February 26th, 2019
BRIDGEPORT—Every third Saturday a community of volunteers from the Order of Malta prepares and serves a hot, hearty breakfast to guests at the Thomas Merton Center. A lay religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, the Order of Malta is dedicated to serving the sick and the poor.
The effort typically begins on Friday when members of the team stock the kitchen with ingredients for a breakfast feast. Early on Saturday 12-15 volunteers arrive to prepare the popular menu of scrambled eggs with cheese, kielbasa, pancakes, fruit and juice. Approximately 120 meals are served monthly amidst smiles and banter. To top things off, there is always a call for “seconds!”
The Thomas Merton Center is a program of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, Inc. located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Thomas Merton Center is committed to providing a loving, safe and hope-filled community atmosphere that responds to the needs of its guests and residents and respects the dignity of each person. They reflect to the individual and the community our shared responsibility to love and support one another.
As seen on the Fairfield County Catholic website.
Danbury Team Quietly Chips Away at Homelessness
February 25th, 2019
Our team in Northern Fairfield County works hard to help the homeless population in the Greater Danbury Area. Supervised by Michele Conderino, the Homeless Outreach Team and Morning Glory Breakfast Program provide much needed services for this particular population. But Michele would be the first to tell you that Catholic Charities does not work alone in this. It is a coordinated effort and collaboration with a variety of service agencies in that area. You can read more about it here in an article written by the Danbury News Times.
Catholic Charities’ Behavioral Health Provides Options
February 21st, 2019
DANBURY—For over 50 years, Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC) has provided affordable and accessible mental health services to individuals and families from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The program, called Behavioral Health Services, is one of the only providers of subsidized mental health services in the region.
Since Behavioral Health Services keeps two medical physicians on staff, the program is able to run a medication management group. Therefore, any clients who are prescribed medication by one of the doctors must attend monthly meetings so that a clinician can monitor them and make sure they are taking the medication properly. Having both clinicians and physicians on the staff is impactful for the clients because it provides full circle care.
Another large sector of Behavioral Health Services is individual therapy for adults. Two major areas are treating women who are victims of violence and helping parolees reintegrate into society. The program has a strong nexus with the Women’s Center of Danbury, an organization that seeks to end violence against women and children. The Women’s Center refers females who are in abusive relationships to CCFC’s Behavioral Health Services for treatment. In terms of parolees, the state requires that they attend regular treatment sessions when they are released from prison, which Behavioral Health Services provides.
The program also treats adults with anxiety or depression. This was the case with Brian, who is currently a 24-year-old aspiring medical student. When he was in high school, Brian was bullied and physically abused as well as threatened with a gun by an employer. After being referred to Behavioral Health Services, Brian has been a client for more than three years. His clinician, Jennifer McNamara, is helping him work through the anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression he struggles with due to his childhood experiences. McNamara has been impressed with Brian’s commitment to his health saying, “Brian is an enthusiastic participant and will work hard for his recovery.”
Every year, CCFC’s Behavioral Health Services provides about 15,000 counseling sessions to children and adults. But since about 90 percent of the clients are Medicaid or Medicare recipients, it is always difficult to cover the costs.
Brian, for one, could not be more grateful that Behavioral Health Services exists. “Through my treatment, I have learned so much about myself and what I can do with my life,” he explained. “If you need help, you should come to Behavioral Health Services. It has been one of the best experiences of my life.”
(Behavioral Health Services is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and licensed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Department of Children and Families. To learn more about this program, contact Richard Madwid at [email protected] or 203.743.4412, ext. 226.)
Written by Ellen McGinness
As seen in Fairfield County Catholic
Give to ALL Catholic Charities Programs on Giving Day
February 8th, 2019
Let’s get ready to GIVE where we LIVE!
Giving Day is an exciting 24-hour online fundraising event to support nonprofit organizations across Fairfield County.
Sponsored by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and Bank of America, Giving Day 2019 kicks off three weeks from today on Thursday February 28 at the stroke of midnight. For the next 24 hours on that day, you can donate online as many times as you like to your favorite nonprofit, which we hope is Catholic Charities!
The money you donate will be used across all of our programs: New Covenant Center, Thomas Merton Center, Morning Glory Breakfast Program, Senior Nutrition Program, Room to Grow Preschool, Behavioral Health, Immigration Services and the Housing/Homeless Outreach Program. BUT, if you want your money to be designated to a specific program on Giving Day you can!!! Simply add a NOTE that the donation is “FOR (NAME OF THE PROGRAM)”.
This year, our goal is $20,000. Can you help us get there?
Charities Responds To Food Insecurity In The Area
January 29th, 2019
However, the recent government shutdown and the added demand put on food pantries has underscored the growing food insecurity of the poor, elderly and working families.
Al Barber, president of Catholic Charities, reports that the agency’s programs have broadened their ability to assist those in need, particularly during these difficult times.
The agency, sponsored by the diocese, has four major food service programs stationed in the core cities of Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury, through which they feed the hungry, homeless, elderly and homebound.
“Our food service programs are open to those in need. This includes families recently impacted by the Federal Government shut down and those coming off of SNAP benefits,” Barber said.
Barber said the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport and New Covenant Center in Stamford both have soup kitchens open and ready to serve meals, as well as food pantries stocked with fresh produce and non-perishable items.
The Morning Glory Breakfast Program in Danbury provides a hot and healthy breakfast and is a great place to ask help locating other resources.”
John Gutman, executive director of New Covenant Center in Stamford, has already noticed a need for help.
“With an increase in the number of people being served, our stock is running low. Donations from outside groups is always beneficial and will help us get by and provide those in crisis with the most basic need—food.”
Gutman said that while New Covenant Center relies heavily on the assistance of Food Banks to stock their soup kitchens, but when it comes to filling their pantries it is outside donations that are the most helpful.
New Covenant Center in Stamford, which offers an expanded array of services to meet the basic needs of every guest, is currently celebrating its 40th Anniversary feeding the needy through its soup kitchen and food pantry.
In Bridgeport, The Thomas Merton Center is entering its 45th year of service. It provides breakfast, lunch and a day shelter to those in need who cannot help themselves.
Catholic Charities also serves the elderly through its Senior Nutrition Program, which provides meals to homebound seniors through their Meals on Wheels program as well as serving meals to the elderly at congregate food sites located in Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.
In Danbury, Morning Glory Breakfast Program serves hot and healthy meals on a daily basis to the hungry and homeless in the Danbury area.
Combined, the Catholic Charities programs served a total 96,000 breakfasts, 185,000 lunches, and 74,000 dinners last year. The food pantries located at New Covenant Center in Stamford and The Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport welcomed 3,100 individuals to shop in 2018. The Senior Nutrition program delivered 72,500 meals to 180 seniors through their Meals on Wheels service and provided 63,000 lunches at eight senior centers.
“During a time of uncertainty and growing demand for resources, none of this could have been accomplished without the assistance of thousands of volunteers and the generosity of committed donors,” said Barber.
(Anyone interested in learning more about the Food Services of Catholic Charities can visit their website at www.ccfairfield.org. New Covenant Center has a website specific to its program at www.newcovenantcenter.org and The Thomas Merton Center’s website can be found at www.themertoncenter.org.)
As seen on the Diocese of Bridgeport website via Fairfield County Catholic.