May 27, 2016

St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities names ‘Spirit of Hope’ winners

Jen and Joe Amschler share the story of adopting their son Jaxson during the St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities gala on April 21 at the Galt House hotel in Louisville. (Submitted photo)

Jen and Joe Amschler share the story of adopting their son Jaxson during the St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities gala on April 21 at the Galt House hotel in Louisville. (Submitted photo)

By Patricia Happel Cornwell (Special to The Criterion)

NEW ALBANY—Before a record crowd of 656 people, two individuals were presented “Spirit of Hope” awards at the St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities (SECC) gala on April 21 at the Galt House hotel in Louisville. The 27th annual “Giving Hope—Changing Lives” event raised $215,000.

Former board members Don Day of St. John Paul II Parish in Clark County and Stephanie Warren of St. John the Baptist Parish in Starlight received awards for their service to the southern Indiana agency.

Day joined the St. Elizabeth Maternity Home board of directors in 1990, and nearly 27 years later he is still dedicated to its mission. He served four years as board president and remained a board member for many years. He continues to help raise development dollars for the agency.

Development director Dawn Bennett said, “Don Day is particularly passionate about the work St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities does to help unborn children and create families through adoption. His support and dedication have been invaluable.”

Warren joined the St. Elizabeth Maternity Home board of directors because she recognized a need to help women and children in the community. She served 12 years and, as board president, led St. Elizabeth through the merger with Catholic Charities of New Albany.

“In her tenure, no one has raised more funds for the ministry than Stephanie,” Bennett said of Warren.

Agency director Mark Casper added, “These two community leaders have been very dedicated ambassadors of St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities. Each has brought so much to the agency to help it grow to what it is today.”

The gala is an elegant event featuring a silent auction of donated items, a live auction and a banquet, followed by testimonial talks from current and former SECC clients.

Last year, 750 families and 248 children benefitted from the nine programs offered. The agency housed 66 homeless mothers and 34 infants and small children, providing them shelter, food, support and a safe haven during their time of need. St. Elizabeth’s also distributed more than $30,000 in diapers, baby wipes and formula to young families in need.

Tina Bennett spoke at the gala as a Floyd County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. She reported on the growing issue of more than 600,000 children a year going into foster care and more than 500,000 also going through the court system because of neglect or abuse in the United States. She said there are currently 224 such children in Floyd County alone. She also told the story of her CASA child who is now thriving and has aspirations of joining the military to become a nurse.

Holding their son Jaxson, Joe and Jen Amschler told their adoption story. They shared the anxiety of the adoption process, which ended in the joy of working with the birth mother.

Ashley, a former SECC resident, shared her story of addiction and how she came to St. Elizabeth pregnant with her third child, but determined to work toward reuniting her family. She described how, with hard work and determination, she is now drug-free, employed full-time and living in a home with all three of her children.

St. Elizabeth opened in May 1989 as a crisis pregnancy center. Today, it provides nine programs to southern Indiana and the Louisville metropolitan area. Services include Adoption Bridges of Kentuckiana, licensed in Kentucky and Indiana; an emergency maternity home; a transitional shelter; affordable supportive housing; Marie’s Ministry for community-wide distribution of baby items; mental health counseling; a supported living program; CASA of Floyd and Washington counties; and supervised visitation.
 

(Patricia Happel Cornwell is a freelance writer and a member of St. Joseph Parish in Corydon. For more information about St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities, visit www.stecharities.org.)

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