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Catholic Charities Celebrates 85 Years of Service

Since 1926, Catholic Charities has worked endlessly to serve and advocate for more than 75,000 voiceless, hungry, addicted, abused, and forgotten individuals annually throughout the Omaha area. Through its 11 main programs, and the efforts of nearly 400 amazing volunteers, staff, and board members, Catholic Charities works to feed the hungry, give shelter and safety to battered women and children, support individuals with mental illness, offer recovery and hope to those suffering from addiction, teach new skills to young and old, unite adoptive families, and so much more. In September, Catholic Charities celebrated 85 years of service to Omaha.

“Catholic Charities really got its start as a result of The Great Depression, as a service for families and children in need,” John Griffith, Catholic Charities executive director said. “Over the years our services and programs have evolved in response to the most critical needs of the community, but our areas of focus have always been tied to our mission which is to serve, empower, and advocate for individuals and families in need, mindful of the presence of God in our midst.”

Griffith says the commitment of the staff, the support of the board, and the ability to a build lasting relationship with the community has enabled Catholic Charities to be successful in its pursuit of service to others.

“We accomplish some pretty significant results in important areas because of a culture that attracts uncommon people that do extraordinary tasks. We are blessed to serve God’s people. We want to do more to provide value today just as we have for the last 85 years,” Griffith said. “We’re grateful for our history and the support we receive from the community.”

CC Award

Catholic Charities' award winners pose for a photo during the awards luncheon in September.

In recognition of that community support and rich history spanning 85 years, Catholic Charities hosted an Advocate Awards Luncheon on September 22, 2011 honoring seven community leaders who have made significant contributions to the Omaha community. The honorees were selected for outstanding service as model advocates to Catholic Charities’ mission.

Honorees included:

Tessie Edwards, for her work with children and youth,
Rev. Thomas Fangman, for his work in family and neighborhood development,
Jamie Gutierrez, for her work in the Latino community,
Rhonda Hawks, for her work in behavioral health,
Mary and Charles Heider, for their philanthropy, and
Dianne Seeman Lozier, for her work on behalf of domestic violence victims.

“With this milestone anniversary, we wanted to not only celebrate the lasting impact of our programs, but also the contributions of these community leaders,” Griffith said.

As part of the commemoration of Catholic Charities’ 85th Anniversary, a special Mass was also held at St. Leo’s Catholic Church on September 25. The Mass included recognition of all of Catholic Charities’ ministries in action praying for all past and present employees, Board members, volunteers, donors and faith leaders who have enabled Catholic Charities to help those most in need in the Archdiocese for the past 85 years.

The future for Catholic Charities will continue to be bright,” Griffith said. “We are part of a very strong, local church in terms of our desire and mission to serve others. So with the support of the community and the Catholic faithful, that commitment of serving will be there for many, many years. Our continued mission of service is one that we will find a way to make sure the people in need receive hope and through the hard work of many people we’ll continue to respond to those in need.”

To learn more about the many programs Catholic Charities offers, or to make a donation or volunteer at Catholic Charities, visit