Feed the Hungry
“The food pantry has been a blessing and a saving grace. The people there are very kind and compassionate; they treat me like a human being – with dignity. They know my name, ask about my children, and are always smiling when they see me,” says Henry, who comes to the food pantry at Blessed Trinity Parish in Akron’s North Hill area to get groceries for his family.
Henry picks up a grocery bag or two filled with peanut butter, meats, canned vegetables, and other food items once a month in order to make ends meet. He arrives at the food pantry, occasionally with his four young children, asking the staff and volunteers to pray with him. They happily join in prayer that ends with a big bear hug from Henry.
Henry left the economic hardship and political instability of Cameroon to come to the U.S. He is among the working poor and other low-income people who are registered at the pantry to receive a 3-day supply of emergency groceries. For over 4,000 families each year struggling with hunger, Blessed Trinity Food Pantry is there with nutritious food and a caring heart.
Provide Dignity & Worth
Miss Ivy’s Story
Horses remind Miss Ivy of her youth in Trinidad, where she grew up on a farm. Her entire face lights up as she leans in from her wheelchair to speak softly to her favorite horse as if it were an old friend; while the horse responds with gentle nudges.
Miss Ivy and other residents of St. Augustine Health Campus love going to summer camp each year at Camp Cheerful, an ADA accessible camp in Strongsville. An army of St. Augustine staff and volunteers make sure every resident has their very own special experience – from friendship to fishing, swimming to sing-a-longs, crafts and campfires.
“One of the most amazing things we do at St. Augustine is to take residents from nursing care and assisted living to camp,” says Dana Carns, who coordinates the weeklong outing. “We are the only long-term care facility in the state to do this. Summer camp gives the residents a sense of normalcy and dignity.”
Kathy, a resident of St. Augustine Towers, calls Camp Cheerful “a beautiful gift.” She adds, “There is much more freedom when you are out in nature. It’s relaxing, and not confining. It’s an experience we could have no place else.”
Spread Peace & Wellbeing
Rita & Hailey’s Story
“Even though these years have been very hard to let go and to keep our lives moving forward, it is also important for Hailey to understand that her mother is very sick,” says Rita, who is one of over 2.5 million grandparents in the U.S. raising a grandchild. Hailey’s mom has been incarcerated and in and out of rehab for years.
Rita credits Catholic Charities’ Families of Promise for giving her 14-year-old granddaughter Hailey the care and counseling she needs to “be a kid again” and to separate her from the “adult problems” of her mother’s heroin addiction. The program, which is unique in Lake County, focuses on children whose parents are incarcerated and their caregivers by addressing their silent sentence of isolation, confusion and shame. Through Families of Promise, Rita was encouraged to take better care of her own health so that she could be strong in walking alongside her granddaughter. Today, Rita is able to face this exhausting role of being both mother and grandmother with faith and hope.
Bring Light to the Darkness
“This place was such a benefit to me. I was feeling hopeless and helpless. Matt Talbot gave me resources and what I needed. They explained the disease concept. They helped me focus on me to change my thinking, and eventually reunite with my husband and children,” says Rhonda, who now shares her experience of addiction and recovery with other women in the Matt Talbot program.
The worst day of Rhonda’s life was the day she lost custody of her children. She had been a good mom, active in her children’s school and working full-time. Then her husband left her alone to get help for his own addiction, and Rhonda called Matt Talbot for Women. She was 40 years old. Her journey of intensive residential treatment began, paving a road to sobriety.
In September, Rhonda and her husband celebrated their 31st wedding
anniversary. “We have a better relationship than ever,” says Rhonda. They enjoy spending time with their children and two grandchildren; and also give back as trained parent advocates, helping others who are struggling with substance abuse and family problems.