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Premera Blue Cross grants funding for Rising Strong

Posted on by lsimpson

July 12, 2017

Contact: Nadine Van Stone


Spokane, WA – Premera Blue Cross has made a grant of $175,000 for the Rising Strong program, a partnership led by Catholic Charities and the Empire Health Foundation to serve families at risk of child removal due to parental alcohol and substance use disorder. Rising Strong will provide housing, substance treatment, educational and vocational supports, and other services for the entire family. It is based on proven models in Oregon and Los Angeles that have achieved 90 percent success in establishing healthy family stability and keeping children out of foster care. This generous support will help to accelerate the launch, currently targeted for October, 2017.

“What most people don’t understand yet is that addiction is a disease like cancer,” said Dr. Robert McCann, CEO of Catholic Charities Spokane. “In fact, the Surgeon General says our genes account for between 40 and 70 percent of our risk.”

Antony Chiang, President of the Empire Health Foundation, added “new data also shows a direct link between addiction and child welfare removals. Drug overdose deaths went up by 40% in Spokane County in 2016, and we saw an 11 percent rise in foster care placements – this is not a coincidence. Helping their parents recover is the best strategy to help these children avoid trauma.”

empire health foundation

CC logo color small

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Rob’s Blog ~ Gala 2017 “We Are On It!”

Posted on by lsimpson

On Friday May 19th, 1000 people gathered at the Catholic Charities Gala in a Show of Support for our mission to serve the poor and vulnerable in eastern Washington. The evening was filled with fun and friendship, reflection, awards, and a presentation showcasing many of the amazing individuals, businesses, schools, religious, and community partners who make the work we do possible. While 1000 attended, we felt the presence of thousands more in the room. We are so blessed by each of you and your willingness to be a part of our team!

At the Gala we celebrate the transformation of lives – the lives of our clients who are helped, of our volunteers and supporters who exemplify generosity through their giving, and of our staff who feel called to do this work day in and day out. We celebrate being able to bring hope to those who are hurting, and housing those who have experienced homelessness. But we always remember that our ultimate goal is to put ourselves out of business. We endeavor to provide programs that don’t just respond to crisis, but also ones that disrupt intergenerational poverty and provide pathways to stability that will be handed down through the generations.

Unfortunately, we all know the need is not diminishing, and my message at the Gala was this – “We are on it!” Though the issues are complex, and changes in funding and regulation create real challenges, we remain steadfast in our commitment to finding solutions and demonstrating our belief that every human being – every life – has an inherent right to dignity and hope. Our programs will work through all challenges so that we can serve with respect, compassion, collaboration, and justice. We are on it!

That “we” includes you, because without your prayers, your volunteerism, and your financial support, where would we be? We certainly wouldn’t be serving over 71,000 people each year. We wouldn’t set audacious goals like ending homelessness in our community. We do this work for our brothers and sisters in need, with you. Thank you for being a part of team Catholic Charities.

Many prayers,

Rob McCann
President & CEO Catholic Charities

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Downtown Spokane Partnership to donate additional $25,000 to HOC

Posted on by lsimpson

The Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP)/Business Improvement District has long been a partner in the mission of Catholic Charities Spokane to support the vulnerable population of people experiencing homelessness in Spokane. DSP and its leadership recognize that it makes us a better, stronger community when we provide shelters and resources, dignity and compassion, to those in need.

In the summer of 2016, the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) committed $25,000 to the House of Charity (HOC) and offered another $25,000 in matching dollars if other businesses and individuals stepped in with donations. As of April 2017, the match challenge was met! This was in due in large part to a gift of $10,000 from Vickerman & Driscoll Financial Advisors. Many other businesses and individuals gave to this important cause as well. Because of the efforts of the DSP, a total of $75,000 was raised in support of the House of Charity.

These funds will provide ongoing essential services such as daily meals, mail delivery, and the sleeping program for 109 men each night. And, very soon, newly remodeled bathrooms will be available for warm showers.

Catholic Charities’ goal to shelter and house every single chronically homeless man and woman in Spokane cannot be realized without the HOC and its life-changing work. When individuals come to the shelter and find they are treated with respect and kindness, trust builds, and this allows connections to counseling, treatment, permanent supportive housing, and other services bridge to long-term solutions.

We are most grateful for the ongoing relationship with the Downtown Spokane Partnership. Thank you for your leadership in this tremendous effort to support the House of Charity!

For more on this from the DSP, please visit http://www.downtownspokane.org/news-article/117.


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Catholic Charities USA deeply concerned over passage of American Health Care Act

Posted on by lsimpson


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (from Catholic Charities USA)

Contact: Patricia Cole

Catholic Charities USA deeply concerned over passage of American Health Care Act

Alexandria, Va. (May 4, 2017) – Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) expressed her deep concern about today’s vote by the House of Representatives to replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

“The vote falls far short of protecting the millions of Americans who have insurance or gained it under the Affordable Care Act. It also fails to provide access to affordable healthcare for the millions who still live without coverage,” Sister Donna stated. Across the country, Catholic Charities agencies provided health care-related services to nearly one million individuals each year.

CCUSA’s work is rooted in the Church’s moral and social teaching which holds, in accordance with human dignity, that health care is a basic human right. Catholic Charities agencies see firsthand the devastating consequences of inadequate health care. The agencies know individuals living on the streets because of untreated mental health problems. They work with persons who have physical disabilities and oftentimes are unable to get access to long-term treatment. They encounter families who have to decide whether they should feed their families or pay for their health premiums.

About Catholic Charities USA             

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is the national office for the Catholic Charities ministry nationwide. CCUSA’s members provide help and create hope to more than 8 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. To learn more about CCUSA, please visit our website at www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.


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Rob’s Blog ~ We Are Switzerland

I am not sure I can remember a moment in my lifetime when there has been so much political polarization about who we are and where we are going as a country.  Despite our mantra at Catholic Charities, “We are Switzerland,” it is hard to stay out of it all completely, as parts of the current debate on things such as immigration, health care and governmental budget priorities touch every single one of us in some way or another.

Even at Catholic Charities, we have to accept that what is happening or what might happen in the world of politics affects the decisions we need to make about how to run an organization that interacts with everyone –  our clients who are the poorest of the poor, those who are more stable, and our volunteers and supporters as well.  We are constantly reminded that we need to demonstrate civility and respect to all people, from wealthy to poor, conservative to liberal, Republican to Democrat…and everything in between.  We are all God’s children with good hearts and strong souls!  No person being served lunch at the House of Charity has ever asked or cared about how a volunteer who was serving that lunch voted. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ!  Period.

With 70 million Catholics in the U.S., our American Church has over 70 million reactions to what we’ve seen and heard on the news in these past months. And, therefore, there are 70 million lessons for each of us in all of this. Taking these lessons in, one at a time, heart to heart, with prayer, united as one Catholic family, might just be the best way to find unity and a path for the road ahead.

We don’t need to agree on everything.  Heck, come to a Catholic Charities leadership team meeting sometime – you will see a room full of wonderful, intelligent, incredible people who don’t always agree on things!  That diversity of perspective, opinion, and experience is precisely what makes us strong!  But we do agree on the most important things – respect, collaboration, compassion   and justice.  With that agreement, there is nothing we cannot do!

As we head into the most important season of our faith, walking through the Passion and the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I am touched by the recent words of Pope Francis on all of this.  He said:

”It can be said that today we do not live in an age of change but in a change of age. Therefore the situations we are living in today pose new challenges, which for us at times are difficult to understand. Our times require that we live problems as challenges and not as obstacles: the Lord is active and at work in the world. Therefore you must go out to the streets and to the crossroads; call all those you find. (Matthew 22.9) Above all, accompany the one who remained at the side of the street. The lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb.”

 There is nothing we cannot accomplish as Catholics in the Diocese of Spokane if we work together in heart and soul and faith.  This Easter, I am so thankful for each and every one of you who volunteer for us, pray for us, support us, advocate for us!  Together, there is nothing we cannot do. God Bless you all!

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24-7 Sheltering of Chronic Street Homeless to End in The Region on May 1, 2017 Due to Loss of Funding


Contacts: Rob McCann, CEO, Catholic Charities, (509) 744-3448 or rmccann@ccspokane.org

Spokane, WA –April 10, 2017 – The House of Charity began sheltering men and women last November and in January opened our doors to provide safe shelter for any adult experiencing homelessness in our community on a  24/7 basis.  Previously, the House of Charity had offered day and meal services to women but had never provided sleeping services to women in its nearly 60 year history. Since January, the House of Charity has also provided 24/7 sheltering services to homeless men and women with animals, couples who did not want to be split up and other sub sections of the homeless population that have been historically difficult to serve.

For the past several months, for the first time in the history of the Spokane Region, the vast majority of the homeless population was living and sleeping in shelters 24/7 thanks to the collaboration between the House of Charity, Salvation Army and Family Promise.  In essence, with 24/7 sheltering available for the first time ever in our region’s history, all homeless men, women and children on the streets in our communities have indeed had a safe place to be.  This was a blessing to these vulnerable men women and children, especially in this past winter, one of the coldest and longest in recent memory.

This collaboration was thanks to the generosity and courageous leadership of the Mayor, City Council President and City Council at the City of Spokane as well as the Downtown Spokane Partnership and many downtown Spokane businesses who donated to the 24/7 sheltering model.

Unfortunately there has not been funding identified to maintain 24/7 services beyond April 30th.  This will result in a reduction of hours of operation at the shelters.  Well over 200 homeless men and women who have been getting 24/7 sheltering will be forced to return to the streets of the City, the County and Spokane Valley.

The House of Charity will continue to sleep 109 men each evening, as it has for almost 60 years.  However the overflow sleeping of 200+ men and women on the ground floor of the HOC will end.  At this time, it is not clear what hours during the day or what daily meals the HOC will be open after May 1st as that is still being planned based on sustainable funding.

Catholic Charities continues its recent, intentional and aggressive strategic plan of building permanent supportive housing for the chronic street homeless of our region despite this troubling development with 24/7 sheltering.  Three new 50 unit supportive housing projects have been opened in recent years and two more are under construction right now with yet another 50 unit complex already awarded for 2018.  The plan to build a permanent apartment for all of our region’s homeless is still in place and the funds to build those projects, coming from IRS tax credits, is also still in place, but unfortunately, by law, those funds cannot be used or diverted to run the homeless shelters.

Without 24/7 sheltering, it is much more difficult to prepare our homeless population for the apartments we are building for them.  There is also a profound financial, quality of life; and human dignity cost to the region as we lose this resource.

There will be a press conference on THURSDAY APRIL 13th at 11:00 a.m. in the House of Charity Chapel to further discuss this situation and the profound impact this change will have on the downtown core, the County and the City of Spokane Valley as previously sheltered homeless men and women once again have no other choice than to embrace life on the streets.  Additional talking points with more detail on this issue will be given out to the media at the press conference and homeless patrons will be available to offer first-hand information to the media.     ###

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Timelapse Video Father Bach Haven III

Posted on by lsimpson

Catholic Charities Spokane‘s latest housing project at 2nd and Browne in downtown Spokane is scheduled to welcome residents in November 2017. Click on the photo below to view the amazing timelapse progress from groudbreaking to today! Inland Group crews have worked through some incredible weather while on this project, and the video proves it! #endhomelessness

Father Bach III

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Kitchen offers life lessons for Scouts

Posted on by lsimpson

The following article was written by Rick Rose, Scoutmaster for Republic Boy Scout Troup #61 and published in the Ferry County View Extra early in March 2017. In this article, the Scouts share some very special reflections and realizations from a recent visit to House of Charity.

The troop was very busy during the month of February. We had several meetings, and the Scouts finished another Eagle-required merit badge, Family Life. The Scouts traveled to Spokane for some volunteer work as well as a night out at the Spokane Chiefs-Tri Cities hockey game.

The troop got up at 5 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11 and we traveled to Spokane to volunteer four hours to help prepare and serve food at the House of Charity.

The House of Charity is a center that helps provide service for the homeless and people needing help in Spokane. The boys learned that the charity house does not turn anybody away regardless of race, religion or sexuality. The boys also learned about how some people become homeless. Sometimes it is not by choice, drugs or getting out of jail or prison. Sometimes it is just bad luck.

The center offers two meals daily as well as the services of showers, barber, mail room, medical outreach clinic and an emergency sleeping program that is sleeping approximately 200 to 500 people nightly during the winter months. Troop #61 learned about the full operations  it takes to run a service kitchen as well as health, safety and hygiene being a top priority every minute with the ongoing outbreaks of the Norovirus.

The Scouts learned about how food is brought in to the shelter and stored, and learned where it comes from: many businesses donate food for the program. The Scouts served around 185 lunch meals and then helped in some cleanup afterward.

“We went to the homeless shelter in Spokane, Washington on Feb. 11,” said Riley Rose. “When I walked inside I noticed a lot of people lying down and waiting for lunch. We had to go around to the back and before we went inside we had to wipe our feet on a towel that was soaked in bleach to try to keep the flu out of the kitchen. When we got inside, we had to sign in as visitors. Then we got a tour of the kitchen. The chef told us that some stores had food that was going to be bad in a week so they gave it to the shelter for the homeless.

Something I learned was that we have life way better than them and we get a bed to sleep in at night and get blankets to sleep with. We are lucky we get shoes now and then but they can’t afford to have a lot of shoes or clean clothes. Going there made me realize how fortunate we really are. A guy asked me if I had gone to a ghost town in downtown Seattle, Washington and I said ‘No’ but he said he has been there nine times in his life.”

“As you walk into the front entrance, people are sitting and lying on the floor, and you can’t help but feel an instant selfworthiness,” said Mark McGaffey. “You realize how good you have it with a house, food, a family. Most of these people that are sleeping on the floor and changing in front of people haven’t had that in years. As for the staff, they are the most selfless people I’ve met in a long time. It made me know that there are still good people in this world.”

“I went to the House of Charity to prepare and serve food to the homeless,” said Kaleb Byington. “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity for this experience. It has made me appreciate my life and the people I have around me. I realize I may have a wonderful life and there are people out there that struggle to survive. While I was serving one of the homeless ladies at the shelter she quoted the Boy Scout motto and salute. I wondered how she would know that, and then I realized that at some point in her life she must have had a boy in Boy Scouts and that her life must have taken a drastic turn. I lan to return to the shelter and volunteer more of my time to make a difference in someone else’s life.”

“What I got out of the House of Charity Homeless shelter would probably be to never think you will always be ok in the world and this would not ever happen to you,” said Ryan Rose. “Some  of the people there used to have big houses and had fast cars but that could all change in a flash of your eyes. I also realized don’t be picky or not happy with what you get because any of these homeless people would love to have anything close to what I have. Something else I noticed was that you should be happy no matter what happens and that the little things aren’t actually that bad and at least not as bad as what they are going through. As one of the people came across the food line, she looked into one of my fellow Scouts’ eyes and said ‘Put a smile on your face. You never know, you could end up on this side of the line.’ That was the most realistic and meaningful thing I have ever heard. I could not look at any of the homeless people without feeling a deep sorrow of pain for them. I first thought, ‘Well, these people don’t have it that bad. They get free food and a place to stay.’ But as soon as the food line doors opened and I saw all of their faces, I realized how well I have it and that none of them wanted it. I am sure that they would love to have a car and a house with a good job. When you see what they are living like it just makes you think more about what you’re doing with your life and how well you really have it.”

As a Scoutmaster and a parent, I have a lot of respect for these young men and what they have accomplished in this latest journey in their life and as Scouts.

Next month, we will report on Republic Troop #61 volunteer work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, helping feed the winter elk herds at two feeding stations.

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Rob’s Blog – Remember the Working Poor

At Catholic Charities we spend a great deal of time talking about the poorest of the poor.  We talk about those who are homeless, those who are alone, those who are abandoned.  We talk about those who live invisible lives and those who live on the fringes of day to day survival.  We talk about the “uns,” as I refer to them in my talks. The unseen, the unheard, the unfed, the unhoused, the unhealthy, the undocumented, and the uncared for. These are the most vulnerable, most at-risk, and most fragile among us. Certainly they are a significant focus of what we do at Catholic Charities, 365 days a year.

But we don’t seem to talk as much about the next group on the socio-economic ladder. Sometimes we call them “the working poor” or “low-income-stabilized.”  These people may once have been an “un” of some kind, but at some point, maybe with some help, maybe by the  power of their own sheer will, they pulled themselves up just a little bit…just enough.

These are the folks who fight the hard fight and are trying to do things right. They get a job; sometimes two or three jobs at once. They don’t spend money on frivolous things. They scrimp, save, and pay their rent on time, but still struggle to put healthy food on the table for their children. They find a way to get by and survive unexpected events and expenses. But they struggle. They struggle to keep the heat on and the utilities paid. They borrow toilet paper from their jobs and make regular trips to the food bank and hope their neighbors don’t notice. They struggle to buy groceries at the end of the month, and they struggle to buy their kids new clothes or school supplies. They just barely keep themselves from being one of the poorest of the poor on the streets and feel trapped in the cycle of working themselves to the bone while teetering on the edge of disaster.

These may be the people who pass our food to us from drive-thru windows. They make our coffee, do our nails, wait on our tables, or clean our offices, hotel rooms, and school bathrooms. These people are doing the things we tell our kids to do when they grow up…work hard, never give up, solve your own problems, and take care of yourself. They are doing these things, and yet they suffer. Worst of all, they live under the constant threat that if just one thing goes wrong, they could end up in crisis. That constant stress is their reward for doing the right things.

Recently, Pope Francis addressed a group of young people in Guidonia, a small village near Rome. He told them, “If I say I am Catholic and go to Mass, but then don’t speak with my parents, help my grandparents or the poor, go and see those who are sick, this does not prove my faith, there’s no point. Those who do this are nothing but Christian parrots – words, words, words.”

Let us not be parrots! Let us remember the poorest of the poor, the homeless and hungry. Let us also remember the working poor and the disappearing middle class — all of the men, women, children and seniors who struggle to get by on their own even though they are trying their best. Let us honor them. Let us be ready to serve and stand with them in their struggle.

Many prayers,

Rob McCann
President & CEO
Catholic Charities Spokane

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Catholic Charities USA Stands in Solidarity with Immigrants and their Families

Catholic Charities USA Stands in Solidarity with Immigrants and their Families

Press Release – January 25, 2017 from CCUSA

Alexandria, Va. – Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) expressed profound concern about President Trump’s immigration-related executive actions and the potential impact these actions will have on those who are most vulnerable.

“Pope Francis has urged people not to close the door on migrants and refugees. In concert with the Holy Father, we believe we must move from attitudes of defensiveness and fear to acceptance, compassion and encounter. As the U.S. Catholic bishops have said, this is not an either/or situation for us.  We can protect our citizens and, at the same time, we can welcome newcomers.  Our commitment to care for those who are most vulnerable resides at the core of our faith,” said Sister Donna.

As it has done for over 100 years, Catholic Charities will continue to stand in solidarity with refugees, immigrants and their families.  We will work diligently for responsible and comprehensive immigration reform. Certainly, concerns about safety must be addressed, but not through measures that do more harm than good.

Our Catholic heritage calls us to seek justice for newcomers. Our history as a faith community in the United States has been as an immigrant Church in an immigrant nation. We are singularly focused on serving the needs of poor and vulnerable individuals and families, providing compassionate care that respects the dignity of each person, as mandated by the gospel.

  • About Catholic Charities

    Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is the national office for the Catholic Charities ministry nationwide. CCUSA’s members provide help and create hope to more than 8 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds.

    CCUSA Contact: Patricia Cole pcole@catholiccharitiesusa.org (703) 236-6218

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