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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

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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

CC logo color small

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Guadalupe Haven opens in Othello, WA

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It was a gorgeous June day for the Grand Opening and Blessing of Catholic Charities newest community, Guadalupe Haven in Othello, WA! The property offers 85 units of farm worker housing, and 250 children now call this Haven home.


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

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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

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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

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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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