Stories Of Hope

From Our Lawrence County Office

Former homeless man grateful for the help he received.

"I am writing to first thank your wonderful organization for the help that I received from the Catholic Charities Office in New Castle, Lawrence County. Through the incredible help of your organization, I went from being homeless to obtaining my own apartment here in New Castle. I am so very thankful.

Specifically, I would like to highly commend my social worker. She was instrumental in working tirelessly to help me when I really needed it. She stopped at nothing to make sure that I was able to be placed in an apartment. She was always there when I needed to speak with her or stop in to the office. She is truly the best social worker that I have ever dealt with, by far. There is no comparison as far as I am concerned. Your organization is very fortunate to have such a determined advocate for the poor and homeless. I was very fortunate to have her as my advocate. She is the best!"

From our Butler County Office

Young man gets second change at sobriety and a new life.

During his first experience in our program for young adults who are struggling with addiction, "Ronnie" had to leave, because he was not yet ready to maintain a sober lifestyle. After he left, he was arrested for driving under the influence and spent several months in a local jail. We received a letter from him while he was incarcerated asking for a second chance because being "locked-up" gave him plenty of time to think about his life. Now, he was willing to do whatever it takes to change his situation. He was re-admitted to the program last February, and has shown tremendous progress since that time. He completed intensive outpatient treatment at a local treatment facility and has been asked to speak to the group about his experiences. Despite tremendous odds, he was able to obtain part-time employment as a dishwasher at a local restaurant where he even earned an award for service excellence. Now proven to be such a responsible, valued employee, his hours have been increased. He continues to inspire those around him who have witnessed the steps that he is taking to maintain sobriety and live a responsible life.

From Our Adoption Program

Hope for a forever family.

"I felt like a prisoner for something I didn't even do." Those were the words Ernie used to describe the 11 years that he spent living with foster families and in residential facilities, not because he had done anything wrong, but because at the tender age of three, he had to be removed from his home for his own safety. The horrible pain from this experience literally left him speechless.

After many years of growing up without a family, timid and scared, Ernie met Mary Lou, a caseworker in our adoption program. Mary Lou was asked to prepare Ernie for the possibility of adoption by a children and youth agency in the eastern part of the state where Ernie had originally lived. Mary Lou knew it wouldn't be easy, but she was committed to helping him recover from the emotional scars of his childhood and to regain his speech. She set out to build a trusting relationship with Ernie so he could begin to share his feelings. She did this by taking Ernie to places he had never experienced while living in residential facilities—fast food restaurants, K-mart, even a pumpkin patch. They eventually started talking with the help of "Louie," a stuffed animal that Ernie used to communicate with Mary Lou.

As the days and years passed, a couple was watching television when they saw an ad that featured children waiting to be adopted. Ernie's photo appeared. Instantly, the couple knew that he would be theirs. Lisa and Jim always wanted to have a family, however, hope seemed lost when a serious car accident changed their life as they knew it. Lisa was now a quadriplegic. Their love for each other and desire to have children eventually brought them to a meeting with Mary Lou and Ernie. By December 2009, the adoption was finalized and on that day, Ernie changed his name to Jim, because he wanted to be just like his new dad.

Last Spring, Ernie graduated from Gateway High School and received a culinary certificate. Today, he is working as a prep cook at the very restaurant where Jim proposed to Lisa.

From Our Greene County Office

Young mother thankful for support during a very difficult time.

A young woman that we had helped through our pregnancy and parenting support program called our office with the horrifying news that her newborn baby girl had a mass on her neck and was having difficulty eating. Because of ongoing doctor appointments and visits to a local hospital, the family was falling behind with paying the bills. The new mother requested additional assistance to support the family during this difficult time.

We provided counseling and assistance with additional baby items in the weeks that followed. Recently, she stopped in to tell us that the mass was removed successfully, and was found to be benign. And, doctors do not expect any further complications. This mother was very grateful not only for the supportive counseling that she received but also for the extra help with specialized formula and diapers. She went on to say that if not for our program they would have been forced to divert finances from paying their mortgage in order to provide for their baby. Now that the baby is healthy, both parents have been able to return to work, minimizing their financial worries.

From Our Challenges: Options In Aging Program, New Castle

Stroke victim makes miraculous recoveries.

Serge was only 37-years old when he suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed on the right side of his body and affected his ability to read and write. He had to learn to speak, eat, walk, talk, read and write all over again.

Through the years, he had received therapy in many facilities. While he had overcome many of the physical barriers in his life, something was missing. Then in 2007, a friend told him about Challenges in New Castle. From the first day that he entered the Center, he found he found it to be a great place to socialize and make new friends. He enjoyed many of the social and recreational activities that were offered and was most impressed by the staff who continue to "go out of their way to do what they can."

His first goal was to get additional physical therapy. In working with Mike the trainer, Serge received personal program that he still uses three times a week. In the three years that he has been working out at the Center, his balance and strength have increased dramatically. Serge also says that taking computer classes at the Center is the greatest thing that he ever did. It's exercise for the brain. He credits the classes with Tony his instructor with improving his reading ability and hand-eye coordination. In addition, his love of the Internet and learning to use a webcam helps him communicate with family who live out of town.

An inspiration to others, Serge is a regular at Challenges. Now 53-years old, his physical health and outlook have vastly improved since coming to the facility and says, "Without the help of a lot of friends and family none of this would have been possible for me."

From Our Free Care Health Center

Idida is doing "just great"

No longer able to work because of advanced kidney disease that required dialysis three days a week, Idida was referred to the Free Health Care Center in January 2010 by the Allegheny General Hospital Transplant program. It was necessary that Idida continue to receive dental care in order to remain infection-free as she waited for news of an available kidney. Without a job and health insurance, the Free Health Care Center was her only option.

In October 2012, the call came. A match was found! Idida received not one, but two kidneys. Idida reports that she is doing "just great" and is very grateful for the dental care she received while she waited for her life-saving surgery!

From Our Adoption Program

Welcome to America Little One!

For two years, our Adoption staff worked with a couple to find a child to love and welcome into their home. With our help, they found her - half a world away - in Poland!

Two-year old blonde-haired, blue-eyed "Minnie" was living in an orphanage and was isolated from the other children because she could not walk. That didn't matter to our prospective parents, for "Minnie" had already won their hearts!

This couple and this little girl are now a family and her parents savor every trip their daughter takes pushing her baby doll in her baby carriage - she's having no problem walking today.

From St. Joseph House of Hospitality

Homeless Doctor is Homeless No More!

It's hard to imagine that a medical doctor could be living on the streets and living in his car. But that was the life of "Dr. Fred" because he had never sought treatment for his mental illness.

A friend of his, who also happened to be a donor to our St. Joseph House of Hospitality program, referred "Dr. Fred" to us. At St. Joe's, "Dr Fred" lives in his own comfortable room, enjoys three meals a day and receives supportive services. When our caseworker first saw him, "Dr. Fred" was withdrawn, disheveled, paranoid and very insecure. That was two months ago. The new "Dr. Fred" is walking taller, taking his medications, dressing better and socializing with his new neighbors at St. Joe’s. His story is unfolding in a healthy direction, and for a former physician, that sure seems right!

From Allegheny County Team HOPE

It’s not easy starting over...

...when you’ve just been released from prison.

Bert was a guy hoping for a new start, a job, and a home to share with his teenage daughter. He connected with our Team HOPE program in Allegheny County, and his caseworker helped to provide him with donated furniture and gift cards to purchase necessities for his new apartment.

Once he and his daughter got settled, Bert devoted all of his time to searching for employment. He worked with one of the team's college interns to develop a resume and look for jobs online. It wasn't long before he got a job washing dishes in a local restaurant. He called to let us know and said that it wasn't much, but it's a start...his start!

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Pittsburgh

212 Ninth Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: 412-456-6999

Copyright 2016 Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Inc.