Tag Archives: Charity

Business and faith: A match made in heaven?

I recently served on A discussion panel where Catholic business leaders explored the degree of compatibility between faith and business practices, including corporate charitable giving. A distinct mix of opinions was expressed. In an era when it cannot be agreed that 2 + 2 = 4, can business people be as divided as the rest of the country? Or perceive that faith presents different dictates to different people? Is there no common denominator?

Probably not, but let’s try two ideas on for size.

My dad, a businessman and one of the most charitable people I’ve known, always spoke of “helping the least of our brethren.” Judging from our mailbox at home while growing up, it seemed that every mission around the world depended on his good will.

Try one more. “Children are a gift from God,” said Mother Teresa, whom my wife and I met many years ago while volunteering at Caligat, her “Home for the Destitute Dying” in Calcutta. She was remarkable in her approachability, energy, and good humor.

Perhaps not all readers would agree with my dad and Mother Teresa, though it’s hard to argue with the Gospels and a saint. Thus, in exploring the alignment between business and faith, it might be instructive to ask business people to assess their actions, processes, and charitable commitments through the lens of how well they are serving the least of our brethren, including children.

Looking through this lens, I would submit that in the sea of all the good things that businesses and their people do, there are two opportunities that are overlooked: improving education and addressing fatherlessness.

Improving education has many definitions. Many businesses donate books, provide reading tutors, and teach STEM classes. All good. But to me, real improvement will rely on market forces – yes, good ol’ competition – when poor kids and their parents are given the freedom to select from a menu of public, private, religious, cyber, and home educational options that fit their circumstances and preferences. But the forces of the public school monopoly are strong, vocal, and well funded. Some school choice advocates have declared this the civil rights issue of our day. But where are voices of business leaders, whose instincts I have to believe, despite divisions, lean toward free markets? I don’t hear them.

Nor do I hear business leaders weighing in on fatherlessness despite nearly 20 million kids in the U.S. living without their dads. Most are being raised by single mothers, nearly 50 percent of whom live in poverty. Too many families, the key building blocks of society, are shattered. Too many kids live desperate lives marked by loneliness, neglect, gangs, drugs, crime, pregnancy, hopelessness, failure in school, and lack of love. In the mid-1960s, the vast majority of children lived with both parents. To be sure, some were poor and faced enormous challenges.

But with two parents in their corner, they at least had the fighting chance that too many kids today lack. What happened? We could debate the causes forever. But sadly, and with tragic consequences, our culture seems to have concluded that dads are obsolete and unnecessary, to be tossed onto some 21st-century trash heap with other anachronisms. And so too many of our kids suffer without the love, hard work, protection, discipline, and guidance of their fathers – while we delude ourselves that mothers can do it all.

What can businesses do? Plenty. There are numerous agencies, non-profits, private groups, and individuals doing heroic work both to offer kids a better education and rebuild fatherhood. In supporting any of these initiatives with their drive, creativity, and intelligence, business leaders can help many of the least of our brethren while witnessing to what our faith prescribes.

BILL MCCUSKER is Founder & CEO of Fathers & Families, Inc., whose mission is improving the lives of children, mothers, and families by building awareness of the importance of fathers, and by helping fathers be better fathers. He is recently retired from the business world where he spent 36 years in executive and marketing leadership roles. www.fathersfamilies.com.

When Kids Need A Safe Haven

When the police took five-year-old Bonita White from her apartment, she was more relieved than scared. Her drug-addicted mother had left her alone with an infant brother for a week. There was no father involved.

The two little ones were taken to Our Little Haven (OLH) in St. Louis, Missouri, a home for the youngest victims of abuse and neglect. “Everyone assured me that I would be okay, and I trusted them,” Bonita said. “I remember it was a delightful time. I had my first birthday party and Christmas there and went fishing for the first time. They were so loving!” Our Little Haven was home for Bonita and her brother for a couple of years until they transitioned back with their mother following her treatment for drug addiction. Things were better, although there would be other programs in their future as safety nets for a family headed by a mother with mental health and addiction problems. “My mother loved us the best she knew how, but she was sick,” Bonita explained.

Today, 28-year-old Bonita credits Our Little Haven with having had a major impact in her life. She has a degree in psychology with a social work emphasis, works with Head Start for early childhood intervention, and plans to attend graduate school in psychology next year. Her 23-year-old brother, Terrence, plans to graduate with degrees in mathematics and engineering next year.

Serving Children for 25 Years

It has been 25 years since Scott and Kathleen Hummel made the leap from their social work jobs to creating a program caring for young children from troubled families. Scott is now the executive director and Kathleen is the therapeutic director.

The couple met at Rockhurst University where they received undergraduate degrees and then earned masters in social work and received honorary doctor of philosophy in humanities degrees from St. Louis University. They both knew well the results of abuse and neglect during early childhood. Scott worked at a homeless shelter for families, and Kathleen worked with pre- adolescent girls having serious mental health problems.

“We noticed there was a significant similarity in the families we served that boiled down to a need for early intervention,” Kathleen said. “We wanted to help children from traumatic homes and not wait until they were 12 years old when so much damage has already been done.”

In the early 1990s in the St. Louis area, Scott said that not a lot of people were working with children from birth to 10 years old. The idea grew to create an early intervention program for children from abuse and neglect situations, to heal—mind, body, and soul—while living in a secure, loving environment. Since nothing existed like they envisioned, they created it themselves, establishing relationships with other social service agencies, recruiting a board of directors, hiring staff, finding office and residential treatment space, and securing funding. It was a five-year process from idea to reality. “We’d try to push it away and God in his awesomeness, kept pushing it to the forefront,” Scott said.

The Cookie Jar

Inspired by Dr. William Brennan, retired social work professor from St. Louis University, a cookie jar analogy became the inspiration for the Hummels. It goes like this: when we are born, we are all given a cookie jar. Throughout our formative years, we are given cookies in the form of good experiences and praise. Around the age of ten, the cookie jar is sealed up and that is what we have in life.

“When I was three years old, trauma was losing my red crayon,” Scott said. “We see children who have no cookies in their jar, who come from violence and neglect. For us, that is why we are doing this—to fill up their cookie jars. It’s a response to the gospel of caring for each other.”

Scott pointed out that programs such as OLH become opportunities for others to live out Jesus’ command that we love one another by giving through volunteering or donating to support their work. “It is our honor to invite people to participate,” Scott said. “We are invitational not expectational. If there’s any success, it’s because we are getting out of the way and letting God and the community help.”

By the Numbers

According to Scott, statistics indicate that without intervention, many of these kids end up dead or in prison. “Those are two options not consistent with the Gospel,” Scott said. “Had the community not helped children like Bonita, pulling her out of the cycle of abuse and neglect, we would have lost her God-given talents. That’s not God’s design for these young people.”

There are also pragmatic costs, he pointed out. “Longitudinal studies, from the child welfare to juvenile systems to the adult system, indicate that they will die at about age 62 — what kind of a life is that?” Scott asked. “And it costs about $1 million per person instead of putting that money into better schools and parks and highways.”

Our Little Haven (OurLittleHaven.org) helps around 600 kids and their families a year; either reunifying them or finding more suitable placement. In 25 years, 18,849 children have been helped. They are private, not-for-profit, partners with Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services to provide services which include a therapeutic preschool, a pediatric mental and behavioral health outpatient program, and the Taylor Family Care Center, which runs the foster-care program. The in- house residential program that was home to 25-40 children ended 10 years ago in favor of foster care.

The Hummels raised their own children alongside running OLH. Maggie, now 26, was born the same year OLH opened, Peter is 24, and Sarah 21. It was the pregnancy of their first child that pushed the Hummels to take the plunge. Kathleen either had to put in for maternity leave or let her boss know she would not be coming back. Scott had to resign from his position at the family shelter also. They took a deep breath and began at the cusp of their own beginning as new parents and have never looked back.

“We pray and rely on the community and continue to be grateful,” Kathleen said. “This has all been God’s doing.”

“There are frustrations at times, but then an alumnus like Bonita stops by,” Scott said. “I think God sends those people at just the right time.”

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

A Matter Of Heart

The word “philanthropy” typically conjures up notions of wealthy donors who give large sums of money to worthy causes.

But several Legates through their charitable and professional involvement are giving greater depth to the word’s meaning. Through their work and generosity, all are showing that philanthropy starts with a desire to advocate for the good of others and goes well beyond financial giving.

Choosing between doing well and doing good 

As a graduate student, Legate Terrence Blackwell felt torn between doing well and doing good. After a summer life guard job led him to teach people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to swim, he landed in graduate school in education at the University of Pennsylvania, but also took elective classes at the university’s prestigious Wharton School.

About that time someone told him, “Until you make a definitive decision as to which hat you want to wear, you’ll be tormented. You can go after the dollars with the other Wharton guys or keep working with disabled people.”

Blackwell wrestled with the question, asking himself whether he could work with disabled people and make the most of the available resources in a way that had measurable impact. He concluded that if he could do that, he could really change the world.

Today, Blackwell, a member of the Legatus Baltimore Chapter, is president and CEO of Chimes, a nonprofit human service agency providing employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities. Chimes operates in Israel, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

Before joining Chimes in 2016, Blackwell was chief operating officer of Services for the Underserved, a Manhattan-based agency that serves veterans and people with intellectual disabilities, behavioral and mental health and substance abuse issues. A licensed school principal, board-certified behavior analyst, and certified addictions specialist, he also has been a direct-care counselor for a community-based residence and led the development and operation of preschool programs for children with disabilities under New York’s state education department.

Blackwell said he would advise people who want to be more active in promoting the good of others to begin by looking at St. Teresa of Calcutta. “The problems society faces have always been so enormous and we think one person can’t make a dent in this. Her approach was, ‘I can only deal with one person in front of me.’ I think that’s a good way to live life.”

Filling the ‘empty nest’

For Jim and Jacki Delaney, philanthropy is about giving their time, talent, and treasure to ministries and organizations they believe will make a difference in society or the world.

That makes for a long list of involvements for the busy Philadelphia Legates, who this month on November 14 will receive the American Catholic Historical Society’s Barry Award for distinguished professional accomplishments and contributions to the Church and community.

Although the Delaneys learned the importance of giving from their parents and Catholic education, they said it was their participation in the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Church Ministry Institute that took their efforts to a new level.

“We were looking for something to do as we were becoming empty nesters and we read about the program in the church bulletin and signed up,” Jacki recalled. “The purpose of the Institute is to remind us that through Baptism we all are called to the mission of the Church.” Through three years of classes in Church history, ministry skills, lay mission, and spirituality, the couple learned about what it means to use their talents for the Church. Following their graduation in 2006, both became Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and lectors in their parish of St. John Vianney, Gladwyne, Pa. But that wasn’t all.

Jim’s ministry project for the program had been on starting a parish Bible study and he began one at St. John. “I had intended to do it a few years and move on,” he said, “but I stayed because the 15 people in the study were so excited about it, I couldn’t leave.”

The CEO of J.D. Capital Partners, Inc., Jim is chairman emeritus of the board of Neumann University in Aston, Pa., and last year completed a 10-year term on the board of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. He currently serves on the boards of the National Catholic Community Foundation, the Foundation for Catholic Education, Prayer Unites the World, the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute (PHILO), and Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, Pa. He also is on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops National Advisory Council and serves with Jacki on the Catholic Leadership Institute’s national advisory board.

In addition, the Delaneys have been involved with retreats for homeless people at the Malvern Retreat House, where Jacki is on the board and will become chairman in April, 2019. Jacki’s service also has included the Catholic Social Services board in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Barnes Foundation Alumni Association, of which she is president emeritus. For 11 years, she has been overseeing the Archbishop’s Benefit for Children, a year-long initiative that provides support for children’s charities in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

When the Delaneys receive the Barry Award this month, they plan to place a flyer at each guest’s place listing the organizations they are involved in with contact information on how to help. “We’re truly humbled by receiving the award in light of who the past recipients have been,” Jacki said, “but truly, it’s not about us. It’s about who we serve and we want them to be part of that award.”

Through the blessing of God

Though regarded as philanthropists by others, Joe Roxe and his wife, Maureen, would never describe themselves that way.

“We lead very simple lives and have been blessed by God with the means to support a small number of causes with which we have become deeply involved,” said Joe Roxe, a member of the Legatus Fairfield County Chapter.

Foremost among those causes is Catholic education, including Roxe’s alma mater of Chaminade High School on Long Island and Bishop Frank Caggiano’s efforts to expand Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT. Roxe said going to Chaminade, an all-boys school where he graduated in 1954, had a greater impact on his life than did attending Princeton University and the Harvard Business School.

The Roxes also support other causes, such as the arts, through a charitable foundation that bears their name. The foundation was established in 1998 after Joe sold the private company in which he had been a partner. He serves as the foundation’s chairman.

Additionally, the Roxes give of their time. Joe is a former trustee of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, and has served as a trustee of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and the U.S. Naval War College Foundation, as well as an overseer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is also a member of the Bridgeport Diocese’s Finance Council and Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Diocese.

“We find involvement with these prestigious institutions to be very rewarding, frequently mind bending, and always stimulating,” Joe said.

Joe, who is chairman of Bay Holdings, LLC, said he views the support he and his wife provide as very modest compared to “true philanthropists” who make multi-million-dollar gifts to some of the same institutions they consider it a privilege to help.

Maureen is an overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and a former long-term trustee of the New York Medical College.

Joe and his wife are a Knight and a Dame of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and
of the Papal Order of Saint Sylvester.

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer

Benignity often enjoins great personal sacrifice

From its very beginning the Church has nourished a strong understanding of responsibility for the poor and for the evangelization of all. “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s needs” (Acts 2:46).

Archbishop Broglio

For several weeks at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn you and I experienced the dramatic situation of our brothers and sisters in Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and various small islands in the Caribbean.

In the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, the government does not have a protocol for second collections, but rather allows the priest, having consulted his Catholic community council and the ranking base chaplain, to designate a collection (which will be the only one that day) for a specific purpose. The devastation caused by these recent natural calamities led me to request designated offerings three times. The faithful on military installations responded generously.

Of course, some of them responded in another way as well. Soldiers and sailors were sent to Puerto Rico to help the residents in removing debris, setting up emergency systems for power and communication, and assuring emergency assistance in health care on the USS Comfort. While those efforts were funded by the federal government, we do not forget that these men and women who were sent to Puerto Rico were separated unexpectedly from family, home and routine. Once again they fulfilled their duty and we can rejoice in that commitment.

You and I have frequent opportunities to practice what the Lord calls the great commandment. Love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable. “…for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1Jn. 4:20b). There are so many concrete ways to fulfill the demands of that commandment. Gradually, as we deepen our relationship with the Lord, the response to the needs of others becomes almost second nature.

The difference between a merely humanitarian concern for others and that inspired by our faith is that you and I want to see Jesus just like a host of others in the New Testament period. He tells us that such a meeting is not difficult. In the Gospel of St. Matthew (chapter 25) the Lord Jesus tells us very clearly that we meet Him in those who are in need of us. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy allow us to see Jesus in the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned and so forth. That charity is at the reach of everyone and it is coupled with our commitment to evangelize. It will be the matter for our judgment at the end of our earthly pilgrimage.

Even in her mid-80s, my late mother used to take meals on wheels to shut-ins. She only stopped when lifting the trays was beyond her physical strength. Who has not been moved by the sight of a Little Sister of the Poor or a Missionary of Charity meeting the needs of those unable to help themselves? How can we miss the faith in action on the part of a volunteer helping an inner-city child with her homework at one of our Catholic schools? The examples are endless and they inspire us in our commitment to others.

The witness of faith in action also describes that host of volunteers who assure religious education in countless CCD programs, RCIA, and adult education. It is true that these opportunities are a fundamental expression of what the Second Vatican Council stressed in its description of the laity as the leaven that permeates contemporary society with the richness of the Gospel. In 40 years of priestly ministry, I have seen so many examples of those whose faith is lived out in concrete situations. Despite the pressure of frequent moves and constant transition, military faith communities are no exception. Indeed, the commitment of others spurs our commitment and enriches our response. That is how the Gospel has always been spread and we give thanks.

ARCHBISHOP TIMOTHY P. BROGLIO, veteran Vatican diplomat and canon lawyer, took the helm of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) in Jan. 2008, a global archdiocese serving 1.8 million Catholics worldwide. Learn more about the AMS at milarch.org.