Grab Your Running Shoes and Get Ready

Believe it or not, spring is on it’s way . . . and race season is starting.  We have a great way for you to get outdoors, get some exercise, and help two great causes at the same time.  

t-shirtSaturday March 24th will be the 5th Annual Running of The Shamrock, one of the first 5K races of the season.  The event, which benefits both The Ark and Hackett Catholic Central, is a fun way to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with your family.  According to Race Director Steve Clark,

 “We are excited to support The Ark — it’s a natural partner for us and has a common mission to Hackett.  Both organizations are dedicated to developing strong kids and we are pleased to work together.” 

So what can you expect if you decide to “do” The Shamrock?  Not only can you wear green and all of your Irish accessories, but the luck of the Irish will bring a great award for the top three finishers.  The race starts at Hackett Catholic Central High School (1000 West Kilgore) at 9 AM and, if you register before the race, you are guaranteed a stylish T-shirt (see above).  The event is also part of the Kalamazoo Area Runners Race Series and all KAR members are eligible for a discount when registering.

Not a runner?  Not a problem!  You can run, walk, or jog . . . this is truly an every that everyone can start and finish, and have a great time while doing so.  It’s also a great way to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with your family . . . either by doing the 5 K or the special Fun Run on Friday night (March 23).   This one-mile run begins at 6 PM and all participants get both a T-shirt and a ribbon.  It’s a great first step toward fitness for a great cause!

If you are interested . . .  we invite you to check out this link to register and get more information.  If you want to participate but not as a runner/walker, you can sign up to volunteer instead.  You can also e-mail the Race Director, Steve Clark, at to learn more.  We hope to see you on March 24th, getting fit and having fun for a great cause!


“Little” Things Make a Huge Difference

It’s been another week full of blessings here at Catholic Family Services, with caring members of our community coming up with creative ways to help our clients on their journey toward self-sufficiency and positive change.  We wanted to take a moment and thank them for their unique ways of helping — many of which may seem “little” or “insignificant” at the time.  Out of every act of generosity comes an impact that you may never know . . . and each is greatly appreciated!

This past Sunday was Superbowl Sunday.  More than a game, the Superbowl is synonymous with great food and celebrations.  St Thomas More and St Joseph’s youth groups were getting together to do just that — eat some great food and hang out.  Yet, in the midst of their fun, they chose to remember the youth staying at The Ark.  They prepared extra food — delicious Mexican food — and made sure that Ark residents had something yummy to gnosh on during the game. 

It may seem like a small thing, but it was a touch of normalcy in the midst of chaos and life-changing work for Ark Residents and every delicious bite was appreciated!  Shown here are two youth group members making the delicious food and youth group leaders Molly and Jerry Mechtenberg.

St. Monica students from Mrs. Martin’s second grade class also did their part to make the lives of our clients a bit more comfortable and healthy.  They collected personal care items during Catholic Schools week.  Below, Anthony Signorello, Ethan Warren, Joseph Clark, and Connor Meadmore pose with just some of the many items given to help Caring Network, Ark Services for Youth, and Baraga Manor residents.

“Personal care items can be expensive to buy.  We’re to thankful to schools like St. Monica who support our mission of helping those in need,” said Jeannine Boehm, Volunteer Coordinator at Caring Network.  Mrs Martin’s class also collected socks which will be donated to the Gospel Mission.


In both of these projects, normal people decided to go above and beyond, sharing from their bounty to make the lives of others better.  Neither project may seem huge, but the way they will impact our clients lives — just by showing them that there is someone out there who cares enough about them to make this effort — is huge.  If you would like to reach out and change a life, we would be more than happy to work with you . . . and you can be creative in the process!  Just give Jeannine a call at 269-381-1234.

The Power to Change A Life

There are so many wonderful things to say about those who give of their time and talents to support Catholic Family Services. Indeed, it’s only the beginning of February and we have dozens of people to thank for their support this year — and through that support, we are blessed to watch lives change. We’d like to highlight the dedication and support of a few of those volunteers here. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to make a difference for, as Thoreau so eloquently put it:

“One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.”

Last week (and again this week) an unlikely group of volunteers came together to make The Ark Cottages ready for its new tenants. The Ark Cottages will be the first safe and stable housing these homeless youth have experienced in a long time (perhaps in their entire lives). These volunteers wanted to make sure these homes were as comfortable as possible. They moved furniture, organized the units, assembled furniture and cleaned. This week the same group is coming together to assemble the last furnishings — dinettes and chairs — so that youth have a nice place to eat and work when they move in next week. Three of the volunteers, Louis Boehm, Dan Bannigan, and Sean Wilson, are seniors at Hackett Catholic High School.  Ron Williams and his children, Turner and Caelyn, have known about the project and generously supported it since its inception. Each saw a specific need and gave a few hours to make this happen; the impact will be lifelong!

This week is Catholic Schools Week and three area schools have been generous supporters of Catholic Family Services for many years. Students make baby blankets, adopt clients and their families for the holidays, help with landscaping and The Ark Garden, and reach out to meet our clients’ needs in so many ways. We chose to attend these schools and present their staff and students with a certificate recognizing their ongoing support, a humble way to say thanks for their commitment and engagement with our agency. On Monday, staff travelled to Hackett Catholic High School, St Monica’s School, and St Augustine’s school. We were able to meet with school administrators and students and let them know how much we appreciate what they do for our agency. These photos capture just a portion of our gratitude for this service!

Perhaps you have considered volunteering for Catholic Family Services or at another location in the community. You may feel inadequate, wondering what you can offer and what you can do. These amazing volunteers are proof that every single person has something to offer and can be a contributing member of their community, working for positive change.  According to Dr Martin Luther King Junior,

“Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering opportunities at Catholic Family Services, please contact Jeannine Boehm at 269-381-1234. Our clients and our community would love to meet you!