On a sunlit, steamy afternoon in July, North Philly mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children gathered at Casa del Carmen Family Service Center for “Summer Fest”, an annual celebration for families. The Beautiful Beginnings parent education program at Casa del Carmen hosted the afternoon of food and fun. The event was a welcome break from remote events and digital “gatherings” so commonplace throughout the pandemic. Neighbors enjoyed Philly favorites: hoagies, soft pretzels, and water ice. Says Jenny Munguia, BA, BSW, Prenatal & Parenting Educator at Casa del Carmen, “Summer Fest is a way to bring people together, and relieve the stress of being alone. To get people to meet their neighbors”. Pregnancy and Parenting Education Social isolation, and the stress that accompanies it, is all too common in families with infants and young children. Catholic Social Services at Casa del Carmen helps to minimize isolation by conducting pregnancy and parenting education
A Magical Summer Wizards, wands, and magic spells: It’s “A Magical Summer” for the campers at St. Thomas Aquinas Out- of-School-Time program (OST). The magic is being made with the help of the Franklin Institute, dedicated staff members, and The Archbishop’s Benefit for Children. The Archbishops Benefit for Children (ABC) began in 1955 as a one-day event when Cardinal O’Hara initiated a Christmas party for the children served by Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CSS). Since that time, it has evolved into a year-round initiative to support youth programs. As a beneficiary of ABC, Out-of-School-Time Programs enrich the lives of students by providing afterschool academic support and a variety of cultural and recreational activities that serve as outlets to showcase their talents and skills, including summer camps. This year, forty-eight children between the ages of five and twelve attend the St. Thomas Aquinas Summer Camp for six
Support for Women and Children at Mercy Hospice On a typical evening at Mercy Hospice in Philadelphia, mothers and their children can be found in the activities room, redefining what it means to have fun. Whether they are playing board games, line dancing, or doing arts and crafts, the experience is a new one for most of them. That’s because “fun” in recovery means something completely different from “fun” in addiction. This is just one way we provide support for women and children at Mercy Hospice. The women residents at Mercy Hospice, a program within the Housing and Homeless Services Division of Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, are working towards recovery. Both single women and mothers with young children can reside at Mercy, which at any given time, houses 30 to 35 women and 7 to 10 children for up to 3 months. Some of the mothers
Casa del Carmen Preschool Academy Drive-Through Graduation The steady rain of the previous week turned to sunshine just in time for the Casa Del Carmen Preschool Academy Graduation. Last Saturday morning Holy Innocents Roman Catholic Church on East Hunting Park Avenue, the 56 tiny graduates gathered in the parking lot with their parents and teachers to commemorate their first academic milestone: Preschool Graduation. The graduates, each in a pint-sized cap and gown, and their families, were being honored with a special drive-through graduation celebration. The families of the honorees drove through the parking lot and were greeted by their cherished teachers and staff one last time. The event marked the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. Each young graduate received a diploma and award certificates. Individual gift bags for each child were filled with essential kindergarten supplies to prepare the graduates to take the next step in their school journey.
Most students and parents welcome the end of the school year. Summer provides an extended break from the hectic pace of the academic calendar: classes, homework, tests, repeat. But for many students in Philadelphia, the end of the school year also means the end of school breakfast and lunch, and with it, the end of knowing for sure that they will have something to eat every day. Responding to this need, Nutritional Development Services (an agency of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and a sister organization of Catholic Social Services) provides summer food to children. NDS Food Programs During the academic year, Nutritional Development Services (NDS) partners with over 100 parochial, charter and faith-based schools throughout the southeastern region of Pennsylvania to administer government funded school food programs. On an average day 17,000 lunches and 7,600 breakfasts are served to children 18 and under in these schools. NDS also uses it expertise
Maximizing the Potential of Adults with Disabilities The idea for “Lucia’s Pillows," a squaresite.com shop, came to its namesake one night in a dream. In the dream, Lucia, an adult with intellectual disabilities, was making beautiful pillows and selling them. People loved her pillows. Each unique creation featured one of her original drawings, embroidered and embellished with colorful yarn. The dream was the perfect image of Lucia’s passions: drawing, embroidery, and sewing. Lucia is a born artist, and throughout her life has found many outlets for her creativity. Whether she is drawing, painting, or sewing, it all comes very naturally to her. But being a businesswoman had never occurred to Lucia, until she had the dream. Where would the dream lead? The dream inspired Lucia to open an online shop for her pillows. Turning the dream into reality took mere months, with the help of a supported employment specialist from the
Affordable, Independent Senior Living in Delaware County When construction is complete on St. Joseph Place, an affordable, independent senior living facility in Collingdale, a glass atrium will connect two separate buildings that were once the center of the Catholic community in this Delaware County town: the former elementary school of St. Joseph's parish and the nearby parish annex. Community can’t exist without connection. Connection between generations, between the past and the present, and between a neighborhood and its residents. When completed, the construction and renovation will do more than connect two structures. It will connect a beloved old school building with a re-imagined future. St. Joseph Place Apartments St. Joseph Place will consist of 50 one-bedroom apartments for income eligible seniors aged 62 and older. Features of the building will include a community room, food cupboard, laundry facilities, resident lounges, and on-site social services to assist residents with various needs
Food Pantry Delivers Easter Baskets David Stier, Assistant Director, Community Relations, and other staffers from Nutritional Development Services (NDS), don't typically shop for jellybeans and Easter baskets when stocking an agency food pantry. But this week, NDS will fill in for the Easter Bunny and deliver 145 Easter baskets to childcare facilities in Philadelphia. The baskets, provided by an anonymous donor, will be bursting with Easter Eggs, candy, and books. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in our community go without enough food to eat. Many parents struggle to put nutritious food on the table. These parents are not likely to spend their food budgets on baskets of jellybeans and chocolate bunnies. That’s where the NDS Easter baskets come in. NDS is bridging the gap between eating for sustenance and eating for the sheer joy of it. Who hasn't experienced the joy of devouring a soft marshmallow chicken
School social workers make a difference every day of the school year. From helping students navigate the difficult high school social landscape to providing families with needed services, these heroes are vitally important. Catholic Social Services provides social workers for area Catholic high schools. We are proud to feature these amazing individuals. Take a moment and get to know them! What is your name, job title, and social work degree? My name is Rebecca Malfara and I am the Supervisor for School Social Workers and also a School Social Worker at Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls. The school social workers are employed through Catholic Social Services and are placed at Little Flower High School, Archbishop Bonner/Prendergast High School, West Catholic, Father Judge and Neumann-Goretti High School. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Temple University and a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Vermont.
Foster Care Shortage in Philadelphia On an evening in March, a director from Catholic Social Services answered eight calls at his home from the Department of Human Services. Earlier that week, he answered five calls from a county referral agency. All of the callers were looking for the same thing: a safe home for a vulnerable child. A child whose own home had become too unsafe or too unhealthy to live in, or a child who was suffering from abuse and neglect. Some of the calls resulted in placements. Most calls did not because of the shortage of available resource parents. The City of Philadelphia estimates that there are roughly 4,300 children in foster care at any given time. On a typical day, more than a dozen children are waiting to be placed. In Philadelphia, the demand for foster parents (also know as resource parents) has increased in recent years,