BY HAYS POST
Midwest Energy, Inc. awarded Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas a 2017 Community Fund Grant to the Hays location in the amount of $1,000. The funds were requested to help purchase a series of participant workbooks designed to assist expectant parents in exploring their personal circumstances, values, and goals to make a realistic plan for parenting or adoption.
“We are blessed to receive this grant from Midwest Energy. Grant funds enhance the agency’s ability to do the important work we do and assist the clients who walk through our doors,” said Michelle Martin, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas. “These funds will enable the agency to enhance the services already provided to expectant parents.”
The Catholic Charities office in Hays is located at 122 E. 12th.
Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas serves 31 counties and was incorporated in 1959 in the Diocese of Salina to assist the poor and vulnerable. The agency primarily focuses on reducing poverty in rural Kansas. The agency works to develop effective alliances with parishes and communities to cooperate in its mission through the efforts of a strong collaboration with local volunteers in the communities it serves. The agency offers a variety of services including: Adoption, Counseling, Pregnancy Support, Emergency Financial Assistance, Mobile Outreach, Community Re-Entry-Homeless Prevention, Legal Immigration, and the Kansas Loan Pool Project to assist people trapped in predatory loans. Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas works in cooperation with local community agencies to meet the needs of each client.
Boxes are packed and plans are being made for Catholics Charities to move its business operations to a new location, where it will be more accessible, have more storage space and be able to improve services in a more welcoming atmosphere.
An open house at the new building, 1500 S. Ninth, is planned for 2:30 to 4 p.m. today, although most of the moving will be completed later.
Purchase and renovation of the new building was funded by an anonymous donation and the Salina Catholic Diocese 2010 capital campaign, Yesterday, Today and Forever, said Michelle Martin, executive director of Catholic Charities.
After the money was raised, she said, officials questioned whether to renovate the facility at 425 W. Iron or to move.
“We determined it would be much more cost-efficient to move elsewhere,” Martin said.
She said the building on Iron Avenue wasn’t designed for use by the public.
“We serve 31 counties and need more room,” she said. “We have three floors, and when someone comes in to see us who is handicapped, this facility isn’t the best at accommodating those individuals.”
Martin said most of the moving will be done Thursday and Friday, and services will be limited on those days. She hopes to be fully operational in the new building by April 3.
After the move, the facility on Iron Avenue will be razed.
The new facility will have just one level, and the space will allow for more community partnerships.
“We have a new training room that we plan to use for more than just our own staff and clients. We hope to develop future collaborations with other community partners,” Martin said. “Our vision is to provide clients with tools to help them long term. We can achieve a greater impact if we help our clients with skills they may need to find a job, keep a job and maintain a stable lifestyle.”
The new facility also will have a more welcoming atmosphere, she said.
“We want to have a place where people can feel comfortable and welcomed,” Martin said. “We believe in treating people with dignity and respect. Our clients are so grateful and it’s their stories and their gratitude that keep us going.”
Plans are being made to open a thrift store at the new location, which will help make Catholic Charities more sustainable, Martin said.
Martin said sharing a parking lot with Sunflower Adult Day Services has been challenging “with the awkward parking lot and small layout.”
“It’s not just the parking, but the current location. People have a tough time finding us right now,” she said. “The new location has a lot more space for parking, greater visibility and unlimited opportunities for growth.”
“We don’t know what the future holds. Starting off as an orphanage, we didn’t see ourselves becoming what we are today, so part of this move is planning for the future. We want to be able to adapt to meet the needs of the community. Yes, we have limits, but we want to be able to help as many people as we can and this move helps make that possible.”
— Reporter Eric Wiley can be reached at 822-1407 or by email at email@example.com.
Catholic Charities offers the following services and programs:
• EAS (Emergency Assistance Services): aids with emergency needs such as rent, utilities, food, bus passes, hygiene items and more.
• Mobile Outreach
• Disaster relief
• Adopt-A-Family: A Christmas assistance program.
• REACH: Assistance for individuals with disabilities
• KELLY MEAD: Assistance for families impacted by catastrophic illnesses who have uncovered medical related expenses.
• Adoption: Assist with adoptions as a certified adoption/placement agency.
• PMI (Pregnancy Maintenance Initiative): Helps mothers during pregnancy with the goal of a full-term, healthy baby through caseworker support which continues up to six months post delivery.
• KLPP (Kansas Loan Pool Project): Assistance for individuals trapped by predatory lenders (payday and title loans)
• Immigration/Hispanic Services: Assist individuals with all the paperwork needed to establish citizenship, obtain legal rights to work and other legal residency status.
• Community Re-entry: Assistance for individuals transitioning out of the Saline County jail to establish stable housing and help obtain employment.
Catholic Charities will host a training session for people interested in providing short-term care for children in police protective custody. The training will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Jan 25 at CAPS, 155 N. Oakdale, STE 200 in Salina. The short-term care will not be foster care and will require less time and training. More information can be obtained at PPC Homes or by calling 785-825-0208.
We are in great need of hygiene and cold weather items – coats, winter clothing, hats, gloves, blankets, etc.
We accept all non-perishable food items and frozen meats that are USDA approved.
Below are our most needed items:
THANK YOU! We appreciate your support of our neighbors in need.
For more information or to drop off items outside of our business hours,
contact Cara Ivey at 785-825-0208 ext. 216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drop donations off at 425 W. Iron
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday – Thursday
8:00 AM – 2:30 PM on Friday
Walking down a path beneath a bridge spanning Mulberry Creek, Kyle Weiser wasn’t sure what he would find.
The stabilization services coordinator for Catholic Charities was looking for homeless people and this was a favored spot.
“I’m Kyle with Catholic Charities. We are out looking for individuals who need assistance,” Weiser said, after seeing a man and woman under the bridge, accompanied by a dog.
The man said his name was Nick and the woman was his girlfriend.
Weiser, who has been operating the Catholic Charities’ Street Outreach mobile unit since November, went to the back of his minivan and brought back a bag of food and hygiene items.
Soon, he was on his way again, spending the rest of the morning checking local resting spots, searching for others living on the streets of Salina. When he found homeless people, he gave them food items such as soup, fruit, chips, granola bars, crackers and beef jerky and hygiene products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, sunscreen, water, toilet paper and blankets. In the winter, he gives shoes and coats, no strings attached.
The number of homeless people in Salina is growing, Weiser says. He estimates that 30 to 50 people carry their belongings from place to place, sleeping at night in business doorways, on park benches and along the banks of the Smoky Hill River channel.
“I think a lot of Salina doesn’t realize how big a problem homelessness actually is in the city,” he said.
Catholic Charities, Saline County Community Corrections, Central Kansas Mental Health Center and law enforcement are collaborating to help homeless people and keep them out of the Saline County Jail.
Weiser said the goal is to locate the services they need to get them off the streets.
“They have to be ready. They have to be willing. I think that is one of the biggest problems,” Weiser said. “A lot of them either aren’t willing to or wanting to. The biggest thing is mental disabilities, not utilizing the services that are offered.”
Salina has three shelters providing services for the homeless: Ashby House Family Shelter, Salina Rescue Mission and the Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas.
However, many homeless people struggle with mental illness issues or drug or alcohol addiction, making it difficult for them to follow rules established by those shelters.
“So what do they do? They end up on the street,” said Annie Grevas, director of Community Corrections. “If you are banned, no matter if it is 30 days, 90 days, 120 days or a lifetime, you can’t go to those shelters anymore.
“I’m not being critical of the mission or the Ashby House. I understand they have to have rules. Unfortunately, when a mentally ill homeless person is banned, no good comes from that.”
Authorities say that law enforcement officers in other counties sometimes send homeless people to Salina.
Michelle Martin, executive director of Catholic Charities, said that’s a good thing, because Salina has at least some services available.
“I don’t want to judge those counties because it is difficult to deal with the expense in a very rural area,” she said. “I am certain counties don’t have a place for them and they will give people bus tickets to go somewhere else, where they do have a place, where there are shelters. That doesn’t mean that if they just give them a bus ticket that they end up in the shelter. Most likely they end up doing something to end up in jail.”
Martin said there are few facilities for people with mental illness.
“I think that is a big part of the issue. Where do these people go with mental health and dual diagnoses?” she said.
Grevas said her department is supervising more people on Community Corrections who are homeless.
Weiser, a graduate of Kansas Wesleyan University, uses a minivan purchased with a grant from G.L. Huyett of Minneapolis for his Street Outreach program three days a week, helping the homeless in Salina, and a Mobile Outreach service to the poor in 31 counties of the Salina Catholic Diocese.
“Often people that need the most help don’t show up in your office, don’t come to us for a variety of reasons,” Martin said. “We have made it our mission to go out and find them.
“I think what compelled me the most was when I found out people were showing up at a business to cash in their cans to live for the day. They had bags on their feet to keep the weather away. There are more people out there than we know. My mission has been this past year to go out there and meet them where they are.”
Weiser said people become proficient at living on the streets.
“I think they get accustomed to it. They get good at knowing what resources are out there and what is available to them to survive on the streets,” he said. “They hide themselves from the public pretty well and try to blend in.”
“If you get up early in the morning and go for a run or a walk on Iron Avenue you are going to see them,” Grevas said.
Human nature is to be apprehensive around the homeless but Weiser has had few incidents.
“There is a misconception out there. Every homeless person I have come in contact with has been very friendly. Very talkative, for the most part,” Weiser said.
Grevas saw a homeless man watching a tennis tournament in Oakdale Park last month.
She said some fans were uneasy.
“He was not one of my clients. He lives at the park. I’ve run into him many times,” she said. “I engaged him in a conversation to show others he was harmless.”
Thank you Little Apple Doulas for the donation of 3,300 diapers from 2016 Spring Diaper Drive 2016!
Diaper need is real in every community and we hope to make a big impact on this need for the Manhattan area. Up to 30% of families report difficulty in supplying enough diapers for their babies.
A lack of diapers can lead to:
• Babies being left in wet diapers for long periods of time that may cause diaper rashes, open sores, and UTIs, which can mean more doctor visits and higher medical costs.
• Babies left in wet diapers cry more, and babies who cry more are at higher risk of abuse and Shaken Baby Syndrome. Parents of crying babies may suffer from depression more often.
• Parents not attending work due to many daycare programs requiring the parent to provide the appropriate daily amount of diapers.
• Parents suffering from lack of confidence due to inability to meet their children's needs
Diapers are not covered under Federal SNAP benefits, and cloth diapering is often not an option due to lack of access to washers, hot water, or rules at laundering facilities.
Catholic Charities was interviewed by North Central Kansas News (http://ncktoday.com/audio) about the Mobile Outreach Program. To listen to the interview, click the link above.
Catholic Charities Executive Director, Michelle Martin, was a featured speaker that the 2016 Greater Salina Community Foundation's Annual Meeting. An excerpt from the Salina Journal's May 12th article about the event is below:
SALINA JOURNAL, MAY 12
The Greater Salina Community Foundation on Wednesday honored high school and college scholarship recipients and presented the Salina Award for Outstanding Citizenship at its annual luncheon.
Since mid-2015, the foundation has awarded more than $55,000 in scholarships to close to 50 students and $8.5 million in grants, according to Ray Perez, chairman of the foundation's board of directors.
Catholic Charities Executive Director Michelle Martin and St. Francis Community Services Vice President of Legal Services Kevin Carrico — who received a $5,000 grant through the foundation’s YW Legacy Fund for a temporary foster care/police protective custody collaboration — shared what the grant has allowed them to do.
“We were approached with a problem that was very compelling to us. There weren’t enough foster care homes in Salina. To go along with that, there aren’t enough police protective custody homes,” Martin said. “We had no money and took a complete leap of faith when we started doing this.”
Martin said that without enough police protective custody homes, “children were spending hours at the police station and were being shipped far away, sometimes to homes just south of Wichita for just 48 hours.”
“Any time a child is removed from the home there’s some sort of trauma there, and we have to do something about that. It was also costing the county money and time,” she said.
Their program, which uses local residents as foster guardians for children, began in November, and now there are five homes. Those homes have taken in 19 children, Carrico said.
“Before we received the grant, people were completely volunteering their homes. We met with homes to see what’s going good and what we could do to make it better,” Carrico said. “Their issue was when you take a child into your home, you have to provide them with clothes, toiletries and other things. The grant has helped volunteers provide basic essentials for local kids while in their home.”
Martin said the group is still seeking volunteers. "We have a goal to reach 10 and we’re only halfway there," she aid. "Thanks to the Greater Salina Community Foundation, you’ll now be paid something to compensate.”