Thirteen, in this case, is a lucky number. On March 3, the 13th anniversary of her arrival as executive director of Catholic Charities, Richelle A. Vible will step down from that position.
“The 13-year anniversary is kind of a significant day. It’s obviously something I’ve been working toward in my career,” she said recently. “I think it’s a good time to bring in the next person who will be able to serve hopefully for the next 13 years.”
Vible was appointed by the late Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli, but her tenure has coincided nearly identically with that of Bishop Malooly. She said this is a good opportunity for the next bishop and the new director of Catholic Charities to make a new start together. Bishop Malooly has submitted his resignation to the Vatican and is awaiting the announcement of his successor.
Vible came to the diocese after serving as president of Citizens Bank (Delaware), which was the diocese’s bank. She said she was familiar with the diocese and with Charities. Leading a bank and a nonprofit involve many of the same skills, she said. Both involve managing organizations that involve multiple services in multiple locations. Leading employees is very similar, and the goal of both is to provide consistent quality to clients and customers.
“I think I was able to take some of those skills and apply them from for-profit to nonprofit,” she said.
Treating people with dignity and respect is the same no matter where one works, she continued. A difference is that at the bank, the person receiving the service is paying for it, while at Catholic Charities, the recipient is not charged. What that means for her is that she has the ability to tell donors how their generosity is making a difference in someone’s life.
One of the things about Catholic Charities in the diocese that attracted her was its reputation. “Catholic Charities has such a strong reputation here in the Diocese of Wilmington as well as nationwide. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to utilize my business management skills to really make a difference in the lives of people.”
She has been impressed with the people who make Charities go. They cover all of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore, serving a diverse client population with a variety of services. The staff, she said, is “extremely mission-oriented” and dedicated to the work they do. During her tenure, employees were cross-trained in an effort to improve what they could do for clients. For example, if someone comes in need of food, the staff is able to engage them about other services they may be able to take advantage of.
Xavier Decaire, the chairman of Charities’ board of directors, said the wide-ranging nature of the services the organization provides requires constant oversight.
“Richelle has a remarkable ability to view the larger picture without sacrificing the detail required to keep things going,” he said.
He said Vible always respected the people served by Catholic Charities. She understood their needs and always fought for them. She leaves the agency with a clear direction of sense and purpose.
“We are all grateful for what she has accomplished during her tenure,” Decaire said.
Vible said nothing really surprised her while leading Charities, “but there are always opportunities to improve, and I’ve been lucky to work with the staff to do that.”
One of the accomplishments has been the rebuilding of Casa San Francisco in Milton. The homeless shelter was in severe disrepair. Charities was able to build a new shelter behind the original one, and it has expanded to offer services. She also has overseen the installation of a client database that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which created requirements to safeguard sensitive patient health information. The agency also is able to track more effectively the services it provides.
Under Vible’s guidance, Charities has added multiple partners. For example, for many years Catholic Charities has administered the low-income heating and energy assistance program in Delaware. It has recruited more utility providers to take part.
“It’s been great to leverage the opportunities that have been out there and invite many more supporters,” she said.
Catholic Charities marked 190 years of service in Wilmington last year. Vible is proud to note that it has evolved substantially, from operating orphanages and group homes to everything it offers today. Its services now include — in addition to homeless shelters and energy assistance — additional counseling, maternity services, behavioral health, child and adult nutrition, domestic-violence intervention, HIV services, assistance with immigration issues, Marydale Retirement Village, and its Thrift Store.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization made changes to be able to continue to serve. It is using telehealth technology and has added several emergency food pantries with extended hours.
“We have been able to watch and see what the needs are in the community and evolve to try and meet those needs,” she said.
A native of Pottsville, Pa., Vible has two adult children who are newly engaged. “I have two weddings to plan, so I’m going to be very busy, I’m sure.”
Her son lives in California, and her daughter is in Sussex County. Her son’s fiancée is from France, so a trip to Europe is on her list. Vible’s husband, Mark, works in construction management. He is not retiring just yet. In addition to doing some traveling, Vible may do some volunteering.
She has spent some time in the new year wrapping things up at Catholic Charities and reflecting on what she has experienced over the past 13 years.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to continue the legacy of Catholic Charities.”