Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lowcountry and Carter May Home Employee Introductions

Our final offices are located in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and in Charleston.

The Lowcountry regional office operates Our Lady’s Pantry, a food pantry that provides assistance to individuals primarily in Beaufort and surrounding counties. Our Lady’s Pantry is managed by Pam Rice. To learn more about this ministry, please check out our website.

Pam has been working for Catholic Charities for over a year. When she first began working for Catholic Charities, Pam split her time between ministries in the Lowcountry and other ministries of the Diocese. She began working full time with Our Lady’s Pantry this summer. In her free time, Pam likes to garden, dance, travel, and cook. For Pam, one of the best things about working for Catholic Charities is that it allows her to do the work she loves while also involving her faith. She welcomes any opportunities to pray with clients, especially when they share their lives and the difficulties they are having.

Janine, a staff member from another department, and Pam at a recent employee event.

In addition to the Coastal Catholic Charities office, Charleston is also home to the Carter May Home-St. Joseph Residence assisted living facility for the elderly. To learn more about this residence, please visit our website.

Administrator Janine Bauder began working with Catholic Charities 18 years ago at the Carter May Home-St. Joseph Residence. She loves her job, especially when she is able to help families and seniors find the resources and care that they need. She also likes her job because she is able to get to know the seniors living in this home and find ways to help them feel significant. It is important for her that the seniors living in this home feel loved and know that they are an important part of the community. When she is not working, Janine enjoys singing in her church choir, reading, baking, and gardening.

We hope you enjoyed this series and got to know our staff a little better! 
Check back soon to learn about some of their favorite stories and experiences from 2012!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Emmanuel, God With Us

"This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means “God with us”)."

                  -Matthew 1:18-23

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

                “Glory to God in the highest heaven 
                         and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived."

                      -Luke 2:1-21

Monday, December 24, 2012

Immigration Employee Introductions

One of our fastest growing programs is Immigration legal services. Emily Guerrero oversees a team of attorneys and immigration specialists who have offices throughout South Carolina. Since the passage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act, our Offices of Immigration Services have helped hundreds of people apply for temporary legal status and work authorization. We also opened two new Offices of Immigration Services this year, one in the Piedmont region and one in the Lowcountry. To learn more about the work of these offices and hear from Emily about their experiences, please visit past posts. You can also learn more about the programs, how to donate, and how to get involved on our website.

Emily has worked in the Catholic Charities Office of Immigration Services for 8 years. Her job requires her to work with a variety of people facing difficult situations. She is grateful for the opportunity to help these people and their families find the positive in negative situations. When she is not working with clients and overseeing the Immigration offices, Emily likes to run, bike, cook, and spend time with her children.

Blenda Suarez began working with Catholic Charities in 2011. When she first began working here, she was a member of the team in the Piedmont office. Recently Blenda began working in the newly opened Office of Immigration Services in Berea, in the Piedmont area. She enjoys crafting, scrap-booking  singing, and taking trips with her family.

Vanessa, Blenda, Emily, and Mily at a recent employee meeting.

In addition to our regional office and Berea Office of Immigration Services, the Piedmont region is also home to the Greenville Office of Immigration Services. Attorney Vanessa Garcia operates this office and has been with Catholic Charities since last fall.

When the Hilton Head Office of Immigration Services opened, we gained another wonderful staff member. Immigration Specialist Mily Choy, who manages this office, joined our team this spring.

The final member of the Immigration staff is Andrea Penafiel. Andrea is an Immigration Specialist and works in the office in Mt. Pleasant with Emily. Andrea began working with Catholic Charities Office of Immigration Services in 2006.

Blenda, Emily, Mily, Andrea, and Vanessa at an employee appreciation lunch.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Coastal Employee Introductions

The Coastal office is located in North Charleston and is operated by Helen O’Leary and Lee Picciuto-Fursdon. This office primarily meets the needs of individuals and families in Charleston and the surrounding counties. Programs are offered providing medical, dental, and food assistance as well as care for the elderly.

Helen, who joined Catholic Charities in 2005, enjoys going for brisk walks, reading memoirs of spiritual leaders, cooking, gardening and traveling. Knowing that our programs give people hope and empowerment as well as the aid they need gives Helen a great feeling of accomplishment. She enjoys being able to see the results of the work of Catholic Charities as lives are changed each day and being able to see these changes through an agency that is Christ centered.

Lee joined our team this year. She likes to spend her time reading, writing, baking, doing yoga, and traveling. When she is not at work, Lee also likes to visit coffeehouses in search of the perfect one to relax at! She enjoys the variety of clients she encounters each day and the challenges each case brings.

Helen and Lee at a recent staff event

If you are interested in learning more about Coastal Catholic Charities, donating, or volunteering, please visit our website. This series will continue on Monday when we feature the some of the Immigration staff members. Past posts from this series are available here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pee Dee Employee Introductions

The Pee Dee office provides a variety of services to meet the needs of their local clients. To learn more about the Pee Dee office, please visit our website here.

Two of the three members of the team in the Pee Dee office.

Trisha Walker has worked with Catholic Charities for 5 years. She loves working here and spending time working with clients. Trisha enjoys getting to know the clients that come in, helping them work through set-backs, and sharing in their successes. Trisha also enjoys spending time with her daughter, caring for her elderly father, and organizing.

Carol Buschholz started working at Catholic Charities in 2005. She enjoys working with clients that come into the office and helping people get their GED’s. When she is not working, Carol enjoys reading, crocheting, and doing crewel embroidery.

Check back in on Saturday to meet our staff members in the Coastal office. If you've missed the beginning of this series, you can catch up here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Piedmont Employee Introductions

The Upstate of South Carolina is served by our Piedmont office. Deacon Gabriel Cuervo, Karl Rogozenski, and Mayra Trujillo work in this office. They primarily work with the elderly and low-income individuals in need of financial, dental, and medical assistance. Learn more about this office, how to donate, and how to get involved in their ministries here.

Deacon Gabriel is the Piedmont Regional Coordinator and recently celebrated 5 years with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston. His hobbies include reading and serving his ministries through the Catholic Church. One of his favorite things about this job is seeing the happiness on others when they receive help. He also appreciates the daily reminder that Jesus is always knocking at the door.

Deacon Gabriel at an employee appreciation event, being recognized his 5 years of service.

Mayra has worked in the Piedmont office for 4 years. She enjoys singing, reading and surfing the web when not at work. Mayra oversees the administrative day to day operations and also occasionally serves as a support staff member with some programs. She shared, “It’s very hard, but at the same time a very rewarding experience, to see everything coming together. It’s wonderful to be part of a team that works hard to accomplish a mission, to fulfill a vision, and go the extra mile to make the people that knock at our doors feel loved and cared for.”

The final member of the Piedmont staff is Karl. He works primarily with seniors in the Upstate and has been with Catholic Charities for 5 months. When he is not working, Karl enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, volunteering, traveling, golfing, and taking day trips to the mountains. For Karl, one of the best things about his job is that he gets to work with clients that he loves. He believes that the senior community is a forgotten commodity that needs care and support and is glad to be able to help these individuals. Karl enjoys getting to know the seniors and volunteers and hearing their stories.

Piedmont office staff members and others at a recent employee event

We’ll see you tomorrow as we introduce our employees in the Pee Dee office!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Midlands Employee Introductions

The Midlands office primarily serves 17 counties in South Carolina and is located in our capital city. Employees Mary Trivisonno and Cathy Hood-Pittenger mostly work with homeless individuals in the Midlands. You can learn more about their ministries, read client stories and get to know their volunteers here.

Mary has been with Catholic Charities for more than 8 years. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, biking, and going to the lake as much as possible. She enjoys her job because it gives her the opportunity to work with others in Columbia who also care about the needs of the less fortunate and also allows her to engage parishes in the work being done at Catholic Charities. It is also very rewarding for her to see the community at large recognize the important role the Catholic Church has in helping those in need.

Cathy recently celebrated 7 years with Catholic Charities. She enjoys her job because it allows her to minister to fellow brothers and sisters in need while working with wonderful people. Outside of working at Catholic Charities, Cathy enjoys participating in church activities, reading, exercising, and spending time with her family.

Cathy and Mary as a recent staff meeting

If you are interested in donating to, volunteering at, or learning more about our Midlands office, please visit our website here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Employee Series Kick-off!

December is a wonderful time of the year, however we confess that sometimes we get caught up in the busyness of the season- parties to attend, gifts to buy, family and friends to visit, yummy foods to make, and more! It’s easy to get distracted and forget to reflect on what a great year it has been.

2012 has been a wonderful year here at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston, Inc. We have added members to our team, opened new offices, launched programs, and helped people all over the state. We’re very proud of our wonderful staff members, who so diligently work to help the people coming into their offices each day. We also can’t rave enough about our stellar volunteers that faithfully serve at their local offices. Finally, we’re grateful to every person who has donated to Catholic Charities this year, allowing us to continue in our mission of providing care and services to improve the lives of South Carolinians in need. We could not survive and flourish as we have if any of these important groups were removed from the picture.

Staff members at a recent event.

In recent months you have heard from our volunteers and clients. Our volunteers shared about themselves and why they have chosen to serve at Catholic Charities, while clients shared about the difference Catholic Charities has made in their lives. We would now like to introduce you to the people that are on the ground each day, working to change lives by loving, serving, and teaching. Over the next few weeks we are bringing you posts that introduce you to our wonderful staff members.

Staff members at a recent event.

Check back in Monday for the first post, spotlighting our Midlands office!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent Penance Schedule in Charleston

If you are in the Charleston area and looking for a parish that will be holding a Penance Service this month, you've come to the right place!

All services will be held at 7:00.

December 10- Immaculate Conception in Goose Creek

December 12- St. Theresa the Little Flower in Summerville

December 13- Christ Our King in Mt. Pleasant
                     St. John the Beloved in Summerville
                     St. Joseph in Charleston

December 14- St. Thomas the Apostle in North Charleston

December 17- Divine Redeemer in Hanahan

December 19- St. Benedict in Mt. Pleasant

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and Blessed Sacrament Church will not be having one this Advent. Parish information may be found here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Counting Our Blessings

We asked our staff to share some of the things they're most thankful for this year. This is what they told us:

"I am thankful for my family and having the opportunity to see the world through my children's eyes. They see things in a fresh and simple way that reminds me to stay in the moment and enjoy every little blessing."-E, Immigration

"I'm most thankful for my family"- M, Midlands

"I have so much to be thankful for this year. God has blessed me with a wonderful family and awesome friends. He's also given me this job with Catholic Charities, where I can incorporate my faith into my work. This year has been full of new adventures and changes. I've gotten to travel and make countless memories with my family members and friends. It's been a blessed year!"- K, Central office

"This Thanksgiving I am extremely thankful that I will have 3 of my 8 grandchildren with me. I haven't seen one of them in 8 years. It is going to be wonderful. Thanks be to God!"-C, Pee Dee office

"I am very thankful for the opportunity to work for Catholic Charities and minister to my fellow brothers and sisters in need. An extra blessing is being able to work with Mary, the best co-worker anyone could ask for!"-C, Midlands office

"I am thankful for the people in my life. I have an amazing family and wonderful friends. I am also thankful and blessed to work for a faith based organization. I have great relationships with my coworkers and I feel like our belief in God and our ability to be open about it puts us on a whole different level than other businesses."- J, Central office

Thanks for sharing, everyone! We're very thankful for all of our employees and their hard work. Catholic Charities has been blessed with some wonderful people who are committed to our mission of serving the needy.

Most of our employees with Bishop Guglielmmone at a recent employee appreciation event

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pee Dee Office Update

As you may know, the Pee Dee Office of Catholic Charities has temporarily closed. We are moving as quickly as possible to seek a new location and will keep you informed of the progress on this very positive project. At this time, we ask for everyone's continued prayers and support as we proceed. We would also like to extend a huge thank-you to the parishes of the Pee Dee who are supporting us during this time of transition, specifically those in Horry County who have allowed us to work out of their locations as needed. You have made this challenging time of growth far easier.

The strategic planning process underway within Catholic Charities throughout the Diocese requires that we examine a number of parameters being used to deliver services to those in need. One consistent red flag has been that we are not available in some locations that would maximize our abilities to increase both the number and quality of services. Therefore, it is our intention to do an in depth analysis of the entire Pee Dee region and choose a location that will allow us to expand in the very best area.

Pee Dee clients and volunteers at a parish that has allowed us to temporarily use their facilities.

These clients and volunteers are participating in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. It is a USDA food and nutrition program administered by the South Carolina Department of Human Services (SCDHS). Through this program, senior citizens receive monthly nutritious food in packages, nutrition and health information.

If you would like to know what assistance the Pee Dee office is currently offering, please call 843-234-1999 and leave a message. To donate to the Pee Dee office, please visit our website here.

Thank you all for your prayers and support and we hope to have exciting news soon about our next steps!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Clean of Heart Stories- Part 4

Over the past week we have shared Clean of Heart client stories. Today we will conclude this spotlight series. To read earlier posts containing client stories or to read what our volunteers said about serving at Clean of Heart, please go here.

“I've been coming to Clean of Heart for 5 glorious months! My friend told me about Clean of Heart. These are the most caring, loving, and truly unselfish people I have met while being homeless. They have truly lifted my spirits and state of mind.”

“I found out about Clean of Heart online. I've been coming for 19 months since it first opened. Even if I just get cleaned up once a week that’s a big help to me.”

Clean of Heart is located in Columbia, SC and offers showers and laundry services to homeless individuals, like this client, in the Midlands area.

“I started coming to Clean of Heart about 3 months ago. I heard about it through word of mouth. It feels good to be clean and have clean clothes to wear. Thanks!”

Thanks for following along with these stories! If you are interested in volunteering or donating to Clean of Heart or would like to learn more about Clean of Heart and other Catholic Charities ministries, please visit our website here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Clean of Heart Stories- Part 3

Today we continue our Clean of Heart client stories. Clean of Heart is located in Columbia, SC and provides laundry and shower services to the homeless. To catch up and read the previous posts of client stories or to read Clean of Heart volunteer stories, please go here. If you would like to learn more about this ministry opportunity or donating your time or resources, please visit our website here.

“I stopped by a church for clothes and hygiene kits and they told me about Clean of Heart. I've been coming for 17 months now. It has been one of the best things that has happened to me since I started living on the street. It is such a joy to stop here and clean up and the kindness from the helpers is such a blessing.”

“I've been coming to the Catholic Charities Clothing Closet for a while. They told me about Clean of Heart opening and I've been coming since then. It’s nice to have clean clothes to wear.”

Clean of Heart clients enjoying a break from the Columbia heat while their clothes get cleaned.

“I have been in Columbia for 3 years now and even though the clothing give away has been a very good program, we can’t always get our size. The laundry facility allows us to wash the clothes that we like and wear the most. It is a luxury as well as a necessity. We are truly grateful for all that you have done for us. Thank you.”

We’ll be back tomorrow to hear the last of the Clean of Heart client stories!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Clean of Heart Stories- Part 2

On Wednesday we shared what some of the Clean of Heart clients had to say about their experiences in this program. The post may be found here. Today we bring you stories from more of our Clean of Heart Clients. To learn more about Clean of Heart and how you can donate or volunteer to this wonderful program, please go here.

“I heard about Clean of Heart from St. Peter's and started coming 4 months ago. Clean clothes and shower are a blessing. Oh yeah, and the good coffee and snacks!”

Clean of Heart clients enjoying coffee and conversation while their clothes are being washed.

“I stopped by a Catholic Church in downtown Columbia to get help with clothing. Someone told me what they were planning to do so I signed up. I have been coming for 18 months since it opened. I am thankful for the help they have been to me. Not just the help with laundry but also the Christian witness to me and how Clean of Heart shows compassion on the poor. Through them I see the true character of Christ and also how we should treat each other. Since I've been coming to Clean of Heart I've come back to Christ. I know that God put these folks into my life for a reason and I’ll be forever grateful.”

“I've been coming to Clean of Heart for 2 months. I heard about it from a friend. It’s wonderful and the people are nice and loving.”

Don’t forget to check back on Monday for more client stories!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Clean of Heart Stories- Part 1

We recently featured stories from some of our Clean of Heart volunteers. Clean of Heart is a Columbia, SC, ministry that exists to provide laundry services and showers to the homeless population. Over the next few days we are featuring stories from some of the Clean of Heart clients. If you would like to learn more about donating your time or resources to this wonderful program, please visit our website here. To hear from our volunteers, you may read past blog posts here.

“I have been coming to Clean of Heart for ten months and first heard about it from a sponsoring church. Coming here has given me hope that there are still a few people left who care. It’s nice to, at least, have the ‘outside of the cup’ clean.”

Clean of Heart not only gives clients a chance to shower and get clean clothes but also lets volunteers and clients get to know one another.

“I saw a sign on a church door about 13 months ago about Clean of Heart. I’m much happier now. I love having clean clothes.”

 “I found out about this program from a MACH pamphlet. I have been coming for 4 months now. Coming to Clean of Hear has helped me maintain dignity in difficult circumstances. You get dirty sleeping outside. I mean ‘dirt’ dirty. That is why people on the street look rough. By washing regularly I don’t have to look or feel dirty. I haven’t become hopeless like so many on the street. Clean of Heart saved me from despair.”

Come back tomorrow to hear more stories from Clean of Heart clients!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Immigration Series- Part 4

Over the past week we have featured guest writer Emily Guerrero. Emily, Supervising Immigration Attorney with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston, has shared her experiences since the passage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Today we conclude this series as Emily tells us about the clinics she and her staff have held to help young immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” obtain temporary legal status and work authorization.

On the morning of my first clinic, in the quiet car ride there, I have to admit I teared up, thinking of this wonderful day, this opportunity to change people’s lives. I felt honored to be a part of it. Once there, the volunteers came through the doors, as did the immigrants, and the day was smooth and productive. At the end of the day, once the tables and chairs were put back into their rightful places, the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion was heavy.

The thankfulness and gratitude of the Dreamers carried us through the exhaustion. The sincere “Thank you’s” and hugs and “God bless you’s” were an addictive boost of positive energy. Many mothers rushed to embrace us, thanking us for giving their child a long-awaited chance to succeed, to go to college. Also, the volunteers had an eye-opening experience and were stunned by the tenacity, intelligence, and authenticity of the Dreamers. It was truly a way of bringing everyone together.

Staff members and volunteers working with Dreamers to complete the necessary legal forms.

All in all, we did seven group processing clinics across the state and served almost 400 people in preparing their Dreamers applications. We had many victories, made a lot of mistakes, and learned so much. We learned that even though we are a small program, we can accomplish so much. We can think outside of the box, we can partner with other agencies and people, and we can use the resources in our communities.
I am infinitely proud of my staff, who worked so hard to make these clinics happen. I am humbled by their diligence, their perseverance, their grace under unbelievable pressure. We have the confidence now to do anything, right after we take a very long break J. I encourage all of you to challenge yourselves, get out of your comfort zone, and know that your efforts do not have to be perfect. Think big, work hard, and the results will be life-changing, both for you and for the people you serve.

Volunteers working together to insure Dreamer's forms are properly filled out.

Thank you, Emily, for sharing about your staff, the clinics, and all your hard work. It has been wonderful to learn more about our Catholic Charities Immigration Offices and the services they provide. Also- a huge thanks goes out to to all our employees and volunteers for the countless hours they have put into the clinics and processing of the paperwork in recent months. We’re so proud of their hard work and for the Dreamers who have had the courage to chase after their dreams for a better future!

If you would like to learn more about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act or read the rest of this series, please click here. To learn more about Catholic Charities Immigration Offices, click here. Interested in donating your time or resources? Click here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Immigration Series- Part 3

Today we continue our series written by Emily Guerrero, Supervising Immigration Attorney for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston. Please join us as we learn more about how Emily and her staff are helping “Dreamers” apply for temporary lawful status and work authorization since the enactment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA).

The days and months passed, and we readied ourselves for the group processing clinics. Nights and weekends blurred together as we prepared the curriculum, recruited and trained volunteers, and drafted informational materials. Mily, Vanessa, and Blenda spent their weekends doing massive amounts of outreach, spreading the word about the Dreamers relief and how to apply. Weekdays, the phones rang until our ears bled, and potential Dreamers streamed in the doors and filled our waiting rooms. We begged for volunteers to help answer the phones. The workload was weighty, and the stress even crept into our beds, stealing sleep like a merciless thief.

Bright spots abounded as we trained volunteers in Charleston, Hilton Head, and Greenville. I used law students from the Charleston School of Law and was moved by their energy, their enthusiasm. Vanessa used students from Furman and partnered with Alianza Hispana, a local Hispanic advocacy group. Mily used volunteers from a local volunteer group. A handful of wonderful private immigration attorneys joined in our efforts. We were humbled by these volunteers, giving of their time and expertise solely for the joy of service.
We planned to do seven group processing clinics around the state. As the group processing clinics neared, we geared up our copy machines and copied our clinic materials until smoke rose up from the machines. The piles of materials and office supplies cluttered our already-cluttered offices. Finally, we were ready, and luckily, our good friends, adrenaline and caffeine, were coming to the clinics too.

Volunteers, staff and Dreamers working to complete the paperwork for temporary lawful status and work authorization.

Wow- it’s tiring just reading about all that you and your staff have done, Emily! We still desperately need volunteers in our legal services offices. If you are bilingual and interested in volunteering, please call 843-402-9115, ext. 15 or 45.

This series will continue on Monday, so be sure to check back at the blog to read more from Emily! If you would like to read past posts from this series or learn more about Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston’s response to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, please click here. To donate your time or money, please visit our website here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Immigration Series- Part 2

On Monday we introduced you to one of our wonderful employees, Emily Guerrero. Emily is an immigration attorney and oversees the Catholic Charities legal services offices. In recent months Emily and her staff have worked tirelessly to help young immigrants (“Dreamers”) apply for temporary lawful status and work authorization under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Back to you, Emily!

Preliminary estimates have shown that South Carolina has about 7500 Dreamers. We knew we needed to serve as many as possible in an efficient way. Our staff is small, comprised of five talented, wonderful women covering the entire state of South Carolina. Andrea is in Charleston and has a special Board of Immigration Appeals accreditation because of her five years of on-the-job experience and training background. Mily, an attorney in Peru, heads up the Hilton Head office and works so hard, I have to beg her to take a day off, to no avail. She started in April and bravely jumped right into the middle of the crazy pace of our offices.

Vanessa is our attorney in Greenville, and we thank God everyday for her snappy sense of humor. She attracts the messiest, strangest immigration issues, and she valiantly and unsuccessfully tries to stave off her stress level with baking, tennis, fishing, and knitting. Blenda, a caseworker in Greenville, is our resident legal expert, researching everything and able to answer questions like a seasoned immigration practitioner. And there’s me, with my palms sweating and my mind racing. How are we going to serve all of these young, deserving people?

On the same day that Obama introduced the Dreamers relief, we sketched our enthusiastic plan to do group processing clinics around the state. Our idea was to process groups of 50-60 immigrants at a time, helping them to fill out the forms and gather the necessary supporting documents. We would recruit volunteers! We would train them! We would do outreach! We would help hundreds of immigrants to file their petitions! We were all idealistic and starry-eyed, excited to be a part of history. Looking back, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into…

Staff and volunteers helping Dreamers during the Immigration clinics.

Check back Friday to learn more about the clinics our Immigration Offices have held to help Dreamers apply for their temporary lawful status and work authorization! If you would like to learn more about this Act and how Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston has responded, please visit previous blog posts here. To learn more about donating your money or time, please click here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Immigration Series- Part 1

The lives of thousands of young immigrants in the United States changed on July 15, 2012, when President Obama announced the passage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act. This act offers temporary lawful status and work authorization to young immigrants, frequently referred to as “Dreamers”. Emily Guerrero, Supervising Immigration Attorney, graciously volunteered to write a special guest series about how she and her staff have responded to assist the Dreamers of South Carolina since the passage of DACA was enacted, our legal services have processed paperwork for 400 Dreamers. Take it away, Emily!

When Obama called a press conference to announce the new immigration relief for “Dreamers,” my first reaction was pure panic. My palms started to sweat, and my heart began to race. I knew that our small immigration legal services program was going to be inundated with people, clamoring to apply for this new work permit. My second reaction was more methodical, with the aim of calming my racing heart and neurotic mind. I got to work, and I started to plan our response.

As the specifics of this new immigration relief came to light, we knew it was a watered-down version of the Dream Act, which has failed to pass in the legislature for years. Young people under the age of 30 who came to the U.S. when they were under the age of 16 are eligible for deferred action and a work permit, as long as they are in school, graduated from high school, or were honorably discharged from the military.

USCIS (Immigration) calls this relief, “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” It aims to help young people move forward in their lives and careers, creating the possibility of college and a well-paying job. Many of these Dreamers have been in the U.S. since they were toddlers and know no other place as home. They speak English fluently and identify themselves as Americans. Many have graduated from high school and find themselves in a holding pattern, unable to go to college and forced to take low-skilled, low-paying jobs.
Dreamers are eager, enthusiastic, and beyond thankful to have this opportunity. With this work permit, they will not have legal status in the U.S., but they will have a work permit, a driver’s license, and a social security number. These are small concessions, but in their world, it is everything. It is, finally, a small step forward for them and a chance to advance themselves and contribute openly to their communities.

Immigrants and volunteers at the beginning of one of the 7 clinics.

Thanks for sharing, Emily! Please check back Wednesday, October 17 to learn more about our Immigration Offices staff and their reactions to the passage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. To learn more about this Act and how you can help, please click here. If you would like to learn more about donating your time or resources, please visit our website here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Calling All Artists!

Hi everyone,

For the Catholic Charities Christmas card this year we have decided to do a little something different. We are holding a contest for the card design and all of our wonderful volunteers are invited to participate!

The rules are as follows:
1. This contest is open only to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston employees, volunteers, or immediate family members of employees and volunteers.
2. Submissions can include any form of artwork- photos, drawings, painting, graphic design, etc. Artwork must be the original creation of the person who is entering it. All ages may participate.
3. Any photographs that are submitted may not contain identifiable individuals.
4. Submissions cannot include any pictures or text that contradicts Catholic religious or social teachings.
5. Only one submission per individual will be considered, however there is no limit regarding how many family members may participate.

All entries must be given to Kelly Warren ( by October 26, 2012. All submissions will be reviewed by an anonymous third party to determine if all requirements have been complied with. Once the submissions have been received and reviewed, they will be uploaded to the Catholic Charities Facebook page. If you haven’t already “liked” us, we can be found here. Each submission will be voted on from October 31-November 9 and voting will be open to the public. We encourage you to share this contest with your family and friends to bring in votes for your favorite card design. The winning entry will be the one with the most “likes” at 5:00 on November 9.

When submitting your entry, please include this submission form. This form allows us to properly credit the artwork and gives us permission to use the winning submission on the Christmas card. If you have any questions, please contact Kelly.

Thanks and we can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Volunteers Make A Difference!

A big thanks to volunteer Ed Russo! Ed helps at the Pee Dee Catholic Charities office and recently worked with client Steve, both pictured below. These men are celebrating after Ed and Catholic Charities were able to help Steve overcome a financial setback. As a result of overcoming this setback, Steve was able to get much needed medications for an upcoming surgery.

Thanks to Ed and all our other volunteers who help clients like Steve each day!

Do you have a story you would like to share about a Catholic Charities volunteer or employee who has helped you? If Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston has touched your life, please let us know at

*All names and pictures used with permission

Friday, September 21, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: Paulette Campbell

“Clean of Heart was one of the best ideas I have ever heard of” said Paulette Campbell, who has been volunteering since May 2011. She is a member of Saint Vincent de Paul Society at St. Peter’s and volunteers at Clean of Heart twice a month. When volunteering, Paulette also likes to bring little things for the people that come in, like new underwear, socks, Gatorade, and Pop Tarts. For Paulette, one of the best things about volunteering being able to both help meet basic needs while also showing she cares by doing little things like adding fabric softener or dryer sheets to make clothes softer and give them a fresh, clean scent. She has also enjoyed meeting other volunteers and becoming friends with “some of the most wonderful, kind, caring volunteers.” Paulette said that she thinks Clean of Heart is a wonderful organization because everyone appreciates the opportunity to take a good shower and put on clean clothes after the shower. Her favorite experiences at Clean of Heart involve seeing the transformation that occurs in the lives of people that regularly come in. When people come in for the first time they are often withdrawn, with few smiles and are not interested in having many conversations. As they keep coming in, she says they begin to open up, engage in conversations, and smile and laugh more. Paulette enjoys seeing these people blossom into new members of the Clean of Heart family.

Paulette, thanks for volunteering and adding those little touches to show people that you care about them!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Moore

Soon after Clean of Heart opened, Mary Moore began volunteering once a month. Mary attends Our Lady of the Hills and first heard about Clean of Heart while attending Mass there. She also volunteers at Christ Central, serves on the bereavement committee at Our Lady of the Hills, and has volunteered for the past 2 years with SC Mission. When asked about her experiences at Clean of Heart, Mary said “The most rewarding aspect of volunteering at Clean of Heart is realizing that there are so many with true hardships and needs. I hope that our efforts and actions help those that come in for clean clothes and a feeling of safety. I have been emotionally rewarded every time I volunteer.”

Outside of volunteering, Mary enjoys gardening, baking, reading, attending spin classes, and working at Irmo Urgent Care part-time. This month Mary and her husband celebrated 22 years of marriage! Thanks for serving at Clean of Heart, Mary, and congratulations!