Catholic Charities News – December 2022

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

Nashville Heals program brings hope and recovery

Christmas is fast approaching, but for those who lived and worked on Second Avenue on Christmas Day 2020, life may never be quite the same. It will take many normal Christmases before the lingering feelings of shock and grief will dissipate.

Catholic Charities is honored to be selected to administer Nashville Heals, a counseling and trauma awareness outreach program.

For many survivors of traumatic events, such as the bombing, aftereffects can be internalized and repressed. Sometimes nagging physical symptoms such as headaches or trouble sleeping are tied to the event, and people don’t realize it for months or years later. Anniversary dates of events can be triggers, adding to holiday stress in completely new and unfamiliar ways. Across the country, after mass disasters, specially trained counselors are routinely made available when the dust begins to settle after such events.

Nashville Heals will provide that specialty counseling, along with public presentations to educate the community about this serious condition that affects one’s quality of life. Be on the listen for radio spots running on local stations throughout December and in the coming winter months. For help or more information, go to

Matching gift helps families find healing

Families joyfully celebrating the holidays—it’s one of those pictures we see on Publix TV ads. But many families don’t fit that happy picture. After several tumultuous years, many of our neighbors are still struggling to meet their most basic needs. They may be facing eviction, unable to feed their families a real meal every day, and coming up short to pay for heat and electricity. And not knowing what to do next.

Every day we receive more than 50 requests for basic needs assistance like these. Christan’s story is just one example of how circumstances beyond your control can put you into a tailspin. With a hand up, you can get back on track.

Being able to help is the God-given privilege and joy that all of us at Catholic Charities experience. We want you to share in that blessing of helping our neighbors during the holidays.

Thanks to the generosity of the Sumpter Yeaman Foundation, every dollar you give to support neighbors in need will be matched up to $200,000, through December 31.

Shining a light on our good work in Middle Tennessee

We are grateful to the Christian-based initiative Light the World, which chose Catholic Charities to be a featured charity of the “Giving Machines” in Cool Springs Mall.

The vending machines enable purchases of specific items needed by our clients. Christmas shoppers can swipe their credit card at the machine and perform a great act of kindness, in the convenience of a familiar location. After a visit to the mall Santa, children can learn first-hand how easy it is to give to those less fortunate.

On December 20, join us at The Giving Machine, near Belk, when Catholic Charities will be on site with musicians and sewing academy students to spread a little holiday cheer and raise awareness of our services and their impact For more information visit

Read more about Giving Machines Nashville in The Tennessee Register

Good News In Brief

  • Annabelle Cruz-Orengo has joined the staff as Deputy Executive Director, Administration. Annabelle is a native of Puerto Rico, and most recently was senior director for operations for the startup nonprofit Tennessee Charitable Care Network, building their operations from the ground up. She also is the former Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for Family & Children’s Service.
  • As the year comes to a close, we are excited to report on our burgeoning volunteer and intern program, which has grown to a total of 700 volunteers and 41 interns who served in 2022. Catholic Charities has a wide range of opportunities for those who would enjoy supporting our various locations and programs. All types of expertise and training are useful, and we pray that 2023 will bring us even more volunteers and student interns. If you or someone you know is looking for a school-based internship, please contact Barbara Beswick at For volunteer opportunities, go to volunteer.cctenn.orgFor those looking for paid employment, job openings are listed at join our team, one way or another.
  • Catholic Charities and Catholic Pastoral Center offices will be closed December 23-January 2, for the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.
  • Did you know? Haitians and Cubans have access to federal benefits when applying at authorized agencies, including Catholic Charities. Conditions in those countries are difficult, and we are serving a greater number than usual. For the next few weeks, and during the holidays, we will pause enrollments and close our waitlist until we can serve those already in queue. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we also work to hire more case managers. In the meantime, applicants can apply for SNAP and TANF benefits directly on their own, by contacting the appropriate state agency.

May love, hope, and healing be yours, during this blessed season of Advent and Christmas.

Catholic Charities News – September 2022

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

Needlink moving to Catholic Charities at C.E. McGruder

Partnerships are critical to the success of social service agencies like Catholic Charities.

We are delighted that Needlink will move to the Catholic Charities Family Resource Center at C.E. McGruder in November.

Needlink helps people meet basic needs in times of crisis, especially those facing eviction or the shut-off of their utilities. Many of the organization’s clients live in the 37208 zip code where C.E. McGruder is located.

Needlink’s move increases the number of case managers who work out of C.E. McGruder and are available to meet in person with clients.

Catholic Charities will provide Needlink clients access to additional services and expertise – emotional support and job training, for example – that help prevent future crises and a cycle of dependence on emergency assistance programs.

We look forward to welcoming and working closely with the Needlink team. A highly respected long-time Nashville nonprofit, Needlink has a 100-year-plus history in Nashville. It got its start as Big Brothers and raised funds through its annual Christmas Eve paper sale.

Aid Available for Ukrainians Fleeing War

Catholic Charities has funding available to assist Ukrainians who have fled war in their homeland.

We can help individuals and families with housing, utilities, healthcare, employment assistance, education for school-aged children, and a host of other services. This funding is available immediately but will expire on Oct. 31.

Individuals and families can call our offices at (615) 352-3087 to get help applying for aid.

Many of the Ukrainians who have entered the country since the war started in their homeland are designated as “humanitarian parolees.” This means they are allowed by the federal government to be in the United States for up to two years based on an urgent humanitarian need. This designation allows them to receive aid from organizations like Catholic Charities.

Sept. 22 Mass to Celebrate Our 60th Anniversary

The Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding, J.C.L., Bishop of Nashville, will celebrate Catholic Charities’ 60th anniversary at a special Mass on Sept. 22 at 2:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend this special celebration in Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Church at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville.

The celebration will include a tribute to our first program, the temporary resettlement of Cuban children during the political turmoil in 1962, and sacred music in Spanish. A reception with refreshments will follow Mass.

If you are interested in attending, please R.S.V.P. to Betsy Everett at

Please take a minute to watch Magdaly’s story. She is one of our “alumni”—past clients featured during El Festival de Esperanza, which kicked off our 60th anniversary celebration in April. We are grateful to so many like Magdaly who wanted to pay it forward by sharing her story of success. The 60th anniversary celebration will continue with special events throughout the year.

Good News In Brief

  • Catholic Charities has received a grant to add five new positions through a partnership with the Martha O’Bryan Center. The partnership focuses on counseling that builds healthy families. We will share more about this partnership soon.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is donating 26 pallets of canned food, including fruits, vegetables, pasta, and sauces, to our hunger relief programs. We are grateful for this generous and much-needed donation.
  • Giving Machines Nashville has selected Catholic Charities as a 2022 beneficiary. During the holiday season, a vending machine located at Cool Springs Galleria will accept donations for Catholic Charities and other local non-profits. The non-profits will receive 100 percent of the donations.
  • Gresham Smith will provide pro bono support to create a master plan to rehab our playground at the Catholic Pastoral Center. The playground is used mainly by refugee schoolchildren in our after-school and summer programs. The playground site has not been updated since it was built nearly 40 years ago. Watch for more information about how you can support this project.

Funding Now Available to Assist Ukrainians

Catholic Charities has funding available to assist Ukrainians who have come to the United States while fleeing war in their home country.

We can help individuals and families with housing, utilities, healthcare, employment assistance, education for school-aged children and a host of other services.

This funding is available immediately but will expire on Oct. 31.

If you know of an individual or family needing assistance, please contact our agency at (615) 352-3087 or have the family reach out. Our team will be happy to help them apply.

Many of the Ukrainians who have entered the country since the war started in their homeland are designated as “humanitarian parolees.” This means they are allowed by the federal government to be in the United States for up to two years based on an urgent humanitarian need. They must apply for and be granted refugee status if they want to remain in the United States permanently. This designation also allows them to receive aid from organizations like ours.

Catholic Charities to apply for 21CCLC grant

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville is applying for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) grant to support the Refugee Youth Program. Part of the application process is announcing it on social media. The Refugee Youth Program is a therapeutic afterschool program for refugee, asylee, and migrant children that have experienced complex trauma. The purpose of the program is to mitigate the impact of complex trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences and to provide academic support and enrichment to children whose education has been interrupted by violence, poverty, oppression, and discrimination.

News from Catholic Charities – March 2022

From Executive Director Judy K. Orr

Catholic Charities resettling 330 Afghans to Middle Tennessee

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, has welcomed 330 Afghan refugees who were displaced by the largest evacuation in 50 years of people from their home country to the U.S. Our commitment to this segment of the 125,000 evacuees is now in its second phase.

All individuals and families are in safe housing, meeting frequently with the resettlement team, and continuing along the journey to a new life. It will be a years-long process for these New Americans to fully acclimate into their Tennessee home. Thank you to everyone who has supported Catholic Charities during these early stages of helping these new neighbors.

Volunteer to be a Family Mentor

We have numerous opportunities for anyone who wants to volunteer as a Family Mentor. Family Mentors supplement the services of our professional team by helping with shopping, groceries, driving the families to appointments, helping them learn conversational English (through everyday interactions), providing support in their home, offering help with basic banking and/or budgeting functions, and much more.

Our team has created this chart showing the complementary services that Family Mentors provide. We provide training and ongoing support for volunteers who take on this important role.

If you are interested in volunteering, please complete the volunteer application on our website. Our volunteer team will review your application and be in touch to discuss next steps.

Important first steps toward citizenship

Beyond the acclimation process, the next big step for everyone is pursuing citizenship, which involves important legal filings for each individual and family. Catholic Charities is working closely with the Welcoming Nashville Fund created by the United Way of Greater Nashville and the Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) to ensure access to legal services.

The outpouring of support from the Middle Tennessee community has been inspiring. Those donations are critical. Catholic Charities does not receive advance funding for this work. Instead a resettlement agency like ours must provide and pay for all goods and services up front. Only then can the agency apply to the federal government for reimbursement. This is why your continued support is so important. It also fills in the gaps in what the federal money permits us to purchase.

The resettlement process also takes time. We know from decades of helping refugees that the average time to achieve self-reliance is six months. But the need for occasional or ongoing support can last for more than a year.

Regardless of the circumstances, Catholic Charities will walk alongside our new neighbors as long as we are needed.

We have a special Afghan Resettlement page on our website where you can learn more about our work and stay up to date with any changes.


Volunteers help make great first impression

First impressions are important for anyone asking Catholic Charities for help. That important duty is now being job-shared by three fantastic, compassionate volunteers, Mary Pollman, Dave Lybarger, and Leslie Young.

All recent retirees, they work the Catholic Charities’ front desk, greeting people who come to the Catholic Pastoral Center and answering phone calls to our main phone number.

Together, they triage requests for assistance, listening to clients’ needs, collecting important information, and, ultimately, referring them to the right department.

Pollman said she was looking for a volunteer opportunity to fill her free time. She asked Father John Hammond at St. Patrick Catholic Church, and he recommended Catholic Charities. Lybarger, who is an ordained Catholic deacon, was looking for a similar way to help people in need.

Young is a recent transplant to Nashville. She heard about Catholic Charities at the United Methodist Church she attends, where she is a member of that church’s Immigration Task Force. She holds a Master’s in social work but did not work in the field during her career. She now can put that training to good use.

Pollman said her biggest discovery about Catholic Charities was the scope of the agency’s work. She noted the gratification of working with refugees and immigrants at this critical time.

Finding and vetting qualified volunteers has been a Catholic Charities priority for the last year. Volunteers have a keen desire to serve their neighbors and often complement the services provided by the professionals on staff.

We are honored that Pollman, Lybarger, Young and many others give of their time helping their neighbors.


Tickets on sale for El Festival de Esperanza

I am over-the-moon excited to announce El Festival de Esperanza – Celebrating Pathways to PossibilitiesIt will take place April 27 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Saint Elle in Nashville. The event is Catholic Charities’ largest annual fundraiser and will feature authentic Cuban food, drinks, joyous music, and dancing. The name El Festival de Esperanza means “Festival of Hope.”

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, was founded 60 years ago to resettle 43 Cuban children fleeing for safety from their homeland as political tensions rose to dangerous levels in 1962. We have reconnected with several of the now-grown children and the families that hosted them, and they will be among the guests at our Cuban-themed festival. We hope others will also come forward. Please email Besty Everett at if you are connected to any of these families.

Catholic Charities has grown from that initial program to an organization serving 25,000 people annually with a range of social services from emergency assistance to job training to counseling. El Festival will pay tribute to many of our “alumni” who were treated to our special brand of “love, hope, and healing.”

Tickets for El Festival de Esperanza are now on sale. We will share many more details in the coming days and weeks.


Update on Bombing Survivor Support

Catholic Charities has provided more than $2 million in support and counseling to survivors of the 2020 Christmas Day bombing. Here are a few highlights:

  • Helped 229 households (comprising nearly 1,000 people)
  • $1.4 million for rental and mortgage assistance
  • $154,000 for utility assistance
  • Provided counseling to 127 individuals

We know that many survivors are still grappling with the aftermath, even after the one-year anniversary has come and gone. Assistance continues to be available to workers who lost wages, residents who lost their homes, and business owners impacted by the bombing. Apply for assistance at

Catholic Charities knows from experience that the effects of trauma can last for years. We are committed to helping all survivors fully recover.

May love, hope, and healing be yours as we enter the season of Lent and prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection.


Judy K. Orr
Executive Director
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville


Catholic Charities Update – November 2021

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

The Latest on Afghan Refugee Assistance

We so appreciate everyone who has reached out to help us welcome Afghans who have come to Nashville to start new lives. Our proud tradition of working with New Americans began in 1962.

So far, 85 of the 300 people assigned to our agency have arrived. Our team is working around the clock to make our new neighbors feel at home.

When these individuals and families arrive, they need life’s necessities, such as:

  • Housing and help with rent and utilities
  • Groceries and meals
  • Clothing, diapers, and personal hygiene items
  • Physical and mental healthcare
  • Assistance with legal fees to apply for asylum
  • Help with transportation

Thank you to all who have made financial gifts in support of these needs.

Catholic Charities is blessed to have some of Nashville’s top experts in resettlement and case management. They work with individuals and families to assess needs and identify the best way Catholic Charities can provide support.

Read the just-published Tennessee Register story about Catholic Charities case managers and the families they serve in the resettlement process.

Right now, we have three direct ways you can give to our resettlement efforts:

You can also support our work by purchasing items from the Amazon Wish List created by our resettlement team.


Catholic Charities Opens Offices in Six Counties – More to Come in 2022

Margie Stevenson, program coordinator for the new Catholic Charities family resource center in Coffee County, is joined by other Catholic Charities staff, the Tullahoma Chamber of Commerce, and community members for a ribbon-cutting ceremony October 20. Photo by Katie Peterson, Tennessee Register.

In summer 2020, we announced plans to expand Catholic Charities by opening new family resource centers in ten Middle Tennessee counties, all part of the Diocese of Nashville. Tennessee Serves Neighbors, as we call it, will be one of the largest programs of Catholic Charities when fully built out.

I am happy to report that, despite the challenges of the pandemic, six centers are now open with full-time staff members ready to help individuals and families with a wide range of social services. All staff live in the communities they serve so they have a finger on the pulse of the community, and they can tailor services to the local needs.

The primary goal of a family resource center is to provide a range of services at a single location, so that our neighbors don’t have to visit multiple sites or travel to Nashville to get assistance. Catholic Charities has nearly two decades’ experience operating similar centers in North Nashville and South Nashville.

We are grateful to the State of Tennessee for providing the base funding to make this important expansion possible, and we are delighted by how much the local communities have embraced Tennessee Serves Neighbors.

Four more family resource centers are on the drawing board.


Catholic Charities Wins Grant for Kid’s Entrepreneurial Club

I am pleased to share that Catholic Charities has won a grant from the United Way of Greater Nashville to continue our Kid’s Entrepreneurial Club. Nicole Bailey, supervisor of community outreach for the Family Empowerment Program, designed and piloted the program at Catholic Charities at C. E. McGruder, a family resource center in North Nashville.

Designed for children ages 5-12, the curriculum teaches life skills through the lens of Biblical principles to guide participants in developing character traits of self-love, service to others, advocacy, and moral responsibility. The pilot involved participants of Preston Taylor Ministries’ summer camp.

During the seven-week program, instructors lead children through age-appropriate discussions and tasks that help them answer the following questions:

  • What am I good at? (self-worth and identification)
  • What are the needs around me? (community)
  • What can I do with what I have? (entrepreneurship, problem-solving, social responsibility)
  • What are my beliefs? (moral and spiritual responsibility, social responsibility)
  • Who can I bring on board? (teamwork, community, compromise)
  • How can I spread the word? (social media and social media responsibility, presentation, advocacy)


Reflection Ceremony to be Held Dec. 16

Catholic Charities is proud to have been the lead agency providing much-needed assistance to those who lost jobs, residences, and businesses due to the Christmas Day bombing last year. Members of our team gave up most of their holiday break to begin taking applications for assistance and counseling survivors. We joined a city-wide taskforce three days after the bombing, and we launched a website by New Year’s Eve.

As a member of the community’s long-term recovery group for the disaster, we will participate in the Reflection Ceremony on Dec. 16, 6-7 p.m., on the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge in Downtown Nashville.

In all, Catholic Charities has helped 227 families (nearly 1,000 individuals total), and we continue working with another 24 families. We were honored to recently receive an award for this work from the Center for Nonprofit Management’s Salute to Excellence program.

Our hope is that the Reflection Ceremony will help survivors continue their healing and recovery, and will reassure them that we continue to walk alongside them for however long they need us. In the rush of holiday festivities, it is easy to forget those who are struggling. Holidays and anniversaries can be particularly difficult. But when the disaster occurred on a holiday, it is doubly painful.

Heather Baker, mother of four, lost her job on Christmas Day due to the bombing. Watch her story of recovery, which has been aided by Catholic Charities.

Executive Team Retreat Focuses on Strategic Goals and Next Steps

A group of Catholic Charities leaders brought energy and enthusiasm to a first-ever leadership retreat recently. We discussed priorities for the next 12 months and, most importantly, how to better collaborate to deliver vital services to our neighbors.

We were fortunate to have The Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding, Bishop of Nashville,  start our day in prayer. Bishop Spalding shared insights about the scriptural imperatives to help others. Bishop also provided moving reflections on his own experience as a pastor over the years, helping his flock cope with loss and disappointment. He noted the importance of just being present for those who are suffering—a great lesson for us all.


May love, hope, and healing be yours, as we enter the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Judy K. Orr
Executive Director
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville

Sewing Training Academy to Hold A Very Merry SewPOP Holiday Marketplace Dec. 3-4

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville’s Sewing Training Academy (STA) is hosting A Very Merry SewPOP, a holiday marketplace celebrating new and established Nashville artisans and makers.

SewPOP will take place Dec. 3 and 4 at The Clay Lady Campus at 1416 Lebanon Pike, just two miles from downtown Nashville. The event showcases Nashville makers, which include fiber artists, ceramicists, hat makers, sculptors, fine artists, ethnic clothing makers, jewelry makers, designers, boutique fashion shops and more.

The marketplace will be open to the public on Dec. 4, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., for those in search of unique holiday gifts. Admission is free. SewPOP’s marketplace is being held in conjunction with The Clay Lady’s Annual Holiday Sale.

STA will host an opening night party on Dec. 3, 5 – 9 p.m.  Tickets to the party are $25 each and are available at

SewPOP celebrates the finale for students who participated in an intensive, year-long STA program. Rather than being handed a diploma, students sell merchandise they created as part of the “Protype Bootcamp” where they learn how to make, market, and sell an original product.

After touring The Clay Lady Campus and meeting with The Clay Lady Danielle McDaniels, STA Program Director and sewing instructor Trishawna Quincy was inspired to enhance the STA as a space that fosters the growth and connection of Nashville’s sewing community. Danielle and Trishawna are excited to collaborate in creating a new holiday market event at the expansive Clay Lady Campus, and providing an opportunity for consumers to meet undiscovered makers and curated artists.


The Sewing Training Academy started in 2015 as the first initiative of the Workforce Development Program of Catholic Charites, Diocese of Nashville. Housed in the Catholic Charities Family Resource Center at C.E. McGruder near the evolving Buchanan Arts District, the school has quietly been fueling the Nashville maker movement by empowering both women and men with sewing and tailoring skills.

The brainchild of Van Tucker, formerly with the Nashville Fashion Alliance, and Quincy, STA has both recreational classes and a one-year “Sewing Intensive Program” to train those in need of job placement or to start a business.

STA students are taught how to sew for the specialized needs of the sewing industry on industrial machines as well as how to maintain those machines, qualifying them to fill positions in Nashville’s rapidly growing fashion and apparel industry. The mission of Sewing Training Academy is to help people better their lives through sewing. It is a program of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, a faith-based nonprofit providing services to people of every religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial background.

Tennessee Register Highlights Case Managers Helping Afghan Arrivals

Tennessee Register had an excellent article highlighting the work of Catholic Charities’ case managers welcoming new Afghan arrivals.

Case managers are responsible for helping Afghan families acclimate to their new lives in the U.S.

Kellye Branson, Refugee and Immigration Services director, said the case managers are among the most essential parts of the department.

“They’re critical. They are the first ones to have contact with our clients. They basically set the stage for the interaction between our agency and the people that we serve,” Branson said. “They are responsible not only for getting people to appointments but for paying attention to any concerns that might be there, either spoken or unspoken.”

Read the full article on Tennessee Register website

Case managers do much more than supporting New Americans. They play a vital role helping those who need emergency assistance and disaster survivors find critical services they need to rebuild their lives.

Welcoming New Americans

Deanna Dibin’s family immigrated to the United States from Azerbaijan with the help of several organizations, including Catholic Charities.

Her story reflects what many of the 50,000 Afghan families coming to the United States as part of the Afghan Placement Assistance Program are feeling and experiencing right now. Catholic Charities expects to help 150 individuals resettle in Nashville in the coming months.

Deanna recounts in this short video how good it made her and her family feel to arrive in America to a furnished apartment with a fully stocked kitchen after leaving almost everything they had when they fled Azerbaijan.

Today, Deanna serves on the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees, where she is helping pay it forward for the next generation of New Americans arriving in Middle Tennessee.

If you would like to help support the resettlement of Afghan families, Catholic Charities has three ways you can give.

Catholic Charities to Welcome New Americans from Afghanistan

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville expects to resettle 150 or more Afghans into local communities as part of the effort to help them escape Taliban rule under the State Department’s Afghan Placement Assistance Program.

Helping New Americans acclimate to their new lives in the United States has been an important ministry since our founding in 1962.

Tennessee Office for Refugees (TOR) is a department of Catholic Charities designated and funded by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to administer the state refugee resettlement program. For detailed, up-to-date information about the evacuees, the process of being vetted, temporary holding sites, and national programs for assigning evacuees to U.S. communities, please visit the Afghanistan Crisis Response page on the TOR website.

How You Can Help

Support for our New Americans program is critically needed right now. Catholic Charities will receive very little notice about the arrival of new families. We have to quickly secure housing, stock pantries, purchase linens, and much more.

You can click any of the amounts below to donate directly or see additional options for supporting New Americans.

Catholic Charities has also created a special Amazon Wish List if you would prefer to give that way.

Catholic Charities may eventually accept in-kind donations and other items. We are still determining specific needs and how those items will be collected. We will post requests on our website and social media, as they are identified.

In the future, we expect to need volunteers and mentors to work with the many new families coming to Middle Tennessee. Look for more soon.

When Do Families Begin Arriving?

We cannot say exactly. Here’s a summary of the process that is taking place right now as reported in The Tennessee Register.

Individuals and families are vetted and screened by the Department of Homeland Security, which includes “biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals,” before they come to the United States, according to the department.

Once the Afghans arrive in the U.S., they are further processed at one of eight military bases. This consists of medical screenings, including testing for COVID-19, receiving vaccinations, applying for immigration status, and more as coordinated by the U.S. State Department.

Frances Anderson, Tennessee Office for Refugees state refugee health coordinator, deployed to Fort Bliss to assist the State Department in recent processing efforts.

PHOTO CREDIT – Tennessee Register  – CNS photo/Olivier Douliery, pool via Reuters

How to help with Waverly floods

Catholic Charities has received a number of calls and emails from people asking how they can assist our Waverly and Humphreys County neighbors impacted by this weekend’s flooding.

We recommend that you direct any donations to the Community Resource Center (CRC). The CRC team is is making multiple trips a day to Waverly with food and essential supplies for the flood victims.

You can make a financial donation on the CRC website at

If you are interested in donating supplies, here is CRC’s list of most needed emergency supplies and CRC drop off locations.

Catholic Charities is proud to support the CRC and other organizations on the front lines in Humphreys County. When called, we will be there to provide long-term recovery services and support that are vital for a full recovery. Please look for updates about our work and how you can help.

Catholic Charities Update – June 2021

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

Support for Pathways to Possibilities

I want to express a sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported our virtual fundraiser Pathways to Possibilities presented by First Horizon. Just a few short weeks ago we shared the stories of Demetrius, Deanna, and Linda, each of whom told their story of being helped when they needed it most. Many were inspired by their wish to give back. If you didn’t get a chance to view their mesmerizing stories, please take a few minutes now:

The challenges of the past year along with the disasters taught us all that any of us can be in harm’s way. Our annual fundraising campaign is critical to supporting the ongoing work of providing “Love, Hope, and Healing” to those in need in our community.

That’s why we still need additional gifts to make our goal. Our campaign is not over and there is still time to give!

In a not-to-be-missed rare chat with Bishop Spalding — on the Pathways website — he reveals his own inspiring journey towards answering the call to serve others.

Unidos in Banking Graduates Two Classes

Training people for in-demand jobs is one of Catholic Charities’ most important services and critical to our goal of helping people become self-reliant.

Unidos in Banking is a seven-week program that teaches banking skills to people for whom English is not their first language. The program includes banking-specific skills, such as cash management and customer service, and interpersonal skills, such as relationship building.

The Unidos team pivoted to virtual learning during the pandemic and recently held a graduation for 16 students who completed the program in 2021. Ten graduates are already employed, while the others are in initial stages of the hiring process. Congratulations to the graduates for their accomplishments and the Unidos team for their creativity and commitment during difficult times.

Unidos in Banking is now enrolling students for the July/August session. Please share the Unidos website with anyone you know who could benefit.

Whataburger Meets with Job-Training Team

Speaking of helping people find sustainable work, our job-training team recently met with a group of executives from Whataburger who were visiting our city where they plan to open new stores. We were impressed with their corporate commitment to wages that are higher than average for the market and in their commitment to building a culture of employee development and promotion. We look forward to helping Whataburger build their team. And we are thrilled about yet another major entity reaching out to partner with Catholic Charities to try to improve the lives of our neighbors.

Disaster Recovery Update

Catholic Charities has always provided emergency assistance to those in need, but in 2020, we scaled up disaster recovery services dramatically to serve people in mass disasters. Most recently we joined other city agencies to respond to flood survivors. The severity of flooding was second only to the epic May 2010 flood.

Short Term Services Manager Heather Mencke (pictured above) now leads Catholic Charities’ disaster recovery efforts. For a decade, Heather developed expertise in disaster recovery, working most recently with tornado relief in Nashville and before that for Catholic Charities of Central Florida.

We are now recognized by state and local officials as the lead agency for mass disaster relief. If you know anyone still needing help related to the 2020 tornado, recent flooding, or the Christmas day bombing, please ask them to submit an online application for assistance.

Nashville Predators Foundation Grant

Big shout-out to the Nashville Predators Foundation who awarded us a grant to enhance our HOPE Program. HOPE provides free trauma counseling to children who have lost a loved one to a violent crime or who witnessed violence in their homes or communities. The program offers both specialty counseling, and because of the Preds we can expand with innovative play therapy toys and techniques that help children express their fears and anxieties through play.

Youth Soccer Event at McGruder on June 12

Want to check out a real kid-sized soccer mini-pitch built by Nashville Soccer Club? The Nashville SC IMPACT Soccer Pop-Up Tour sponsored by BODYARMOR is partnering with us from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 12 at our Catholic Charities Family Resource Center at C. E. McGruder (2013 25th Avenue North).

Don’t miss this cool pop-up event, which will include family-friendly soccer activities, inflatable pitches, 3v3 tournaments, and drills for soccer skills. Street teams from the Nashville SC and BODYARMOR will be onsite to provide fanfare, music, prizes, and giveaways.

Please join us at this fun and festive event, which is free and open to any youth.

Thank you, truly, for all your support of Catholic Charities over these many months. As we approach our year end on June 30, we would be grateful for any gift that will allow us to continue being the hands and feet of Christ on your behalf.


Judy K. Orr
Executive Director


Catholic Charities Update – March 2021

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

Love, Hope, Healing

Your support has made the difference

What a year! Last year’s March 3 tornados set off a momentous chain of events. Our commemoration of the tornado anniversary was highlighted by a public art project. We visited four locations with plywood “canvases,” and invited neighbors to express their feelings by writing on the boards. Happily, this year’s March 3 was a glorious, sunny day. Planning and rollout of the art project, from North Nashville all the way to Lebanon, was a beautiful show of teamwork and caring by the Catholic Charities staff.

As I reflect on the trauma of the tornado and the 12 months that followed, I think about the donations and offers of help that poured in from around Tennessee and across the country. And also those who had never needed to ask for help from a social service agency – who had to navigate the overwhelmed systems, just to get basic necessities. The silver lining to 2020’s disasters is that new opportunities have come our way as an organization. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the support we received from so many.

Our team never lost sight of our core mission to help our neighbors in need and help restore their dignity. The Holy Spirit inspired our staff with great fortitude and ingenuity in the face of big challenges.

After showing our mettle through both tornado recovery and Covid-19 financial assistance programs, Catholic Charities was tapped to be the lead agency assisting survivors of the December 25 Downtown Nashville bombing. I discuss this in more detail below.

Would I have traded these 12 months for much calmer times? No. And I say that with certainty. Our mission – “Following Christ’s example, we recognize the dignity of all people and serve our neighbors” – and the words “Love, Hope, and Healing” never meant more than in the last year. We are now poised to be a strong presence in both disaster relief and hunger relief, with a new infrastructure in place. And our expansion into Middle Tennessee continues, with the launch of Tennessee Serves Neighbors.

Thank you for your continued support of this vital work that we have been called to do.

Nashville Strong 2021 – Update on December Bombing Assistance

Catholic Charities forms new partnership with Family & Children’s Service

Catholic Charities was tapped to be the lead agency providing financial assistance and trauma counseling to individuals and businesses impacted by the December 25 bombing in Downtown Nashville. Affected businesses, employees of those businesses, and residents of the area are all eligible.

We received $2 million thanks to a Victims of Crime Act grant from the State of Tennessee, and by December 31, we began accepting applications for aid at So far, we have had 275 qualified applications and have paid out nearly $350,000 in assistance. We are currently working more than 200 open cases that impact 455 individuals and their family members.

The recovery from this disaster will take many months if not years. The bombing site in the historic Downtown district is still closed and protected by police. Catholic Charities is working closely with Nashville Downtown Partnership, the FBI, and many other organizations coordinating the long-term recovery in this vital part of Downtown Nashville.

I am proud of the partnership created with Family & Children’s Service (FCS) that emphasizes free trauma counseling to all survivors. Catholic Charities and FCS have among the best counseling teams of any non-profits in Nashville. Our efforts include 24/7 access to trauma specialists, virtual support groups, and one-on-one counseling. We have access to a national team of mass violence experts, who have been advisors to us in developing our innovative and pandemic-friendly programs.

Healing from just a single traumatic event can be a lifetime journey. Coming to terms with that trauma is critical for overall well-being. But when there is a trifecta of trauma – the tornadoes, the pandemic, and the bombing – it may feel unsurmountable. Especially for those in the hospitality industry, offering them support is literally life-sustaining. More people have taken advantage of our counseling after the bombing than in any other disaster. I am glad our team of expert therapists has received some overdue attention for the great work they do every day.

Working closely with FCS on this disaster will also prepare both organizations to support our neighbors when the next disaster strikes. Catholic Charities was invited to be a member of the steering committee of a volunteer group of organizations working closely with the city and the state to hone an efficient and easily mobilized emergency response across the area. Nashville will be ready for the next disaster.

Visit for more information about assistance available for individuals and businesses ­– and ways you can help our neighbors.

Job Training Ramping Up Again

Three programs prepare individuals for new careers

Helping clients achieve self-sufficiency so they can provide for themselves and their families is the gold standard that Catholic Charities holds itself to.

While Catholic Charities’ job training program was impacted significantly by the pandemic, it is ramping back up and teaching students the skills they need to qualify for jobs in three in-demand industries: industrial sewing, culinary/hospitality, and banking.

The Sewing Training Academy taps into Nashville’s growing fashion industry. After an introductory module of sewing courses, students choose from one of three specializations based on their career goals. Students are taught by experienced teachers as well as guest lecturers who focus on higher level skills. STA students most recently dipped their toe in the water for a social enterprise, sewing aprons bearing our Love, Hope, Healing tagline that are available for purchase.

The Culinary Training Academy is a hands-on program taught in a commercial kitchen that prepares students to work in restaurants or hotels that are part of Nashville’s enormous hospitality industry. Many graduates start new jobs immediately, while others continue their culinary education thanks to a partnership with Nashville State Community College.

Unidos in Banking is a seven-week training program for those interested in starting a banking career. The program specifically targets individuals for whom English is a second language. Students learn basic banking skills and cash handling, customer service, problem solving, and interview skills.

The career development team is in the process of creating a Construction Training Academy for prime construction jobs that are abundant in the Nashville region. The team is also partnering with our Tennessee Serves Neighbors staff to create opportunities across the midstate.

Pathways to Possibilities Coming in April

Our annual April fundraising event, Pathways to Possibilities, will by necessity be a virtual event this year. We are in the process of finalizing exact details and will send you more information soon.

Catholic Charities exceeded its fundraising goal in 2020, the first time we ever hosted a virtual event. Thank you for your support, then. We are counting on your continued support this year.

Catholic Charities Launches Redesigned Website

Catholic Charities recently launched a new website! Our goal going into the redesign was to make it easier for people to find and get the help they need – Love, Hope, and Healing! Our premise was that website visitors either need help or want to help. To that end, the new website provides a clearer overall view of our broad-based agency and the many ways that Catholic Charities provides vital services to individuals, families, and communities in need.

The biggest change in the website is the introduction of eight “causes” that orient viewers to our many services, including:

In addition to easier navigation, the website is much more mobile-device-friendly. We know that many more people now use their phones as a primary device to search for information and request help—and to make donations.

Please take a look at the new website when you have an opportunity. It has been a labor of love for more than a year now, starting with the support of HCA Healthcare Foundation’s Hackathon initiative in early 2020. It is a work in progress – the beauty of the web! – and I look forward to your feedback.


Judy K. Orr
Executive Director



Pathways to Recovery – Reflections from Catholic Charities on the March 2020 Tornadoes

Catholic Charities is proud of our work over the last 12 months helping Nashvillians recover from the devastating tornadoes that tore through North Nashville, East Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Hermitage, and Donelson in 2020.

We are pleased to share some stories from staff who worked on many aspects of the recovery – from food assistance to helping residents rebuild their home to providing trauma counseling – as they reflected on what happened in the immediate aftermath and the work that continues to this day.

The videos below are from:

  • Wendy Overlock, Coordinator of the Loaves and Fishes community meals program
  • LaShunda White, North Nashville Outreach Case Manager
  • Kamrie Reed, LCSW, who provides trauma counseling


Please consider supporting future disaster recovery

Catholic Charities must be prepared to help our neighbors when the next disaster happens. Please consider donating to help with future disaster recovery efforts.


Catholic Charities counselors walk with clients navigating tough issues – Tennessee Register

Catholic Charities’ counseling effort were featured in a recent Tennessee Register article. The article focused on the value of counseling given the number of crises that have struck Middle Tennessee in the last 12 months.

Here is just part of the article:

Responding to the unprecedented events of the past year — a global pandemic, a deadly tornado, and the Dec. 25 downtown explosion — has kept Catholic Charities counselors busier than ever.

“We’ve had a lot of people reach out who have not had counseling before,” said Kim Morris, LCSW, Clinical Services Director at Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Nashville. “We’re a safe place for people to talk about what they’re going through. We meet clients where they are.”

Prompted by the stressors of the past year, especially the collective challenges of COVID-19, more people have begun to be open about their mental health. “To ask for help is becoming seen more as a sign of strength instead of weakness,” Morris said, who has worked with Catholic Charities for 16 years.

“The current events have helped to normalize the fact that we all go through events in our lives that can feel very challenging or overwhelming,” said Morris. Having “a neutral party to partner with can help get us back on a path of stability, healing and success.”

Read the full article

Executive Director Judy K. Orr Discusses Nashville Recovery on “JustLove” Radio Program on The Catholic Channel

Executive Director Judy K. Orr was a guest on SiriusXM The Catholic Channel’s “JustLove” radio program last week where she discussed Catholic Charities’ role in the recovery following the bombing that occurred on the morning of December 25 in Downtown Nashville.

A recording of the program is available on the JustLove show blog. The interview with Orr starts at 32:40 of the hour-long program.

Orr said, “I appreciate the spotlight that ‘JustLove’ gave us, and the opportunity to share with a national audience how the Nashville community is working together for all those impacted by the bombing.”

“JustLove” is hosted by Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, whose agency provided recovery services after the 9/11 bombing at the World Trade Center in New York City.

If you are having trouble opening the link, please cut and paste the following into your browser —

Catholic Charities Update – January 2021

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

Recovery Is Just the Beginning

From Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville

Serving our neighbors—whenever and however they need it—is unpredictable work. This was abundantly clear in 2020, with tornados, Covid-19’s myriad tragedies, and now a bomb explosion that devastated the heart of Nashville.

I am proud to share with you that Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, has been tapped to lead the recovery efforts for the survivors of the bombing that occurred in Downtown Nashville the morning of December 25. Our efforts, named Nashville Strong 2021, dovetail with the larger city-wide recovery initiative involving government and non-profit organizations.

Close to 2,000 survivors have lost a job, a home, or a business – in some cases all three. Since January 1, we have been taking applications from those who need help with rent, utilities, food assistance, counseling, and more.

This is intense work, but it’s try a privilege.

Recovery for survivors will take many months, and specialized counseling will be key to successful recovery. Catholic Charities has created a special fund if you would like to support our recovery efforts. You can donate any amount you would like at any time at

If you would like to stay up to date about the recovery efforts, you can visit the Nashville Strong page on our website or the special website called we have created specifically for the recovery efforts.

Every year may not be as traumatic as 2020—and we pray not—but every year, each day, our community can count on us to serve our neighbors. Our work in 2021 and beyond will surely be shaped by these events. And please remember that all of these unexpected challenges are layered on top of the work we already do to serve thousands each year.

Looking Forward to 2021

As we enter 2021, I want to share a few additional thoughts about our experiences and our future priorities.

The tornadoes on March 3 changed 2020 for many people and businesses. We are fortunate to have Catholic Charities at C. E. McGruder, where we provided coordinated resources to North Nashville as well as a much-needed base for other community partners.

In mid-March, we began work to distribute $1.5 million from the Nashville Covid-19 Response Fund as well as CARES Act funding.

Loaves and Fishes never missed a meal service. We saw first-hand that food insecurity snowballed to be a top issue for many of our neighbors.

In late 2020, we received the largest grant in our history, from the State of Tennessee, and we launched Tennessee Serves Neighbors, which will be the biggest expansion in our history. Catholic Charities will expand to five new counties in 2021 and an additional five in 2022. We just announced the first three team members who will lead this expansion.

Now more than ever, our team is focused on seven core causes important to our mission:

Disaster Relief and Recovery

Last year’s disasters proved how essential it is to be prepared for the next big disaster in Nashville and to have the ability to help our nearby communities when they are impacted by disasters.

Emergency Services

Our Basic Needs program provides an important lifeline to many families facing eviction or utility shutoffs; experiencing food insecurity; and struggling to pay for life’s necessities.

Emotional Support

Many, many people will continue to face psychological and emotional challenges caused by the events of 2020. Our counseling program for individuals, families, children, and older adults are vital to emotional recovery and self sustainability.

Housing Security

Stable housing, especially for young children, is paramount for a successful life, and 2021 will present many more families with this challenge.

Hunger Relief

Preventing food insecurity for everyone – not just the unhoused – will be a priority. We expanded our relief program in 2020 and plan to do much more in the coming years.

Job Training

Job training will receive new emphasis as we emerge from the pandemic and facilitate access to skills training needed for in-demand jobs.

Refugee and Immigrant Support

Catholic Charities was founded to help those new to this country. We will continue to support refugee and immigrant families working hard every day to build a better life.

Love, Hope, Healing

So many of our neighbors need help. If anything, those needs are greater than ever.

It is our moral obligation to provide love, hope, and healing anywhere we can.

We all know that 2020 was hard on everyone. I hope you will consider giving to Catholic Charities at this crucial time when resources are running out for many. The recovery from all that happened in 2020 is just beginning. Every dollar you give matters and will help our neighbors most in need.

If you are able, please help your neighbors by going to

Thank you and may God bless you and your loved ones.

Judy K. Orr
Executive Director
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville

Catholic Charities Update – November 2020

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

Catholic Charities Receives $7.3 Million State Grant to Create Tennessee Serves Neighbors

Five new Family Resource Centers planned in 2021

Catholic Charities has received one of the largest grants in our history to expand services into 10 additional counties that are part of the Diocese of Nashville.

The Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding, Bishop of the Nashville Diocese, asked me to find a way to expand services to all Diocese counties when I joined Catholic Charities in mid-2019. This grant is a huge step toward achieving that goal.

The grant comes from the Tennessee Department of Human Services as part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal program. Over time, the state had accumulated more than $700 million in that fund and spent much of the last year identifying organizations that could best use that money to help families in need

The application for Tennessee Serves Neighbors, which is what we call the program, focused on several important qualifications.

The first was Catholic Charities’ experience building and operating family resource centers where people can come for a wide variety of services, including help in an immediate crisis as well as ongoing services that reduce the overall reliance on government services. Catholic Charities has more than two decades of experience operating similar programs at Catholic Charities at C. E. McGruder in North Nashville and Catholic Charities at Casa Azafrán in South Nashville. We have the model that is ready to customize to additional counties.

We also pointed out in our application our ability to leverage the large Catholic Church parish network to provide volunteers and family mentors. Once we have the roadmap, the program could be expanded to the Catholic Charities agencies serving East and West Tennessee. Catholic Charities is fortunate to have a good working relationship with Gov. Bill Lee’s Office of Faith and Community Based Initiatives that helped us be selected for this grant.

Our goal is to have a multi-generational impact in the counties served. We will provide both safety net for families in crisis and enhanced services that foster independence from government support for two or more generations. In particular, we will focus on job training, life skills (e.g. financial management), and building healthy, stable families. Some of the key partners in each county will be healthcare providers helping people navigate the many challenges with today’s healthcare system.

I am thrilled that many of the new employees we expect to bring on who will live and work in the communities they serve. This is an important part of our community-based approach, which recognized the unique needs of the clients we help. We will also provide vital training opportunities for colleges and university master’s level students, like the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, to work in the social services field through formal internships or preceptorships.

In 2020, we expect to add services in five counties: Montgomery, Maury, Marshall, Bedford, and Coffee. The following year, we plan to add Grundy, Warren, White, Dekalb, and Putnam. In total, Tennessee Serves Neighbors will direct about $7.3 million in services to these counties over the next two years.

Catholic Charities agencies across the country have historically been the largest provider of social services, after the government, dating back to early 1900s and culminating in many of the Depression-era and post-World War II social service programs created by the federal government.

I am proud of the entire team for helping build on this tradition and excited about the opportunity to serve more of our neighbors in the most need. I look forward to sharing future updates about Tennessee Serves Neighbors.

News coverage of Tennessee Serves Neighbors:
Catholic Charities receives $7.3 million state grant to expand services into 10 counties” – The Tennessean
$7.3M grant enables Catholic Charities to expand into more counties” – Tennessee Register

Judy K. Orr
Executive Director, Catholic Charities

Feeding ministry gets creative, tackles new demand

Never missed a meal during pandemic

Speaking of serving our neighbors, Catholic Charities’ signature feeding ministry, Loaves and Fishes, has adapted well to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Current health guidelines have halted indoor congregant service three days a week that so many guests rely on and was the hallmark of Loaves and Fishes.

But Loaves and Fishes never missed serving a single meal. At first, we resorted to Father Strobel’s original solution: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lovingly made and distributed at the door.

Over the months, the program leaders adopted creative and fulfilling adaptations, including:

  • Making “to-go” meals in carry-out containers
  • Devising menus better suited for food boxes
  • Recruiting volunteers from the parishes for contact-less meal delivery
  • Tapping a part-time workforce to meet the demand from our Catholic Charities programs that were temporarily closed
  • Contacting past clients to ensure they had food, knowing many families, with older relatives as well as children, were hunkered down together at home

We were also fortunate to partner with World Central Kitchen, a non-profit organization that paid local restaurants to prepare to-go meals. The partnership provided our guests with more than 1,000 delicious and nutritious meals as well as much-needed employment for the kitchen staffs at local restaurants.

The demand for meal services did not abate because of the pandemic. It increased dramatically and, most poignantly, among those who never used social services before. We know it is important to strengthen programs that relieve people’s food expenses and enable them to pay their rent, utilities, and other essentials.

Recent news coverage of hunger relief programs:

Meals program feeds hungry, employs workers” – Tennessee Register
New refrigerators, freezers help Catholic Charities expand food programs” – Tennessee Register

Thank you from a Catholic Charities client

“I received the gift card. A welcome gift. I’m going to get groceries for the next couple weeks. My wife, she’s been through a lot with all this. I wish I was better with words as I cannot express my gratitude. This has been a true Godsend for us. This will help us bounce back so much more quickly.”

Doing our part for hurricane victims

Catholic Charities sends tractor trailer of essential to hurricane survivors in Louisiana

On August 2020, Hurricane Laura tied to be the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in Louisiana. The Catholic Schools and parish rectories in Lake Charles were among the multitude of buildings and homes that were severely damaged and unable to reopen.

Of course, we had our own recent experience with natural disaster—the tornadoes that struck Middle Tennessee in March (we continue to provide support for those survivors). We were overwhelmed by the generous outpouring of financial and moral support from across the country. This Catholic Charities wanted to pay it forward, and we knew we had to help our neighbors in another state during this trying time.

Our team immediately reached out to Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana to ask about basic needs and ensure we would send the items people needed most. We then put out a call for donations in mid-September for tarps, batteries, toiletries, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, and monetary donations. We made a call to Catholic Charities USA to find out if another vehicle might partner with us. CCUSA graciously provided a grant to cover the transport costs. We filled a cargo van and sent it on to Louisiana at the beginning of November. We also collected more than $15,000 in cash donations that we forwarded to CCSWLA.
Thanks to everyone for your support.

Disaster relief has become an increasingly important part of our work. We are in the process of creating a permanent disaster relief fund that can be used for local emergencies and to provide support to other communities. If you are planning year-end giving, please consider giving to our disaster relief fund. Every dollar counts.

CARES Act financial assistance available

Distributing $1 million to those hurt most by COVID-19

Catholic Charities has received more than $1 million in CARES Act funding to distribute to those impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of the funds will be used to help those who have lost jobs or had their wages cut.

If you know someone needing help with rent, mortgage, or utilities payments, please share the following link with them.

Catholic Charities has also hired 10 temporary case managers to help applicants through the process and access much-needed financial relief.

Our experience as a key partner in distributing Nashville’s COVID-19 Response Fund enabled us to build an even better program for CARES Act funding. The CARES Act funding was provided by the State of Tennessee and Metro Nashville through United Way of Greater Nashville.

Thank you from a Catholic Charities client

“I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much from the bottom of my heart for your assistance with my tornado damage. Please pass this along to everyone involved at your wonderful charity organization to let them know my sincere appreciation and gratitude. As a widow, God promises in the bible that he will care for all widows, and I can personally attest to that fact, with help from wonderful and Godly organizations such as the one you work for.”

Catholic Charities helps refugee school children

Our work with new refugee resettlement has largely been on hold since the pandemic struck. One thing that has not ended is the need to continue supporting refugees already building a new life in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Register had a great story about how Catholic Charities is working with Metro Nashville Public Schools to help refugee children with virtual learning education.

As the story notes, many of refugee children are not fluent in English and need help keeping up with their assignments and managing technology issues. Catholic Charities matches refugee families with “super supporters,” our re-purposed after-school program counselors who pivoted to this creative support program.
2020 is the year of adjusting on the fly. Our team has done a remarkable job supporting refugee families in these challenging times for everyone.

Read the story from The Tennessee Register

Catholic Charities Receives $2 Million to Help Those Impacted by the Explosion

NASHVILLE, TENN. – Jan. 1, 2021 – Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, has received a $2 million grant from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to assist individuals, families, and business owners directly impacted by the bombing that occurred the morning of Dec. 25 in Nashville. The program is part of the Nashville Strong initiative involving a number of government and non-profit organizations in response and recovery efforts.

“We want to thank the FBI for making the VOCA funds available so quickly,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Judy K. Orr. “We will begin processing applications Monday morning, so we distribute the available funding as quickly as possible.”

To qualify, applicants must have worked or resided in the impacted area in Downtown Nashville, which is defined as being bound by James Robertson Parkway, 4th Avenue North, Broadway, and the Cumberland River.
The types of assistance available to individuals and families include: ·
  • Rental payment assistance for employees who lost wages or residents displaced from a primary residence·
  • Utility payment assistance for employees and residents· Food assistance in the form of staples and prepared meals·
  • Counseling to alleviate the trauma, anxiety, stress, and other emotional conditions·
  • Replacement of technology used for work or school
The application is available online at, a brand-new website created this week specifically for this purpose. Applicants will have to prove they lived or worked in the impacted area.
Catholic Charities expects to hire up to five people to manage applications, provide counseling, and help applicants navigate the many steps toward recovery.
Orr emphasized the importance of counseling, especially for a traumatic event like the explosion.
“We know from our work with the 2010 floods that the psychological impact will last years for some people,” Orr said. “Traumatic events can leave significant emotional scars if people don’t seek help.”
The Catholic Charities team includes counselors experienced at working with victims of crime.
Catholic Charities recently helped screen applicants and distribute more than $1.5 million from the Nashville Covid Response Fund as well as CARES Act funding from State of Tennessee and Metro Nashville to those impacted by the Covid pandemic. It was also instrumental in tornado recovery efforts for North Nashville.
About Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, was founded in 1962 as the social service arm of the Diocese of Nashville. The organization serves people of every religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial background in 38 Middle Tennessee counties that comprise the Diocese of Nashville. Assisting more than 12,000 people per year, Catholic Charities provides a range of services that help clients through crises and toward self-sufficiency. Services include emergency financial assistance, counseling, job training, housing stability, hunger relief, and more.

Virtual Pathways to Possibilities ~ Day 4 of 4

Welcome to the fourth and final day of Pathways to Possibilities presented by Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding, Bishop of Nashville, and the Diocese of Nashville

Thank you to everyone who has participated in this event and helped spread the word about Catholic Charities of Tennessee throughout the community.

Today, we want you to hear directly from someone who reached out to us for help. The picture here is a representation of the sender. The message below, though, is real and was received by us in mid-March:

I am looking… Hmmm? What am I looking for… Honestly I’m not sure. I lost my job a few weeks back from this Coronavirus mess. I was planning on moving back at the 1st of March but everything got halted & changed so fast. I was staying in a hotel for a week thinking, “April’s not that far I can manage till then, pick up extra shifts, stay here and move in to an opening after the first” but that changed with being laid off/let go. I’ve been sleeping in my car for 10 days now. Less than 10 bucks in my pocket. I’ve had a little help w food from a sister out of town but she and her husband are going through their own issues w work loss.

I know there are many folks struggling right now. I’ve never been one to ask for help– more give than take. I’ve filed for unemployment but that’s weeks away from processing and receiving. Less than $200 per week but hey it’s something right so I’m blessed. I could use help w minimal stuff. Yes a place to live would be nice but honestly more concerned w getting gas in my car to hopefully get to one of these jobs I’ve applied for in the last few days. Having a little money to go to the laundry mat, buy a toothbrush or Advil if I needed to.

I’m not homeless or indigent even if my circumstance appears that way. I could work for whatever you have to offer. If its washing windows, cleaning toilets, whatever. I just need help bridging the gap during this crazy mess.

I’ve never not worked…had the same job for 6 years now. I’ve been looking. Folks are not able to hire right now and those that can are slammed w application requests, I’m not sitting around crying about it all. God is not letting me suffer. I pray a little more these days but in a different way. More talking w Christ than before. I’m in good spirits, healthy, not starving, staying positive despite the obstacles.

I know I’ve rambled here but I’ve not had normal contact for weeks and needed to just chat & open up even if it’s just w my finger typing on a phone. I don’t know what if any help y’all can provide me and even if you have none I’ll be ok. My thoughts and prayers are w you at this moment that you and your family and co-workers are all safe and blessed. If nothing else you’ve given me a chance to open up, let my mind and soul be emptied out a bit. For that alone I thank you.

Love, Hope, and Healing

“Suddenly, above the howl of the wind came a voice. Singing….One voice became two and two became three and then before long everyone was singing….[This is] the power of one person to unite the group, the power of one person to inspire those around him,” wrote Ret. Navy Admiral William McRaven, in his New York Times best-seller Make Your Bed, Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World.

Just as the one voice in the email unites us, let us join him in a song of hope.

You, too, can be that one person who inspires others to be their best in this worst of times. Be the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of Christ. And when you can’t be there in person, please support Catholic Charities. We are privileged to serve on your behalf, especially now as an essential service still providing acts of love, hope, and healing during “Safer At Home.”

Did you know that a critical portion of our funding comes from individual donors? Thank you for your contributions and your prayers for the success of our Pathways to Possibilities fundraiser.

Thank You for Being With Us!

We appreciate you giving your time to us over these last four days and for helping spread the word about Pathways to Possibilities. If you missed any of this virtual event, here are links to the previous days:

Day 1 – Bishop Spalding on acts of charity
Day 2 – Judy Orr on Catholic Charities’ relief and recovery work to help our neighbors
Day 3 – Catholic Charities’ five priorities and vital services

God bless and stay safe!

Catholic Charities is grateful to our Pathways to Possibilities sponsors who have fully supported this virtual event with their sponsorship donations.

We couldn’t do it without them – OR you.

Most Rev. J. Mark Spalding, Bishop of Nashville, and the Diocese of Nashville

Ascension Saint Thomas

SILVER SPONSORS Rebekah and Greg Pope; Bass, Berry & Sims; Bradley Arant Boult Cummings; Taylor, Pigue, Marchetti & Blair

BRONZE SPONSORS Gresham Smith; Susan and Pat Shepherd; Varallo Public Relations; Iroquois Capital Group; Banc Card of America; Holladay Properties; Father Ryan High School; Holy Family Catholic Church; Pope John Paul II High School; LBMC; Betsy and John Gromos; Coldwell Banker Barnes; Sims|Funk; Rochelle and John Reding; Patty and Bill Farmer; Mr. and Mrs. Steve Hayes; Mrs. Liz and Dr. Michael Schatzlein; Dr. Carolyn and Mr. Clark Baker; HCA Healthcare/Tri-Star Health; Donnelly Timmons & Associates; Riley Warnock & Jacobson

SPECIAL FRIENDS Catholic Business League; The Bakery Companies; Asurion; Tom Pierce; David Barnes; St. Bernard Academy; Jessica and Doug Anderson; Nancy and Bob Schwartz; Debbie Lassiter; Claudia and Pete Weber; Nashville Catholic Business Women’s League

New Telehealth Series – Finding a New Normal: Skills to Manage Stress and Isolation during COVID-19

Catholic Charities is offering a new telehealth group to help people address negative feelings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

You will learn and practice useful strategies to address challenges such as stress and isolation.

Best of all, you can participate in the group from home on your mobile phone or any device with an Internet connection.

Registration is now open. The group is limited to 16 people. The registration deadline is June 5. See details below

Group Details


The group and all sessions will be led by licensed counselors Corisa Ricciardi, MSSW, and Allison Milam Diehl, LMSW.

Session Dates

Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m.

June 17 – July 22 (six total sessions)


$25 per session (six total sessions)

See below about payment options


Registration deadline is June 5, 2020.

Call Catholic Charities at 615-917-9210 or email

Registration is required. Group is limited to 16 people.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to participate in all six sessions?

Catholic Charities recommends that you participate in all six. However, we understand that illness and other unforeseen issues may prevent someone from attending a session.

What if I can’t pay $25 for each session?

Catholic Charities believes in making services available to everyone. We use a sliding scale based on a family’s ability to pay to ensure that counseling is available for people of all economic circumstances. Call to discuss options for reducing or waiving fees.

Catholic Charities Joins Casa Azafrán

Nashville, TN, July 13) Conexión Américas today announced Catholic Charities has joined the Casa Azafrán familia.

Catholic Charities will move its South Nashville Family Resource Center, which includes nine full- and part-time employees, to Casa Azafrán.
“The addition of Catholic Charities to Casa Azafrán truly honors our community center’s spirit of uniting nonprofit organizations striving to build a welcoming community,” said Juliana Ospina Cano, Executive Director of Casa Azafrán’s lead partner, Conexión Américas. “Immigrant families in Middle Tennessee will continue to benefit tremendously from Catholic Charities and the organizations co-located at Casa Azafrán and we look forward to increasing our reach together at a time when immigrant families face unprecedented difficulties.”

The social service arm of the Diocese of Nashville, Catholic Charities serves people of every religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial background across Middle Tennessee. At Casa Azafrán, the Catholic Charities team will provide a variety of services tailored to Hispanic and Latino families, including utility and rent assistance, food access, immigration legal services, and mental health counseling. Catholic Charities will also operate the Maternal and Infant Health Outreach Program (MIHOW), a Vanderbilt University program of peer-to-peer mentoring for expectant and new mothers, at Casa Azafrán.

“I could not be more excited to bring the Catholic Charities South Nashville team to Casa Azafrán, where we will join Conexión and their other partners. Our programs perfectly complement each other, and by joining forces, we amplify our impact through a rich diversity of programs and services,” said Judy K. Orr, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Tennessee.

Founded in 2012, Casa Azafrán stands at the gateway to Nashville’s most international and socially diverse district along Nolensville Pike. Casa Azafrán is a beautiful event space, a favorite early voting location, and home to a collective of nonprofits who offer services in education, legal, health care and the arts to immigrants, refugees, and the community as a whole.

Casa Azafrán’s mission is reflected in the multi-dimensional, multi-colored mosaic mural titled “Migration” that shines 30 feet above our front door. Our vision is also evident in our name. “Azafrán” (pronounced “ah-zah-frahn”) is saffron in English, a golden yellow-orange spice indigenous to Asia. The cultivation, and use, of saffron spans many cultures, continents and civilizations. The Spanish word “azafrán” for example, is derived from Arabic. We use the name to pay homage to our multi-ethnic heritage and to reflect our intention to be an inclusive, welcoming place for all immigrants in Nashville, many of whom speak several languages including English, Spanish and Arabic.

Funded by public and private donations and grants, Casa Azafrán, opened in December 2012 and is home to Conexión Américas and nonprofit resident partners American Muslim Advisory Council, Family and Children’s Service, Global Education Center, Justice for Our Neighbors, Metro Nashville Public Schools. Casa Azafrán also houses Conexión Américas’ Mesa Komal culinary incubator, which assists food entrepreneurs-immigrant and native-born-to start, and grow, their businesses.

For more information about Catholic Charities at Casa Azafrán, please call (615) 352-3087.

While Casa Azafrán remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of each of our nonprofit partners continues, and we will be open for early voting from July 17 – August 1.

# # #

Conexión Américas is a Nashville-based nonprofit organization established in 2002. Our mission is to build a welcoming community and create opportunities where Latino families can belong, contribute and succeed. Every year, we assist more than 9,000 individuals and their families in their desire to start businesses, improve their English, help their children succeed in school and go to college, and become an integral part of Nashville’s social, cultural and economic vitality. Conexión Américas is the lead partner of Casa Azafrán, a nonprofit collaborative at the gateway to Nashville’s International District that is home to Conexión Américas and nine partners.

Catholic Charities was founded in 1962 as the social service arm of the Diocese of Nashville. The organization serves people of every religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial background in all 38 Middle Tennessee counties that comprise the Diocese of Nashville. Assisting more than 10,000 people per year, Catholic Charities provides a range of services that help clients through crises and toward self-sufficiency. Services include emergency financial assistance, counseling, job training, housing stability, hunger relief and more. Catholic Charities also manages the Tennessee Office of Refugees.

Catholic Charities Update – Summer 2020

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

Catholic Charities, Conexión Américas announce new partnership

South Nashville Family Resource Center has new home

Success in the nonprofit world is often proportional to the partnerships you form. I am excited about our new partnership with Conexión Américas that will relocate our South Nashville Family Resource Center team to Conexión’s Casa Azafrán facility in August.

Catholic Charities and Conexión are the definition of complementary organizations. Together, we will serve the full range of client needs from financial assistance for an immediate crisis to job training to parenting skills and so much more.

The South Nashville team includes five employees who will work at Casa Azafrán full-time and four others who will work there part-time. Collectively, they specialize in support services – such as case management, immigration assistance, parenting, and counseling – tailored to the Hispanic and Latino communities.

What excites me most is that we can take what we’ve learned from our work at Catholic Charities at C. E. McGruder in North Nashville to create yet another true family resource center. More than anything, we have learned the importance of having a convenient location in the community where people know and trust they will find a wide range of support and care.

I am immensely grateful to Conexión for welcoming us. And I cannot wait to see the impact on our South Nashville neighbors over the next year.

Pathways to Possibilities 2020

Thanks for helping us exceed goal

The coronavirus pandemic forced us to change Pathways to Possibilities, our largest annual fundraiser, from an in-person to a virtual event this year.

I am happy to report that we exceeded our goal of $125,000. In total, we raised a little more than $135,000. Thank you to everyone who gave and shared information about Pathways with their friends and family. This is a testament to the strength and caring of the Catholic Charities community.

The proceeds from Pathways are already being put to use in the Nashville community helping those impacted by the March tornadoes, job loss due to coronavirus, and other challenges that we address.

I want to say a special thank you to Bishop J. Mark Spalding for his unwavering support as well as Claudia and Pete Weber, who recorded an introductory video for us. Pete was scheduled to serve as master of ceremonies before we were forced to postpone the event.

Counseling vital to recovery

Counseling team already helping with emotional toll from pandemic, tornadoes

Catholic Charities knows from our recovery work after the historic Nashville flood in 2010 that it took as long as two years for many people to recover fully.

The physical recovery was relatively short, compared to the emotional and psychological recovery, which took much longer.

Every day, we see news stories about the negative effects of the coronavirus on mental health. There is so much frustration, grief, anger, confusion, isolation, etc. The Tennessee Register explored the especially devastating impact on immigrant and refugee communities.

The emotional recovery from coronavirus and its economic toll – which is magnified for some by the March tornadoes – will last many years. These setbacks can have multi-generational impact.

Catholic Charities’ extensive team of licensed counselors has been in the trenches helping. Our therapists have a broad range of experience working with children, adults, and families to mitigate the effects of depression, anxiety, interpersonal and relationship challenges, and even trauma from violent crimes. Catholic Charities at Casa Azafrán will offer bilingual counseling to serve the Hispanic and Latino communities.

At its core, counseling helps people develop coping and resiliency skills. Counselors typically work one on one with clients either in person (when possible) or via telehealth. Counselors also manage groups who share common issues, such as honing parenting skills.

Counseling may not be our most high-profile service, but it is vital for our neighbors to endure and recover from the current crises.

Importance of listening

Recognizing the dignity of all people

This is a short but poignant story about the importance of listening right now.

When people call Catholic Charities, the first person they often speak with is Susan Netter, our receptionist. Susan tells me that she prays every day that those most in need, especially those who have fallen through the cracks, will call Catholic Charities. Before saying goodbye, many callers thank Susan for just listening when nobody else did.

Taking time to listen is how we can all answer the call of our mission statement, to recognize the dignity of all people, and begin to restore their hope.

Tornado relief team expands, returns to work

Experienced team leads effort in North Nashville

The tornado relief team in North Nashville is back to work after several months of being sidelined by coronavirus.

Shaveh Jackson is our newest addition. She joined Catholic Charities as tornado case manager. Shaveh is very familiar with the North Nashville community having worked most recently for Gideon’s Army.

Shaveh joins Alisha Haddock, director of community-based services and manager of McGruder, and LaShunda White, case manager at McGruder, to solidify a talented, experienced team to help 37208 residents impacted by the tornadoes make repairs to their homes or, if necessary, find new housing.

Catholic Charities 2020-21 Board of Trustees

Board elects new officers, welcomes four new members

The 2020-21 Board of Trustees officially took office on July 1 with the start of the new business year.


  • President – Matt Curley – Bass, Berry and Sims
  • Vice President – Gina Emmanuel – Centric Architecture
  • Treasurer – Mike Nunan – Nunan and Associates
  • Secretary – John Brew – Gresham, Smith and Partners

Board of Directors (* denotes new member)

  • Heidi Bundren – Nashville Predators
  • Sherry Cummings * – University of Tennessee College of Social Work
  • Deanna Dibin * – Carr, Riggs & Ingram
  • Katherine Duck – Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
  • William Farmer – Farmer Purcell White & Lassiter, PLLC
  • Deacon Bill Hill – St. Vincent de Paul Church
  • Reverend Mark Hunt – Mary, Queen of Angels
  • Shandy Husmann – Huron Consulting Group
  • Catherine Kelly * – Community volunteer and co-owner of Jimmy Kelly’s Steakhouse
  • Stacey Garrett Koju – Bone McAllester Norton PLLC
  • Mark Lenihan * – Sims Funk
  • Bill McGugin – Iroquois Capital Group/Reit Investment Group
  • Jim McIntyre – Father Ryan High School
  • Greg Pope – Saint Thomas Health
  • Mike Ratino – Asurion
  • Rochelle Reding – Coldwell Banker Barnes
  • Patrick Sheehy – Tennessee Business Roundtable
  • Russell Taber – Riley, Warnock & Jacobson
  • Drew Tyrer – TriStar Summit Medical Center
  • Michael Veinbergs – Regions Bank

Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

Andrea Dowlen-Pride passionate about feeding the hungry

Meet Andrea Dowlen-Pride, an AmeriCorps member and Catholic Charities volunteer, who shares her passion for helping people in need and her knowledge of nutrition to help feed the hungry in Nashville through the Loaves and Fishes program.

“I have committed myself to a life of service,” said Dowlen-Pride. “I’ve always been inspired by ‘The Starfish Story’ where the message is that even saving one starfish along miles and miles of needy starfish made a difference to that one starfish. I believe that when I feed one family in need, I have made a significant difference, and that is important to me.”

Andrea has certainly made a difference in more than one family’s life. She works with the team at Catholic Charities “Loaves and Fishes” program to address food insecurity in Nashville. The number of people who cannot make ends meet each month continues to increase since the pandemic, making food insecurity an ever-growing problem in Nashville. Andrea uses her training and education in nutrition to help educate her clients in understanding healthy choices, access to nutritious foods, and why it’s important to avoid things like added sugar and saturated fats.

“I’ve seen that it can be particularly confusing for people coming from other cultures to understand American packaged food and how to make the healthiest choice,” said Dowlen-Pride. “Helping the elderly to make smart food choices is also a rewarding part of my work.”

From educating clients to personally packing food boxes to be distributed to the hungry, or even making sure she has granola bars in the car in case she sees someone in need, Andrea Dowlen-Pride is one of our star volunteers. She will be heading to American University in the fall to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Service and Public Administration. We are very grateful for her outstanding work, and will hold her to her promise to return.

“I love doing service work in my hometown of Nashville. I was born and raised here, and I am dedicated to helping this community,” said Dowlen-Pride.

Thank you for all you do for our community, Andrea! We are grateful for your service.

About Catholic Charities “Loaves and Fishes” program:

For the past 25 years, Loaves and Fishes, a community-wide effort enlisting the help of 23 volunteer groups representing many denominations, schools and associations remains committed to serving the growing needs of the hungry in Nashville. Our flagship program in East Nashville provides meals Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. A simple breakfast and a hot midday meal is served to the hungry and homeless without restriction of religion, race, or proof of need. Each week approximately 600 meals are served in a caring environment to our guests. Guests of the program are also provided referral to appropriate services for housing, additional food, and clothing, within the community. That program operates in the Parish Center of Holy Name Catholic Church, located behind the church at 508 Main Street in Nashville.

For more information call (615) 256-7256 or email at Our hunger relief efforts also include local chef-prepared to-go meals and food box distribution and at several sites throughout the city.

Meals program feeds hungry, employs workers (Tennessee Register)

Read original story in The Tennessee Register

Catholic Charities of Tennessee has partnered with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen to address two pressing problems: providing meals to people in need because of the March tornadoes and the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping restaurants keep their workers employed.

“This is an incredible program that is a win-win for many, and we’re thrilled to partner with World Central Kitchen,” said Judy K. Orr, executive director of Catholic Charities.

World Central Kitchen was founded by chef José Andrés in the wake of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. Since then, World Central Kitchen has organized teams of chefs to set up shop and serve restaurant quality meals in places around the world when natural disasters strike.

But the COVID-19 pandemic posed new problems, explained Whitney Pastorek, the Nashville project lead for World Central Kitchen: “Lots of people hungry, lots of restaurants shut down.”

World Central Kitchen established the Chefs for America program to address those problems by paying restaurants to provide fresh-cooked, quality meals for the hungry, allowing the restaurant workers to continue working. The restaurants receive $10 per meal, which enables the restaurants to keep their staff on the job and off unemployment, Pastorek said.

Nationally, more than 2,300 restaurants are participating and have prepared more than 20 million meals. In Nashville, three restaurants and a food truck are participating in the program, providing about 2,500 meals a week.

Pastorek turned to Catholic Charities for help in distributing the meals to people in need. “Their wealth of knowledge of how to help the community is really, really spectacular,” Pastorek said. Orr was one of the first people she called to help with the program.

The staff at Catholic Charities not only agreed to distribute the meals, but also shared contacts with other local organizations that address food insecurity. Catholic Charities was also able to share information about other programs that could benefit from the Chefs for America program, Pastorek said.

“They’re working with restaurants to help keep people employed, and we get to be the recipients of the good food they make,” said Wendy Overlock, program coordinator for Catholic Charities’ Loaves and Fishes program, which provides meals three days a week to the needy at Holy Name Church in East Nashville.

“At the moment, programs affiliated directly with Catholic Charities are receiving 400 meals a week,” including individually packaged meals and family-style meals with enough food for four people, Pastorek said.

The meals always include a protein, a vegetable and a starch, Pastorek said, but the specifics depend “on the day and the chef’s mood.”

“We want to make sure it’s delicious, scratch-cooked … the kind of meal you would expect if you were eating at a restaurant,” she said.

The meals that are distributed at Loaves and Fishes once a week are from the Chinese restaurant Tansou, which is one of several Nashville restaurants run by celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan. “She jumped at the chance to be involved,” Pastorek said.

Some of those meals are also distributed through the food program for senior citizens that Catholic Charities participates in, and distributed to tornado victims, Overlock said. “It’s kind of going all over.”

The restaurant Henley, located in the Kimpton Aertson Hotel on Broadway, is providing the family style meals that are taken to St. Frances Cabrini Church in Lebanon to be distributed to families affected by the March 3 tornado.

The need for the meals has been growing because of the combined blows of the tornadoes and the pandemic, Overlock said.

The number of people getting lunch through the Loaves and Fishes program has increased in recent months from 50 a day to 80, Overlock said. “We’re getting a dozen or more every day of people we’ve never seen before.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, most of the people served were homeless, Overlock said. Now, there are more people who have lost their jobs or were already on the margins.

The meals provide not only physical relief but a positive emotional boost as well, Pastorek said.

Many people have been under stress for so long they don’t want to cook, Pastorek said. “Having a prepared meal show up once a week can make a huge emotional difference for people.”

World Central Kitchen had allocated $50 million to the national Chefs for America program, Pastorek said, but “they’ve blown right past that.”

The Nashville program, which started in June, is scheduled to end on Aug. 14. But World Central Kitchen is accepting donations that could keep the program running, Pastorek said.

People can make a donation by visiting the World Central Kitchen website, When people make a donation they should write in the comments section of the online form that the money is intended for the Nashville program, Pastorek said.

Catholic Charities Joins Casa Azafrán

(Nashville, TN, July 13) Conexión Américas today announced Catholic Charities has joined the Casa Azafrán familia.

Catholic Charities will move its South Nashville Family Resource Center, which includes nine full- and part-time employees, to Casa Azafrán.

“The addition of Catholic Charities to Casa Azafrán truly honors our community center’s spirit of uniting nonprofit organizations striving to build a welcoming community,” said Juliana Ospina Cano, Executive Director of Casa Azafrán’s lead partner, Conexión Américas. “Immigrant families in Middle Tennessee will continue to benefit tremendously from Catholic Charities and the organizations co-located at Casa Azafrán and we look forward to increasing our reach together at a time when immigrant families face unprecedented difficulties.”

The social service arm of the Diocese of Nashville, Catholic Charities serves people of every religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial background across Middle Tennessee. At Casa Azafrán, the Catholic Charities team will provide a variety of services tailored to Hispanic and Latino families, including utility and rent assistance, food access, immigration legal services, and mental health counseling. Catholic Charities will also operate the Maternal and Infant Health Outreach Program (MIHOW), a Vanderbilt University program of peer-to-peer mentoring for expectant and new mothers, at Casa Azafrán.

“I could not be more excited to bring the Catholic Charities South Nashville team to Casa Azafrán, where we will join Conexión and their other partners. Our programs perfectly complement each other, and by joining forces, we amplify our impact through a rich persity of programs and services,” said Judy K. Orr, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Tennessee.

Founded in 2012, Casa Azafrán stands at the gateway to Nashville’s most international and socially perse district along Nolensville Pike. Casa Azafrán is a beautiful event space, a favorite early voting location, and home to a collective of nonprofits who offer services in education, legal, health care and the arts to immigrants, refugees, and the community as a whole.

Casa Azafrán’s mission is reflected in the multi-dimensional, multi-colored mosaic mural titled “Migration” that shines 30 feet above our front door. Our vision is also evident in our name. “Azafrán” (pronounced “ah-zah-frahn”) is saffron in English, a golden yellow-orange spice indigenous to Asia. The cultivation, and use, of saffron spans many cultures, continents and civilizations. The Spanish word “azafrán” for example, is derived from Arabic. We use the name to pay homage to our multi-ethnic heritage and to reflect our intention to be an inclusive, welcoming place for all immigrants in Nashville, many of whom speak several languages including English, Spanish and Arabic.

Funded by public and private donations and grants, Casa Azafrán, opened in December 2012 and is home to Conexión Américas and nonprofit resident partners American Muslim Advisory Council, Family and Children’s Service, Global Education Center, Justice for Our Neighbors, Metro Nashville Public Schools. Casa Azafrán also houses Conexión Américas’ Mesa Komal culinary incubator, which assists food entrepreneurs-immigrant and native-born-to start, and grow, their businesses.

For more information about Catholic Charities at Casa Azafrán, please call (615) 352-3087.

While Casa Azafrán remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of each of our nonprofit partners continues, and we will be open for early voting from July 17 – August 1.

# # #

Conexión Américas is a Nashville-based nonprofit organization established in 2002. Our mission is to build a welcoming community and create opportunities where Latino families can belong, contribute and succeed. Every year, we assist more than 9,000 inpiduals and their families in their desire to start businesses, improve their English, help their children succeed in school and go to college, and become an integral part of Nashville’s social, cultural and economic vitality. Conexión Américas is the lead partner of Casa Azafrán, a nonprofit collaborative at the gateway to Nashville’s International District that is home to Conexión Américas and nine partners.

Catholic Charities was founded in 1962 as the social service arm of the Diocese of Nashville. The organization serves people of every religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial background in all 38 Middle Tennessee counties that comprise the Diocese of Nashville. Assisting more than 10,000 people per year, Catholic Charities provides a range of services that help clients through crises and toward self-sufficiency. Services include emergency financial assistance, counseling, job training, housing stability, hunger relief and more. Catholic Charities also manages the Tennessee Office of Refugees.

United Way Allocates Additional $1.17 Million Through COVID-19 Response Fund

NOTE: Catholic Charities is proud to partner with United Way of Greater Nashville and many other area nonprofits to assist with the distribution of COVID-19 Response Fund dollars to our neighbors in need.

United Way Allocates Additional $1.17 Million Through COVID-19 Response Fund: More Donations are Needed to Help Neighbors in Need

April 20, 2020, NASHVILLE, Tenn.-United Way of Greater Nashville announced today that the COVID-19 Response Fund allocated $1.17 million, its third round of funding, to 44 local nonprofit organizations that are helping inpiduals and families impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Fund has raised just over $3.9 million, thanks to generous gifts from local foundations, corporations and community members. $2 million-more than half-has already been distributed. Donations are decreasing, and so much more is needed to meet the growing needs of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help those who are struggling. Funded agencies have wait lists of 4,000 people looking for help paying their rent, buying groceries and finding childcare so they can continue to work.

“One client that called on us was a single mother with two children. She was employed by a house-cleaning business which temporarily closed and came to us needing assistance with rent and utlities,” said Judy Orr, executive director at Catholic Charities of Tennessee, one of the Fund’s receiving agencies.

“Another client is a chef at an area restaurant, who is the sole provider for his three young children. He does not expect to be called back before mid-to-late May and he called on Catholic Charities to help pay his mortgage and utilities.”

There are thousands of stories just like these-in our community alone.

“Even seasoned case managers at Catholic Charities have found the avalanche of demand for financial assistance to be unbelievably catastrophic. Many people have never had to use social services before,” Orr said. “Yet, it is healing for the case managers and those in dire need to have the resources-powered by the community’s spirit of generosity-of Nashville’s COVID-19 Response Fund.”

“Families who come to Conexión Américas face a particularly difficult circumstance-some not qualifying for federal economic relief despite having paid taxes,” said Juliana Ospina Cano, executive director at Conexión Américas, another Fund recipient. “As many seek to stay afloat with lost jobs and no source of income, direct economic assistance from the generous contributions to the COVID-19 Response Fund is no doubt bringing peace of mind to families. Our ability to distribute cash assistance gives people the agency to make their own decisions. To date, we have over 900 inpiduals on our waitlist, the majority being head of households between the ages of 25 and 45 who worked full-tume and lost their jobs in March. Filing for unemployment, negotiating with landlords, going to the doctor, grocery store, home- schooling in English, it is all hard and overwhelming. I am proud of our organization, of knowing our support is not only alleviating a very significant need but connecting them to other resources in the city.”

Agencies that received the funding are providing basic essentials, childcare services, crisis support, domestic violence support, food security, healthcare, immigration services, mental health support, personal protective equipment, rent/mortgage assistance and utility assistance to those in need-but they can only serve their neighborhoods in these areas if they continue to receive the funding to do so.

“As long as we can continue to raise more funds, United Way will continue to serve the community and distribute funding to the agencies on the ground helping our neighbors in need,” says Brian Hassett, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Nashville. “Now more than ever, we need those who have the ability to help others to step up and give whatever they can.”

To make a donation, visit or text NashvilleUnited to 41444.

As funds are distributed, United Way will publish the receiving agencies, along with the help they can provide and contact information, at 100 percent of the Fund goes to nonprofits to help inpiduals impacted by COVID-19 and agencies that need organizational support.

Organizations that received the Fund’s third round of grants include:

1. AGAPE Nashville
2. Aphesis House
3. Bethlehem Centers of Nashville
4. Book’em
5. Branches Counseling Center
6. Catholic Charities of Tennessee
7. Community Care Fellowship
8. Community Housing Partnership of Williamson County
9. Conexión Américas
10. Gideon’s Army Grassroots Army for Children
11. Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee
12. Greater Faith Community Action Corporation
13. Healing Housing, Inc.
14. High Hopes Development Center
15. Inspiritu
16. Martha O’Bryan Center
17. Nashville General Hospital
18. Nashville General Hospital Foundation
19. Nashville Launch Pad
20. NeedLink Nashville
21. New Restoration Community Church
22. Open Table Nashville
24. Project Return
25. RooYop Foundation
26. Servant Group International
27. Sexual Assault Center
28. Shower The People
29. Sickle Cell Foundation of Tennessee
30. Tennessee Justice Center
31. The Branch of Nashville
32. The Bridge Ministry, Inc
33. The HELP Center
34. The Lijle Pantry that Could
35. The Next Door
36. The Path Project, Inc.
37. The Salvation Army-Nashville Area
38. The Well Outreach
39. TNKids Nutrition, Inc.
40. United Ministries Food Bank of Robertson County
41. Urban League
42. Walk Bike Nashville
43. Welcome Home Ministries
44. Youth Encouragement Services, Inc

Inpiduals and families looking for help can visit to find information on resources available and services provided by agencies that have received grants from the


About the COVID-19 Response Fund:

The COVID-19 Response Fund is housed at United Way of Greater Nashville, in partnership with Mayor John Cooper’s office and local corporate and philanthropic partners. The Fund provides flexible resources to organizations working with inpiduals and communities who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic consequences of the outbreak. The Fund is designed to complement the work of public health officials and expand local capacity to address all aspects of the outbreak as efficiently as possible. United Way administers grants in partnership with the Response Commijee and Fund partners. In order to move resources quickly and not further burden organizations on the frontlines of the pandemic, we are not hosting a formal applicatuon process at this time. Funds will be released on a rolling basis as fundraising continues throughout the outbreak and recovery phases of the crisis, making it possible to move resources quickly and adapt to evolving needs in subsequent funding phases. To learn more, visit

About United Way of Greater Nashville
At United Way, we unite the community and mobilize resources so that every child, inpidual and family thrives. Together, we are working to create a community where every child receives a quality educa@on, no one lives in poverty or poor health, and the most basic needs of our families are met. We are uniquely positioned to the lead this fight by bringing inpiduals, businesses, nonprofits and government to the table to have the tough conversations, mobilize the resources and make the smart investments that will create lasting solutions for our region’s most pressing issues. For more information, visit and follow us on social media @UWNashville.

Disaster Relief: An Update from Catholic Charities Executive Director Judy Orr

March 2020 was an extraordinary month. Days felt like weeks, and weeks felt like months as the Catholic Charities team provided needed assistance to those impacted by the tornadoes and COVID-19.

In nearly 60 years, Diocese of Nashville’s Catholic Charities has never faced the challenges of two crises of this type at the same time. We are still operating despite these challenges. We are essential to those who need help. And, demand for our services has never been greater.

I am so grateful to our team for finding new and better ways to help clients as we adjust to the current realities. Though emotionally taxed, the team remains nimble, focused, and as caring as ever.

Below are updates about the great work they are doing to help people in our communities.


Catholic Charities is one of six organizations chosen to provide financial assistance as part of the COVID-19 Response Fund managed by the United Way of Greater Nashville.

We are paying out on average $1,000 to individuals who lost wages because of COVID-19. We reassigned staff to work through the applications so that the payments can get to those in need as quickly as possible.

Catholic Charities received an initial pool of $50,000 to distribute, and additional gifts are anticipated. Twelve staff members are responsible for gathering information and processing applications, while another three members answer calls and perform initial screenings. If you know someone who needs assistance, please have them go online to our online application or call 615-352-3087.

Additional COVID-19 Updates:

• The Sewing Training Academy (STA), which is based at the McGruder Family Resource Center, created mask kits for home sewers. Using industrial cutting equipment, they cut 1,000 yards of Sontara, a medical-grade fabric that was donated by Adelca Systems. More than 1,000 finished masks have already been distributed to local hospitals and healthcare facilities, including Mary, Queen of Angels Assisted Living facility, with another 2,000 in production.
• Loaves and Fishes is still operating, though all meals are take-out and volunteers are abiding by social-distancing guidelines. Food boxes are also being distributed at two locations to those affected by layoffs.
• Amanda Marshall, MSSW, one of our mental health counselors, has created some “Self-Regulating Strategies” to help you through these uncertain times. She discusses coping strategies for people who are feeling negative emotions and how to practice self-care.
• The “Pathways to Possibilities” fundraising event originally scheduled for April 21 will now be an online event the week of April 19. Look for more details on our Facebook page and on our website.
• Thank you to all of our staff, volunteers, and partners for truly making a difference.

Tornado Recovery

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has put most tornado recovery efforts on hold because of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.

Our team is providing case management by email and phone as well as counseling via online tele-health meetings. We are distributing donated material goods in a contact-less method with the help of volunteers from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, led by council president Joe Bibeau. More than a tractor trailer full of household and personal hygiene items were provided by Food for the Poor, Americares, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Second Harvest donated disaster food boxes for us to distribute.

Vickie York, whose experience with disaster recovery includes 9/11 in New York City and Nashville’s May 2010 floods, has joined Catholic Charities to head the recovery efforts and is chomping at the bit to get out into the community. Kamrie Reed, LMSW, is our new trauma counselor on the tornado recovery team. We will be ready to expand this work the minute health authorities deem it safe for us to do that once again.

Giving Thanks

There is still much to be thankful for in these crazy times. Catholic Charities is grateful to the many generous donors who have enabled us to do this important work, including:

• The Catholic Diocese of Memphis for sending $30,000 from a special collection for tornado relief
• Corner to Corner for $10,000 in gift cards to distribute to people impacted by the tornado in North Nashville
• Catholic Charities USA for two $10,000 grants – one for tornado relief and one for COVID-19 assistance
• Individuals who contributed to our own tornado relief fund. To date, we have raised more than $200,000 from people across the country and in our own back yard.

For all of these, we are truly grateful!

How You Can Help

Let friends and family know about the COVID-19 Response Fund if they have lost their job because of COVID-19. If Catholic Charities cannot help, we will do our best to direct them to an organization that can. The Response Fund is greatly in need of additional financial contributions and I strongly urge you to give to this fund to help your neighbors.

Catholic Charities continues to take donations for tornado relief and COVID-19 financial assistance. The rebuilding effort will be ongoing for many months if not years. If you can, please consider giving.

Lastly, please make time to check on an older adult neighbor who lives alone. Organizations that typically provide daily contact, such as Meals on Wheels, are having to adjust as well. This means that seniors living alone may only see someone once a week, at best. They need us more than ever.

And to all our neighbors, supporters, and those we serve, please extend charity to one another and keep the faith. Fear is a formidable opponent, but easily vanquished by hope. Please be assured that Catholic Charities will be there for you. Let us know how we can help.

An Easter Wish

As we approach Holy Week and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, my prayer for each of you is continued good health, community, and the peace of Christ. God bless you.

Judy K. Orr, Executive Director

Pathways to Possibilities still on…Virtual event week of April 19

Dear Friends,

Last week, Catholic Charities of Tennessee determined that its important annual fundraiser, Pathways to Possibilities 2020 presented by Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding, Bishop of Nashville and the Diocese of Nashville, could not be held at Music City Center on April 21, 2020, in its planned in-person breakfast format.

However, we will still host this highly anticipated event. It will simply now be in an altered format that will allow us all to participate remotely. While most of us are staying at home as directed, we still feel a great impulse to be part of the community and to support important organizations like Catholic Charities-one of the essential service providers in our area-which continues to help people in need.

Catholic Charities of Tennessee’s need for funding support from our community was critical when we first planned this event months ago. Now, with the March 3 Middle Tennessee tornados and COVID-19’s impact, our financial needs have grown exponentially, specifically in providing emergency financial assistance to individuals and families coping with layoffs and reduction in income.

With that in mind, the 2020 Pathways to Possibilities event is being converted to a “virtual event,” and will occur during the week of April 20, with web, email, and social media content. Videos will showcase our services to the community, including the new disaster relief initiatives we’ve launched. In addition to providing tornado relief assistance throughout the community–especially in North Nashville where more than 500 residences were severely damaged or destroyed–we are also part of United Way of Greater Nashville’s COVID-19 relief assistance team, serving the entire community.

Community support like yours has always been important to the Pathways to Possibilities event, but now that support is vitally critical. We would be so grateful to have you involved. Soon we will share information about the new format of the event, how you can participate safely and easily from home, and ways that you can invite others to help ensure the fundraising event’s success.

Thank you, in advance, for your support of our efforts. May God bless and protect you and your loved ones!

Judy K. Orr
Executive Director

Catholic Charities Sewing Instructor, Students Make Medical Masks (Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)

Original story in The Tennessee Register

The Catholic Charities’ Sewing Training Academy workspace at the McGruder Family Resource Center in North Nashville should be bustling with daily activity right now, filled with a group of students learning about all aspects of sewing and working in the industry.

But group classes have been postponed and Sewing Training Academy coordinator and instructor Trishawna Quincy, along with a handful of student volunteers, are only present on a limited basis.

Instead of teaching her students how to work on an industrial sewing machine, Quincy is now leading the Sewing Training Academy’s efforts to sew medical masks to provide to local hospitals and healthcare facilities.

The shortage of personal protective equipment, which includes masks, gowns and gloves, has emerged as a major issue worldwide, and is something that doctors and nurses absolutely need to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quincy never envisioned she would have a role to play in responding to a medical crisis, but, she said, “it is nice that I have a way to help right now.”

Quincy and some of her current and former Sewing Training Academy students have joined a regional grassroots effort with other local sewers to make as many masks as quickly as possible. “We would love to have everybody here sewing together, but not at this time,” Quincy said.

Instead, she and her student Elliott Martinez spent hours this week cutting the more than 1,000 yards of medical grade material donated by Adelca Systems into the right size for each mask, and creating kits that individual sewers can pick up and complete at home. Quincy was hopeful that by April 3 they would be able to get 3,000 completed masks into the hands of healthcare workers who need them.

At least 100 of the masks will go to the Diocese of Nashville’s assisted living facility Mary, Queen of Angels so they can be prepared to respond if residents become ill with any sort of infectious disease.

“Efforts are happening all across the country, and we are sharing information on patterns and best practices,” Quincy said. “We are all learning as we go, so it’s helpful to learn from cities who are ahead of Nashville in this effort.”

Students and families from Pope John Paul II High School and several parishes around the diocese are also sewing masks to help people through the pandemic.

The Sewing Training Academy is part of Catholic Charities’ Workforce Development Program, which includes job readiness programs for the sewing, hospitality and food service industries. All those programs, which are run out of the McGruder Center, are on hold right now as Catholic Charities responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

‘A really devastating scenario’

While hands-on job training programs are paused at McGruder, requests for food, material and cash assistance are up as many local residents have been laid off from their jobs.

“Food has really emerged as the most pressing need,” said Judy Orr, executive director of Catholic Charities of Tennessee. In recent weeks Catholic Charites social workers at McGruder have reported “a significant uptick in requests for help,” Orr said.

“These are people in their 40s and 50s who have worked hourly jobs their whole life, and have always had somewhere else to go,” if they lost a job or got laid off, Orr said. But now with so many restaurants and businesses closed or operating with only a few employees, “they have nowhere else to go. It’s a really devastating scenario.”

As one of five local social service agencies chosen to disburse funds from the City of Nashville’s COVID-19 relief fund, Catholic Charities has added an intake form to its website to help screen people and get them cash assistance as soon as possible.

Visit for more information. [Or call 615-352-3087.]

The food box distribution plan has been modified at McGruder to minimize people coming into the building, but Second Harvest Food Bank keeps the food pantry there stocked, Orr said.

Second Harvest also helps stock the food boxes for senior citizens that are distributed out of the Catholic Pastoral Center, and the Loaves and Fishes Community Meal program that operates at the Holy Name Parish Center in East Nashville.

To comply with coronavirus precautions, Loaves and Fishes has stopped hosting volunteer groups to prepare meals in the parish center kitchen, stopped serving breakfast, and stopped serving meals inside the building. Instead, Loaves and Fishes Director Wendy Overlock and a handful of volunteers make one meal a day and distribute box lunches to go.

“They served 70 people for lunch like that,” Orr said. “It’s amazing.”