September 2, 2016

St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities named Non-Profit of the Year

St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities of New Albany’s immediate past advisory council chairman Ken Johnson, left, social services director Leslea Townsend Cronin and agency director Mark Casper pose with the Non-Profit of the Year Award that their organization won at the One Southern Indiana annual meeting on Aug. 16. (Submitted photo)

St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities of New Albany’s immediate past advisory council chairman Ken Johnson, left, social services director Leslea Townsend Cronin and agency director Mark Casper pose with the Non-Profit of the Year Award that their organization won at the One Southern Indiana annual meeting on Aug. 16. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

On Aug. 16, St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities of New Albany was selected as the Non-Profit of the Year by One Southern Indiana (“1si”), an economic development organization and chamber of commerce serving Clark and Floyd counties.

St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities agency director Mark Casper says he knew the organization was one of three finalists, including Family & Children’s Place and Goodwill of Southern Indiana, Inc., at the time of the 1si annual meeting on Aug. 16.

“We were the smallest of the three,” he says. “We weren’t real confident we’d win, but we had a good story from last year to two-three years back.

“We had a table of eight, and halfway through the description of the winning organization, we kind of all looked at each other and said, ‘That’s us!’ ”

“It’s great to receive recognition by an outside firm that we’re doing something right.”

St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities was one of 11 non-profit organizations in the southern Indiana area who filled out a nomination questionnaire. The form included four sections addressing the organization’s history, mission and vision; challenges overcome and success in the last three years; and how the organization is improving the community.

Casper says it was the organization’s growth and ability to overcome challenges that helped them win.

“In our case, we had tremendous growth the last two-three years to meet the needs of the community,” he explains. “We were finalizing a strategic plan we developed in 2011 to grow and meet the needs of the community and change what we did, and we fulfilled it.”

Their success happened despite the challenges of “funding cuts, a spike in clients and new regulations in accreditation” in the last three years, according to Wendy Dant Chesser, president and CEO of 1si. “When you do more with less, it’s quite remarkable,” she says.

She adds that 1si, as an economic development organization, has “been able to celebrate their growth through ribbon cuttings. Mark Casper and I laughed and said if we’re behind a ribbon, that means good things are happening!”

The New Albany-based charitable organization offers a crisis pregnancy maternity home, a transitional home for unwed mothers, Affordable Supportive Housing (ASH) units, adoption services, Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), outreach counseling, Marie’s Ministry Community Distribution Program, supervised visitation and supported living.

In the last several years, St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities added a new 12-bed maternity home, bought and opened an additional ASH unit, and completed a renovation of their historic headquarters building.

This was accomplished despite federal cutbacks. In a 2014 interview with

The Criterion, Casper noted that, after receiving $187,000 annually in Housing and Urban Development funding for its transitional home since 1996, St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities’ funding was cut by $82,000.

Casper credits winning the award to the organization’s staff and volunteers.

“We only have 15 full-time staff, and 14 part-time staff that live with the women in the shelter, and 152 recurring volunteers,” he says. “It’s a community award because we couldn’t do what we do to help people here without a whole lot of people who get us results, from volunteer board members, to people who answer the phones, to people who do direct service. I’m quite proud of everybody.”

Chesser says that pride is well-deserved.

“A lot of the Louisville non-profits are in the area [1si serves],” she says.

“St. Elizabeth should be very, very proud of the recognition, and we’re very happy to bring that recognition and to work with them.”
 

(For more information on St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities of New Albany, log on to www.stecharities.org.)

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