by Lauren Solidum
Joy, kindness, patience, self-control and faithfulness — perhaps at no other time in the 65-year history of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas have we ever so intentionally lived out our agency values as we have this past year.
We experienced the joy expressed on the faces of our neighbors in need of food, clothing, housing, employment and financial assistance; the kindness demonstrated as we embraced the challenges and prioritized our work as a team; the patience endured throughout the ever-changing health guidelines and provision of services; the self-control required to reinvent the way we served with a limited volunteer workforce; and the faithfulness to one another and our supporters as we strived to serve our community in solidarity.
Perhaps, above all, we witnessed the courageous faith, hope and love in action to serve our neighbors in need.
In joyful hope, we welcome 2022.
Our St. Rita Skills Training program continues to grow. We started with six pilot participants in Wyandotte County. Today, we have 60 participants, with a plan to grow to 80. We have also increased our academic partnerships and now offer programming in Topeka, Lawrence and Leavenworth.
I am excited to share that our Shalom House Men’s Transitional Living Program is about to begin a new chapter. Plans are underway to move the program to the site formerly occupied by the Sanctuary of Hope in Kansas City, Kansas. Our goal is to reopen Shalom House in August of 2022.
At the new site, we will physically increase our capacity from 24 men to 60, and house community partners directly on-site as we wrap around our brothers in need physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
For the last 65 years, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas has been in the business of creating life-changing programs and initiatives designed to solve the root causes of poverty.
The wheels are spinning again as the agency is exploring new social enterprise ideas that support the mission. Last spring, Catholic Charities internally launched a “Social Enterprise Incubator.”
Staff was encouraged to submit innovative, practical ideas that would employ vulnerable populations; inspire and mobilize volunteers to serve; and generate a new revenue stream to help sustain and grow existing ministries.
The Catholic Charities staff responded with 19 ideas. Four ideas were chosen to develop into formal business plans with the help of staff, volunteers, board members and subject matter experts.
I am elated to share that soon Catholic Charities will launch two new businesses complementary to our already successful TurnStyles thrift operations. Estate sale and junk removal services are on the way — let us help you avoid the clutter while dispensing hope all at the same time.
The pandemic has shown what Catholic Charities is truly capable of, and our work is far from over.
I humbly express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who served alongside us this past year, donating time, treasure, talents and, most importantly, prayers. Without you, we could not have served at the capacity we did, nor would we look ahead with such hope.