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Rob’s Blog ~ Remembering Father Bach

Dear Friends,

As we mourn the recent passing of one of our chief patron founders, Fr. Frank Bach, I find myself going through almost 20 years of memories of him. One of the things I remember most was the day that Donna Hanson passed away and the visit I got from Fr. Bach as I started my first day trying to fill
her shoes. He, who was the director of Catholic Charities before Donna and builder of the modern day
Catholic Charities, told me something very simple.

He said, “Rob, you need to remember that once in a while, somebody’s got to be willing to take a risk for the poor. Don’t ever be afraid to take risks. If you don’t, Catholic Charities will fade away.”

Fr. Bach always took a risk for the poor and vulnerable. He was the first to even attempt to build Catholic Charities housing and the first to take the leap into resettling refugees and providing services to immigrants. Did you know he built Catholic Charities Community Centers all over Spokane, that became so large and successful, they eventually were turned into their own non-profit organization, now known as SNAP? He also had the vision to intentionally connect Catholic Charities to each and every parish in the Diocese.

No chance Catholic Charities was going to fade away under Fr. Bach, who remained a lifelong member of the Catholic Charities Board!

But what Fr. Bach really loved most (other than Notre Dame football) was being a parish priest. He  wanted his parishioners to lean on him, celebrate with him, and count on him for help. He just loved being a priest. He loved the many parish communities he served over so many decades. My fondest  memories of him do not necessarily have to do with Catholic Charities at all; rather they are personal memories like when he married my wife and I, and all the Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter dinners he spent at our home, and all the trips we took together to warm, sunny places. Those are the memories of a truly great parish priest who extended his compassion and friendship to me and my family.

Even in his last years, Fr. Bach was always teaching me something. As his health failed, his humor and
his heart and his desire to teach others never did. For much of the last three years of his life, when I saw him nearly every day, he would want to take a walk. When we set out, he always took my hand in his.
Now if you knew Fr. Bach you knew he was not a “hand-holding as we walk” kind of guy. But neither
am I, and he knew that. I think he was teaching me to take another risk, which I happily did! As his
health declined, he always wanted his rosaries in his fingers, wanted to pray, and found a way to crack
a joke when you least expected it. That’s the real legacy of this incredible parish priest and phenomenal Catholic Charities leader.

He will be missed, but his spirit and footprint on this organization will live forever!

Many Prayers,
Rob McCann
Present & CEO, Catholic Charities Eastern Washington

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In memory of Father Frank Bach

Father Bach’s legacy at Catholic Charities, in our Diocese, and in our community is immeasurable. We are indebted to him, privileged to have known him, and will continue to work diligently as advocates for those in need in his name.

Heaven has welcomed home a dedicated and faithful servant of Christ. May God rest his soul.

In memory of Father Frank Bach


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Rob’s Blog ~ Merry Christmas!

Dear friends,

I hope this Christmas greeting finds you enjoying the holy season of Advent
and preparing for the celebration of Christ’s birth!

2017 has been an incredible year at Catholic Charities. With the opening of
three new housing communities, Rising Strong, the Walla Walla Teen Center,
and 24/7 services at the House of Charity, we have great reason to praise
God! Miracles happened with funding, staff rallied at every turn, volunteers
blessed each endeavor with time, treasure, and talent – it makes my head
spin thinking about it all!

And while tax credit dollars built the housing, and partnerships, grants and
municipal monies helped establish new programs, we would be no where
without YOU, our faithful community of volunteers, individual donors and

Opening doors is one thing – sustaining operations is another. It is your gifts
to Catholic Charities that truly save and transform lives.

• You supply linens, household items and furniture for new
housing communities like Pope Francis Haven and Donna
Hanson Haven.
• You provide toiletries and towels for warm showers and
socks, gloves, and hats for patrons of the House of Charity.
• You fill food pantries with non-perishable items at
St. Margaret’s Shelter and Rising Strong.
• You give diapers and pajamas, clothing and baby items to
clients of CAPA/Prepares.
•You provide essential operating funds that benefit every one
of our programs in Eastern Washington when you make a
monetary donation to the Catholic Charities Collection!

When we call to our faithful community with a need, you answer. Over and
over again, you pray and give because you understand the need. Catholic
Charities will not give up seeking new solutions. With you, we will find ways
to provide dignity and resources to those who are hurting amongst us.

And so, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we celebrate you and your
willingness to live the Christian faith and support our mission. Thank you
for sharing your gifts and advocating in hope with us. May you have a very
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Many prayers,

Rob McCann
President & CEO
Catholic Charities Eastern Washington

This letter appeared in the Christmas 2017 Faithworks Newsletter. Please click here to view the entire publication.

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Rising Strong to receive $100,000 from HSSA “Access to Health Care” grant

Catholic Charities is happy to announce that Rising Strong has been awarded $100,000 from the HSSA “Access to Health Care” grant. This is an incredible boost in funding for this important program that is working to heal families at risk of separation by foster care. Read the complete HSSA press release below:






November 21, 2017


Nancy Isserlis                                                                  Susan Ashe

HSSA Board Chair                                                                 HSSA Executive Director

nli@winstoncashatt.com                                                      susan@hssaspokane.org

509.954.7144                                                                          509.474.0798; 509.995.8356

HSSA Announces $380,000 “Access to Health Care” 2018 Recipients

SPOKANE, WA – The Health Sciences & Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County announced it will fund $380,000 for five (5) community recipients of its annual “Access to Care” grant competition in 2018. The organizations that were selected provide innovative health service delivery and increased access to health care to certain populations.

“HSSA’s mission includes increasing access to health care through innovative and collaborative health care delivery in Spokane County, as well as its on-going efforts to improve the capacity of the Spokane region in health sciences research,” said Nancy L. Isserlis, HSSA Board Chair.

“HSSA received 13 grant proposals totaling over $1.2 million, which certainly speaks to community need and innovation presented in these proposals,” she said.

The 2018 recipients of HSSA’s “Access to Care” grant competition are as follows:

  • Empire Health Foundation/Catholic Charities Spokane “Rising Strong” will receive $100,000 from HSSA for its family-centered treatment with housing for families at risk of child removal due to parental alcohol and substance use disorder. Rising Strong will provide housing, recovery coaching, behavioral treatment and evidence-based programs for the entire family.
  • Partners with Family & Children will receive $50,000 in 2018 to continue its mission to address the specialty child abuse needs for a growing number of children who suffer from physical and/or sexual child abuse, as well as conduct training for new medical personnel.
  • Providence Health Care Foundation will receive $100,000 to establish on-site dental care for low income populations with clinics at Sacred Heart and Holy Family hospitals. Nearly 3,600 dental patients presented to Providence in 2015 for treatment. HSSA’s funding will be used for dental equipment purchased to outfit operatories at Sacred Heart.
  • Spokane Prescription Assistance Network will receive $30,000 to make available prescription drugs for moderate income under-insured people on Medicare and other insurance plans with high deductibles and co-pays. This is the only organization in Spokane dedicated to providing expertise in accessing prescribed mediation on a community-wide basis and claims an $18 to $1 return on investment for its funders, including HSSA.
  • Volunteers of America (VOA) Hot Spotters program will receive $100,000 to provide improved health outcomes for high-need residents who often present to emergency departments, emergency responders, community court system and mental health providers with a complex blend of social, medical, mental health and/or substance abuse matters, sometimes referred to as “hot spotters” for the frequency of their high cost visits to providers.

 “We have now awarded nearly $1.9 million in Access to Care grants in our County to organizations who do the important work with people who otherwise would not receive health care services or would seek these services from other expensive options,” Isserlis said.

HSSA’s other strategic initiative is to increase local health sciences research and the infrastructure that supports it, and designates 75 percent of its revenues for that purpose. Research grants are open year-round for proposals who meet HSSA criteria in one of its research categories.  HSSA has invested nearly $5 million to date in health science research and infrastructure grants. This includes over $20 million in extramural federal grant funding to Spokane. More information about all HSSA grants may be found at www.hssaspokane.org.


About HSSA:

The Health Sciences & Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County was established in 2007 by the Washington Legislature, authorized county-wide by Spokane County in 2008, and began operating in 2009. Its mission is to invest in health sciences research to promote economic development, advance new therapies and procedures to combat disease, and to promote public health. HSSA invests funds to create and support a nationally competitive health sciences research cluster in Spokane County, and works to catalyze higher education research and the health sciences industry that will lead to higher wage jobs, long-term sustainability and economic diversification. For more information, visit our website at www.hssaspokane.org or call 509.385.2113.

About Our Board:

Nancy Isserlis, Attorney, Winston & Cashatt, and HSSA Board Chair; Michael Wilson, Consultant and HSSA Grants Committee Chair; Jason Thackston, Senior Vice President of Energy Resources, Avista Corp. and HSSA Finance Committee Chair; Scott Gordon, Ph.D., EWU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs; Darryl Potyk, M.D.,UW/GU Regional Health Partners Director; Gary Pollack, Ph.D., Dean, WSU College of Pharmacy, WSU Spokane; Kevin Oldenburg, Ph.D., President, 2nd Sight Bioscience; David J. Vachon, Ph.D., CEO/Founder, Iasis Molecular Sciences/Novion Technologies, and Francisco Velàzquez, M.D., former President & CEO, PAML and PAML Ventures.

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Catholic Charities Collection

Dear Friend,

What a year it’s been at Catholic Charities! Our mission to provide compassion to the most vulnerable has put us front and center in inspiring ways, but it has brought challenges too. The good news of Catholic Charities, and our Catholic faith, is that we accept challenges as opportunities for more inspired service.

After opening two new housing communities last year, in 2017 we opened three more! Guadalupe Haven in Othello, Pope Francis Haven in Spokane Valley, and most recently, Donna Hanson Haven in downtown Spokane. Not ambitious enough? Another 76 units are under construction at the Rising Strong / Holy Names site in Spokane. In two years’ time we created 370 homes for families and  individuals who used to be homeless, and infused over $48 million in construction revenue into the local economy – all paid for without having to raise a single dollar from individual donors.

That’s a lot of inspiration!

Equally inspiring is the day-to-day work of our programs — some saw huge changes in 2017. The House of Charity is now open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Walla Walla has proudly opened its 24/7 teen shelter, The Hub. Rising Strong is now open to families healing from parental addictions. CAPA/PREPARES and Food for All have expanded their reach across Eastern Washington.

We are proud to house more residents and serve more clients, but yes, there are challenges. As we start to solve chronic homelessness in downtown Spokane, we recognize the stress on the neighborhood around the House of Charity. Please pray for us and for neighboring businesses as we find ways to address the impact on our block. As we welcome more residents to housing, we increase the need for furniture and household items through our Furniture Bank, food for our pantries, diapers for the young families we serve, and dedicated staff to support all this great work.

This is why our annual Collection is so important. Each Christmas, our hearts fill with gratitude because none of what we do is possible without you. Thank you for your continued support! We are inspired by your prayers, your volunteerism, and your financial gifts. Most importantly, we are inspired by Christ to meet challenges in His example of unconditional love.

Many prayers for a blessed Advent season and a Merry Christmas!

Rob McCann
Presidenty & CEO
Catholic Charities Eastern Washington

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Rob’s Blog ~ Thoughts and prayers do make a difference

Dear Friends,

At Catholic Charities we serve those in crisis on a daily basis. We consider it our mission to bring hope and dignity to the most vulnerable. We are ready to help in times of greatest need – like last year’s norovirus outbreak at the House of Charity or during Windstorm 2015 or when wildfires raged through Eastern Washington. We pray, and we believe in possibility. We serve knowing we can, and do, make a difference in lives every single day.

But we, along with all of you, are feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of natural disasters and tragedies in our country and our world right now. Hurricanes and flooding. Earthquakes. Gun violence and loss of young life at a local school. Unspeakable violence, loss of lives, and injury in Las Vegas. Sadly, this list could go on.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and their families.” It feels as though this has become our national mantra. Are these words becoming trite? It is enough anymore? I say, if thoughts and prayers really rest in our hearts, then this is a very good place to start. We pray and contemplate, “God, tell me how to be your servant in these times that seem so dark! Show me how to bring your light!” If we ask and we listen, we will each find our own way to bring hope in these trying times.

  • One may be called give to Catholic Relief Services for aid to Mexico or to donate to CCUSA for hurricane relief
  • One may be called to organize a donation drive
  • One may be called to give and/or volunteer in his or her own community
  • One may be called to heal a broken relationship or spend more time with loved ones because life is too short

Compassion is contagious. Perhaps there is no other gift in tragedy then the ensuing outpouring of love. We were called to love one another and show our support for the Freeman community when violence at the high school shook us all to the core. Together we are #FreemanStrong. In the days after the shooting in Las Vegas, people commented on a sense of togetherness and caring in the air – people being extra polite to each other – extra gentle. In these overwhelming times, we cannot allow ourselves to feel helpless. St. Teresa of Calcutta loved to remind us of the power of small acts of kindness.

  • “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person next to you.”
  • “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
  • “Peace begins with a smile.”
  • “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Right here in Eastern Washington, Catholic Charities staff, volunteers, donors, and prayerful supporters make a difference! The good work we do in our own region creates a ripple effect of compassion. Your support of 24/7 shelter operations at the House of Charity – and of the openings of new housing communities and Rising Strong – your attendance at our events and willingness to give time to all our programs – all these things are ways you choose to bring the light into darkness.

You are in our thoughts and prayers, always. We thank you for being a part of our family of compassionate warriors for good in our community, our nation, our world.

Many prayers,

Rob McCann
President & CEO
Catholic Charities Eastern Washington

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Catholic Charities Newsletters

Posted on by lsimpson

Catholic Charities Spokane Current Newsletters

Catholic Charities Spokane Archived Newsletters

Catholic Charities Annual Report

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Rob’s Blog ~ CCS leading the way in the fight to end homelessness!

Posted on by lsimpson

Here at Catholic Charities Spokane, we are innovating and producing results in a move towards a solution to end homelessness.

So many voices out there say it can never be solved…there is nothing we can do…it’s never-ending. 

We think otherwise.  We are not OK with throwing our arms up and saying it can’t be done – we won’t give up. Human dignity is a birth right. Our country can send people to the moon, map the human genome and store the Library of Congress on a hard drive – we should certainly be able to find real solutions for those experiencing homelessness!

Our community is hard at work on these real solutions – maybe Spokane can lead the way! Look at the work of Catholic Charities Spokane alone. We operate the House of Charity – a state of the art homeless shelter – the largest homeless shelter between Seattle and Minneapolis that accepts anyone, in any condition. We’ve built 200 units, $30 million worth of brand new permanent supportive housing  for the chronically homeless, in just the past few years without having to raise a single dime from donors – all with IRS tax credit money. We are funded to build more this year and next year.  We have a former convent in the woods where 240 more units for the working poor will open this fall alongside 75 more new units to be built for the working poor and families coming out of crisis and homelessness. We are truly trying to become the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact for our community! 

Our goal is to build an apartment for every one of the 350-400 homeless men and women who come for lunch, showers and beds every day at the House of Charity, and we are on track to get there in a few more years. Then the House of Charity won’t be overflowing every night. It can be a place only for the newly homeless or recently homeless who we can move out of the shelter and into housing immediately. That’s the dream.   

More importantly we are doing all this to scale, developing and managing our own properties, slashing costs per unit while increasing ROI for the community and for people in need. Our model can be replicated nationally. Many other organizations from around the United States that are hoping to do this in their communities are now coming to visit us to see how we are doing it.

Despite all the recent ‘success’ in bringing hope and stability to the most vulnerable in our community, our work is far from done. We need your help!  We need civic leaders, business leaders, individuals – collaborative partners of all types –  to progress and make the dream reality.

Catholic Charities Spokane is 105 years old, and we serve all people of all backgrounds and all faith traditions.  We are  sometimes in the shadow of Seattle, but on this issue, we are moving to be the light source. That’s pretty rare air for us, but we are making it count and changing the game on homelessness in real time and in measurable ways.   

It’s not always been an easy path, but nothing worth fighting for ever is.

Thank you for your support,

Rob McCann
President & CEO
Catholic Charities Spokane

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“Hundreds of units for Spokane’s homeless, in the forest”

Posted on by lsimpson

“Behind a dense stand of trees and on the former site of Spokane’s oldest convent, hundreds of homes for the elderly, working families and chronically homeless are going up with little fanfare.

The city of Spokane recently issued building permits for 76 units of housing built by Catholic Charities for the chronically homeless. The housing will add to the 240 affordable units already under construction by the nonprofit’s development partner, the Inland Group, on the same land once occupied by the nuns.

The site will also house Rising Strong, a partnership between Empire Health Foundation and Catholic Charities offering support for parents in danger of losing their child to the foster care system, primarily because of housing status.

“I’m willing to bet that there’s no homeless housing like this anywhere else in the United States,” said Rob McCann, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. “Our hope is that these low-income families are going to have one of the nicest places to live that they’ve ever had.”

In all, 316 affordable units will sit nestled behind 31 acres of public land managed by the city’s parks department, a short walk from the “moose and deer and turkeys down by the river,” as McCann said.

The site, called Holy Names Haven, is the fifth such project by the nonprofit. Other similar housing projects built by Catholic Charities for the homeless are Father Bach Haven, Buder Haven, Pope Francis Haven and the Marilee Apartments.

The Sisters sold 34 acres to Catholic Charities last year for $3.6 million, according to Spokane County property records. Empire Health Foundation provided $1.6 million for the purchase.

Six new buildings have been issued permits. An art studio and some administrative offices of the sisters will remain on the property under a rent-free agreement with Catholic Charities.

The city bought the park property in April for $2.65 million using Spokane County Conservation Futures funds.

Garrett Jones, planning and development manager with the city parks department, said the city will reimburse the county fund with $2 million in state grants aimed at protecting aquatic land and water access.

“We’re protecting 4,500 feet of shoreline,” Jones said. “This is part of the River Gorge, which was part of the Olmsted Brothers report.

The city has plans to build a new parking lot and trailhead with better signage on the southwest end of the TJ Meenach Bridge.

The city’s Parks Board has discussed running the Centennial Trail along the river frontage. The board also has reviewed concepts to connect the trail via bridge and switchback trails to Summit Drive near its intersection with North Ash Street.”

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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

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