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Annual Catholic Appeal ensures Casa San Francisco reaches those in need

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MILTON – Casa San Francisco’s Basic Needs staff doesn’t want its clients to come back.

But don’t think the workers at the Catholic Charities agency are cold-hearted. What they want is a holistic approach that leaves each client better equipped to cope with life, so they do not have to return.

“We address what it is that causes you to be in this situation,” said Alan Southard, Sussex Services manager for Catholic Charities. “We’re trying to fix not only a [momentary] problem but the person.” Read more »

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Bishop Malooly blesses Catholic Charities’ new Casa San Francisco in Milton

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Dialog reporter

MILTON – After many years of hopes, prayers and plans, Catholic Charities opened a new Casa San Francisco in Milton this past June. And on Nov. 5, donors, Charities officials and diocesan leaders gathered for the official dedication of the improved emergency shelter and food pantry facility.

Bishop Malooly blesses Catholic Charities' new Casa San Francisco facility in Milton, Nov. 5. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Bishop Malooly blesses Catholic Charities’ new Casa San Francisco facility in Milton, Nov. 5. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

“We’re doing exactly what Jesus encouraged his followers to do,” Bishop Malooly said on a warm, overcast afternoon. As he and others went outside following lunch for the dedication, a light rain began to fall, but it ended within a few minutes.

Catholics are called on to care for their neighbors, and that is what happens every day at Casa San Francisco, the bishop said. “For Jesus, there was never a stranger,” he said.

Melinda Woolf, the program manager, said the move had been in the works for years. The original Casa San Francisco, which opened in 1981, was held together with “spit and glue,” she said. The original structure, which is still standing, had been expanded several times as the needs of the community increased, “but it couldn’t hold up anymore. We definitely outgrew the building.”

The new facility has five bedrooms that can accommodate 12 people, compared to two bedrooms and six people. Each resident has his or her own nightstand and dresser, along with room to move around. There are five offices, a study, common room and a food-distribution center.

Casa provides all of the services Catholic Charities offers: case management, basic needs assistance, energy assistance and food, among others. Woolf said Casa helps more than 450 families in Sussex County with food assistance; about 10,000 pounds of food moves in and out of the building each month.

The new building was constructed on what was the agency’s parking lot. Once the old building is moved, that site will become parking. The original structure is considered historic.

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Catholic Charities needs food and other assistance for families who have taken in refugee children

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Dialog Editor

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington is in need of food, school supplies and hygiene items for families who have taken in refugee children from Guatemala and other Latin American countries.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington is seeking aid for the families who have taken in unaccompanied refugee children who have been placed with families in Sussex County. Above, young detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas, (CNS/Reuters)

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington is seeking aid for the families who have taken in unaccompanied refugee children who have been placed with families in Sussex County. Above, young detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas, (CNS/Reuters)

Richelle Vible, Catholic Charities’ executive director, said that Charities “delivered a whole truckload” Sept. 4 of food, clothing and beds to its Georgetown office for families who have given shelter to the children in Sussex County.

“It’s been a difficult situation,” Vible said, noting most of the children, an estimated 140 or more, are from Guatemala and have been placed with Guatemalan relatives who have been living in Sussex County.

Catholic Charities has been reaching out to children and families on a one-to-one basis to find out exactly what they need, Vible said.

“Our staff is used to working with people in need, but when they first met some of these children and families, they were touched and upset by the depths of the needs,” Vible said.

“These children had nothing. They needed shoes, clothing and groceries. They cried, they were so grateful.”

Catholic Charities is also assisting the children with immigration paperwork through its Immigration and Refugees Service department, Vible said,  Charities is also  “trying to establish a network of attorneys who would be willing to provide pro bono or heavily discounted legal assistance,” she added.

Heartbrreaking 

Shavonne Brathwaite, who runs the Basic Needs/Crisis Assistance office of Catholic Charities, helped deliver the first truckload of items to the host families.

“It was heartbreaking,” she said.

Families need beds because the refugees are sleeping on the floor and “they don’t have enough to eat. We’re giving those items to those families as fast as possible.”

Catholic Charities distributed bags of food and children’s outfits to “help get the kids started for the school year,” she added.

“I had a translator with me and told them, ‘you’re not going to leave here today without food.’ They were so thankful.”

Brathwaite, who works in Catholic Charities’ Wilmington office, said that helping the refugees and their families reminded her that what Charities “does every day is important. Being able to share a gift with someone, something that you take for granted every day is an amazing experience.”

She noted that the families hosting the newly arrived children “were already struggling to take care of their own family, and they were still willing to give the little they had to someone in need.”

Brathwaite said Charities will continue to serve “as many as we have the means to serve.”

 How to help

Donations of nonperishable food itmes, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo, as well as school supplies, grocery store gift cards and cash donations are welcome and can be delivered to any Catholic Charities location in the diocese.

Cash donations can be made online at www.cdow.org/ccdonation.html. Choose food donation as the ministry of choice.

Catholic Charities locations are:

• Main office, 2601 W. 4th Street, Wilmington, 19805. Phone 302-655-9624.

• Bayard House, 300 Bayard Avenue, Wilmington, 19805. Phone 302-654-1184.

• Thrift Center, 1320 E. 23rd Street, Wilmington, 19802. Phone 302-764-2717.

• Kent office, 2099 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, 19901. Phone 302-674-1600.

• Sussex office, 406 S. Bedford Street, Ste. 9, Georgetown, 19947. Phone 302-856-9578.

• Casa San Francisco, 127 Broad Street, PO Box 38, Milton. Phone 302-684-8694.

• Eastern Shore office, 30632 Hampden Avenue, PO Box 301, Princess Anne, Md. Phone 410-651-9608.

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