The Four Pillars of Stewardship: Service
Catholic Social Service
Adoption Services • Pregnancy Counseling • Teen Mom’s Program •
Addiction Counseling • Economic Assistance • Disaster Response •
Marriage and Relationship Education • Food Assistance • Medical Assistance ...
By REGISTER and CSS STAFF
If you’ve never had to seek the assistance of Catholic Social Service of the Diocese of Dodge City, you might count yourself lucky.
Throughout its history, staff members of Catholic Social Service have been the workhorses behind dozens of programs designed to lend aid to those most in need.
For more than 60 years, CSS has worked in the areas of adoption, childcare, housing, troubled youth, alcoholism, education, refugee services, children and spousal abuse and prevention, emergency assistance, pregnancy counseling, aging, foster and respite care for children with disabilities, search and reunion services for adult adoptees, birth parents and their families, family counseling, addictions and recovery (in addition to alcoholism), Teen Moms, disaster response, marriage preparation and education, Marriage for Keeps (marriage support), infant adoption awareness training (training health professionals), and post abortion counseling (Rachel’s Vineyard). It all began in 1951, the same year the Diocese of Dodge City was formed. Then-Bishop John B. Franz started an office for Catholic Charities, which was directed by Father Gilbert Herrman, who worked out of the chancery basement.
From the outset, Catholic Charities handled adoptions. At least five orphans from Ireland were adopted by couples in southwest Kansas early on.
With offices in Dodge City, Garden City and Great Bend, Catholic Social Service has been instrumental in the development of the following ministries: Forest Place, a home for troubled youth in Great Bend; Sommerset Place, a low to moderate income housing facility in Great Bend; Family Crisis Center in Great Bend; Emmaus House, a facility providing emergency assistance with food and shelter in Garden City, and 40 senior citizen centers and 28 nutrition sites.
The mission of Catholic Social Service has been to reach out to those most in need within the diocese. The agency advocates social justice with the philosophy that people should have equal access to resources, services, and opportunities that are essential for the accomplishment of life-tasks.
Following are just a few of the many ways that CSS has lent a direct hand to those in need in southwest Kansas:
Helping victims of natural disasters
Soon after the violent tornado struck Greensburg and the surrounding region in May 4, 2007, CSS began working with other agencies to provide needed help.
“We primarily distributed the donations that were received through CSS and the diocese to help individuals build or repair homes when they had no other resources to do that,” commented CSS Executive Director, Debbie Snapp.
“We worked with the South Central Kansas Tornado Recovery Organization (a part of the Kiowa Ministerial Alliance) to determine eligibility. We also used some of that money to help with emergency needs -- replacing eye glasses, prescriptions, etc….”
Helping Young Moms
The Teen Moms program, which was introduced to the Diocese of Dodge City by CSS social worker Amy Falcon in 2000, is designed to restore the promise, possibilities, and, not to mention, the sense of fun into the life of a teenager who is pregnant.
Every week, September through May, the participants of the Teen Moms program, who must be between ages 13 and 23, meet with Falcon and Maria Gutierrez, program assistant, where they enjoy a meal together while taking part in a workshop presented by a volunteer teacher. The workshop may include lessons on everything from parenting, to preparing their taxes, to applying for a college, to interviewing for a job.
Each young mom is assigned a volunteer “mentor,” an adult who spends one-on-one time with the teen mom, talking, going to a movie, or helping with a project. Graduates of the program have gone on to become attorneys, medical professionals, among others.
The Marriage for Keeps (MfK) program formed in 2004 “with the goal of realizing a dream of promoting and supporting healthy marriage and family relationships throughout the state of Kansas.”
Research indicates that healthy marriages and family formation reduces poverty, child abuse, and neglect. It also prevents costly social service intervention and increases job stability.
Goals for couples are to:
• learn emotional, physical, and commitment safety
• appreciate their partner and improve their friendship
• increase productive communication and reduce conflict
• more fully appreciate how their relationship impacts their children
• develop effective problem solving skills
• cope and support one another by developing healthy relations and stress management tools
• improve parenting skills
• develop goals and plans for the future”
Helping open eyes to justice issues: JustFaith
The mission of JustFaith Ministries is to form, inform and transform people of faith by offering programs and resources that sustain them in their compassionate commitment to build a more just and peaceful world.
JustFaith is a scripture-based adult formation program that looks at poverty and compassion for the poor through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching. The program is presented over 21 weekly two-and-a-half hour sessions, Through prayer, immersion experiences, books and videos, participants encounter the face of poverty in such a way that they experience transformation and are drawn to respond to the needs of our broken world. It is deep spiritual journey done in the context of a small faith community.
Helping the addicted
Addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling or pornography is an affliction that affects individuals, families and communities. Catholic Social Service provides addiction, recovery, and relapse prevention counseling services for individuals, couples, families and groups throughout the 28 counties of rural southwest Kansas. There are several options available for addiction treatment and recovery, and no single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Catholic Social Service is a faith-based outpatient treatment program. Outpatient treatment programs generally involve individual or group counseling and family therapy for individuals who visit an office at regular intervals.
Helping provide financial assistance
CSS provides assistance in accessing programs that provide financial help for food, housing, utilities, and medical services. For instance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps eligible households pay a portion of their home energy costs. People who are elderly, disabled, or less than six years old, are at risk for life-threatening illnesses or death if their home is too cold in the winter, or too hot in the summer. Kansas HealthWave provides low-cost or no-cost health insurance for families with children. CSS will also provide assistance in acquiring immediate access to meals, and to organizations that provide ongoing help.