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 Greene County Office
Warming bodies, homes, and hearts.
A family displaced from Florida moved to Greene County last winter, bringing with them only a few items of summer clothing. A father and grandfather were raising five children on a limited income, and they approached us for assistance with winter gear. We noticed that one of the little daughters was very reserved and fearful.
As they had a child under two, we signed the family up for our Pregnancy and Parenting Program (which provides both advice and infant-care items to expectant parents and parents of children up to age two), supplied all the kids with warm clothes and toys, and gave their dad and granddad two pairs of shoes each. Granddad returned later, and we collaborated with the Salvation Army to supply the family with heating oil for the winter. After a few visits, the little girl opened up and wished us God's blessings for all the work we do.
From our Challenges: Options In Aging Program, New Castle
At the end of September 2016, Secretary for the PA Department of Aging, Teresa Osborne, joined staff and consumers at Challenges for their 4th Annual Fitwalk. She reflected on the event in her monthly report as follows:
"Earlier today, while in New Castle, Lawrence County, for the 4th Annual Challenges Fitwalk at the Cascade Park Pavilion, I closed the week with a wonderful experience. This awesome gathering with nearly 300 active seniors was organized through the efforts of the Challenges: Options in Aging program, which is operated by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and has been serving older residents of Lawrence County since 1974...
"The energy and enthusiasm was profound as attendees - which included Senator Elder Vogel, Representatives Jaret Gibbons and Chris Sainato, and Lawrence County Commissioner Steve Craig - gathered in the Pavilion... With great pride, many of the attendees shared with me the history and their personal memories of Cascade Park, which is currently a nature park, but was once an amusement park... At the time of its opening, the dance pavilion was the largest in Pennsylvania.
"As I stood ... on the floor of the former dance pavilion greeting residents and listening to their words of praise and gratitude for the good work that is accomplished by the Challenges staff to keep them active and engaged, their memories of past dances ... seemed to linger in the air. The mood was electric and energetic as Lawrence County seniors were ... actively engaged in the FitWalk and in ... blazing a trail to wellness.
"Cascade Park is now owned by the City of New Castle. Its old rides have been removed, flowers and shrubs have been planted, buildings improved, public restrooms built, and a playground, bocce court, and hiking trails added. Cascade Park was the perfect site for this community health and wellness event, and thanks to the efforts of Mike Gordon, the Challenges Health and Wellness Coordinator, it was a huge success...
"Join me in congratulating Mike Gordon and all the staff at Challenges for providing another incredible opportunity for our senior neighbors!"
From our Free Care Health Center
Praise and Prayer...
61 year-old Tom had been suffering with unbearable arthritis pain in his right hip after years of working as a referee for local sporting events. No longer able to work and with no health insurance, Tom thought he had nowhere to turn. Then he found out about Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center while volunteering at Little Sisters of the Poor.
During his initial examination by one of our volunteer physicians, Tom learned that in addition to his hip injury, his blood pressure was out of control. Tom's doctor prescribed medications to manage both conditions, and referred him to the patient financial assistance program at UPMC Mercy for assistance covering the costs of hip replacement surgery. He was approved, and one year ago underwent hip surgery. Tom also benefited from our dental services, receiving dentures to restore his smile.
More recently, Tom had another health crisis: he discovered that he has cancer. But through it all, Tom praises God for sending him to the wonderful health care staff and volunteers who have guided and supported him - and in particular to our RN Care Manager, who helped him with his oncology treatment referrals.
Please pray for Tom's recovery. We thank you for helping Tom and many others like him.
From Allegheny County's Employment Preparedness Program (EPP)
A family Success Story
One day our EPP instructor enrolled a new client, Sally, who had been referred by her children - both of whom were past graduates of the Employment Preparedness Program. Sally's daughter, Simone, had completed the program back in 2014. Sally reported that Simone is doing well, has been consistently working two jobs since she graduated, and is even saving money.
Simone had referred her brother, Oscar, to the program, and he graduated in 2015. After completion of the EPP, Oscar completed the Modern Office System Training (MOST) program (a curriculum run by CCAC at Catholic Charities that teaches basic office skills). Oscar had spoken to the instructor extensively about his desire to go to college, and it is with great delight that Sally reported that he is now a student at CCAC. What is more, his grades are excellent! Even better, Sally told us that Oscar plans to work in education and help low-income African Americans in his community rise out of poverty.