FROM AGNES COCO

Catholic Charities entered my life thirty years ago – all for the good!

On May 8, 1987, my beloved mother, Rose, was taken to heaven by Jesus. Finding myself in our empty home, alone, I couldn’t function. I couldn’t shut off the lights; eating even a small meal made me feel guilty. I sat up in bed all night and couldn’t shut my eyes. My good brother, Anthony, would stop by every morning on his way to work to check on me, and find my sitting in the parlor, wide awake. Our doctor had him take me in for a check-up, fearful that I would also pass away. He called a hospital for services and they arranged for Catholic Charities to bring in their counselor.

Doreen, the first of three, came to my home for about 3 years, to help me – and she did. I was finally able to donate my mom’s lovely clothing to those needy.

I should mention that I am a polio survivor from 1950, paralyzed from the waist down. With extensive therapy, through many years, I went from long leg braces and crutches to short leg braces and a walker.

With your counselor’s help, I was able to live alone in my home (with my brother checking on my daily) until September 2012 (with hired help for housework and laundry). On September 25, 2012, I fell and broke my right leg, which resulted in me now using a wheelchair and also having to hire a caregiver. Wednesday of this week, I called Catholic Charities for help once more, helping to find a compatible giver of care.

For the past 30 years, I have never forgotten the kindness and help given to me by your Catholic Charities special angels. Thank you so very much.

FROM YVONNE S. FINLEY

I am an 80-year-old clinical social worker, having retired three different times (1999-2009). I moved into St. Ailbe’s Senior Housing on December 9, 2010. Spared the hassles and upkeep of a house, I live in perfect peace in an affordable one-bedroom apartment. It is sunny, comfortable, and homey.

Catholic Charities and Father Lurry Duris, pastor of St. Ailbe’s parish, helped me to apply and move in. My former home and St. Ailbe’s Senior Housing are both in Chicago’s Calumet Heights neighborhood. I had lived in my house since 1967. It was freeing and challenging to let go of so many memories and belongings.

Catholic Charities provides activities for senior citizens. We have programs to benefit our minds, bodies, spirits and souls. Service coordinators are on site to help us in negotiating bureaucratic agencies and managing legal, medical, and family affairs, including Social Security and Medicare. St. Ailbe’s has three buildings – Love, Faith, and Hope. Catholic Charities maintains an adult day care center in a separate area of the Faith building for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Two buses provide pickup and drop off transportation for patients.

We have a strong sense of community here. I see myself as a Christian living out my mandate to serve. We work with service coordinators and management to assist residents who are failing or in need of help to remain in independent living. We have one resident who is 99 years young. We have homemaker services and programs such as exercising, barber and beauty services, commodities, and Pace transportation to improve the quality of life.

As neighbors we support and encourage one another. Catholic Charities is a strong right arm. Many of us view St. Ailbe’s as an exciting and vibrant place to live until we go home to our Lord.

Catholic Charities has been a Godsend and a blessing in my life. Thank you for all that you do and a Happy 100th Birthday.

From Newman Bradley

I'm a driver for Meals on Wheels program out of Calumet City, Illinois. I've been working for the program for 13 years. I have seen what a difference it has made. I have seen what good it does for the seniors to bring them a hot lunch and have a conversation with them for a few minutes. I had that experience with my mother before she passed, and it helped me out a lot working with Catholic Charities Meals on Wheels program.

From Catherine O'Grady

My mother taught baby wellness to pregnant teenagers and adolescent mothers & their babies for many years through Catholic Charities.

From Mari Andresky Loustaunau

Here's to another 100 years.
I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful organization, Catholic Charities.

FROM HELEN RANDLE

When it became apparent that after 76 years of living with family I would now have to find an apartment and live on my own, it was very frightening. I applied for an apartment and was accepted at St. Sabina Elder Village. That was a beginning of a wonderful life.

The office managers were there to help me in any way they could. The coordinator was always there to help me with all the paperwork that now flooded my telephone and my mailbox. If something went wrong in my apartment, management would have it fixed as soon as possible. We had access to a clean exercise room, coffee room, library, and laundry room. The building and its surroundings are kept clean and beautiful at all times. We had security around the clock and they were kind and professional. The maintenance men were always polite and always knew your name.

I am very proud to be a resident in this wonderful place called St. Sabina Elder Village.

FROM ANONYMOUS

Catholic Charities has helped me by allowing me to reach out to help others – making meals for the vets at Cooke’s Manor and now at Bishop Goedert. It is my little contribution to help others through Catholic Charities.

FROM FRANK CHRIST

I am a senior living at Lincoln Perry apartments. I have been there about 5 years. I receive commodities and food from Catholic Charities. It is a big help.

From Jan Ahlgrim

I feel so blessed to have spent my entire professional career st such a wonderful organization. Congratulations, Catholic Charities! I will always be part of your family.

FROM BONITA CLYDE

I happen to be involved in Catholic Charities. I am in the program Street to Home. Last year at this time I was homeless and didn’t have a place to live. I got involved, and they found me a wonderful one bedroom apartment that’s all mine, and I’m just so grateful and so thankful. I’ve started going back to church.

I try to help other people too and tell them about it. So maybe they can feel like I feel. Catholic Charities has brought me back to myself and made me a whole human being. I now work for them, have been for two years and I just want to say thank you to someone.

I am very proud of my job (working as a caregiver). I wanted to share with you. In Street to Home, we have our Christmas party and everyone gets up and shares their story, and I guess I needed to get that out.

FROM JANICE SCHULD

When I was growing up, I had a child out of wedlock. My parents would not help me. I went to Catholic Charities to have my baby.

FROM SHIRLEY CRALLIE

Catholic Charities helped me with the loss of my brother Nick by helping to take some of his possessions of canned foods, towels, wash clothes and more.

They gave us good words and family strength- Nick loved to have Tuesday lunches with the Catholic Charities in 4040 N Oakley and always gave us a pick of beautiful floral arrangements. Bingo was great. He loved the staff there. What a good place to mingle with friends and meet others.

FROM PEGGY MARCUS

My son was in a lottery pool at his school in fifth grade through high school. Catholic Charities sponsored him through his education. He graduated at De La Salle and is a police officer now. Thank you so much. 

FROM ELAINE KRAMER

I have been involved with Catholic Charities for a number of years and don’t recall when, how, or why. I have been asked this a number of times by employees as well.

I have been lucky that whenever I had to go to a Public Aid Office, someone from St. Vincent DePaul Center always gave me support when I needed it.

I have been invited to many Christmas parties and programs, and have volunteered to help out. I was so grateful for the help that I received and I felt I could help others in return by volunteering.

Today I have to depend on help and St. Vincent DePaul Center has been helpful for me. Nine years ago I received a pig valve and Catholic Charities got me help for a number of things I couldn’t do.

It’s wonderful that Catholic Charities gave me all the help I received. Today I say prayers and hope that I won’t have to depend on others so much for help, but that I can do things on my own.

So until this miracle happens, thanks so much to Catholic Charities for giving me the help I need when I am limited to what I can do. THANK YOU THANK YOU.

FROM MONICA IGLESIAS

I worked for Catholic Charities at North Park Village, 5801 North Pulaski Road in Chicago, with the “Meals on Wheels” program. We coordinated meals for seniors who needed additional food. This was assessed by the Northwest/Northeast Case Managers and implemented within a days’ notice to the client’s door. God bless those hard working case managers!

My lasting impression of Catholic Charities is the people associated with the organization. I don’t think I have ever met a more knowledgeable, giving, and caring group of people than I did in North Park. I was also extremely impressed with the drivers and delivery of the meals, which I evidenced firsthand on my block a few years later down the road.

My neighbor rang my doorbell to ask if I could help him. He had a sister in the far western suburbs and after his father died, he needed a little assistance. He was not yet a senior but he was disabled (with a mentally challenged affliction) and he wanted to remain in his home. So, in came Meals on Wheels as a starting point. He received Meals on Wheels until he too died last year.

It was with his meal delivery that I personally saw the dynamics of the delivery. They were timely and the driver/delivery people most cheerful and friendly. Through the years the driver and my neighbor formed a little bond of friendship. My neighbor never made a doctor’s appointment or went far from the block on delivery day. He not only looked forward to his food, but the chit-chat with his new friend. It was there I saw the driver ring the bell and personally delivery the meals. He was one of the first people to know if an individual was sick or hospitalized since food is never left on the steps.

That sparks another memory about several people, who could least afford it, would occasionally send in a dollar or two (cash in an envelope no less) to Catholic Charities to show their appreciation for all the food they had to eat. That, my friends, is a class act.

I, myself, developed a lasting friendship with one of the case managers. We often talk about the “Catholic Charities” days.

It was a wonderful experience working at Catholic Charities and does my soul good to know there are so many kind people out there – going way beyond “job descriptions” to help those in need. These are the people, in the background, who make a difference – who put such a “human” touch to their work by caring.

Times today are pretty intense. The whole world is in turmoil. Globally we are all connected. God help the troubled souls.

And

God bless all the marvelous people who diligently try to make things just a little better for someone.

FROM GINI CATES

In 1952 my mother was in the hospital giving birth to her sixth child.  My father's job required him to leave for work at 4 AM.  Our priest from Holy Angels, contacted Catholic Charities.  Every morning for one week a lady from Catholic Charities came to our home.  She prepared our breakfast and got us ready for school.  I don't remember her name but we told our friends that she was our grandmother; in fact, we called her "grandma".

Another time CC came to our family's rescue was when my father was hospitalized and there was no family income. Once a week (until my father was able to return to work) Father Curran (our family priest) would pin a white envelope to my uniform to give to my mother.  I learned that the envelope contained a check to help maintain our household.

I am 78 years old and have not forgotten how Catholic Charities helped our family.

From Karen Ertl

Catholic Charities is helping me take care of my brother who has autism. He's in an adult day-care center so I can work. I never thought Catholic Charities would be the place that would help me take care of Rich. We always thought of Catholic Charities as the place that "feeds the hungry" and "clothes the naked". Remember Cardinal Cody's Thanksgiving clothing drives? We also contribute when we can. Our parish, St. Irenaeus in Park Forest, has a food pantry that we contribute to. I'm planning on retiring soon. Catholic Charities will have 2 pairs of hands that can help. It'll be pay-back time..

From Pam Wilk

You do amazing work, and God bless you. Happy 100th

FROM SARAH STACKER-JONES

I wish to tell you how St. Vincent’s has impacted my life. When I had my first child, a son, who was born in 1941, I was very young, and I was ill a lot. When he was ready to come home, I was unable to take care of him, and someone at the hospital asked me if I would like to let him be cared for at St. Vincent’s.

I was not Catholic at the time, but I knew he would be care for, so I agreed. While he was there, I was able to visit him and hold him, and bond with him. The nun who cared for him was named Sr. Beata (I’ll never forget her). When I was able to take him home, she told me she would like to see him some times, so I would take him back for some time, while she would keep up with us.

 She asked me if I would like to have him baptized, and I said yes, but when I said I wasn’t Catholic, she said in order to do it, I would have to take instruction about the Catholic faith. She told me the nearest church, for where I lived, was St. Anselm’s on 61st and Michigan. I went there, and met the nuns who instructed and became a regular student. My son and I were both baptized in the Rectory, on December 7, 1941. Later that evening, I learned about Pearl Harbor.

I have been a parishioner of Holy Family Church for over 50 years now, and still am thankful to St. Vincent’s.