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.
Feed the Hungry on “Souper Bowl” Sunday
January 23rd, 2019
Every year on Super Bowl Sunday, Our Lady of Assumption Church in Fairfield hosts a food drive to benefit Operation Hope of Fairfield and The Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport. This year is no different, but the need for this event may be greater than ever. With thousands of furloughed Federal employees and even more Connecticut residents seeing a decline in their SNAP benefits, the need for services from local food pantries has escalated. This may become heightened in the coming months when SNAP benefits run out completely.
The Stratfield Road Church has been highly successful running this annual event and both Operation Hope and The Thomas Merton Center are hoping that this year is no different.
Celebrating Mother Cabrini’s Love For Immigrants
January 23rd, 2019
STAMFORD—In observance of the feast day of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, patron saint of immigrants, Sacred Heart Church celebrated Mass and held a panel discussion about the immigration services provided by Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.
In his homily, Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general of the diocese, described St. Frances Cabrini as a powerful example of a woman who understood the importance of loving your neighbor rather than humanity in the abstract.
“We have been made in the likeness of God and therefore we show we are responding to Jesus’s grace by caring for our neighbors and by caring for those we might not like as much, and for the foreigner who is escaping violence and poverty,” he said. “Mother Cabrini fought for the people she loved and cared for the poor and immigrants.”
Mother Cabrini, who was the first U.S. citizen to be canonized, started the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Italy with seven other women in 1880. The congregation provided support to Italian immigrants in the United States, and during the course of 35 years, she began 67 institutions to care for orphans, the poor, the sick and the uneducated. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1909.
Peg Regan, SSND, former executive director of Caroline House in Bridgeport, which teaches English as a Second Language and life skills to women, said, “Mother Cabrini was concerned about doing things for others, and all of her work came out of a heart full of empathy and concern for people who were suffering.” Sister Regan, who teaches ESL in Norwalk and is developing a program for Room to Grow, said Mother Cabrini’s example is especially relevant in America today, where immigration issues often provoke an acrimonious political debate.
Peter Maloney, a board member of Catholic Charities, said, “This was the second time we celebrated Mother Cabrini’s feast day at Sacred Heart. The first was in 2016 after an Italian Mass. We give her a lot of credit for being a person of tremendous strength, but often overlook that she worked against a tremendous tide of hate directed against Italian immigrants… I remember her strength every time some foolish or unkind word pops up in the media concerning today’s immigrants.”
More than 200 people turned out for the event titled, “A Celebration of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, Patroness of Immigrants,” which included a presentation about the services available through Catholic Charities of Fairfield County. The panelists were immigration counselors Alex Arevalo and Maria Palacios, and board members Daniel Casal and Maloney.
Father Alfonso Picone, pastor of Sacred Heart, thanked the panelists for their participation and said a prayer to Mother Cabrini that she intercede for the well-being of the immigrants and their families.
Alex Arevalo, who is program manager of Immigration Services, is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeal to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in matters of immigration. He said the team makes the annual visit to remind people of the services that are available to them through Catholic Charities.
“These are trying times for immigrants, and the Church needs to be there for them to explain faithfully what their options are for improving their lives and the lives of their children,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo has been with Catholic Charities since 2001, first working with at-risk youth, and since 2006 with immigration services.
“We have made an annual commitment to celebrate Mother Cabrini with different immigrant communities,” he said. “We help people navigate the complexity of immigration law, and we hope to continue to expand the program because of the growing need.”
He urged the audience members to make an appointment and visit the immigration services offices so that their cases can be analyzed individually. He also cautioned them and said immigration fraud by unauthorized practitioners is rampant.
The immigration team of Catholic Charities is recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals of the Department of Justice. The immigration services program provides affordable counseling and legal assistance to newcomers throughout Fairfield County regardless of race, religion, sex, creed or economic status. It also provides consultation on immigration-related problems, and accredited representation at USCIS Immigration appointments.
Service fees are nominal, and donations are welcome. Services are provided at two locations: The Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue in Bridgeport and 174 Richmond Hill Avenue in Stamford.
(For more information or to make a donation, call 203.416.1322 or visit www.ccfairfield.org.)
By Joe Pisani
As seen on the Diocese of Bridgeport, Fairfield County Catholic website.
Governor-Elect To Visit New Covenant Center
January 4th, 2019
STAMFORD—In advance of Connecticut Governor-Elect Ned Lamont’s Inauguration on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, he will be visiting Catholic Charities of Fairfield County’s program, New Covenant Center, on Sunday, January 6.
The Governor-Elect chose the 40-year-old food insecurity program in Stamford in recognition of providing over 600,000 meals each year through their 365-day-a-year Café (Soup Kitchen) and three-day-a-week Food Pantry. Mr. Lamont will make his first stop at New Covenant at 11 am and plans to stay 30-45 minutes. This is part of his five-stop “Day of Service” throughout the state. Susan Bysiewicz, the Lieutenant Governor-Elect, will also visit various nonprofits throughout Connecticut.
“We are honored that Mr. Lamont has selected New Covenant Center as his ‘inaugural’ stop on his Day of Service to draw attention to nonprofit agencies that are helping those most in need,” said John Gutman, executive director of the program. “He will be assisting other volunteers and staff in the preparation of our Sunday lunch.”
The Governor is encouraging lower Fairfield County residents to donate food items for New Covenant’s food pantry or make monetary donations. This can be done between 10 am and 1:30 pm on Sunday, January 6. The Center is located at 174 Richmond Hill Avenue, at the corner of Fairfield Avenue and Richmond Hill Avenue. Please enter through the front double-glass doors on the corner.
The mission of New Covenant Center is to provide a nutritious meal to all those who are hungry. By creating a safe, warm and compassionate environment, they are taking the first steps toward empowering men, women, and children to reach their full potential and regain their dignity and self-respect.
(For more information and to get involved, visit the Governor-elect’s website.)
As published on the Fairfield County Catholic website.