by Jill Ragar Esfeld
OVERLAND PARK — “Welcome to my 17th anniversary party,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann joked at the 48th annual Snow Ball fundraiser for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.
The date of the event, Jan. 15, coincided exactly with the date he was installed as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, in 2005.
The archbishop said his time serving this archdiocese has been “an amazing experience,” in part because of the generous Catholics who make the work of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas possible.
He also noted the many different faith traditions represented at the Snow Ball.
“I want to thank many here tonight who are not Catholics but join in our annual effort to help the poor of our community,” he said. “You help equip Catholic Charities to make the love of God known.”
The event took place at the Overland Park Convention Center. In her opening remarks, Catholic Charities president and CEO Lauren Solidum congratulated Archbishop Naumann and thanked him for his support over the last 17 years.
She also recognized staff and volunteers who have worked hard, especially during the pandemic, to make sure help was always available to those in need.
“Your dedication to the mission has allowed our doors to remain open during the most challenging time in our 65-year history,” she said. “You are vibrant examples of the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.”
Solidum highlighted just a few of the accomplishments over the last year:
• $2.38 million provided to keep families facing homelessness safely housed
• 225 tons of food distributed to hungry families
• a record $1 million in debt reduction for the families served by the Family Financial Transformations program.
Solidum also talked about future plans, including re-envisioning and relocating the men’s transitional living program, Shalom House, to the former Sanctuary of Hope Retreat Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
And she encouraged anyone who is decluttering to keep in mind the charity’s two future business ventures.
“Complementary to our already successful TurnStyles thrift [stores],” she said, “we will soon provide our community with estate sale and junk removal services.”
Snow Ball presidents Mark and Donna Teahan followed up by announcing the evening’s total donations.
“Snow Ball continues to be a story that has snowballed,” said Mark Teahan. “And tonight, we are thrilled to announce that because of the generosity of all of you and so many more, we have raised more than $3.7 million!”
During the invocation, Archbishop Naumann prayed for all those present and participating virtually in the event.
“I can’t say enough about our staff and volunteers,” he said. “They represent you and me in making the love of Jesus Christ present to so many people in our community.”