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Living & aging well

Catholic Charities of Central Colorado expands its reach over the years


Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, first established in 1968, is approaching 50 years of serving people of all walks of life who are in need. In May 2013, Catholic Charities opened an office to aid the growing population of Douglas County, where more than 90 families are helped each month.

Initially, Catholic Charities offered English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and emergency services such as temporary housing assistance through hotel vouchers, utility support, and gift cards for gas and food. Food boxes were provided through collaboration with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. However, demand quickly rose and Catholic Charities expanded to meet the growing needs.

Today, they continue to offer emergency services, but in a more robust and meaningful way. These programs fall into four categories: Family Services, Paths to Opportunity, Health & Well-Being, and Emergency & Essential Services. Staff has grown from two part-time employees to six at full time, covering the variety of services.

One of the more intensive programs is an alliance with Douglas County Cares to provide wrap-around services to help families in crisis gain stability. Kathy Bullen, Catholic Charities' community case manager, is a trained family facilitator with the program and provides families with case management along with support services from other agencies, including the Community of Care Network. Bullen says, "This allows families time and resources to develop a plan to move forward to establish stability for the long term. It is wonderful to work with these families and watch them grow as they reach their goals."

This past winter, Catholic Charities joined forces with several agencies in Douglas County to plan and to establish the Winter Shelter Network. This network made it possible for women and children in Douglas County have a safe place to spend the night from Nov. 1 to March 31. Paul Narduzzo, Catholic Charities' regional office director, says, "The real heroes are the churches and volunteers who stepped up to provide a safe and comfortable place to stay, hearty meals, and personal connection with the families who stayed in the shelter. Without them, there would be no network." Prior to the Winter Shelter Network, Catholic Charities offered emergency motel vouchers to protect families from the elements and still uses these vouchers as a supplement throughout the year.

Other areas of expansion include Family Immigration Services and ESL Services. Family Immigration Services are offered on an appointment basis to help immigrants move forward in the process toward legal residency, and Know Your Rights presentations are conducted to educate them and community members on their legal rights and obligations. While ESL classes continue to be offered several times a week, the program was expanded to offer literacy enriched child-care for the children of students in the program. "This is particularly important as we know children who are exposed to appropriate reading are better prepared and more successful in school and in life," said Karina Jimenez, Catholic Charities ESL site coordinator.

Over the past year, Catholic Charities has begun to offer counseling services on a limited basis, and is now expanding to provide more coverage and scheduling opportunities. Narduzzo said, "Catholic Charities has experienced tremendous growth and will continue to expand to serve those in need in Douglas County." To learn more about this and their other services, please visit their website at www.CCharitiesCC.org or call 720-215-4521.

Paul Narduzzo is the regional director of Catholic Charities. Please join the Seniors Council of Douglas County on June 1 at the Lone Tree Arts Center, 10075 Commons St., Lone Tree. Networking begins at 8:45 a.m., followed by the monthly meeting from 9-11 a.m. This month's topic is an overview of Catholic Charities, the services and support they provide to those in need. There will also be an opportunity to speak out about senior needs in Douglas County during the Community Conversation portion of the meeting. Questions? Please email dcseniorlife@douglas.co.us.

Paul Narduzzo


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