Catholic Charities E-News
Serving Southwest Florida 
In This Issue
Stellar Reading Program
Renewed Hope for Rural Poor
Lakewood Ranch Community Fund
Council of Hispanic Business Professionals
Click and Give
Hugs for the Homeless
Tax Assistance Program
Breakfast Shows Off Program
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 Fall 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...
10th Annual Christmas Appeal

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice is proud to sponsor the 10th Annual Christmas Appeal to provide help and create hope for individuals and families who come to us for assistance. The Christmas Appeal takes place during December 2011 and January 2012 and needs your support to serve the most vulnerable persons in our community. This year's goal is to raise $450,000.

Your gift provides funding for the many Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida. Your generosity enables us to assist those seeking help all year long. We are grateful to all of you for your on-going support. Thank you for helping your neighbors in need.


Click HERE to donate online.  

After School Reading Program recognized as "stellar"




Fort Myers--The After School Reading Program at the African Caribbean American Center of Catholic Charities (AFCAAM) has been called "stellar" by the Lee County Public School system and it has the statistics to back it up. For the third consecutive year, the program has shown a more than 90% improvement rate for enrolled students.


The program is offered at two locations with one site showing 99% of all students improved in their reading scores and the other indicating that 94% advanced in their skills. About 90 local children in grades kindergarten to fifth grade from 11 feeder schools in Lee County attend the After School Reading Program and receive about 300 extra hours of reading during the school year.



Agency offers community renewed hope 


Arcadia--As the economic climate continues to pose many challenges for the rural poor of DeSoto County, Catholic Charities staff here always is encouraged by the renewed hope families and individuals receive after seeking out assistance. The agency offers a food pantry, case management, financial assistance, citizenship services, and after school tutoring for at-risk students.


"Children who have struggled in school are eager to participate and wear a smile of self-assurance after they attend our after school program," said Andrea Herigodt, Director of Catholic Charities of DeSoto County. People who experience financial hardships feel as they are given the opportunity to start over, and those who are new to this country are proud to become citizens and reunite with their families, Herigodt said.


Read more... 

Our Mother's House receives grant for counseling  




Venice--Our Mother's House of Catholic Charities received a grant from the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation to be used for mental health counseling services. Program Director Joyce Scott (right) attended the award reception on October 21 where she accepted the grant from community fund board member Diane Brune (left).


The $3,500 award will provide the mothers that reside at Our Mother's House with individual and group counseling with an emphasis on dealing with the stress and anxiety that often is part of being a single parent. The mothers will receive a 12-week counseling series from mental health specialist Dr. Myra McPherson.


Read more... 

Gala benefits education program for women   



Naples--The third annual Gala Hispanos Unidos, a fundraiser sponsored by the Council of Hispanic Business Professionals (CHBP), benefited the School On Wheels Program of Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities of Collier County. About 150 people attended the event held on October 8 at the Kensington Golf and Country Club. The CHBP is a professional organization affiliated with the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.


Ninfa Drago (left), Director of Guadalupe Social Services, and Flora Tano (right), Catholic Volunteer of America and Director of School On Wheels, addressed attendees of the gala with information about the program. School On Wheels provides functionally illiterate and isolated women in rural Immokalee with one-on-one English tutoring. Classes take place in the home and are tailored to the woman's needs. The program motto is: "When you teach the mother, you teach the family." Female volunteers are always needed. For more information, please call 239-657-6242.


A simple way to provide basic necessities

Every day, Catholic Charities programs are confronted with a shortage of basic items needed by clients such as toilet paper, hygiene products, diapers, laundry detergent and food. Providing these necessities is so important to help our clients  maintain their human dignity. You can help!


Visit our Catholic Charities web site and click on the Click and Give logo and you will find a list of our Catholic Charities programs in need of necessities. Click on a program and you will be directed to their Wish List on the Amazon web site. Purchase the items you want to donate and they will be sent directly to the Catholic Charities program.


A simple way to provide help to those who need it most!


Click HERE to visit Click and Give.



Hugs for Homeless program helps Catholic Charities



Venice--The Council of Catholic Women (CCW) of the Diocese of Venice participated in a state-wide program called Hugs for the Homeless which raised $35,000 for the cause. Each of the CCW councils of the seven Florida dioceses split the contributions and allocated their portion to a local organization.


Venice Diocese Council of Catholic Women President Dolores Garvis (left) and CCW board member Ana Romillo (center) recently presented a check for $5,095 to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice CEO Peter Routsis-Arroyo (right). The donation will be used for Catholic Charities programs which assist homeless clients and prevent homelessness in Southwest Florida. Garvis said the CCW chose the project after learning that more than 85,000 people are homeless in the state of Florida.



Volunteers needed for income tax assistance program 


Immokalee--Volunteers are needed for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a collaborative effort between Catholic Charities of Collier County, the Legal Aid Society of Collier County, Redlands Christian Migrant Association and the Internal Revenue Service.


"VITA volunteers prepare simple federal tax returns for people whose incomes are $50,000 or less. Anyone can volunteer for this program. You do not need any accounting experience," said Karynn Cavero, Unit Head of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic of the Legal Aid Society of Collier County. Last year the program assisted 47 families who received more than $60,000 in tax returns.


Training is provided and volunteers will be asked to donate four to six hours a week during February and March helping clients at Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee. For more information contact Ninfa Drago at 239-657-6242 or email


Breakfast event shows off program


Venice--Our Mother's House of Catholic Charities hosted a breakfast on October 26 for persons interested in learning more about the program, including Dotty Viera (photo: left to right), Caroline Buck and Dorothy Colonnese. About 50 people attended the event held at the Venice Yacht Club.

Catholic Charities staff, community partner Children First, and mothers and children from the program all participated in the presentation. Lisa Thomas, a successful former client of Our Mother's House said to attendees, "My daughter and I were in a very desperate situation. I am so grateful to Our Mother's House. It truly made me who I am today."

Our Mother's House is a residential program committed to helping homeless mothers and their children attain self-sufficiency through education, vocational training and personal growth. For more information, please call 941-485-6264.

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