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Serving Southwest Florida 
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Winter 2011
We invite you to take a few minutes to learn more about the work of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. If you have any questions, reply and let us know. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your colleagues, friends and family.


How You Can Help...  
Attend a Catholic Charities Fundraising Event

The Catholic Charities fundraising season is underway. The Catholic Charities Ball Patron Party kicked off the 2011 events on January 11 at Northern Trust Bank in Sarasota. Kelley Lavin (photo left to right) of Presenting Sponsor Sarasota Magazine, Mary Pat McNally of Presenting Sponsor Northern Trust Bank, Jaime Aymerich also of Sarasota Magazine, and Peter Routsis-Arroyo of Catholic Charities were in attendance. The following are upcoming fundraising events that will benefit Catholic Charities.

  • Sarasota--Catholic Charities Ball on January 29.
  • Venice--Our Mother's House Wine Tasting on February 17.
  • Lake Suzy--Boots and Bandannas on March 5.
  • Sarasota--Doctors for Charity on March 12.
  • Naples--Emerald Ball on March 19.
  • Fort Myers--Venetian Ball on April 2.

For more details, please click HERE.


New director  feels right at home

Sarasota--New Director of Catholic Charities of Sarasota and Manatee Counties Jacqueline Crombie chose to work for the agency because its mission and values of helping the vulnerable and needy are close to her heart.


She comes to the organization from Catholic Charities, Diocese of Charlotte in North Carolina. "My family wanted to move to Florida and I wanted to stay with Catholic Charities. So it was a perfect match," Crombie said.


"I really connected with the leadership at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice," Crombie said. "I feel at home here."



Collaboration with United Way proven partnership

The United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties has a long standing partnership with Catholic Charities of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties that began more than a decade ago.

The collaboration started when both agencies expanded into the Bonita Springs community in response to the need for services there. As a result, Catholic Charities has a very active Bonita Springs office that is centrally located and in walking distance for many clients. The United Way allocates funds to support the Catholic Charities after school and summer camp programs in both Bonita Springs and Fort Myers for children of low-income families. In addition, United Way funding also benefits services in Lee County that provide care for the poor and frail elderly in the community.

The 2010-2011 United Way Campaign is hoping to raise more than $8 million for local agencies serving the needy. Catholic Charities is proud to be a partner agency.

St. Thomas More parishioners polish up agency



Arcadia--A total of 15 volunteers from St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota spent a day recently putting some polish on the offices of Catholic Charities of DeSoto County. The volunteers cleaned up the grounds and gutters, striped the parking lot, and painted the front porch. The people of St. Thomas More Parish have been devoted and long-time supporters of the agency that provides assistance to the rural poor in Arcadia and its surrounding communities. Catholic Charities much appreciates the dedication and service of its volunteers!


Despite obstacles Catholic Charities employee thrives  

Catholic Charities employee Yuriy Vasilkevich is a very accomplished person. He immigrated to America from the Ukraine eight years ago and quickly found work as a custodian. He subsequently learned to speak English in addition to his Russian and Ukrainian languages, obtained a professional job, became a United States citizen, and even earned a bachelor's degree. However, he did all this despite the fact that he is deaf and can only read lips.


Vasilkevich has been deaf since he was an infant. Growing up in the Ukraine, his mother refused to let him learn sign language and taught him to read lips and to speak. "My mother wanted me to be a person who could talk and communicate with anyone," said Vasilkevich. "She taught me oral language. It was not easy for her as there were no special programs to help me in the Soviet Union at that time. I was the first deaf person in the Ukraine to speak."


Eagle Scout brings beauty to program





Venice--Eagle Scout Candidate Nicholas Nocera of Troop 50 added some natural beauty to the grounds of Our Mother's House of Catholic Charities through his Eagle Scout Project. Nocera built a landscape box, a butterfly garden, and a vegetable and herb garden at the facility. Our Mother's House is a residential program for mothers and their children who are at risk of becoming homeless and provides services that assist them to become self-sufficient. The children will tend the gardens as part of their Head Start classes.

Nocera obtained donations from Trent Culleny Landscape Contractor, Big Earth Landscape Supply, The Home Depot, LaGasse Plumbing, and Jon F. Swift for materials and equipment needed to complete the project. "The part of the project that I liked best was the feeling of transforming all the hard work, pre-planning, and labor into such a wonderful finished product," said Nocera.


Family provides good option for low-income residents 


Arcadia--After decades of hard labor as a farm worker in DeSoto County, Fidel Arias was finally able to provide his wife and six children with a safe and comfortable home.  

Five years ago, through a partnership with the Outreach Committee of St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota, the Florida West Coast Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers, and Catholic Charities Housing a home was built, furnished and given to the Arias family.

Through the Catholic Charities Housing Program, the home has been used as a model to show other low-income families a viable and affordable alternative to unsafe, dilapidated mobile homes and trailers. The home also is hurricane resistant and energy efficient.

Read more..


Annual Christmas program provides gifts to children 



Venice--The annual Venice Bike Giveaway has been providing Christmas gifts to Catholic Charities clients since its inaugural year 15 years ago. This holiday season, 20 children from nine families of the Refugee Resettlement and Financial Assistance Programs of Catholic Charities received a new bicycle and helmet, a $10 gift, and a lunch at the holiday party held at Epiphany Cathedral. The special event traditionally begins with Santa arriving via helicopter. The annual giveaway is sponsored by the Venice Police Department, the Sarasota County Sheriffs Department, Challenger Baseball and private donors.


Hundreds of families receive food baskets 

Collier County--Volunteers and donors of Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities and students of the Ave Maria Law School came together to provide and distribute 575 needy families Thanksgiving food baskets.


The food was distributed to clients of the Catholic Charities program located in Immokalee along with clients of other local agencies such as Immokalee Housing and Family Services, RCMA, the  Roberto Center, Bromelia Elderly Care, Children's Medical Services, and Healthy Start. Baskets also were delivered to migrant farm worker camps.


The Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities in Naples also provided Thanksgiving food baskets to 205 low-income families with the support from St. John Neumann High School, St. Ann Parish, St. William Parish, St. Finbarr Parish, and the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. serves the ten-county area of Southwest Florida.