Chronicle - Summer2020

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Reflecting on COVID-19



he last few months have been challenging to say the least. From the impact of disease on our communities and loved ones to the economic uncertainty to the disruption and changes to our daily lives and routines—we have all been forced to adjust to a new way of living. Despite the pandemic, CCC remains committed to serving those in need throughout Virginia. CCC staff quickly developed virtual services for clients including Zoom meetings, curbside food pantry services, educational webinars, telephone calls, telehealth counseling, and more. "I'm so proud of our team," said CEO Jay Brown. "Making these adjustments wasn't easy; but, as always,

I watched the staff assess the situation and then jump into action for the well-being of the people, the families, and the communities we serve. This is a team who is truly committed to our mission." The community has also rallied together to support vulnerable neighbors. Mountains of diapers, trailers of food, gallons of hand sanitizer, hand-sewn masks, clothes, books, care packages, and more have been donated and delivered to CCC clients. "We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters and partners across the state," said Brown. • CCC provides quality, compassionate human services to all people, especially the most vulnerable, regardless of faith.

Baby Nolan and big brother Finn

Children's Services



ver the last few months the Adoption and Pregnancy Counseling teams in Richmond, Roanoke, and Norton have continued assisting expectant moms and adoptive families. "We are much busier than we imagined we would be during this time. We still have families reaching out to begin the adoption process. We also continue to be contacted by expectant parents and hospital social workers," said Donna Banks, pregnancy counselor and adoption case worker. "We are connecting with clients through Facebook, Zoom, and other virtual platforms." This June, Banks helped an adoptive family and a birth family navigate the 2 | Commonwealth Catholic Charities

complicated process of adoption— made even more complicated by the pandemic. "It started during a pandemic and ended during a pandemic but that didn't stop them from bonding and from this beautiful baby being born," said Banks. With COVID-19 precautions in place, the hospital could not guarantee that the adoptive mom could be with the birth mom throughout labor. In a joyful turn of events, the adoptive mother was allowed to stay through the birth and delivery. After the baby was born, the birth mother did not want to be alone so they all stayed in her room together until discharge. "The hospital wouldn't allow me in for the adoption paperwork," said Banks. "We found a quiet park where there were tables and plenty of shade. The birth father and his parents met us there. The adoptive parents also had their puppy at the placement. It turned out to be a beautiful experience. The bond between the birth family

and adoptive family was so amazing to see." Pam Kessinger, a CCC adoption case worker in Roanoke also helped a family navigate the adoption process through the pandemic. "This was a really stressful situation for everyone," said Kessinger. The birth mom was exposed to COVID-19 and tested positive for the virus, although she never showed any symptoms. This barred Kessinger from being in the hospital room and limited their communication to texts, calls, and video chats. All adoption paperwork also had to be disinfected by a UV machine at the hospital and then put in an envelope, untouched for several days. The baby was also tested twice before being placed with his adoptive family. Despite the difficulties, two birth moms were safely guided through the adoption process and two beautiful babies are now with their forever parents in their forever homes.


n early spring, a generous individual donated their car to CCC through the vehicle donation program.

"When receiving a phone call about donating a car, we ask a set of questions to determine if the car is safe to give to a client," said CCC Development Director Jessica Wells. Through the years CCC has provided cars to newly-arrived refugee families, youth aging out of foster care, and formerly homeless individuals who are getting back on their feet. "In this case, the car was mechanically sound and a refugee family desperately needed the car so we began the process of transferring the title into their name." Unfortunately the process halted when the DMV closed in response to COVID-19.

When the DMV reopened and the transfer could finally resume, CCC staff found that the car's battery had died. CEO Jay Brown and Richmond Resettlement Supervisor Abu Abdelrahman jumped into action to restart the battery only to discover that the car had a flat tire. They quickly grabbed their tools and fixed the tire too. With everything fixed and the required paperwork completed, the car could finally be transferred to its new owners. "Now, a family of five has dependable transportation," said Wells. "Dependable transportation is a critical step towards independence as this amazing family rebuilds their lives in the U.S." To learn more about donating a vehicle, contact



Dependable transportation is a critical step towards independence as this amazing family rebuilds their lives in the U.S.


Chronicle • Summer 2020 | 3

Income & Asset-building Services



n the early days of the state shut-down, CCC's Income and Asset-building team jumped into action with a series of informational webinars. "We believed it was really important to stay connected with people and be able to offer solutions and hope during a time of crisis and instability," said COO Anita Wallen. The first series addressed maintaining financial fitness during COVID-19 while the second series focused on entrepreneurship and small business preparation. A third series is scheduled for August. To learn more about upcoming webinars and to see a selection of the webinars mentioned above, visit

"The webinar was great. I especially liked the budgeting for a crisis and emotional support pieces and appreciated the unemployment tips without overloading us. Thank you. You all did a great job. I am looking forward to the others." - Webinar attendee

4 | Commonwealth Catholic Charities



ohn Montoro joined CCC as the new chief financial officer in April.

He received his bachelor’s from the University of Virginia.

"John's energy and passion are an excellent addition to the leadership team," said CEO Jay Brown. "I know his experience will be an asset to the agency." Montoro has more than 30 years of experience in public accounting and working with nonprofit organizations and local governments as an auditor and consultant. He started an accounting practice, RealTime Accounting Solutions, seven years ago. His Richmond-area clients have included the Salvation Army, United Way and the American Red Cross.

New CFO, John Montoro



e are so grateful to each individual, family, church, and community group who donated money, food, clothes, diapers, and many other vital supplies for those we continue to serve throughout the pandemic. Special thanks to the private foundations, corporations, and government partners who awarded grants to support CCC's COVID-19 response efforts. Visit our website for ideas on how you can give during the pandemic. Please note that for the health and safety of our staff and clients, we are unable to accept used items at this time.


In just four days in March, CCC's Housing Resource Center in Richmond helped more than 80 individuals move out of tents and into safe shelters and hotels. "We moved 80 people out of tents and into hotels with access to running water and where they could connect with other community resources. Our staff continued working with individuals by providing case-management services," said Homeless Services Program Manager, Jacob Snow. In April, May, and June outreach staff continued daily visits with people living on the streets, helping them move into hotels and shelters while also working to connect them with long-term housing solutions. The Housing Resource Center lobby has also remained open providing daytime shelter from the elements, access to restrooms, phones, the news, food, clothes, care packages, and blankets. "Throughout the pandemic, our three outreach workers have worked with over 200 individuals and housed 17 clients. Since January we have found permanent housing for 187 individuals," said Snow.

In June, Outreach Worker, Alyson Saylors helped three individuals move into CCC Housing Corporation affordable apartments. "Each of the clients was really committed to working with me towards finding and obtaining housing. They are capable and resourceful people who just needed some guidance in finding a place," said Saylors. "It felt incredibly humbling to help them and get them into the next phase of their lives." In Southwest Virginia, CCC Supportive Housing staff also provided vital services throughout the pandemic. In April, staff assisted a mother and her adult son who both have significant health problems and are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. For the past eight years, they had lived in a dilapidated building without running water. CCC's staff helped the family move into a newly-renovated house in a safe neighborhood.



any of the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic are those without stable housing.

Supportive Housing & Homeless Services

It felt incredibly humbling to help them and get them into the next phase of their lives.


"This is the first time that anyone, anywhere has helped me," said the client. "You changed our lives." CCC offers Supportive Housing and Homeless Services in the central, southwest, and eastern regions of the state.

CCC Street Outreach Worker and a client. Photo: Richmond Times Dispatch

Chronicle • Summer 2020 | 5

Resettlement Services



ach June 20 on World Refugee Day, CCC celebrates the richness and diversity that refugees bring to America.

This year the team in Newport News invited 45 refugee families to drive through the office parking lot to receive special gift bags filled with diapers, culturally-appropriate dry foods, bus passes, COVID-19 educational materials, and other items. The team also celebrated 14 seniors in the Virginia Refugee Student Achievement Project. The teens were invited to drive through the celebration and receive gift cards and their certificates of achievement, signed by our partners at the Virginia Office of Newcomer Services. "We are so proud of our graduating Seniors," said Newport News Resettlement Program Manager Kristen Larcher. "They worked so hard and deserved to celebrate!" The day was made possible in part by donations from Christopher Newport University's Alpha Kappa Alpha, Lambda Omega Chapter and Alpha Kappa Alpha of Portsmouth.


Migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from poverty, hunger, and war. Pope Francis

6 | Commonwealth Catholic Charities


Behavioral Health & Disability Services



homas, an elderly Guardianship client who suffers from dementia, was hospitalized for a number of weeks earlier in the year. "During that time, he lost most of his personal items," said Guardianship Services Supervisor Ashlee Giles. In June, Giles and her team compiled a list of clothing items for Thomas. these items were then turned into an Amazon wish list and posted on CCC's website and social media pages. "The community was amazing," said Giles. "They immediately found the list and generously ordered the

clothes he needed. We are so incredibly grateful and so is Thomas." If you would like to help other clients like Thomas, visit to see all of our Amazon wish lists. Don't forget if you use AmazonSmile for your purchase, CCC will also receive .5% of the purchase price at no additional cost to you! It's two donations at once! If you have any questions, contact



Put a candle on a kitchen counter or other safe place. Invite family members to light it whenever they’re having a particularly hard time.

Write down your worries and grief on scraps of paper. Pile them up near the grief candle and burn them together, as a family, once a week.

For more tips and to learn about telehealth services being currently offered, visit

If you have access to a creek or stream, write losses on leaves, and set them afloat, imagining yourself letting your losses go as they drift away on the water. Stay safe! Always assist children with candles and near the water! Chronicle • Summer 2020 | 7

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Home for the Holidays Enjoy the Richmond Symphony performing at the majestic

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

from the comfort of your own home this Christmas season! Virtual Event December 7, 2020 29th Annual Holiday Festival of Music

Tickets on sale October 10. Learn more at

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