Voice of Charity

Tuesdays: 8:30 – 9 a.m.


For more than 100 years, Catholic Charities has been providing compassionate, competent and professional services, seven days a week, to anyone in need, strengthening and supporting individuals, families and communities. The Voice of Charity helps further this mission, with engaging conversations about important issues affecting our clients, and the world around us.    
Marie Jochum and Michael Bare Co-Host The Voice of Charity. Marie Jochum is Catholic Charities Director of Board Relations and Mission Engagement. Michael Bare is Manager of Online Content and Social Media. Their knowledge, experience and compassion for others informs and inspires listeners each week. Join us, LIVE each Tuesday mornings at 8:30 on WNDZ, 750 AM. 

Crisp! Social Enterprise Fighting Food Deserts with Mobile Grocery and Pop-Up Stores

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
The City of Chicago broadly defines a “food desert” as a census block located more than a mile from a large retail food store. More than 380,000 Chicagoans live in a food desert, and over 100,000 of those are children. About 70% of the total food desert population is African American, with the remainder split between Caucasians and Latinos. Catholic Charities is part of the solution to food deserts. We provide a wide range of nutrition programs, and one of the most recent is a “mobile grocery” service, called Crisp! Recently, Catholic Charities expanded on the Crisp! model by opening a “pop-up” store in a public housing development in Ford Heights, an economically depressed suburb of Chicago. This new form of outreach not only brings fresh, healthy food to a food desert, it has also provided jobs for community residents. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Jonathan Wittig Director of Crisp! Mobile Grocery, and Tawanna Berdin, Crisp! Sales Representative.

Self-Sufficiency Success Stories from Lake County

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
A family of three needs $4,632 in savings to subsist at the poverty level for at least 3 months if their income suddenly stops, yet over one out of every four Illinois households does not have this amount saved. Family poverty is associated with a number of adverse conditions that can result in homelessness, hunger, and food insecurity. Children in low-income families are more likely to experience multiple family transitions, move frequently, and change schools. The stress of living in poverty and struggling to meet daily needs can also impair parenting. Catholic Charities Lake County Family Self-Sufficiency Program aids struggling single-parent families through comprehensive case management, housing and employment services for up to five years, so that they can achieve self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty. Jacqueline Small, Employment Specialist for our Family Self-Sufficiency Program in Lake County, joins Monsignor Boland to explain what this unique program does and to share some of its exciting success stories.

Community Health Fairs Address Unmet Medical Needs

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
There are more than 1.2 million uninsured persons in the Chicago area. Over 900,000 of them live in Cook and Lake counties, where Catholic Charities annually hosts several community-based health fairs. In 2014 we met the medical needs of approximately 700 people with free exams, screenings and immunizations. Going into communities is something Catholic Charities has always done, and our health fairs are a shining example of this mission. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Kate Mulvaney, Regional Director of the City of Chicago and our Director of Health Initiatives, Linda Ewing, Holy Cross Hospital Community Outreach Director, and Conrad Stasieluk, Project Manager, to tell us more about the Health Fairs.

Affordable Supportive Living for Seniors

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Usually living on fixed incomes, seniors are particularly challenged when it comes to finding affordable housing. When a senior can no longer live independently, yet doesn’t have the resources to pay for assisted living, there are few places they can turn. However, Catholic Charities’ Bishop Conway Residence is a place where seniors with low income can live safely and remain social in a caring community. Bishop Conway Residence offers “supportive” living, where seniors live in apartments but take their meals and socialize communally. There are also social services, and other services onsite. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Gaby Saldana, Director of Bishop Conway Residence, and Assistant Director, Kindle Wilfinger.

Short-Term Rehabilitation Services at Catholic Charities

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Evolving medical procedures are allowing more and more seniors to survive heart attacks, and to choose joint replacements for hips and knees to improve their mobility as they age. Nursing facilities are adjusting to these trends by offering more options for short-term rehabilitation of people with cardiac conditions, have undergone joint replacement or are recovering from a stroke. Catholic Charities’ Holy Family Villa Skilled Nursing Care facility recently completed a major expansion; going from 99 beds to 129 and adding a state-of-the art rehabilitation center for speech, physical and occupational therapy for residents. Eventually, outpatient therapy services will be added. The goal is to provide high-quality, compassionate care that is close to home for seniors so they can regain and maintain their quality of life. Joining Monsignor Boland today care are Margaret (Maggie) McDowell, Director of Nursing at Holy Family Villa, and Julie Regan, Admissions and Social Services Director.

Summer Meals for Children/Summer Jobs for Youth

Tuesday, June 2, 2015
In Cook County, one in five children are at risk of hunger. The Greater Chicago Food Depository, which serves Cook County, reports that only 11.5 percent of Illinois children eligible for free and reduced-price school meals received free summer meals last year. Summer meals are critically important because children who receive free breakfast and lunch during the school year may go hungry in the summer when school is out. Along with child hunger, unemployment among youth is a serious problem that also becomes more obvious when school is out. In Chicago, just 11 percent of teens from the lowest household income group (less than $20,000) were employed in 2012/2013. Teens’ chances of being employed rose with family income. Nearly 30 percent of teens in families earning $100,000 to $150,000 were employed in 2012/2013. Diane Nunley and Gina Cleggs, both Associate Vice Presidents in Catholic Charities Community Development and Outreach Services area, which focuses on nutrition and employment programs, join Monsignor Boland to discuss how we are addressing both child hunger and youth unemployment.

Visions of My Life Photo Project Uplifts Everyone

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
For nearly 15 years, people who are hungry or homeless can enjoy a hot meal Monday through Friday at Catholic Charities St. Vincent Center. We are always at capacity and give out sack meals to those who cannot be accommodated at a table. On a typical night, we feed about 150 people. Many return, for the food, fellowship, and access to social services provided by dedicated staff and volunteers. Twelve years ago, we began a program called “Visions of My Life” where our supper guests are given the opportunity to showcase their photographic talents by using disposable cameras to capture scenes from their lives. The “Visions” program is staffed entirely by volunteers who meet one on one with the supper guests to review and select photos that will be displayed at an annual gallery show each June. Prints sell for $100 each and the photographers keep $70. The balance is used to pay for materials; cameras, matting and frames. This year’s Visions event will take place over two days: Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 13, at Catholic Charities headquarters, 721 N. LaSalle Street in Chicago. The show is FREE and family-friendly. Refreshments are served. Kathy Donahue, Senior Vice President of Programs, Jody O’Connor a Board Member and long-term “Visions” volunteer, and Rosemary Watson, a supper guest who participates in the photography program join Monsignor Boland to talk about this uplifting program.

Keenager News and the Senior Unity Mass

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Seniors are very important to Catholic Charities. Our Senior Services area is one of our largest, with more than 20 different programs delivered across Cook and Lake counties. One very special program is the FREE Keenager News newspaper, which is mailed out to more than 92,000 seniors each month. Keenager News was started in 1969 as a way to create a sense of community among seniors. Informational articles, humor, recipes and human interest stories are in every issue, along with our popular word search puzzles. We encourage seniors to contribute their own stories, poems and recipes as well. To honor our seniors, Catholic Charities hosts an Annual Senior Unity Mass, followed by a hot luncheon. This year the Mass will be held on Thursday, June 4 at the historic Holy Family Church. Over 300 seniors attended the Mass last year and we hope to greet even more this year. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Megan Fry of Keenager News, and Rob Boyd, director of Josephine Argento Senior Center in Calumet City.

Celebrating 50 Years of the Older Americans Act

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
It may be hard to imagine today with all the government programs out there, but 50 years ago, the fact that many senior citizens faced growing poverty and isolation was an emerging public policy issue. A landmark piece of legislation, The Older Americans Act, or “OAA,” was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It created services that are now very familiar to many seniors and their families, including home-delivered meals, chore services, and support for caregivers. OAA funding supports critical activities at Catholic Charities. Because of these funds, in the past fiscal year we were able to provide information and assistance to over 28,500 people. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Mary Ann Bibat, Vice President and Anne Posner, Associate Vice President of our Senior Services.

April is National Volunteer Month

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Volunteering is more common than you may think. Nationwide, nearly 63 million people volunteered at least once between September 2013 and September 2014. This comes out to about 25 percent, or one out of every four people. Illinois is slightly above the nation average, with nearly 27% of people taking time to volunteer. We certainly see this generous donation of time and talent at Catholic Charities. 15,000 people volunteered their assistance to our programs last year, and we hope to raise that number in the years to come. Volunteers are crucial in making the programs of Catholic Charities feasible. Volunteers extend the reach of programs, usually at the community level that need help the most, such as our family shelters or senior residences. Volunteers suggest new initiatives and volunteers gain new knowledge and appreciation for those in need. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Lisa Jerzyk, Director of Volunteer Relations, and Kristin McDaniel, Board Relations Coordinator.

Month of the Young Child

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
April is the month of the young child, and at Catholic Charities we celebrate children and provide services to enhance children’s education, health, safety, and connections to their community. In Illinois alone there are 3,182 preschools and child development centers. Catholic Charities of Chicago has nine of these centers where we help over 1,400 children and their families each year. Our centers not only provide safe, affordable care for children, they also have educational programs that prepare children for elementary school, as evidenced by regular measurements of performance. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Tasha Johnson, Head Start Director, and Diane Rodriguez, Child Care Director.

40 Years of Empowering Refugees

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Catholic Charities has “welcomed the stranger” throughout our history in Chicago, as groups of immigrants from various countries came to our city in search of a better life. In 1975 we started our Refugee Resettlement program, to assist those fleeing persecution or danger in their home countries. In forty years, we have helped resettle 10,000 refugees. Today, our Refugee Resettlement Program works with families and individuals from across the globe, including Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In 2014 we served 469 individuals, including 292 newcomers, as they transitioned to their new homes in Chicago. Along with providing food, shelter and financial assistance to new arrivals, our Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement program addresses the emotional needs of our clients, who are often feeling disoriented, lonely and anxious as they adapt to an entirely new culture. Joining Monsignor Boland today is Elma Kulovic, program director of the Refugee Resettlement Program, and Samantha Lin, a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

Parishes are Fertile Ground for Partnerships with Catholic Charities

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Parishes are generous to Catholic Charities with donations of time, talent and treasure. It brings to mind the parable of the Sower: “ … as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.” Luke 8:15. Parishes that support Catholic Charities are prime examples of “rich soil” that bears fruit not only in one community, but across the Archdiocese. By supporting us, parishes feed the roots of a vine that reaches out to anyone in need, not just Catholics, and enfolds them in its caring embrace. The social safety net in the Chicago area would be much, much weaker without the strong commitment of faith communities to serve the poor. Society itself would be weaker, as by helping others we strengthen the moral character of our culture. Today Monsignor Boland will give examples of the “harvest” of help that parishes provide to Catholic Charities, all year long, and especially through their participation in Catholic Charities annual Mother’s Day Collection.

Fighting for Justice: Catholic Charities Legal Assistance Department

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Catholic Charities spends a lot of time helping people who are homeless and hungry, but we also help with other needs like legal assistance. Fighting for justice for the poor is very much a part of our tradition of Catholic Social Teaching. Legal fees are very expensive, and legal matters are usually complex, so low-income persons are at a disadvantage if they need legal help. This is why ten years ago, Catholic Charities began its Legal Assistance program, with the efforts of two volunteer board members. Today, Catholic Charities Legal Assistance, or CCLA, has four staff members and serves more than 1600 individuals annually, most of them women, and many Latino. Hilda Bahena, Director of Catholic Charities Legal Assistance department; Jeanne Casey, Board Member, attorney, and co-founder of CCLA join Monsignor Boland to discuss the CCLA program.

Home Delivered Meals Help insure Senior Wellbeing

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
March is an active month for the “Meals on Wheels” program, a nation-wide effort that uses volunteers to deliver nutritious meals to seniors in their homes. Along with a rapid increase in life expectancy for seniors, the Meals on Wheels Association cites escalating food and transportation costs as factors in the food insecurity crisis facing our elderly population. Homebound or frail individuals may not be able to get out to the store, or even move about their homes to prepare meals. Having a hot, nutritious meal delivered five days a week can help them age safely “in place,” as most of us hope to do. Catholic Charities serves more than 250,000 home delivered meals annually in Cook and Lake counties. Each year, our Meals on Wheels program in Lake county honors its volunteers with an elegant dinner dance. This year, the event will be held March 28, at the end of “March for Meals” month. Joining Monsignor Boland today is Dave Himplemann, Meals on Wheels Coordinator for Catholic Charities Lake County Services, to discuss the Meals on Wheels program and its impact on seniors.

Catholic Charities and Women

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
March is Women’s History Month and at Catholic Charities, the “rights and dignity of women,” are honored daily. Most of our clients are women. Most of our staff members are women. Women are senior administrators, they guide our work as Board Members, they raise money and they care directly for those in need. Since our founding, women have been an integral part of Catholic Charities success. In 2014, 57% of the 1.2 million people Catholic Charities served were female, and in many programs, this proportion is far higher. From newborn babies to fragile elders, these women witnessed the compassionate care and respect for human life that our agency is known for, because of the women, and men, who live Christ’s values through their work. Joining Monsignor today is Kathy Donahue, Senior Vice President of Program Development.

One Mission: Many Hearts, Many Hands

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
As we move into the solemn liturgical season of Lent, Catholic Charities invites your participation in “One Mission: Many Hearts, Many Hands.” The purpose of this Lenten journey is to educate people young and old about Catholic Charities programs and to inspire them to support our mission of charity. During each week of Lent the mission focuses on a particular group: Homeless, Seniors, Families, Veterans, and Refugees. Through scripture, reflection, prayer, and activities we will educate ourselves, our families, and our communities, while we participate in the sacred work of serving those in need. As Pope Francis has said, “To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete …” Joining Monsignor Boland today to tell us more about “One Mission: Many Hearts, Many Hands,” are Kristin McDaniel, Board Relations Coordinator, and Annie Scully, Junior Board Director.

Catholic Charities and Homelessness in the NW suburbs

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Homelessness is a problem Catholic Charities has been battling for much of our nearly 100-year history. However, we have seen changes over the years as the “typical” homeless person evolved from an unemployed, single male, living on “skid row,” to today, when we often see entire families left homeless by job loss, or the inability to afford rising rents in gentrifying communities. A 2014 analysis by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates that 138,575 Chicagoans were homeless in the course of the 2013-14 school year. This is a nearly 20% increase from the previous year. Outside of Chicago, suburban school districts reporting the largest homeless enrollment in 2013-14 were: Rockford with more than 2,220 homeless students (up 43% from the previous year); Peoria with 859 homeless students (up 11%); Kane County with 806 (up 16%); and Harvey, which falls within Catholic Charities service area, with 753 homeless students (up 8%). The school data is important because it focuses on the most vulnerable among the homeless, children, and is an indicator of how many families are without stable housing. Mike Waters, Catholic Charities Northwest Suburban Regional Director, joins Monsignor to discuss how Catholic Charities addresses homelessness in the NW suburbs.

Drawing Closer to Community Needs by Expanding Sites

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
With 150 programs at more than 160 locations throughout Cook and Lake Counties, it is Catholic Charities’ mission to bring compassionate, professional, and comprehensive social services to neighborhoods that face multiple challenges. We are constantly taking the pulse of community needs, evaluating our programs, assessing new opportunities, and asking the Holy Spirit to lead us to the places and the people who need us the most. This year, Catholic Charities is very blessed to expand our services to several more community-based locations across Chicago. Join Monsignor Michael Boland as he explains our expansion and the reasons for it.

New Regional Office to Serve More of City’s Poor

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
St. Gall Parish on the corner of Kedzie and 55th on Chicago’s Southwest Side is a fixture in a community historically made up of immigrants seeking the American Dream. Initially home to Eastern European immigrants, the area is now dominated by more recent arrivals from Mexico. Catholic Charities has partnered with St. Gall for health fairs, domestic violence counseling and public benefits screening, and we have other programs in the vicinity, such as Head Start, WIC (Women, Infants and Children nutrition program), and Senior Case management services. Catholic Charities has opened a new regional office at St. Gall, to better serve people in need both in the parish and the surrounding community. Joining Monsignor Boland today to discuss this exciting new development are Marilu Gonzalez, Regional Director of the Southwest City office at St. Gall; Dalia Rocotello, Director of Latino Affairs; and Rev. Gary Graf, Pastor of St. Gall.

Nearly 100 Years of Helping; a Short History of Catholic Charities

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
With the turn of another year, Catholic Charities is closer to reaching its Centennial. Founded in 1917, the organization has grown and adapted to the ever-changing social service scene in Cook and Lake Counties. From a loosely affiliated collection of orphanages, senior homes and other institutions, Catholic Charities has grown to become one of the largest social service agencies in the Midwest, with more than 150 programs at more than 160 sites serving more than one million people each year. Here to give us “short” history of Catholic Charities is Bob Morris, a member of our Board of Advisors and experienced organizational

Mentor a Youth and Change a Life

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Think back to when you were a youth. Were there people in your life who guided and supported your efforts in school? People who listened to your troubles and offered constructive solutions? Someone who believed in you and could show you a different side of life than your parents could? Today, that person would be called a “mentor,” which is a Greek word for wise counselor, master or teacher. Mentoring is not new, but recent research shows clear benefits to children and youth who participate in mentoring programs. Catholic Charities Youth Mentoring program serves our Lake County region, and is entering its third year of operation. Here to tell us more are Beth Sheehan-Lucas, Program Coordinator for Catholic Charities Youth Mentoring Program, and Jesse Batha, a volunteer mentor in the program.

Caring for Caregivers

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. The value of the services family caregivers provide for "free," when caring for older adults, is estimated to be $375 billion a year. That is almost twice as much as is actually spent on homecare and nursing home services combined ($158 billion). Caregiving is hard work; requiring physical and mental stamina to handle all the day to day transitions within one’s home, as well as all the managing of appointments and the emotional toll of seeing a loved one in a diminished state. As people live longer, the phenomenon of long-term family caregiving is growing. Joining Monsignor today to talk about ways to address this issue is DeWayne Dunigan, Lead Caregiver Specialist at our South Suburban Senior Services.

Christmas Reflections on 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
As another busy year draws to a close amid the blessings of Advent and Christmas time, Monsignor Boland reflects on all the ways Catholic Charities has been honored to help those in need. Catholic Charities is grateful for the funders, volunteers and staff who make our mission possible; for the guidance of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, whose gestures, words and writings call for a more humane and just society, and for the arrival of our new Archbishop, Blase Cupich, who embodies the Pope’s message of charity and concern for the least among us. This past year we opened the doors at our 161 locations to more than 1 million people. Every 30 seconds someone is counting on Catholic Charities for help. Monsignor Boland looks back at a year full of help and hope.

Helping the Poor Survive Another Harsh Winter

Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Though it seems like we just put our snow shovels away for the year, winter has returned to Chicago in force, with frigid temperatures since late October. It appears we are heading into another harsh winter, and at Catholic Charities our concern is high for the poor who have to face the elements on the street or in unstable living arrangements. Thankfully, at Catholic Charities we have many programs ready and able to help. Our Mobile Outreach Program is on the street 24/7 ready to pick up and transport anyone facing the cold without heat or shelter. Our Emergency Assistance Department provides a full array of services for clients in need of urgent basic human needs, providing intake for emergency shelter, emergency financial assistance, referral, advocacy, food pantry, clothing, short-term case management and benefits screening at many locations in the City and Suburbs. Joining Monsignor today is Sharon Tillmon, a senior manager at Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Program.

What Does Administrative Relief Mean for immigrants?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Recently the media was abuzz about the Administration’s announcement regarding Executive Actions for Immigration Accountability. It is estimated that more than 4 million people will be impacted by the new rules. It will take a few months for all the procedures to be firmed up, but in the meantime, advocates are cautioning people to avoid fraud by only working with certified personnel. Catholic Charities has long assisted immigrants from many nations. Last year, our Immigration and Naturalization program served 3200 individuals. However, all our service areas can and do support immigrants and their families with basic needs, counseling, childcare, nutrition, senior services and housing. The impact of these actions reinforces what the Catholic Church has advocated for decades: The importance of families staying together. Joining Monsignor Boland today is Carlos Rinconeno, a specialist in Catholic Charities Immigration and Naturalization program, to discuss what Catholic Charities is doing in the wake of this new development.

CRISP Social Enterprise Fighting Food Deserts

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The City of Chicago broadly defines a “food desert” as a census block located more than a mile from a large retail food store. Catholic Charities is part of the solution to food deserts. We provide a wide range of nutrition programs, and one of the most recent is a “mobile grocery” service, called CRISP. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Angel Gutierrez, Vice President of Community Development and Outreach Services, and Mike Hyzy, Special Projects and Business Specialist, to talk about this innovative program.

Assisting Refugees with Empowerment

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Along with providing food, shelter and financial assistance to new arrivals, staff in our Refugee Resettlement program address the emotional needs of our clients who are often feeling disoriented, lonely and anxious as they adapt to an entirely new culture.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; How Catholic Charities Helps

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and you may have seen or heard some of the startling statistics about this problem. Nationwide, 20 people per minute are victims of violence from an intimate partner. Catholic Charities Domestic Violence program is actively engaged in helping parishes know what to do about domestic violence. We partner closely with the Archdiocese Office of Domestic Violence. Catholic Charities assists by going where a parish requests counseling, education, training, and referrals. Our counselors can be based at a parish to see individuals, families and groups. Joining Monsignor Boland today is Pat Broderick, a bilingual Clinical Family Service Specialist who works with families impacted by domestic violence.

National Alzheimer’s Month: Caring for Elders with Memory Challenges

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The statistics on Alzheimer’s disease are startling: today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and in 35 years that figure is expected to rise to 16 million. Alzheimer’s is not just the forgetfulness of older age; it is a disease in its own right; a form of dementia that causes brain cells to malfunction and ultimately die in a predictable pattern, resulting in memory loss, erratic behavior and ultimately loss of body function. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, it is fatal. Catholic Charities has cared for seniors for decades, and our services have evolved to accommodate the rising number of persons with Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, we are here for those patients who are low-income and alone. Joining Monsignor Boland to discuss services for persons with Alzheimer’s and their families are Bobbi Magurany, Associate Vice President of Housing, and Gabriela Saldana, director of the Bishop Conway Supportive Living Residence.

Living the Christmas Spirit: Gift Drive Helps Donors and Clients

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
For 67 years, Catholic Charities has helped children and families in need to have a merrier Christmas through our annual “Celebration of Giving” program. Last year, through the generous donations of individuals, corporations and organizations Catholic Charities distributed 43,000 gifts and toys to more than 20,000 children and families. Volunteers are essential to the success of Celebration of Giving and over the years we have had parishes, families, individuals, corporations and schools make this annual event a highlight of their charitable work. Many of them find out that “in giving they receive” a sense of accomplishment and appreciation for the blessings they enjoy. Joining Monsignor Boland to discuss how people can support the Celebration of Giving are: Kristin McDaniel, Director of Volunteer Relations and Zulma Colon, Asst. Director of Volunteer Relations at Catholic Charities.

Partnering with the Growing Latino Population in Chicago

Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Mid-September to Mid-October comprises Hispanic Heritage month. At Catholic Charities we interface with the growing Hispanic/Latino community in Chicago in a number of ways. First, our programs serve a large number of Latinos. Last year, Catholic Charities met the needs of more than 228,000 Latinos, who comprised over one quarter (26%) of the total number of people served by our programs. Second, because of the large number of Latino clients we need to have bilingual and bicultural staff that can understand and assist them. We continue to grow the number of Latino staff across our service areas. Finally, we have more and more Board members and volunteers who are of Hispanic heritage and who are helping us develop our outreach to Latino businesses, legislators, and other stakeholders. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Dalia Bagdonas Rocotello, Director of Latino Affairs, and Stella Gayton, Vice Chair of our Latino Affairs Committee.

Senior Affordable Housing a Growing Need

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Along with the growing number of Americans aged 65 and older in our future, we can expect to see more seniors living on low incomes. The number of people aged 65 and older in poverty increased from 3.9 million in 2012 to 4.2 million in 2013. Catholic Charities assists seniors in a wide variety of ways, but one of the most impactful is with affordable senior apartment buildings. Our apartment buildings are affordable in that rent is about one-third of a resident’s income. This alone is a relief to many seniors living in the metropolitan area, where a one-bedroom apartment typically costs at least $500 per month. Along with affordability, our buildings are safe, secure and supported with on-site staff and services that allow seniors to live independently as long as possible. Social events are planned, transportation is available to shopping and other destinations and in general we foster a culture of neighborliness that is a great comfort to many who live alone or far from family. Catholic Charities will dedicate its 19th affordable senior residence on Chicago’s far Southeast side early in 2015. Joining Monsignor today is Antwuan Smith, an Associate Vice President for Housing at Catholic Charities.

AIDS Epidemic Still With us: How Catholic Charities Responds

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The HIV/AIDS Pandemic has been here for over 30 years, and while it rarely makes headlines, it is still devastating the lives of individuals, families, communities, and even countries. 50,000 new HIV infections occur every year in the US, and some 20 to 25% of these persons DO NOT KNOW that they are positive and therefore could be spreading the virus. Catholic Charities was an “early responder” to the AIDS epidemic, with our involvement going back decades. Along with providing social services for persons with HIV/AIDS, we also seek to educate the general public with facts about the disease in an effort to reduce the stigma and rejection faced by those with the disease and their family members. Monsignor Boland is joined by Pat Drott, the HIV/AIDS Liaison to the Archdiocese of Chicago and Laura Kuever is a Program Director in our Community Casework Department whose job includes overseeing HIV/AIDS programming in Lake County.

Addressing Poverty in the North Suburbs

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
An important fact facing any social service agency is the rising number of poor in suburban America. A recent Brookings Institution report states that poverty is growing twice as fast in suburban areas as in cities. Nationwide, more than 50% of all poor persons live in the suburbs. Gentrification in cities can push lower-income families out to lower-priced housing in the suburbs, which were built for traditional nuclear families with two parents (one wage-earner, one homemaker) and a car. Today, most parents work, many are single, and commuting from a suburb is costly in terms of time and money, not to mention day care costs for young children. It is clear that suburban poverty is a problem, and Catholic Charities has been addressing it for many years through our network of regional offices. Monsignor Boland is joined by Karen Daniels, Director of our North Region Office, which serves communities as diverse as Glencoe with 3.6% of its population living below poverty, and Skokie, which has 13.3%.

September is Hunger Action Month

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
September is Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign mobilizing the public to take action on the issue of hunger. The campaign brings greater attention to the issue of hunger in America and promotes ways for individuals everywhere to get involved with the movement to solve it.

Supporting Northwest Suburban Seniors for the Long-Term

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
We are all familiar with the trend of increasing numbers of seniors in the future due to the Baby Boom Generation, and also how current seniors are living longer. Seniors comprise about one-third of the clients served by Catholic Charities, but our Senior Services area has the largest proportion of staff, more than 1300 people out of a total workforce of 3,152 people, in part due to the complex and continuing needs of this population. Our “Case Coordination Units” cover large areas of Cook and Lake Counties, including the Northwest suburbs, to assess and address a wide range of needs that an elderly resident may have. We operate a busy office at the Arlington Heights Senior Center with more than a dozen programs ranging from adult protective services to chore housekeeping, home delivered meals, and assistance with managing public benefits to supporting caregivers. The mission of our senior services area is to promote individual dignity and worth, quality of life, self-determination and personal choice of adults sixty years or older, and their caregivers, and to assist seniors in maintaining their independence in a safe and functional manner for as long as possible. Monsignor Boland is joined by Cindy Gunderson, Director of our NW Suburban Senior Services, to discuss services to seniors in the Northwest suburbs.

Catholic Charities Commitment to Communities

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
We are all familiar with the cycle: a tragedy occurs in a poor community, the media descend, people march, politicians call for change and then … another tragedy occurs in another community and the cycle starts anew. Unfortunately, the conditions that result in senseless shootings and other sad events cannot be changed overnight. They require long-term attention, and people with the time, resources and desire to give that attention. Catholic Charities understands “long-term.” Most of our programming goes back decades, like our local Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Food and Nutrition Centers which began 20 years ago. Case management, counseling, child care, senior residences and services, family shelters – each of these program areas have sites with deep roots in Chicago communities. Kathy Donahue, Senior Vice President of Program Development and Evaluation joins Monsignor Boland today to talk about Catholic Charities commitment to communities.

Addressing Homelessness in the Western Suburbs

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Often we think of the homeless in an urban setting, but it is a growing problem in suburban areas too. Homelessness is hard on people no matter where they live; but particularly in the suburbs where supports like public transportation, shelters, and social service agencies are not as available as in the City. Catholic Charities has been addressing suburban homelessness for over a decade through our New Hope Apartments program, which places homeless families in a regular apartment in a community, and then wraps services and support around that family while they move to self-sufficiency. Esmeralda Zepeda, West Regional Director, and Abraham Jimenez, Case Coordinator, New Hope Apartments West join Monsignor Boland to talk about homelessness in the West Suburbs.

Strengthening Communities with Youth Nutrition and Employment Programs

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
For the past several years, Catholic Charities has operated a Summer Food Service Program that now numbers 140 sites; primarily in the city but also some suburbs. The program provides a healthy breakfast and lunch along with physical activities and nutrition education to children and youth in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. With 1 in 5 children at risk of hunger in Cook County, this program is a vital support to children and their parents; who can breathe easier knowing their kids are getting at least two balanced meals per day. We also run several youth employment programs that serve low-income neighborhoods like Englewood where teens may be drawn into gangs or other negative activities, especially when school is out. As with our nutrition programs, Catholic Charities has been running these programs in communities for several years; improving them as we go. Joining Monsignor Boland to discuss how Catholic Charities Youth Nutrition and Employment programs strengthen Chicago’s vulnerable communities are Diane Nunley and Gina Cleggs, both Associate Vice Presidents in the agency’s Community Development and Outreach division.

Helping Children Handle Grief

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
It’s summertime and most of us have fond memories of our childhoods spent enjoying the long, hot days free of the routine of school. But for some children, childhood can hold unbelievable grief due to the loss of a loved one to suicide. Death alone is hard for a child to fathom; having someone take their own life is something most adults cannot understand. Thirty-five years ago, Catholic Charities began groundbreaking work by counseling the survivors of suicide; those family members and friends left behind when someone made the tragic decision to end their life. Our Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS) program has helped thousands of people over the years. Our model of individual counseling by trained professionals and support groups facilitated by survivors has been recognized internationally. Several years ago, we started a new chapter in LOSS’s history by launching a program for children and youth impacted by suicide. Joining Monsignor Boland to discuss this compelling topic are: Fr. Charles Rubey, Founder of LOSS and Cynthia Waderlow, Clinical Child Specialist.

Expanding Rehabilitation Services for Seniors at Holy Family Villa

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
With increasing life expectances, our “senior years” are now stretching longer than ever. Average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.5 years; and we all know more and more people who live into their late 80s, the 90s and even into their 100s. Evolving medical procedures are allowing more and more seniors to survive heart attacks, and to choose joint replacements. Nursing facilities are adjusting to these trends by offering more options for short-term rehabilitation. Catholic Charities’ Holy Family Villa Skilled Nursing Care facility just completed at major expansion; going from 99 beds to 129 and adding a state-of-the art rehabilitation center for speech, physical and occupational therapy for residents. Eventually, outpatient therapy services will be added. Joining Monsignor Boland to talk about how Catholic Charities is meeting the challenge for more nursing care are Bobbi Maguraney, Associate Vice President, Senior Services and Margaret (Maggie) McDowell, Director of Nursing at Holy Family Villa.

Raising Funds to Fight Poverty in Lake County

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
When many Chicagoans think of Lake County, Illinois they imagine the mansions along its famed “North Shore,” and large corporate campuses that can be glimpsed along the Edens Expressway. The area appears wealthy, and indeed, the median household income is $74,306 over $20,000 more than the state median income. However, Lake County does have poverty. In 2011, about 10% of the people in Lake County were poor, an increase of 24% from 2010. Catholic Charities has been working to help those in need in Lake County for decades. For the past 20 years, our Lake County Regional Advisory Board has helped to raise funds for our services through a popular golf outing, the Charities Golf Classic, held each summer. Joining Monsignor Boland today are John Brinckerhoff, Event Chair for the Charities Golf Classic, and Terri Denny, Senior Director of Lake County and Regional Services to discuss Catholic Charities work in Lake County and how events like the Classic help raise funds to fight poverty there. Welcome John and Terri!

Community Health Fairs Address Unmet Medical Needs

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
There are more than 1.2 million uninsured persons in the Chicago area. Over 900,000 of them live in Cook and Lake counties, where Catholic Charities annually hosts several community-based health fairs. In 2013 we met the medical needs of approximately 1200 people with free exams, screenings and immunizations. The logistics of each health fair alone are challenging: planning months in advance with the host parishes, raising a small army of volunteer nurses, doctors, dentists, podiatrists and others who set up and take down temporary exam rooms, and publicizing the event to the surrounding community. But the outcome is worth it—children get school physicals, dental exams and vision screenings; adults have their blood pressure, glucose, tested. There is even HIV testing. Best of all, we have federal navigators and counselors on-site to discuss enrolling in the Affordable Care Act and we invite neighborhood medical clinics to connect families to ongoing sources of medical care so they can prevent medical crises. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Kate Mulvaney, Regional Director of the City of Chicago and our Director of Health Initiatives and Conrad Stasieluk, who previously spent 18 months as a student intern before working part time for us this summer, to tell us more about the Health Fairs.

The Impact of Substance Abuse on Families

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Drug abuse costs the United States hundreds of billions of dollars each year in health care, crime and lost productivity. In 2009, there were nearly 4.6 million drug-related emergency room visits nationwide. In Illinois, there were more than 37,000 DUI arrests recorded by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office in 2012. Catholic Charities has long helped persons suffering from addiction in our counseling, emergency assistance and other programs. Two of these programs, “CSI” and “ACES,” focus exclusively on substance abuse and helping those impacted by it to build better lives. Joining Monsignor Boland to talk about these unique programs are Kevin Doyle, Director, Central States Institute (CSI) and Pat Bogie, Program Director, Addiction Counseling and Education Services (ACES).

Helping with High Energy Bills After Frigid Winter

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Though we are now entering the warm days of summer, recent headlines across the country tell of the challenge low income families face in paying off energy bills from this past winter. The growing gap between energy costs and the funding available for the poor to help pay them means that many families are faced with discontinuation of home energy. Even if a shut-off is avoided, families often must deal with large back payments that can lead to eviction and homelessness. Sandy Murray, Director, Homelessness Prevention Call Center and Christene Dykes-Sorrells, Director, Emergency Assistance Program join Monsignor Boland to discuss how Catholic Charities is helping families who face high utility bills.

Research Outcomes from Catholic Charities Summer Food Program

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Every summer, Catholic Charities distributes tens of thousands of healthy meals to hungry children around the city. Many schoolchildren participate in breakfast and lunch feeding programs. With school out, these children are at risk of not fulfilling their daily nutrition requirements, so Catholic Charities has developed a highly mobile approach to feeding these children where they are: in parks, at summer school, church programs and other community-based sites. Along with delivering healthy meals, Catholic Charities provides nutrition education and fitness activities in an effort to foster healthy eating and activity habits throughout the year. A recent study found that 29%, of sixth grade students and 25% of ninth grade students in CPS schools are obese. Statistics like this have spurred the development of programs to address this problem. Catholic Charities has collected its own statistics, which is using to improve its program each year to address specific problems. Joining Monsignor Boland today are Diane Nunley, Associate Vice President in Catholic Charities Community Development and Outreach Services, and Tallet Vanek, a nutritionist who develops and analyzes our nutrition education programs.

Senior Unity Mass and Keenager News

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Seniors are special to all of us at Catholic Charities. Our Senior Services area is one of our largest. Nearly 50% of our agency staff works in our Senior Services programs. In FY2013 Catholic Charities helped care for over 240,000 seniors, with a wide range of services. These include homemaking that allows seniors to remain in their homes, affordable senior apartment buildings, supportive living and skilled care for seniors who cannot live on their own, nutrition programs and case management. One very special program is our FREE Keenager News newspaper, which is mailed out to over 95,000 seniors each month. To honor our seniors, every year Catholic Charities hosts the Senior Unity Mass at Holy Name Cathedral. Over 300 seniors attended the Mass last year and we hope to greet even more this year. Today Mary Ellen Kastenholz, a Board Member and volunteer, talks with Monsignor Boland about this year’s Senior Unity Mass and her frequent contributions to Keenager News.

Visions of my Life Photo Show and Social Enterprise

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
For over a decade, the hungry and homeless can get a hot meal Monday through Friday at Catholic Charities St. Vincent Center. In 2003, we began a program called “Visions of My Life” where our supper guests are given the opportunity to showcase their photographic talents by using disposable cameras to capture scenes from their lives. The “Visions” program is staffed entirely by volunteers who meet one on one with the supper guests to review and select photos that will be displayed at an annual gallery show each June. Prints sell for $100 each and the photographers keep $70. The balance is used to pay for materials; cameras, matting and frames. Because the clients earn money for their work, Visions is seen as a “social enterprise” program. This year’s Visions event will take place over two days: June 6th and June 7, at Catholic Charities headquarters at 721 N. LaSalle Street in Chicago. The show is FREE and family-friendly. Monsignor Boland is joined by Kathy Donahue, Senior Vice President of Programs, and Noreen Russo, Program Director of our Homelessness Prevention Call Center, to talk about Visions , what it means to both the supper guests and volunteers who are involved, and how it is developing as a social enterprise project.

May is Mental Health Month

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that in 2012 9.6 million adults (4.1% of all persons 18 and older) had suffered a “Serious Mental Illness” (SMI) in the past year. An SMI is defined as a mental, behavioral or emotional condition that causes serious functional impairment by substantially interfering with one or more major life activity. For 65 years, the nonprofit group, Mental Health America, has led the observance of May as Mental Health Month. The 2014 May is Mental Health Month theme is “Mind Your Health,” with the goal of raising the public’s awareness of the importance of mental health to overall health and wellness. Catholic Charities offers several types of mental health counseling programs, reaching a broad range of people from children to seniors. Today, Tim Higgins, Program Director at Catholic Charities Holbrook Counseling Center and Cheryl Joseph-Lukz, a therapist with Holbrook will talk with Monsignor Boland about the mind-body connection and counseling services provided by the Holbrook Center.
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