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Serving Southwest Florida 
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 Spring 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.


Annual Report
Catholic Charities served
40,602 people in 2010

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice helped 40,602 people last year through a variety of programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida.

Your vital support enabled Catholic Charities to assist the most vulnerable and disadvantaged within your community. Thank you for your partnership in our mission to serve those in need.

Please click HERE to read the 2010 Annual Report.


Catholic Charities USA honors Naples volunteer


Naples--Judith Wilson Sullivan was bestowed the Centennial Medal from Catholic Charities USA at the 26th Annual Emerald Ball on March 19 at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort. The honor, a complete surprise to Mrs. Sullivan (photo right), was given to her by Jean Beil (photo left), senior vice president for programs and services of Catholic Charities USA, and Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice (photo center). Mrs. Sullivan and her husband, Joseph, also were honored with the James A. McTague Humanitarian Award for decades of service to Catholic Charities of Collier County.

Beil traveled from Washington, D.C. to present the prestigious Centennial Medal, which is given to individuals across the country for demonstrating a lasting impact on Catholic Charities. Mrs. Sullivan, a resident of Naples, is a long-time volunteer of Catholic Charities. She is the founder of the Emerald Ball which benefits the programs and services of Catholic Charities of Collier County.


Doctors For Charity fundraiser helps HIV/AIDS services

Sarasota--Mardi Gras was the theme of the second annual Doctors For Charity event benefiting Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS services in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The dinner dance was held at the University Park Country Club and included a silent auction showcasing about 40 unique items...all of which were purchased by patrons.

Honorary Chairperson Dr. Vilma Vega addressed attendees and provided important information about HIV/AIDS and the work of Bethesda House and Casa San Jose, both programs of Catholic Charities. Event Committee Member Roseann Hartwick also spoke about her personal experience of losing her brother to HIV/AIDS.

"Everybody had a great time with the Mardi Gras atmosphere," said Bethesda House Program Director Sandy Gallagher (photo right, with Rev. Joseph Connolly and Rosemary Winder Strange). "But people also learned about what we do for people suffering with HIV. A real awareness happened for those in attendance."


Boots and Bandannas event sees record attendance 




Lake Suzy--More than 200 people attended the ninth annual Boots and Bandannas Dinner Dance at the Kingsway Country Club to support the programs and services of Catholic Charities of DeSoto County.


Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the guest of honor and welcomed patrons outfitted in western garb to an evening featuring silent and live auctions and lively dancing. Signature items in the auctions included authentic jewelry from New Mexico, a 40-pound chocolate basket, and a hand-made quilt from the Quilters of St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota.


"This event is our signature fundraiser," said Program Director Andy Herigodt. "It's success is critical to our ability to provide the breadth of services that we offer. Additionally, it serves as a way to bring together many of our most dedicated supporters to celebrate. We were happy to have several first time attendees this year."



Human trafficking program continues to grow  


Fort Myers--For more than two years, Catholic Charities of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties, in partnership with the Lee County Sheriffs' Department and Florida Gulf Coast University, has served victims of human trafficking whether it is through indentured servitude for labor or sexual slavery.


For example, Tia was a young female who was lured away from a poor village in Central America with stories of fame and fortune in the United States. Unfortunately she was enslaved as a maid servant and forced into prostitution and became pregnant. Tia's nightmare ended when she entered the Human Trafficking Program of Catholic Charities. Tia worked hard with her case manager to achieve many goals for healing and obtaining a healthy lifestyle. She strived to learn to speak English and as a result gained employment. Because of her great efforts, Tia and her young son are now self sufficient and enjoying their independence with pride and dignity.



Community Foundation grant  buys new computers





Sarasota--A grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has afforded Bethesda House of Catholic Charities the ability to purchase three new laptop computers and one desktop computer.


"The new computers has changed the world for us here at Bethesda House," said Sandy Gallagher, program director. "Our clients typically do not have access to a computer and now can come here (photo) to use one to get food stamp applications, search for jobs, research their medical condition, email family members as many of them are transient or homeless, make appointments, or find housing," she said.


Bethesda House is a community drop in center for individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The program provides a weekly food pantry, daily breakfast and lunch, laundry and shower facilities, case management, linkage to medical services, counseling, assistance with housing and employment, literacy and ESL tutoring, and more. The client population has grown from 147 two years ago to 390 today. In addition, 500 family members and friends of clients receive assistance. Bethesda House distributes 9,500 pounds of food each month.


Hurricane season brings need for volunteers 


The Disaster Amateur Radio Network (DARN) of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Disaster Response Team is looking for volunteer FCC licensed radio operators to help run six fully equipped UHF/VHF radio stations located throughout Southwest Florida along with an in-resident and mobile radio group.

DARN is in need of volunteers who are willing to serve their community in the immediate aftermath of a disaster such as a hurricane. There are no dues or meetings to attend. The network meets on the air once each month as a measuring tool to confirm reliability of its volunteers, dependability of the radio equipment, and the availability of repeater frequencies.

DARN is in its eighth year as a network and has over 20 volunteers. Anyone interested who is qualified or willing to take the steps to become a licensed amateur radio operator, please contact Bob Sullenberger by phone at 941-497-5422 or email at


AARP video features Guadalupe Social Services 

Immokalee--The American Association of Retired Persons, AARP, advocacy campaign to bring about awareness of hunger in the United States features Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities and its mission to help feed and support the migrant farm workers in the community.


In Immokalee many older workers who have harvested produce for decades now do not have enough to eat. The crew leaders prefer to hire younger, stronger workers. The plight of these older workers is featured in a video called "Hunger in America: A Harvest Out of Reach."


Click HERE to watch the video.


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