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:
- Sponsor an Afghan family for a month. It costs around $1,500 to help pay the cost of the necessities listed above.
- Provide a match to support New Americans. Catholic Charities will receive a dollar-for-dollar match from the federal government to assist with ongoing needs following the initial resettlement. Key services include job training, job placement, and education.
- Donate to our New Americans program. This is a general donation for all New Americans, not just those from Afghanistan.
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
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville