Helping Those in Need

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Shelter Shuffle Success

October 10, 2013 by (Edit)

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 9th annual Shelter Shuffle on October 5th!  The 5K Run/Walk was our most successful, and we appreciate everyone who helped us generate funds to support the Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families.  Special thanks to all the runners, walkers, and sponsors and to all of the volunteers who gave up some valuable Saturday morning time for this important cause.  Hope you will join us again next year!

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Helping Those In Need

June 24, 2013 by (Edit)


By Christopher Meehan

I recently read a news story about Pope Francis where he shared some personal moments with a group of 200,000 in St. Peter’s Square.  It was the latest in a series of simple straightforward remarks that has defined the Holy Father’s early tenure.

During the question and answer session, Pope Francis repeated his call for Catholics “to do more to seek out those fringes of society who need help the most.”  He also commented that, “it breaks my heart to say that finding a homeless person who has died from the cold is not news.  Today, the news is scandals, but the many children who do not have food – that is not news.  This is grave.  We can’t rest easy while things are this way.”  The Holy Father also challenged all Christians to “become courageous and seek out those who need help the most.”

As the largest provider of social services in the United States, Catholic Charities USA is here to respond to that challenge.  Within our community region, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Harrisburg exists to respond to the human service needs of people throughout the 15 counties of the Diocese.

And the needs are many.  Each day, our dedicated staff provides help and creates hope for those who need it most.  Through our counseling services, youth and family programs, and our residential facilities, Catholic Charities does everything we can to answer the types of challenges that Pope Francis identified.

To accomplish this mission, we need your help.  Our agency relies heavily on the generosity of those who support us.  Our services are offered regardless of an individual’s ability to pay.  Without the help of our donors, our ability to respond to the many calls for help is severely limited.

Many people ask, “What can I do?  I am just one person.”   My answer is do whatever you can.  Consider a financial gift.  Volunteer your time.  Donate your services.  Pray for us.  Do whatever you can.  Every little bit helps.

I’ll give you one small example.  Every year, one of our donors hosts a Christmas party at their home.  In lieu of gifts, all of the guests are asked to make a charitable gift to Catholic Charities.  The checks we receive range from small to larger amounts.  When everything is added up, the event generates a very nice donation for one of our programs.

Another example is the donor who sends us a small donation every month.  By spreading their gift over the course of a year, this individual is able to help make a larger difference without taking a larger one-time bite from their monthly budget.

These are just two ways that people from our community have demonstrated their commitment to the Holy Father’s challenge to be courageous and seek out those who need help the most.  None of us can do it alone.  But together, we can all so whatever we can to address the crisis of poverty in our world.  Every little bit helps.

On behalf of those individuals that we are grateful to serve, I thank you for all that you do for Catholic Charities.  May God continue to bless you and your families.  For more information about Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Harrisburg, please visit us online at


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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