Emergency Services Funds Give Couple a New ‘Lease’ on Life

After trying five other agencies, Catholic Charities was their last hope.  The middle-aged couple, Matt and Anne tried to hide their weariness through smiles as they walked into the Catholic Charities office.

When the caseworker greeted them and asked what she could do for them, tears welled up in their eyes. Asking for help was something they were still not used to doing, even after the painful year they had just been through.

Matt had recently been discharged from the hospital after almost an entire year of treatment of a serious illness.  He thought coming home would help bring back his dignity and make him feel like a normal person again. But when he came home, he realized that the two-floor apartment he and his wife had shared for many years, was no longer the place of comfort and ease it once had been.

Due to his illness, it is now too difficult for Matt to climb the stairs up to the second floor bathroom, the only one in the place. He now needs help from his wife to complete the simple task of going to the bathroom. The stress in his face seemed tangible as he explained, “I want my wife to be my wife again, not my nurse.”

Matt and Anne had come to Catholic Charities because after searching for a one-floor apartment, they had found one, and were approved to move in- BUT with one small catch- that they pay the security deposit and one month’s rent by the end of the day.  Matt and Anne were not prepared for this, and due to the costly hospitalization, did not have the extra funds to make this happen at such short notice.

The couple explained that they had $200 saved that they could put toward the new apartment, but that left $95 in rent and a $520 security deposit that they could not cover. After listening to their story and looking into Emergency Service funds, which are available to help families through this eact type of one-time crisis situation, the Catholic Charities caseworker was able to give them the good news they had been praying to hear.
“We can cover the difference between what you have saved and what you need to pay, so that you can secure this apartment today.”

By the end of the visit, for a low cost of $615, Catholic Charities was able to literally open a door for this couple that would change their lives forever. They were able to go straight to the apartment and hand in the money and sign their new lease.

The next day, Anne came back to the office with a thank you note for her caseworker. She gave her a hug and tried to describe how much it meant to her husband that he could now walk into the bathroom on his own. “Your compassion, and that check,” she explained, “gave us a lease to a new home, but it also gave my husband back his dignity and a new lease on life. I can’t explain how much that means to us. You said yes when everyone else had said no. Thank you.”

Stories like this are possible every day because of the generous support of volunteers, donors, and sponsors of Catholic Charities Diocese of Norwich. If you would like to be a part of helping local families in need like Anne and Matt, please visit http://www.ccfsn.org and click “Donate.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Catholic Charities Helping Hundreds with Housing Counseling and Foreclosure Prevention Services

“My husband had been laid off and we began having trouble making mortgage payments. We had no idea where to turn,” Marie, a local wife and mother of 2 remembers.

“We were so leery in reaching out for help because there are so many programs that are scamming people out there- and sure enough we fell victim to one of them.” The couple had searched the internet to find places to turn to help them deal with their situation before it became worse.  They paid one website $2,500 to help them– but never received services or ever saw that money again.

Desperate, Marie and her husband Mark came to Catholic Charities for help after hearing about the Foreclosure Prevention Program.  What they found there was hope. Hope that there were people who were going to help her, and for the first time she thought that maybe this overwhelming situation could be worked out.

The 3 housing counselors at Catholic Charities are the only housing counselors who provide foreclosure prevention services from Willimantic to New London, and services are provided at no cost to the individual.

The counselors provide individual credit and budget counseling with clients, in addition to workshops on Foreclosure Prevention and First-Time Homeowners Education.

“Few people are aware of the free services available here. We are here to offer education and guidance on how to best navigate the foreclosure and first time home-buying processes,” explains housing counselor Jay Gelfond.

“We have a success rate of about 90% of families who come to us who are able to remain in their homes. For others, we come up with the best solution possible given the circumstances.”

For Marie and Mark, the program was successful in helping them to remain in their home.

“The counselors at Catholic Charities worked with us through what seemed like an impossible situation.  It was a blessing that I found Catholic Charities, and after working with them we were able to navigate the process and get our modification approved. It was like an incredible weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

For those facing foreclosure in Eastern Connecticut, Catholic Charities’ Foreclosure Prevention Workshop offers information about the foreclosure process in general, and referrals to additional programs that provide assistance.

For those interested in purchasing a home for the first time, The First-time Homeowners Education Program provides one-on-one assistance and counseling in regard to rental and mortgage delinquency issues, landlord/tenants’ rights, financial assistance for rent or mortgage, credit counseling, pre-occupancy counseling, and money management.

Participants also have the option to meet with the educator to more clearly define goals and plan to overcome obstacles as they arise. A separate, three-hour class is held to review the responsibilities of home ownership with participants who have qualified to purchase a home with a focus on maintaining and sustaining homeownership.

In 2013, the program helped over 700 households who were facing court foreclosure filings throughout New London, Tolland, Middlesex, and Windham Counties.  Over the course of that same year, the First-Time Homebuyers Program worked with an average of 30 individuals per week, and helped complete 4,000 sales in New London and Windham Counties alone.

If you would like to support the Foreclosure Prevention or First Time Home-Buyers programs, please call 860.889.8346 x285.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Catholic Charities and Community Groups Come Together to bring Christmas to Local Families

IMG_1865“It’s a Community effort,” said Sylvia Laudette, Program Manager for Catholic Charities.

She is referring to “Christmas at Catholic Charities,” a time when local families who are struggling financially can receive gifts for their children that they otherwise would not be able to afford.

“There are groups in our community who just never forget us and the families we serve at Christmastime. It is heartwarming to know we have people who care so much in our community.”

These compassionate groups include Our Lady of Lourdes Ladies Guild in Gales Ferry, who year after year bring bags of toys for Catholic Charities to distribute.  The Norwich Rotary Club also donated coats to keep children warm this winter- a much needed gift for many little ones in the area.  Vouchers from the local Neighborhood Thrift Shop in Norwich also help parents purchase coats to keep their children warm.

Throughout the holiday season, the generosity expanded beyond these groups, to include schools and local individuals.  Students and faculty from St. Thomas Moore School donated $750 in gift cards for the purchase of groceries, gas, and Christmas toys. A handful of anonymous donors also generously “adopted a family” during the Christmas season and donated directly to a specific family in need.

The Norwich Council of Catholic Women generously gave gift cards for teenagers. “We like to give gift cards to the teenagers because they are often forgotten at this time of year, and they deserve Christmas too!” said Judy Pappagallo, former president and current member of the council.

In Willimantic, the Catholic Charities Advisory Board came together to host a Christmas party at St. Mary-St. Joseph’s School on December 21. Toy donations came in from parishes in the Willimantic area that included St. Mary in Coventry, St. Columbus in Columbia, St. Jude in Willington and St. Joseph in Willimantic.  Furthermore, many of the volunteer board members donated toys themselves.

St. Nicholas paid a visit to the children, and passed out the presents to 155 children from the Willimantic area. There were Christmas songs and cookies, and the children loved the festive event!

“I am so thankful to be able to come to Catholic Charities to supplement the small amount of gifts I can afford for my children. This year it was a decision between paying bills or buying presents. I didn’t want my children to wake up to nothing under the tree, but other financial necessities have to come first,” reflected Susanna, a mother of 2 small children.

Jill Palmerino and her husband Mark gave gifts to 15 children this Christmas through Catholic CharitiesIn New London, about 45 children were given gifts through the generous donations from local parishioners. This is the third year that Jill and Mark Palmerino from New London have purchased gifts for 15 children in the area. When they dropped the gifts off, they expressed that, “This is what the season is about for us and we are glad to do it.  We sincerely hope it helps make their holidays a little more cheerful.”

With all the efforts combined, over 225 children received gifts this Christmas season as a result of this heartwarming community effort.

Jim Maffuid, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Diocese of Norwich said, “Christmas is a tradition at Catholic Charities. Many businesses are moving away from celebrating Christmas or even talking about it– but here we are lucky enough to be able to embrace this wonderful season. And we embrace it by connecting with our neighbors in need; providing compassionate help and hope-which is really what Christmas is all about.”

Jim also emphasized,  “the local need doesn’t stop at Christmastime. As winter progresses, many families are facing grave financial difficulties. Many families need help keeping their homes warm, their electricity on; some are trying their best not to lose their homes to foreclosure, while others are in need of behavioral health services that they cannot afford.”

If you are interested in helping a local family in need this winter, please visit http://www.ccfsn.org, or call 860.889.8346.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Catholic Charities Helps Couple Facing Foreclosure and Homelessness Stay in their Home

A local woman named Amy called Catholic Charities looking for someone- anyone who may be able to help her and her husband, Bill during what had become a major crisis for them. She and her husband were both employed full-time, but Bill would periodically be laid off for small periods of time here and there, and then would be hired back. They were able to plan for this and were able to manage financially for a long time.

Then recently, Amy explained she had been diagnosed with cancer. Luckily, she was covered with a decent medical insurance plan through her husband’s job. But a week and a half after she received her diagnosis, her husband was told he would be laid off– permanently this time.

This was a major blow to their finances in general, but even more devastating was the loss of insurance to cover Amy’s medical bills that were now beginning to pile up.

The couple were sharing a car to cut costs, but this prevented Bill from obtaining unemployment because he did not have a car to continue looking for work. The couple was left with one income, and began to fall behind in their mortgage payments. They were facing foreclosure and didn’t have anywhere to turn.

Feeling desperate, Amy called Catholic Charities Diocese of Norwich because she had heard from a friend that there are housing counselors who can help you navigate through this type of situation.

“That’s when I called and Cathy answered. When she answered my call, she answered my prayers. I had someone who was going to fight for me.”

Cathy did just that, she worked on behalf of Amy and Bill to try to initiate the mediation process to help Amy and Bill avoid foreclosure. “By the time we called Catholic Charities we had exhausted everything we could think of. But Cathy did wonders, she knew who to talk to, what paperwork to file, and how to get through barriers– and she didn’t give up on us.”

Amy and Bill were able to start the modification process, and set up a plan to stay in their home.

“We are not completely out of the woods yet, we still have to keep making payments on time for the next 3 months, and then take it from there- but without the help from Catholic Charities we would have been forced out by now. I don’t know what we would have done. It is so nice to know that there is someone there who will fight for you and your family.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Liberty Bank Donates $5,000 to Catholic Charities Diocese of Norwich


Norwich, CT– The Liberty Bank Foundation has awarded a $5,000 grant to Catholic Charities Diocese of Norwich to support the Emergency Services Basic Needs and Case Management Program.

“The Emergency Services and Case Management programs address urgent basic human needs, for which there has been growing demand during these tough economic times,” said Diana George, manager of Liberty Bank’s Norwich office, “Today, more families than ever are turning to agencies like this one for assistance.”

Since the inception in 1997, Liberty Bank Foundation has awarded almost $7.9 million in grants to nonprofit organizations within Liberty Bank’s market area. The foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for people of low or moderate income by investing in three areas: education to promote economic success for children and families; affordable housing, and nonprofit capacity building.

Along with its grantmaking, the foundation strives to foster the convening and collaboration of nonprofits, funders, businesses, and government to address community issues.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Norwich serves approximately 5,000 individuals and their families annually with services that range from emergency services and basic needs, to housing and mortgage counseling, to adoption services. The agency spans all of Eastern Connecticut, with offices in Norwich, New London, Willimantic, and Middletown. Catholic Charities serves all families regardless of their faith.

The need in the area only continues to grow, and as the holiday season approaches, Catholic Charities relies on partners like Liberty Bank to help us work toward creating healthier stronger families and individuals in our community. Here’s a big THANK YOU to Liberty Bank for helping us do that!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Catholic Charities and the Council of Catholic Women: A Ninety Year Partnership

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops establishedThe National Council of Catholic Women in 1920 to unify all Catholic Women’s organizations throughout the country. At that time, Connecticut was one Diocese. In 1921, Mrs. Frank McMcQuire, who was president of the then Connecticut Council of Catholic Women, proposed that a bureau of social services be established in New London. Catholic Charities was born in Eastern Connecticut. A Bureau of Social Services did exist in Bridgeport for FairfieldCounty, but not in Eastern Connecticut.

Over the years Catholic Charities has relied on the Council for help in its agencies with volunteers. It was in 1953, that Hartford Province became four Dioceses-The Archdiocese of Hartford, Diocese of Bridgeport, Norwich Diocese and Providence Diocese. The history of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Hartford recounts the roll of both the Knights of Columbus and the Council. From its beginning, the Diocesan Bureau (later Catholic Charities) relied on the support of the Knights of Columbus and the Council of Catholic Women”. Later a building was purchased in New Haven. “…it was staffed by volunteers from the Council of Catholic Women.” When the Norwich Diocese was organized in 1955, the now Norwich Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (NDCCW) took on charity as one of its main programs.

Norwich Council of Catholic Women Host Annual Baby Layette

 In the spring for the past thirty-two years, the NDCCW plans a Layette program for the collection of baby clothes from birth through toddler three, as well as other baby items. Women from all the parish guilds in the Diocese bring car loads of new clothes, handmade blankets, diapers, etc., which are donated to Catholic Charities pregnancy program and agencies providing assistance to low income families.

Every September the Norwich Diocesan Council of Catholic Women membership drive is held throughout the Diocese.

Sixty percent of the total collected is donated to Catholic Charities. At the 58th NDCCW annual convention, which will be held on May 4th, a check will be presented to Bishop Cote, who will then turn and present it to Mr. Maffuid, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities. In 1975-the 20th Anniversary of the annual NDCCW Convention, the total for the 20 years was $114,453.00, an average of $5,000.00.When the dues were raised from $1.00 to $5.00, the annual amounts more than doubled to an average of $15,000.00. By continuing to support the annual Council membership drive, Catholics through out the Norwich Diocese, have made it possible for NDCCW to contribute close to $500,000.00 to Catholic Charities.

By Connie Gillies

NCCWProvince Director for NCCW

In the HartfordProvince

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Catholic Charities Willimantic Office Kicks off “The Great Dig for Books” Summer Reading Program

Dr. Mama dancing with kids

On Friday, June 21, approximately 20 children and their families came to Catholic Charities office in Willimantic to kick off the public library’s summer reading program. At the event, the children listened to Professor Mamma, an African drummer and storyteller, tell traditional African stories and talk about what we can learn from the hidden message, or “moral” that each story holds.  

The children sat and listened with wonder as Prof. Mamma danced and sang and celebrated story telling with the families.  He engaged the children with fun call and response games-when he would sense the attention spans waning, he would exclaim to the group, “Storytime!,” to which the children would respond cheerfully, “Storytime!” And off they went onto another story.

Rosa handing out books

One of the most popular parts of the day was when each child was invited to choose 3 books to take home with them. Many of the families that Catholic Charities serves live at or below the poverty level, and for those families, buying books for their children becomes an impossible additional expense.  Books were laid out across tables, displaying stories of all reading levels and topics, and many were available in Spanish

The children ended the day with a snack of “dirt pudding” to go along with the theme “Great Dig for Books,” and each child was given a sheet of paper to track their summer reading. about family and friendship,  multiculturalism and making good choices.

Children are invited back to celebrate summer reading on Friday, July 26, 2013 at St. Joseph School in Willimantic from 11:00 am- 1:00 pm.  

Siblings eating dirt pudding

The event has been coordinated by the Willimantic Advisory Board, who donated funds to cover the costs of the day.  This group meets monthly to brainstorm ways to involve the community in the good work happening at Catholic Charities in the Windham area. They are a loving group who volunteers their time to help their community thrive during such economically difficult times.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment