Catholic Charities E-News
Serving Southwest Florida 
In This Issue
Book Party for Preschoolers
Short Term Rental Assistance Program
10th Annual Charity Golf Classic
First Time Homebuyer Class
Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon
Positive Youth Development Summer Camp
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 Spring 2013
Greetings!  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.

Give the gift of a mother's love    

Honor your mother this Mother's Day with a gift that will help homeless mothers and their children. Our Mother's House of Catholic Charities provides a safe environment for residents to achieve increased self-sufficiency through education, vocational training, and personal growth.

You can give a gift in honor or in memory of your mother, daughter, sister, friend or someone who is "like a mother" to you. We will send a Mother's Day card to your loved one. A mother's love can change the world...You can help a needy mother succeed!

Click HERE for more information.

Book party engages young minds

Students at St. Martha's Early Learning Center show off their new books. 


Sarasota--The local chapter of the Christ Child Society hosted a Book Party for the young students attending St. Martha's Early Learning Center of Catholic Charities. Each child was given a new book called "Blow Me a Kiss" by Karen Collum and Serena Geddes.


Kay Gibbons, founder of the local chapter, said this was the third year to have the party which is always scheduled around the birthday of the Christ Child Society Founder Mary Virginia Merrick. "Literacy and education is a priority of the society," Gibbons said. "Education is the answer to poverty."


Roseann Yanis, a member of the society and former school teacher, organizes the Book Party every year. "I chose this book because I thought it sent a good message that you can make someone's day with a simple kind gesture."


Catering to low-income families, St. Martha's Early Learning Center prepares preschoolers for kindergarten. The center teaches essential reading, writing, math and computer skills which are vital for success in elementary school. The center has a Scholarship Fund for students who cannot afford the tuition. Anyone interested in donating to the fund can call 941-366-1395.


Rental assistance program continues through grants

Naples--Catholic Charities of Collier County received a grant from both the Community Foundation of Collier County and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Collier County Housing, Human and Veteran Services Department (HHVS) to provide rental assistance to people who are under imminent risk of homelessness.


"The demand for the assistance to thwart homelessness in Collier County has not subsided," said Armando Galella, Director of Catholic Charities of Collier County. "We will continue to provide both rental and utility assistance at the Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities in East Naples and Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee," he said.


A $40,000 grant was awarded from the Community Foundation and monies in the amount of $62,490 was given from the HUD Emergency Solutions Grants Program through HHVS. The purpose of the Short Term Rental Assistance Program of Catholic Charities is to assist individuals and families to quickly regain stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis or homelessness.


According to the October 2012 report from the Collier County 211 information and referral service, 43% of the problem/needs callers were looking for help with paying their rent or utilities. These calls were three times as many as the next requested service.


The economy and housing market may be recovering in Collier County, but the plight of poverty still exists, Galella said. "Because of these new grants, Catholic Charities is grateful to be able to continue to provide these important services to the community," he said. 


For more information, please call Catholic Charities of Collier County at 239-455-2655.


Golf Classic benefits reading and mentoring programs    
Brittney, a student in the AFCAAM Youth Mentoring Program, participated in the 10th Annual Charity Golf Classic. 

Fort Myers--The 10th Annual Charity Golf Classic for the African Caribbean American Center (AFCAAM) of Catholic Charities was held recently at the Forest Country Club. Proceeds benefited the After School Reading Programs and the Youth Mentoring Programs offered at the center. 

About 90 golfers participated in the fundraiser and one, Marianne Witzel, scored a hole-in-one. Students from the Youth Mentoring Program also played in the tournament. Forest Country Club Golf Pro Bill Harley sponsored a free golf clinic prior to the event for the youths.

AFCAAM helps at-risk students in the Dunbar and Harlem Heights neighborhoods with reading and mentoring services to increase academic performance, self-confidence, and emotional development along with inspiring them to be life long learners and people of service to their community. For more information, please call 239-461-0233.

Grant supports First Time Homebuyer Class

Catholic Charities of Sarasota and Manatee Counties Director Jacquie Crombie (left) accepts a grant check from Manatee Community Foundation Board Member Chuck Slater. 

Bradenton--Catholic Charities of Manatee County was awarded a grant for $2,500 from the Manatee Community Foundation for the First Time Homebuyer Class. The eight hour class is offered once a month in both English and Spanish.

The cost of the class is free and students learn: 1) Steps to Successful Home Ownership/Fair Housing; 2) A Winning Credit History/The Loan Process; 3) Choosing a Realtor/Shopping for a Home; and 4) Home Ownership and Responsibilities. Upon completion, students receive a certificate that will assist them in obtaining down payment and closing costs offered in a form of grants or bond monies through lenders, or Manatee/Sarasota or State of Florida housing programs.

Catholic Charities of Manatee County also offers Foreclosure Prevention Counseling to homeowners that have suffered a financial hardship. Certified counselors provide alternatives to foreclosure of property. For more information, please call 941-714-7829. 

Volunteers appreciated for many hours of service  


Bethesda House of Catholic Charities Director Sandy Gallagher (center, standing) greets volunteers at an appreciation luncheon.

Sarasota--Bethesda House of Catholic Charities held a luncheon recently to thank volunteers for their vital contributions to the program. A total of 53 volunteers worked 5,092 hours in 2012 with an average of 424 hours a month. The majority of the volunteers work in the food pantry while a few others offer service in the office or clothing room or for the annual fundraiser Mardi Gras Madness.

"We give out and take in 12,800 pounds of food every month," said Bethesda House Director Sandy Gallagher to the volunteers. "You move about 25,000 pounds of food every month. No wonder you are tired!"

The lively group of volunteers enjoyed a meal and shared stories and were treated to a slide show of pictures showcasing all of their hard work over the past year.

Bethesda House of Catholic Charities is a community center
that provides support services for the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of individuals suffering from the HIV/AIDS disease with compassion and respect. For more information, please call 941-366-1886.   

Summer campers need your help! 

Bonita Springs--Catholic Charities of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties will be providing the Positive Youth Development Summer Program to needy children in both Fort Myers and Bonita Springs during June and July. The fees paid by parents for one child to participate is $160 for eight weeks of camp, however the actual cost per child is $400. The price difference is provided by generous donations from our supporters. You can help too!

The following are a few ways you can provide the children with special outings during summer camp:

  • Bowland Bowling Lanes ~ $350  

  • Community Swimming Pool ~ $105

  • Dollar Movie Days ~ $75

  • Sun-N-Fun Water Park ~ $400
  • Naples Zoo and Botanical Gardens ~ $600
  • King Richards Fun Park ~ $600  
  • Ice Cream Shop ~ $100

Or, you can sponsor a child for the summer. If you are interested in donating to the Positive Youth Development Summer Program, please call Catholic Charities of Bonita Springs at 239-390-2928.  


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