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The Thomas Merton Center Serving men, women and children of Greater Bridgeport 43 Madison Avenue Bridgeport, CT 06604 (203) 367-9036 Fax (203) 367-8828 Catholic Charities of Fairfield County Spring 2013 Non-Profit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID Bridgeport, CT Permit # 382 The Thomas Merton Center 43 Madison Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604 Executive Committee TMC Staff Designed By Ellen LoGuidice • EFL Design • [email protected] Advisory Board Mark Grasso – Senior Director and Vice President Catholic Charities Janet Barker – Office Manager Kathy Barone – Kitchen Supervisor/ Case Manager Nichole Fernandez – Family Center Assistant Lorraine Kelley – Cook Daniel Maldonado – Security Cindy Mitchell – Receptionist Marie Paulemon – Program Coordinator –Family Center Allinson Robillard – P.T. Assistant- TMFC Debbie Stokes– Program Coordinator – St. Stephen's Food Pantry Anthony Walton – Lead Case Worker Christina Wills – Case Manager/ Programs Supervisor Lucille Bentley, St. Vincent's M. C. Steven Canale, General Electric Lorraine F. Carrano Mary Beth Claflin Sheila Clancy Edwin Farrow John T. Gerlach, Sacred Heart University Guy Hatfield, Hatfield Insurance Agency Donald Hickey Marianne Kahn Joe Karpiej Mark Kelly, Safety Marking, Inc. Paul Maloney, Fairfield University Al Martins, DHL&S Kathy Russo Marilyn Wiegman, People's United Bank Jane-Ellen Collins, Chair Bonnie Candee, Vice Chair Jon Vaccarella, Merrill Lynch, Finance Christine Hughes, Secretary Joe Mulcahy, Member at Large Greetings! As I write this, I am approaching six years of service at The Thomas Merton Center. Where has all of the time gone! I remember when I was about to start here I was thinking about what it would be like working at a place I was not that familiar with, while leaving behind the familiarity of working in the mental health system. I remembered the guests, their circumstances, and the neighborhood feeling totally unfamiliar to me. I still remember my first week at Merton, and being struck by the apparent callousness of our neighbors, who sat on their porch chatting while a man lay barely conscious on the sidewalk in front of their house. When I asked if they had called the police, they replied that the man is resting and frequently does this in the neighborhood. Since then, I've certainly learned a lot about poverty. But the more I have learned, the more I still see how much I don't know because I have never lived in the situations most of our guests have experienced. The insecurity and chaos associated with the poverty of our guests in many ways dictates how they look at life, which determines what they do with their lives. I have never experienced the hopelessness caused by poverty that many of our guests experience daily. It makes me appreciate when I see our guests ascend above their circumstances to reach out in some way. I certainly experienced this first hand after the recent storm. We were closed for a couple of days due to the fact that we could not get down our street. Even when we did open, we could barely get in and the walkways were obviously untouched. One of our guests offered to help clear the area with our snow Learning About Poverty blower, but a certain amount of shoveling still had to happen because it was too big of a job for one snow blower. I took a shovel and went outside to start clearing the area myself. I probably went into our storage area three times after that to get more shovels for people volunteering to help clear the property out. Good thing we have a lot of shovels! It took a few of us quite awhile, but it got done, and since we currently do not have a maintenance person, I don't know how it could have gotten done without the help of our guests. None of them were looking for any sort of praise. They probably felt they were doing their part in exchange for the meals they receive here. The lack of understanding about poverty is certainly a contributor to progress being made to deal with it. That's just another reason why we are grateful for your support of the poor in Bridgeport. Caring without being able to fully understand is a great virtue, and whether you are looking for it or not, I offer my sincere thanks once again! Sincerely,

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Page 1: Non-Profit Organization Bridgeport, CT Permit # 382 ...The Thomas Merton Center Serving men, women and children of Greater Bridgeport 43 Madison Avenue Bridgeport, CT 06604 (203) 367-9036

The Thomas Merton CenterServing men, women and children of Greater Bridgeport

43 Madison Avenue Bridgeport, CT 06604 (203) 367-9036 Fax (203) 367-8828

Catholic Charities of Fairfield County

Spring 2013

Non-Profit OrganizationU.S. POSTAGE

PAIDBridgeport, CTPermit # 382The Thomas Merton Center

43 Madison Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604

Executive Committee TMC Staff

Designed By Ellen LoGuidice • EFL Design • [email protected]

Advisory Board

Mark Grasso – Senior Director and Vice President Catholic CharitiesJanet Barker – Office ManagerKathy Barone – Kitchen Supervisor/ Case ManagerNichole Fernandez – Family Center AssistantLorraine Kelley – CookDaniel Maldonado – SecurityCindy Mitchell – ReceptionistMarie Paulemon – Program Coordinator –Family CenterAllinson Robillard – P.T. Assistant-TMFCDebbie Stokes– Program Coordinator – St. Stephen's Food PantryAnthony Walton – Lead Case WorkerChristina Wills – Case Manager/ Programs Supervisor

Lucille Bentley, St. Vincent's M. C.Steven Canale, General ElectricLorraine F. CarranoMary Beth ClaflinSheila ClancyEdwin FarrowJohn T. Gerlach, Sacred Heart UniversityGuy Hatfield, Hatfield Insurance Agency Donald HickeyMarianne KahnJoe KarpiejMark Kelly, Safety Marking, Inc.Paul Maloney, Fairfield University Al Martins, DHL&SKathy RussoMarilyn Wiegman, People's United Bank

Jane-Ellen Collins, ChairBonnie Candee, Vice ChairJon Vaccarella, Merrill Lynch, FinanceChristine Hughes, SecretaryJoe Mulcahy, Member at Large

Greetings!

As I write this, I am approaching six years of service at The Thomas Merton Center. Where has all of the time gone! I remember when I was about to start here I was thinking about what it would be like working at a place I was not that familiar with, while leaving behind the familiarity of working in the mental health system. I remembered the guests, their circumstances, and the neighborhood feeling totally unfamiliar to me. I still remember my first week at Merton, and being struck by the apparent callousness of our neighbors, who sat on their porch chatting while a man lay barely conscious on the sidewalk in front of their house. When I asked if they had called the police, they replied that the man is resting and frequently does this in the neighborhood.

Since then, I've certainly learned a lot about poverty. But the more I have learned, the more I still see how much I don't know because I have never lived in the situations most of our guests have experienced. The insecurity and chaos associated with the poverty of our guests in many ways dictates how they look at life, which determines what they do with their lives. I have never experienced the hopelessness caused by poverty that many of our guests experience daily. It makes me appreciate when I see our guests ascend above their circumstances to reach out in some way. I certainly experienced this first hand after the recent storm. We were closed for a couple of days due to the fact that we could not get down our street. Even when we did open, we could barely get in and the walkways were obviously untouched. One of our guests offered to help clear the area with our snow

Learning About Povertyblower, but a certain amountof shoveling still had tohappen because it was toobig of a job for one snowblower. I took a shovel andwent outside to start clearingthe area myself. I probablywent into our storage area three times after that to getmore shovels for peoplevolunteering to help clear the property out. Good thing we have a lot of shovels! It took a few of us quite awhile, but it got done, and since we currently do not have a maintenance person, I don't know how it could have gotten done without the help of our guests. None of them were looking for any sort of praise. They probably felt they were doing their part in exchange for the meals they receive here.

The lack of understanding about poverty is certainly a contributor to progress being made to deal with it. That's just another reason why we are grateful for your support of the poor in Bridgeport. Caring without being able to fully understand is a great virtue, and whether you are looking for it or not, I offer my sincere thanks once again!

Sincerely,

Page 2: Non-Profit Organization Bridgeport, CT Permit # 382 ...The Thomas Merton Center Serving men, women and children of Greater Bridgeport 43 Madison Avenue Bridgeport, CT 06604 (203) 367-9036

Like us on Facebook and see all of our postings and photographs. This isa great way for you to see whatwe are in need of on a daily basis!

My name is Kathy Barone and I'm the Kitchen Supervisor and a Case Manager at The Thomas Merton Center. My Kitchen responsibilities are threefold: coordinate the work schedules of our invaluable volunteers, manage the availability of supplies to meet our menus and serving needs, and

match donations with our requirements and objectives. My focus is to provide nutritional value to our guests in a congenial, organized atmosphere. Although I do some cooking, we are fortunate in having a splendid cook who, in turn, receives support from generous individuals, and various church, school, and scout groups. As a case worker, I aspire to offer

our guests a nonjudgmental listening presence, reflecting the love, hope and hospitality that are the hallmarks of the Thomas Merton Center. Our common goal is to help our guests deal with ongoing struggles of addiction, homelessness, or issues of physical and mental health, helping restore each individual to a healthy self respect wherever it might be lacking.

Plan AheadPlease mark your calendars

with this important note:

Merton Center's 2013

Celebrity Breakfast;

Wednesday, May 22Holiday Inn; must attend;

great cause; lots of laughs.

HELP, HELP, HELP!It's hard to believe, but summer is coming…and we need your extra help in solving what could be a very warm, sticky problem. Specifically, our ancient air conditioning system is beyond repair, kaput, done for! We're told a new system will cost more than $26,000, which we don't have. So, may we ask you to be even more generous than usual in helping us cover this cost? We send 26,000 thanks in advance!

Fairfield JWC Gives $10,000 to Thomas Merton Family CenterAARP Foundation Awards $12,000 to St. Stephens Food Pantry

Merton Center Staffers; NourishingBody and Soul

“Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” (Letter to the Hebrews, 13:2)

Mr. Moss on the Conga DrumsMr. James Moss, an expert on the Conga drums, filled the House of Hospitality of the Thomas Merton Center with joyous sounds as he performed on a couple of recent Friday mornings for the pleasure of the Merton Center guests. He visited the Merton Center at the invitation of Sister Eileen Boffa. Some years ago Sister had invited him to play for the women of the Mercy Learning Center. He's also played his Conga drums to the delight of the students at St. Catherine Academy in Fairfield, again at the request of the very persuasive Sister Eileen. Mr. Moss is a former Bridgeport resident and a graduate of the University of Bridgeport. He believes that volunteering his time and talent is an effective way 'to serve God.” The title of one of the songs he's written is “Salvation is Free.”

The Junior Women's Club of Fairfield presented a check for $10,000 to The Thomas Merton Family Center, its charitable partner. The gift will help support the Family Center's mission of providing high-risk families with food and clothing, along with parental and educational support. The gift represented proceeds from “A Visit To Santa's House,” an event hosted each Christmas by the JWC at the Burr Homestead in Fairfield. Last year, the JWC donated $17,000 to the Family Center, also the proceeds from “A Visit To Santa's House.” .

The JWC is a non-profit service organization open to women in Fairfield and surrounding towns. It gives members the chance to make new friends while giving back to the greater community through social and personal enrichment programs for women and fundraisers such as “Touch-A-Truck” and “A Visit To Santa's House.”

Our St. Stephens Food Pantry received a grant of $12,000 from the Disaster Relief Fund of the American Association of Retired Persons. Nora Duncan, AARP's Connecticut state director, recently visited the pantry to thank both staff and volunteers for their continuing efforts to assist local residents impacted by super storm Sandy. The AARP Foundation Disaster Relief Fund was established in the wake of Sandy to assist recovery efforts in areas of the country hardest hit by the storm.

Mark Grasso, director of the Thomas Merton Center and a vice president of Catholic Charities of the Bridgeport diocese, expressed thanks for the generosity of the AARP Foundation. “This grant could not be more welcome,” he said. “It comes at an excellent time for us, as we're seeing many more people than anticipated in these last few months.

“It not only allows us to continue to purchase the food we need but also enables us to move the food pantry to a larger space in our current building on Madison Avenue. So here's a big 'thank you' to the A-A-R-P!”

St. Stephen's Food Pantry

Here's how you can get involved:

43 Madison Avenue Bridgeport, CT 06604Hours of Operation: M-W-F 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

St. Stephen's Food Pantry can use committed volunteers who are interested in assisting our guests who need groceries, as well as organizing the food in the pantry. If you are interested, please call Debra Stokes, Pantry Coordinator at 203-367-9036 Ext. 23.

Thomas Merton House of Hospitality

Here's how you can get involved:43 Madison Avenue Bridgeport, CT 06604

The Thomas Merton House of Hospitality can use committed, enthusiastic volunteers to serve either breakfast or lunch on weekdays. Commitments can be for one day or for a regular weekday slot. Please call Kathy Barone, Volunteer Coordinator at 203-367-9036 Ext.25, if you are interested.

Volunteer Opportunities

Thanks go to the JWC of Fairfield, for once again supporting The Thomas Merton Family Center with proceeds from "Santa House." In the picture, left to right, are Marlene Battista and Linda Cronin-McCloat of the JWC, Mark Grasso of The Merton Center, and Meghan McCloat of the JWC. Santa House co-chairs Erin Fusco and Tina Poff are not shown. This gift makes a total of $27,000 donated to our Family Center through the JWC and the Santa House project.