuals.  It would be easy to say, “We’ve never had a client in a wheelchair before, so why is that a concern?”  But that would be both selfish and naïve.  It is imperative that we address the issue immediately and position ourselves to offer services to all individuals.


In order to do that, renovations are necessary provide handicapped accessible accommodations.  These renovations include accessible bedrooms and bathrooms, upgrades to the kitchen and dining areas, a new elevator, a new garden space, etc.  To raise the needed funds to make this possible, Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Harrisburg have embarked on an ambitious fundraising effort.  The “Hope for All” campaign is a large undertaking for us, and I am hopeful that many individuals, businesses, and foundations will join us in this ambitious effort.


In the coming weeks, you see more information about the campaign and the progress being made at the Saint Samuel Center.  Thank you considering being a part of this important project.


Upcoming Events


Mark your calendars for three upcoming Catholic Charities events.  On Saturday, September 13th, the 10th annual Shelter Shuffle 5k Run/Walk will take place on the campus of the former Harrisburg State Hospital (across from the Farm Show).  Runners/walkers of all abilities are welcome.  In honor of our 10th year for this event, all participants will receive a long-sleeved retro tie-dyed shirt.  All proceeds from the event will benefit the Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families.  On Tuesday, November 4th, Bishop Ronald Gainer will be the featured speaker for our annual Come and See Dinner.  The evening includes a reception/auction, dinner, and remarks from Bishop Gainer.  All proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Homes for Healing.  Lastly, tickets are available for our Notre Dame Football Ticket Raffle which will be drawn on Friday, September 26th.  Two prizes (including two game tickets to the Notre Dame versus North Carolina Football Game on October 11th, two nights lodging, and spending money) will be awarded.


For more information, visit our website or contact me at or 717-657-4804.


Imagine your dream student - someone who is bright, inquisitive, kind to others, and comes to class eager to learn. Well, that is Koffi. He first came to my ESL class in May of 2014. He had only been in the United States for about 6 months at that time.

For many people, those first 6 months can be overwhelming and hectic, but Koffi’s spirit is indomitable. He came to class every night ready to learn and in a short time he found a job. Even after a long day of working hard, Koffi would come into class with a smile on his face. He greeted his fellow students with a smile and was ready to learn.

After being in the country for a little over a year, Koffi decided he would like to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). He took the initiative and researched his options before deciding on the program at HACC.
Koffi continued with his English studies right up to the time his CNA class started at HACC. I was sorry to see him leave, but so happy for him.

In June of this year Koffi graduated from the CNA Program at HACC. We are all so proud of Koffi. He has been such a positive influence on all of us, staff and students alike. It is impossible to look at Koffi’s smiling face and not want to smile right back, he is that full of kindness and hope. I am so glad he was my student and I feel certain that he will do even more amazing things in the future.

- ESL Instructor

Tiffany starts her story by openly stating that the first 39 years of her life were a waste. She spent all of her time drinking, which was her way of coping with the many let downs in her life.

Fearing for her life, a friend convinced Tiffany to check herself into a 30-day detox program. Upon completion she entered the Evergreen House program. While this was not her first choice, Tiffany ended up residing at Evergreen House for seven and one-half months.

Tiffany credits Evergreen’s staff and their patience with her eventual success in the program. Evergreen’s staff understood what she was going through and eventually became like her family. The Evergreen House program provided the structure and support she needed to maintain her sobriety.

Tiffany credits Evergreen House for a second chance at life and she is determined to have a positive impact on others.

- anonymous

Catholic Charities Adoption Services and Specialized Foster Care not only provides foster care and adoption services, but it also helps adoptees and their birth families to connect with one other through Search services. Nearly 50 years ago, Tina was an accomplished athlete who found herself pregnant while pursuing an advanced degree. With housing and supportive services from Catholic Charities, Tina made the difficult decision to place her daughter for adoption. Following the adoption, Tina pursued her career as an athlete, coach, and business administrator. While she was confident that she had made the right decision, Tina constantly thought about the daughter she had placed for adoption and wondered about her well-being. She eventually made attempts to find her daughter through various sources and by updating her online information in the event that her only child might someday want to meet her. After several years, Tina had come to the conclusion that meeting her daughter was just not meant to be.
This past year, Tina’s daughter, Beth, contacted Catholic Charities with a request for information about her birth parents. After talking with Beth and encouraging her to pursue the search, Catholic Charities was able to connect Beth with her birth mother. The two later traveled to meet each other, and Tina was given the opportunity to meet Beth’s husband and daughters. Tina was thrilled to learn that she was a grandmother, but she was most happy to hear that her daughter had loving adoptive parents who had given her a good life. Tina later wrote to Catholic Charities that “I think someone did a lot of praying and the prayers were answered.”

- Anonymous

A native of Puerto Rico, Maria* moved to Harrisburg with the dream of building a bright future for herself and her baby. While working to gain her bearing, Maria was kicked out of the house in which she had been staying, rendering Maria and her son homeless. Maria had very few options, as she had not yet secured a job, childcare, or private housing. In March 2017, Maria and her two year old son were welcomed into the Interfaith Shelter.
Upon entering the Interfaith Shelter, Maria immediately began building the skills needed to obtain self-sufficiency. The first challenge to overcome was Maria’s limited English proficiency. Determined to improve her English, Maria enrolled in ESL classes at the Tri-County Adult Learning Center, and she began practicing her growing language skills with residents and staff at the shelter. Maria also enrolled in a workforce development program offered through the PA Department of Human Services, working to develop marketable skills and gain permanent employment. Although many of the area’s transitional housing programs were completely full and had long wait lists, Maria eagerly applied to the YWCA Transitional Housing program. She knew that, with determination and hard work, she could build a better life for her family.
As she was nearing the end of her stay with the Interfaith Shelter, Maria was accepted into the YWCA Transitional Housing program and was assured that a room would soon be available. In order to keep Maria on the path towards success, the Interfaith Shelter granted Maria an extension until she was able to move into the YWCA. During her stay at Interfaith, Maria successfully obtained childcare, enrolled in a cash assistance program, improved her English proficiency, and began developing employment skills leading to a new job. Maria has served as an inspiration to others at the shelter that any barrier can be overcome.

- Anonymous
Council on Accrediation Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations United Way

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