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Chronicle SUMMER 2019

CO M M O N W E A LT H C AT H O L I C C H A R I T I E S 1 2



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It was a very busy summer for Commonwealth Catholic Charities. All across the state, staff and clients participated in events, trainings, field trips, presentations, and even parties. All of which were made possible by support from our community. "It was amazing to see the impact that CCC had in the community this summer," said CEO Jay Brown. "The teams at CCC are clearly committed to making communities across Virginia better every day."






www.cccofva.org • CCC provides quality, compassionate human services to all people, especially the most vulnerable, regardless of faith.

Recognizing Refugees


ood grades, good health, good coffee, and a good movie brought awareness to refugees during several events this summer and made for some good and long-lasting memories. Students Recognized Three students served by CCC's Refugee Resettlement program in Richmond, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads were recognized for their high academic achievements through a new Office of Newcomer Services program. The students joined 15 peers as the first cohort of Mentoring Youth in Virginia. In August, the students toured the state capitol, the Library of Virginia, city hall, the mayor’s office, and ended the day with a canal cruise. “This day was very special to the students,” said Emila Stambol, Education Specialist, Refugee Resettlement. “I could see the happiness on their faces as they were recognized for their contributions.” Wellness Conference In Newport News, CCC sponsored the Refugee Wellness Conference, along with Eastern Virginia Medical School's Global Health, Newport News Public Schools, and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

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Various speakers, including CCC's Suheir Diyab and Amar Bhattarai, presented information to raise awareness of refugee health issues and community-based prevention programs. Health Clinic In Richmond, CCC clients received free health screenings and were connected with medical resources in the community through a Refugee Health Clinic. Medical students with Refugee Connect, a program affiliated with the VCU School of Medicine, donated their time to provide the medical screenings. World Refugee Day The Refugee Resettlement program recognized World Refugee Day on June 20 through fundraisers of custom shirts and a partnership with 734 Coffee─a company started by a former CCC client who was once a refugee himself. Just before World Refugee Day, on June 18, CCC collaborated with other area resettlement agencies and RVA Lions, Richmond’s Australian Football League team, for a special showing of the movie, The Merger, at the historic Byrd Theater. The movie tells the story of refugees who helped save an Australian “footy” team.


he Independence for Seniors program in Richmond improves the lives of seniors through personal relationships, stress reduction, mental activity, and good nutrition. “Seniors matter and they need to know that they still have value and purpose,” said Diane Hargraves, Aging and Disability Services case worker.

September: Healthy Aging Month

The Independence for Seniors program consists of Caregiver Relief and Call Reassurance, which are both staffed almost entirely by volunteers. Caregiver Relief volunteers are matched with caregivers who provide around-the-clock care to an adult loved one in their home and who cannot easily get out to get a break.


efore she became sick, Evelyn was a gifted painter. Her beautiful artwork covers the walls of her home. But dementia robbed her of her art. One day, Kay, the volunteer helping Evelyn and her husband, Tom, brought some adult coloring pages to her visit. She thought that Evelyn, who rarely talked, might enjoy them and that they might be a way for them to interact.

Call Reassurance volunteers make regular phone calls to lonely and isolated seniors, giving them a compassionate, encouraging friend. "The greatest gift we can give to [our seniors] is to listen," said Hargraves. "And our volunteers do this so well. They truly listen and empathize with them.” See the video on our website!

Tom was skeptical. And, at first, he was right. But Kay persisted and began to color, asking Evelyn to help pick out the colors. Eventually Evelyn started coloring the pages along with Kay. Later, Tom shared that Evelyn had colored with her grandchildren for the first time in a very long time. Kay's thoughtfulness had given the family back some priceless moments with Evelyn.

There is an ongoing need for volunteers for this and other CCC programs around the state. To learn more visit www.cccofva.org. Chronicle • Summer 2019 | 3

Program Spotlight: Independent Living


ndependent Living is a part of CCC's foster care program and is offered to youth who are 18 and in CCC's Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program. "Independent Living is a way to transition out of foster care and maintain independence while still receiving support," said Jennifer Ward, foster care program manager. At age 14, all youth in CCC's foster care program participate in monthly classes to begin preparing for independent lives on their own. "Kids and young adults in our program receive help learning life skills and competencies including work readiness workshops, financial planning, healthy living discussions, and how to maintain supportive adult and peer relationships," said Ward. Youth who are old enough and who have demonstrated the skills necessary to live independently can choose to become a part of the independent living program. There are currently 14 young adults in CCC's program. "The youth live in their own apartment, with roommates, or rent a room from a community member who can also mentor them," said Ward.

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Each young adult is also required to have a savings account, a full or part-time job, be enrolled in high school, GED program, ESL classes, college, or some type of vocational training program. They also continue with CCC's life skills classes such as renter’s rights and responsibilities, nutrition and culinary skills, money management and banking, community navigation and engagement, and internet safety. Many of these classes are provided by professionals in the community who volunteer to share their skills with the youth. Youth receive a monthly stipend and financial counseling to help them reach their savings goals by the time of emancipation at age 21. Upon emancipation, youth no longer receive a stipend but continue to receive supportive services for an additional six months and are eligible for educational funding up to age 26, if they meet certain criteria. "We really emphasize the importance of maintaining a network relationships with foster parents and counselors," said Ward. "Even though they're independent, they can still go to their foster family for Thanksgiving or to church on Sunday. That network is so important for youth to thrive on their own."

Annual Independent Living Retreat


n July, the foster care program held its annual Independent Living Retreat. This all-day workshop brings all of CCC's potential and current independent living youth together along with the foster care staff and other community resource providers. "The goal for the day is to encourage and inspire our youth," said Ward. "We want them to think beyond foster care and entry-level jobs. We want to prepare them for independent living by exploring what it means to be independent and what essential life skills they need to be successful and self-sufficient." This year's theme was Career Goals and featured local professionals─a journalist from NBC12, a respiratory therapist, a doctor, a pediatric nurse practitioner, a social worker from Henrico Department of Social Services, and a former CCC foster care youth who is now a personal trainer. The volunteers hosted a round table forum to discuss their career journey and highlight important aspects of their jobs. The youth also earned prizes throughout the day by participating in games and activities. The prizes were donated by local churches. "This was a fun and interesting event," said one 14-year-old participant. "I liked talking to real professionals face-to-face."

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New Staff, New Services The hiring of two new staff members bring new services to CCC.

Bethany Latimer is the agency’s new Director of Counseling Services and brings with her expertise in attachment assessment services. Attachment assessments evaluate the child-caregiver bond and measures the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship. A child between the ages of one and eight who exhibits signs of not listening to their parent, or having challenging reactions to their parents may be a good candidate for this testing. A secure attachment relationship lays the foundation for a child’s future social and intimate relationships. “Our entire counseling staff is now certified to provide these assessments," said Latimer. “Our goal is to repair the child-caregiver relationship.”

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Chris Yenson brings seven years of affordable housing development experience to his new role as CCC’s Director of Housing. Yenson oversees the expansion of CCC’s affordable housing portfolio through acquisition and development activities, as well as property management for existing residential units. Over the long-term, this growth will create synergies among CCC’s diverse programming. “An increased supply of affordable housing will enable CCC to house clients quickly in high-quality communities," said Yenson. "Similarly, residents of CCC properties will have increased access to CCC’s range of programs.”

Counting our Blessings


e are so thankful for all of the ways that CCC is supported every day─from the tireless volunteers to grants and donations from churches, organizations, and individuals.

Medicaid Sign-up In June the Department of Medical Assistance Services was on site at Richmond's Housing Resource Center to meet with clients and help them enroll in Medicaid. "This was a huge success and pretty incredible that 38 clients walked into our program needing homeless services, received it, and then half of them enrolled in health insurance they didn’t have," said Program Supervisor Jacob Snow. "I just think of all the clients who don’t have healthcare and end up in crisis each winter and how we have already started preventing that."

ESL Classes CCC’s Newport News office has relaunched ESL classes for refugees and they’re off to a great start! The class provides the basics about the English language, cultural acclimation and job readiness skills.


This summer, a number of community partners awarded CCC grants to help keep our programs running smoothly. The grants were awarded by: BamaWorks, Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities Incorporated, John Randolph Foundation, Inc., Virginia Literacy Foundation, Altria Companies Employee Community Fund, Richmond Jewish Foundation, Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation, Church of the Epiphany, and WellsFargo - Virginia. The agency also received countless donations from individuals and organizations including over a dozen bikes from the Richmond Police Department, two truck loads of food from Saint Bridget Catholic Church, goodie bags and notes from Henrico County's Aging Services for adults in our Independence for Seniors program, and donations for youth in our independent living program from St. Edward Catholic Church. Our Foster Care program also received numerous donations from community partners ensuring that the children and young adults in the program had a great summer. Donations came from Laserquest, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Hunton Community Center, Bev's Ice Cream, The Byrd Theatre, Lonesome Dove Equestrian Center, Studio 1R and DJ Willie Cruz, Columbia Center, O'Toole's Restaurant, Lupita's Restaurant, Dulce Minilandia, Pupuseria El Salvadoreño, and Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

By no longer including a donation envelope in this newsletter we can save money that can be better used elsewhere! But don't worry, there are still lots of easy ways to give!

text DonateToCCC to 41444

we still gladly take mailed checks

online at www.cccofva.org/donate Chronicle • Summer 2019 | 7

Cover Pictures 1. Resettlement Supervisor, Suheir Diyab presenting at the Newport News Refugee Wellness Conference. 2. CCC's Judith Gallegos, Alexina Portyrata, Eleanor Sullivan, and Michelle Jones with Father Shay from Sacred Heart Church attending the Latino Festival in Richmond. 3. CCC's Marie Chantal Bhaka, Melisa Bates, and Atrice Williams enjoying foster care's international party. 4. John Elwell, CCC's Director of Parish Engagement, presenting at Church of the Epiphany. 5. A Refugee Services client receives medical assistance at Richmond's Health Clinic. 6. Foster care's BeBe Tran enjoying the international party. 7. Amar Bhattarai, Director of Resettlement Services with Eva P. Stitt, Refugee Mental Health Coordinator for Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services at Newport News Refugee Wellness Conference. 8. Students from Mentoring Youth in Virginia visit the capitol. 9. Foster care children enjoying a day at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. 10. An officer with Richmond Police Department dropping off donated bikes to Abby Boyd, CCC's Director of Supportive Housing & Homeless Services. 11. Emila Stambol, CCC Refugee Resettlement Education Specialist, with 734 Coffee staff for refugee awareness event at The Byrd Theatre.

Christmas Classics & Carols the


way to begin the holidays! December 2, 2019, 7 p.m. • Cathedral tickets on sale now at


Sacred Heart • Richmond, VA www.cccofva.org/christmas of the

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Profile for Commonwealth Catholic Charities

Chronicle Summer 2019