Fire Trucks, Cookies, and Supporters . . . Oh My!

Catholic Family Services hosted its Christmas Open House on December 20th at the Van Domelen center, bringing clients, donors, volunteers, and staff together to celebrate this amazing season.  We were so happy that so many people came out! 

Like every event this Season, we have been overwhelmed by the amazing support of our community.  Our clients have been showered with blessings and joy — at it has been a Merry (pre) Christmas!  A few highlights and photos from the open house are below: 

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety surprised and delighted attendees by sending one of their fire trucks to the event.  Clients and staff alike were given a chance tour the truck and ask questions.  As you can see from the photo, Executive Director Fran Denny enjoyed the occasion almost as much as the kids who got a chance to sit in the driver’s seat.  A special thanks to Mike Schulte (husband of CFS staffer Laurie Schulte) for arranging the surprise.

A family decided to honor a beloved family member with a generous donation to Catholic Family Services.  This amazing man had literally met individuals released from jail at midnight to assist them with whatever they needed to make a positive choice — transportation, clothes, etc.  The donation will be used to celebrate his spirit by setting up a fund for youth in crisis, impacting dozens of youth in meaningful ways for years to come.  His family was in attendance at the Christmas Open House and were presented with a special plaque to commemorate their donation.  Catholic Family Services Board and Staff are so grateful for this generous gift and look forward to witnessing its impact for years to come.
It was a wonderful event and a wonderful way to cap off an amazing season:
    • More than 60 families and individuals were adopted by the community, who showered them with personalized gifts chosen with love.
    • Lori Moore and her “Potluck Pals” selected The Ark as a partner this year — and more than 300 cookbooks were sold with 100% of proceeds going to benefit the shelter.
    • Amazing volunteers and donors came together to provide and move furnishings into The Ark Cottages and the Caring Network Apartments, making warm and cozy homes for clients this Christmas and in years to come.
    • We have been generously supported by our community through donations in a time of economic challenge, and we are so thankful for that support!
    • Every day we hear marvelous stories of client successes — all of them a result of community support, personal commitment to change, and the caring work of our case managers and front line staff.  It’s why we do what we do!

Merry Christmas!  We wish you much joy and many blessings! 

The best is yet to come . . . 



Houses Become Homes

Yesterday was a busy day at Catholic Family Services thanks to a very generous donation and some amazing volunteers from Art Van.  We were given 15 complete hotel rooms — with beautiful furniture — to complete the Ark Cottages units and update the Kalamazoo Caring Network apartments.  The day required a lot of flexibility, patience, and physical strength and our volunteers had all three.  As a result, the Ark Cottages are now homes — ready to receive youth and provide them with safe and stable housing.

The generous donation allowed us to equip each unit with a bed, side table, desk, armoire and television, two lounge chairs and a side table, as well as mirrors and other items.  The volunteers helped us to get the items in the unit and more volunteers came back today to add the finishing touches — assembling items, organizing, unpacking dishes and towels, and making the units ready for “move in.”  It was quite the Christmas blessing and we are so thankful for everyone who came together to make it happen.  Check out these pictures and let us know what you think!


Christmas Blessings Abound

We’re in the midst of the Christmas season.  While it’s incredibly busy, it’s also been so full of blessings for our clients and our agency.  We thought it would be great to let you know about some of these wonderful “mission stories” as we like to call them:

 The Ark Cottages Become Homes

If you’ve been following the story of The Ark Cottages, you know they are nine units of permanent supportive housing for homeless youth and the first of their kind in the state of Michigan.  Funding came together through a unique public-private partnership to bring them from dreams to reality.  And now we are experiencing even more blessings.  A local hotel has donated furnishings (which are beautiful and it perfect condition) to fill the nine units.  At the same time, our local Art Van contacted us to say that they would like to volunteer for our agency — did we have any projects?  You bet we did!  On Monday, December 12, the Art Van volunteers are moving all the donated furnishings into The Ark Cottages to make them into comfortable homes.  Additional Art Van volunteers are coming to the site on December 13th to unpack all the kitchen items, clean the units, and make them “move in ready.”  What a perfect Christmas gift for all the youth who are getting ready to move in there.  Thank you so much Art Van!

Caring Network Apartments get a Makeover

This story relates to the first, but it’s still very exciting.  The Caring Network apartments are four units of transitional supportive housing for new mothers and their babies.  They have provided more than a decade of safe and secure housing, and the furnishings are really showing the wear.  As part of the hotel donation and the Art Van volunteer project, the Caring Network Apartments are getting a makeover.  On Monday, December 12 the old furnishings will be donated to another non-profit and new furnishings will be moved in.  This could not happen without the generous support of our community!  The apartments will be a clean, safe and even more comfortable place for young families to grow.

Christmas Baskets Bring the Season to Clients

Every year Catholic Family Services works with local businesses, organizations, and individuals to provide a Merry Christmas to homeless youth and young families.  This year has been full of blessings with literally dozens of clients “adopted” and looking forward to receiving not only “needs” but a few “wants” as well.  To see the face of a young child who was never thought they would get anything for Christmas as they open up a lovingly chosen toy — that is in itself a great present.  We are so thankful to all those who are taking the time this season to give gifts to those most in need.

Potluck Pals Cookbook Supports The Ark — We are also blessed to have been selected to be a Potluck Pals Partner this year.  Lori Moore will be with our staff at the Woodbridge Hills Hardings on Monday December 12.  You can meet Lori, learn more about the work we do, and buy a great cookbook for $5.  All of the proceeds go to The Ark.  It’s a win-win!

Thanks to everyone who has remembered our clients and our agency this Christmas year.  We are so thankful and blessed — even overwhelmed — by your generosity.  We could not do the life-changing work we do every day without your help! 

If you’d like to learn more about any of these activities or join us in our mission by sharing your time or talents please contact us at 381-9800.  Thank you, God bless,  and Merry Christmas!