Winter 2019 Agency Newsletter

Director's Letter

Dear Friends,

Certainly by now most all of us have heard at least one story about St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Her tremendous compassion for those she served is a daunting example of great love for humanity. In a world that can sometimes be viewed as cold and uncaring here was a women, as simple and direct as one can be, doing what most of us would agree is some of the most humbling work imaginable. This work, is God’s work.

I would like to believe that we can all be encouraged by the legacy St. Mother Teresa left for us. She was after all a human being just like you and me, and like her we too have a chance to bring change to the world. What was it that made Mother Teresa more capable than us? Did she have some special skill? Did she have an intellect that far exceeds ours? I believe that she had an ability to see beyond her own fears, her own inadequacies and her own predisposition and make a conscious decision to be an instrument for God to work through her.

Here at Catholic Charities, we know that the 2019 year has given us much to be thankful for. For example, the 6 families we worked with that are now in more stable housing. These families are working towards self-sufficiency through hard work and by using skill building opportunities supported by community partners. We continue to see them making progress and overcoming obstacles that could quickly cause a relapse. Your prayers are always needed!

Perhaps the biggest news of 2019, we were able to open a new Foodbank facility on April 29th. The new facility will allow us to increase our capacity and serve more people in need of adequate nutrition while also allowing us to fully complete a realignment of our programs so as to be more efficient and cost effective. We enter 2020 with the goal of developing a new strategic plan for building a platform to match local and national initiatives as we help families find a path out of poverty.

Thank you for your support and your willingness to help improve lives of people in our community.

John C. Etling
Agency Director

Annual Benefit Recap

Judy HoganThe 45th Annual Benefit Dinner for Catholic Charities of Terre Haute was held on September 5th on the campus of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College. Once seated, guests enjoyed opening remarks by Janet Clark, member of the Catholic Charities Advisory Council, in which she revealed the theme of the evening, The Unsung Hero. Each day, we see the power of these unsung heroes and we know that we couldn’t feed, clothe, shelter or provide after school programming to approximately 40,000 men, women and children each year without their support.

Following the blessing by Fr. Martin Day, guests enjoyed dinner, drinks, and good conversation as the night progressed to the presentation of the Distinguished Service and Council President’s Award. Presented by David Will and Caleb Fleschner, The John E. Etling Distinguished Service Award was given to Judy Hogan for her work in creating hope for our hungry neighbors through her efforts to feed the hungry at St. Benedict’s Soup Kitchen. Josh Curry was presented Council President’s Award for his dedication the children of Ryves Youth Center.

Guests also had the opportunity to listen to words from David Bethuram, Executive Director and Secretariat of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and Jacklyn Chaney, Development Manager at Feeding America. Both spoke on the important role that Catholic Charities plays in the community. Jacklyn shared her personal struggle with food insecurity as a child and young adult, stressing the impact that it can have on a life, but also serving as an example of what charities like ours can do to make a difference.

Perhaps the most poignant speaker of the evening, Mary Weaver, gave her personal testimony on family instability, homelessness and journey to independence and stability as a result of her stay at Bethany House. Her moving words received a standing ovation and provided an example of the amazing impact that our programs have on the lives of those we serve.

An exciting live auction, 50/50 drawing, and stellar raffle items rounded out an amazing evening that concluded with remarks by John Etling, Agency Director:

“At Catholic Charities, we’ve spent this year recognizing many individuals who are heroes to the thousands of adults, parents, children and seniors that we serve every day…You heard a glimpse into some of the great things they have accomplished when we introduced our recipients of this evening’s Council President and Distinguished Service award winners. But, in the Church, we call those heroes who have gone before us and have done marvelous works, saints.”

Children Living in High-Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods

The percent of children living in concentrated poverty in Indiana is decreasing, according to a new study released Sept. 24, 2019, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The study compares data from 2008-2012 and 2013-2017 to examine where concentrated poverty has worsened across the country, despite a long period of national economic expansion.

According to the study, 10% (160,000) of Hoosier children live in concentrated poverty, which is a neighborhood where 30 percent or more of the population is living in poverty. Indiana has dropped from a high of 13% in 2011-2015.

“This is good news, but there is more work to do to ensure all Hoosier children can thrive,” said Tami Silverman, president and CEO of Indiana Youth Institute. “We must understand the disparities in the data and work together to improve the conditions that foster the success of all children.”

Not surprising, growing up in a community of concentrated poverty is one of the greatest risks to child development. Nearly 12% (8.5 million) of all children in the United States live in these conditions. Children in high-poverty neighborhoods tend to lack access to healthy food and quality medical care, and they often face greater exposure to environmental hazards, such as poor air quality, and toxins, such as lead. Financial hardships and fear of violence can cause chronic stress linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And when these children grow up, they are more likely to have lower incomes than children who have relocated away from communities of concentrated poverty.

The study also reveals that while progress is being made in Indiana, significant racial disparities remain:

  • 34% of Black or African American children in Indiana live in concentrated poverty – more than any other reported demographic
  • Black or African American children in Indiana are more than six times as likely to live in concentrated poverty compared to Non-Hispanic white children
  • Asian or Pacific Islander and Non-Hispanic white children in Indiana live in concentrated poverty less than 10 percent of the time

The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2019). Children Living in High-Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods. Baltimore, MD: Author. Retrieved from

Small houses

Bethany House Spotlight: Mary Weaver

Mary WeaverMary Weaver shared her story at the 45th Annual Benefit and in turn helped to raise
awareness within our community and the impact that Bethany House Emergency Shelter makes on the lives of its residents.

Raised by her aunt from a young age, Mary was like most teenagers, rebellious and thinking she knew everything, she dropped out of school during the 7th grade. Feeling like she had no other option, Mary’s Aunt dropped her at Bethany House when she turned 18. As she sat on the back steps of the Bethany House, Mary shares, “I didn’t know where to go or what to do, I knew I was homeless.”

A short time later, she met Danielle Elkins, the Program Director, and Julie Green, a case manager. She was helped in getting proper identification, birth certificate, a social security card, food stamps and Medicaid – and most importantly, a safe place to sleep and a roof over her head.

Mary arrived with the clothes on her back and nothing else. Through our Clothes Closet and Christmas Store Programs, she received much needed clothing items and essentials. On Wednesday evenings she participated in lifeskills courses, learning how to do things like laundry, cook a nutritional meal and properly care for her health and physical cleanliness. Through community partners, she was soon able to secure a part-time job in a kitchen and the most important skill according to Mary, financial responsibility. “After I got my job, I would give them 75% of my paycheck for saving. They would keep the money for me, and when I found an apartment to move into, they gave me my savings. I applied for housing and was approved for Section 8. I then located a home- -my own place”, she shares.

Encouraged to enroll in the Adult Education program, Mary continues to work towards her goal of achieving her High School Diploma. She credits the guidance and support of Bethany House staff in keeping her committed to becoming independent, staying in school and continuing to work and to feeling prepared for her future.

To learn more, visit Visit and search for Bethany House under Charity List to view a Wish List of needed items.

Unsung Hero: Josh Curry

Josh CurryFor most of us knowing where to find basic need services in our community is simply not a priority. Being fortunate that we don’t have to rely on a soup kitchen or a food pantry or a homeless shelter should be viewed as a blessing. However, that’s not the case for several people who reach out to agencies such as ours. In some instances that connection can change a life forever.

When Josh Curry was first introduced to Catholic Charities, it wasn’t as a volunteer, actually that came much later, but instead as a recipient of services or better worded as a patron. Josh as a young child, along with his siblings and mother, was a resident of Bethany House. He frequented the programs at Ryves Youth Center and enjoyed meals from the Fishes & Loaves Soup Kitchen with his family.

Over the years Josh became active in the many programs that Ryves offers and eventually made the decision to give back to the center that had given him so much.

Fast forward to 2019, Josh serves as the Assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 22 which is based at Ryves Youth Center where he is active and engaged with the children. Additionally, Josh volunteers with the Foodbank and soup kitchen as well – always taking on each task with a ‘yes and big smile!’

Josh goes above and beyond to make sure our guests are welcomed into a clean and friendly environment. He often comes in early to assist with soup kitchen duties, stays after meals to talk with the children and help clean up and physically carries food to the kitchen from the foodbank itself.

Naomi Smith, Food Service Coordinator, explains “Josh is not just an everyday hero – he is our hero EVERY DAY!” Never hesitating to help and always wearing a smile, Josh Curry impacts the lives of so many and is definitely one of our organizations Unsung Heroes.

On September 5th, Josh was the recipient of the 2019 Advisory Council President’s Award at our Annual Benefit.

Upcoming Events

Coats for Kids and Adults Too!
October 14 – November 15
Drop off gently used children and adult size coats at First Farmers Bank & Trust (Terre Haute & Brazil locations), Courtesy Cleaners, Dorsett Automotive and Glidden Furniture

Orange Friday
November 22nd
Follow us on Facebook at @Put Your Orange On “Before you go shopping on Black Friday, feed the hungry on Orange Friday!”

Share Your Thanksgiving Food Drive
November 14th
Join us at WTHI-TV’s studio on 8th and Ohio where we will be collecting monetary and non-perishable food donations from 7am to 6:30pm. Can’t join us? Check out our website for a list of locations.

2020 Soup Bowl Benefit
February 1st, 2020
Follow us on Facebook for updates!

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