Column: Catholic Charities changes its name but not its mission

by Jan Lewis 

For over 50 years, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, has been providing care to the people of northeast Kansas through a variety of services and ministries. At various times throughout our history we have been known as Catholic Charities, Catholic Social Services, the Community Service Center and Catholic Community Services. While our name has changed over the years, our mission has been consistent — to serve those in need with compassion and competence.

Most recently, the agency has operated as Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and as Catholic Community Services. In the fall of 2006, the board of directors began to review the agency’s organizational structure. It quickly became clear that operating under two separate identities was adding to the complexity of an already complex organization. In addition, the dual names created confusion with our donors, clients and volunteers. Many times the question would be asked, “Are you Charities or Services?”

At the agency’s annual meeting this past October, a resolution was passed that puts to bed the question of who we are. We are now Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. We will no longer designate ourselves as Kansas City, Topeka, Emporia, Leavenworth, Lawrence or Olathe. We are one organization, pursuing one mission, which is to serve people in need across northeast Kansas.

In December, a new board of directors for the agency was installed in a special service at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan. During the service, the new board was charged with carrying out the church’s important mission of charity — the vital task of reaching out in the name of Christ to serve those in need. At its first official meeting this coming February, the new board will begin the important work of assessing current and future needs across the agency’s 21-county service area and then set the direction for Catholic Charities’ staff and volunteers to follow as they work each day to respond to those needs.

To support the work of the agency, the Catholic Charities Foundation of Northeast Kansas has been established. This organization will be responsible for working with communities throughout our service area to develop the financial resources needed to meet the ever-growing needs of the people we serve. In addition to overseeing such activities as annual fundraising events and appeals, the foundation is also being charged with developing assets that can meet the agency’s needs well into the future through the establishment of planned giving and endowed funds.

While there are many changes underway at Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, the most important thing remains unchanged: our mission. One name, one mission — serving the one Lord and God of all.

Jan Lewis is the executive director of Catholic Charities.

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