Continuing the Works of Mercy


The 2012-2013 year was full of great excitement as well as great loss. Two spe­cific events immediately come to mind. In March, I (along with millions of others around the world) watched the white smoke coming from Rome when Pope Francis was introduced. A week later, I vividly remember Bishop Joseph McFadden speaking at our Soup, Salad and Sermon Lenten Luncheon about the new Holy Father’s message of helping the poor. It was an affirmation of the work we do at Catholic Charities each day.

Less than two months later, in May, I shared the grief of many when Bishop McFadden sud­denly passed away. Seven months later, it is still hard for me to believe. But even though Bishop McFadden is gone, I know and I appreciate how supportive he was of Catholic Charities.

For more than 74 years, our agency has been one of the leading human service organizations in South Central Pennsylvania. It is with great pride that we “Provide Help and Create Hope” for those in need. We serve all who come to us for help, regardless of age, race, religion or abil­ity to pay.

The 2013-2014 year marks 75 years of service for our local agency. As a national organization, Catholic Charities USA has been around for over 100 years. Our staff likes to say that we will be here for at least 75 more years. I certainly hope that is true.

But there are challenges. The cost of the ser­vices we provide far exceeds the amount of reim­bursements we receive from government funding sources. When government agencies are develop­ing their annual budgets, social services are often the first to be cut. In addition, many of the clients we serve do not have the means to pay for our services. However, no one is ever denied help be­cause of finances.

Our staff continues to work diligently, and our agency continues to be grateful recipients of the support and generosity of many individuals. The reality is that neither is sufficient to meet the needs of all who are coming to us seeking as­sistance. In short, we need your help in order to continue these works of mercy.

I ask that you prayerfully remember those less fortunate. While many of us are blessed with good health, loving families, a warm home, steady employment and the like, others are faced with illness, dysfunctional families, homeless­ness, unemployment and other challenges. Our organization remains committed to doing every­thing we can to address these challenges.

I also ask that you continue to support the work of Catholic Charities. This Christmas season, please consider making a donation to help make a difference. With your assistance, Catholic Chari­ties will continue to provide help and create hope for those in need – just as we have for nearly 75 years.

For more information about Catholic Chari­ties of the Diocese of Harrisburg, please visit our website, I wish you a Merry Christmas and God’s blessing for 2014.


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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