Stories behind the mission illustrate need, gratitude

By Beth Gibbins
Catholic Charities Marketing Director
On a hot afternoon in July, a 36-year-old man stood looking at a table full of donated bread stationed at the front of the Catholic Charities Food Pantry. Clutching a white grocery bag loaded with zucchini, grapes, potatoes, and a container of chocolate milk, he selected a loaf of Italian bread.
“When I became homeless, I had nowhere to go. I would come by, and I knew that I could find something to eat when I was hungry,” he said. “It’s important to me that I have some stability… and the guys here are really nice.” He revealed that he became homeless after his girlfriend died three years ago. He now lives near the fairgrounds and relies on “the dailies” from the food pantry.
Earlier in July, an 89-year-old woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo landed in the United States after enduring life in a refugee camp in Rwanda for over 20 years. Family and friends prayed and celebrated as she, a daughter, and three grandchildren (age 23, 19, and 17) descended the stairs at Des Moines International Airport. Catholic Charities Refugee Services program manager, Kelyn Anker, greeted the family and guided them through the airport for their luggage and on to their new life in Iowa.
Last year in Council Bluffs, a Catholic Charities Sexual Assault Advocate met with a survivor of human trafficking. The advocate helped unravel a lifetime of abuse and neglect from family and others and arranged legal assistance, medical care, mental health services, and substance abuse counseling. The client would eventually tell her advocate, “You are like a best friend, a mom, a sister, an advocate, and a saving grace—all in one. You have played the role of nearly every person I have always needed in my life.”
These are just a handful of stories that illustrate the impact Catholic Charities programs make through direct service to thousands of people in the 23 counties of the Diocese of Des Moines each year. The organization’s mission and values are rooted in Catholic Social Teaching, a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. (
Support through Catholic Charities Annual Appeal ensures programs and services can help now and into the future. Barbara Decker, Catholic Charities Executive Director, said, “To those who donated to the Annual Appeal in the past, we thank you. We hope that you continue to find the programs and services of Catholic Charities a worthy investment of your charitable giving. Please consider an increase in this year’s contribution and sharing our mission with friends and family.”
To become an Annual Appeal donor, go to Click DONATE in the upper right corner of the screen. The website is full of information about Catholic Charities programs, volunteer opportunities, upcoming events, and more.
For help with your contribution, contact Catholic Charities Development Director Debra Powers at 563-275-9643. She can help set up a giving plan, event sponsorship, or find the best way to make your contribution have the most impact.

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