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A Helping Hand - Staff Blog

To Be Treasured - Too Often Forgotten

A Message from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark Staff Member Joycelyn J. Murray

Since I began my tenure with Catholic Charities, a day has not gone by when I have not received a call for assistance from a person or family in need. To say that I am grateful to be that voice on the other end of the phone would be an understatement. It gives me immense satisfaction to provide as much information as I can and to refer people to the many resources available through Catholic Charities. I want to resolve each request as effectively as possible. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you (Psalm 31:3).

When hardships are encountered by people who already suffer from illiteracy, sickness, addiction, abuse and mental disabilities, their urgent need for assistance is driven to indescribable levels. The seemingly endless recession has only made life worse for those who are the most vulnerable in our community. In September 2011, the Census Bureau reported that poverty in the United States increased to 15.1 percent in 2010 from 14.3 percent in 2009. The report also found that the poverty rate among single mothers and children increased from 29.9 percent in 2009 to 31.6 percent in 2010. It is now a sad fact that without supplemental support, most single mothers will never achieve economic stability. Is there any wonder that I have received so many phone calls from so many women seeking assistance from Catholic Charities?

I receive tremendous solace from reading the Bible. One of my favorite passages is from 1 John 3:17-18. It reads: If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions in truth.

Please keep in mind: we must treasure and not forget those women and children in need.

March 14, 2014


Welcome to the Inaugural Staff Blog for Catholic Charities! I thought a nice way to start off is to let you know how I came to work for Catholic Charities.

It might sound silly, but it probably started with my very first concert when I was - well, Iím not going to say how old I was! I went with my brothers and sisters to see Live Aid in Philadelphia. What an exciting event! An all day concert with great musicians performing one after another. I still have the t-shirt I bought that day! But what left a deeper impression on me was the cause - relief for the famine in Ethiopia. Who can forget that song... "tonight, thank God itís them, instead of you..." All of those great bands, hundreds of thousands of people all coming together around the world for a common cause - and I was part of it!

But I still didnít think about how I could make an impact... Then, when I was in college, I signed up for a program called "Good Works" and spent a few weeks one summer in the mountains of Kentucky. A group of us students volunteered in a very poor, very rural part of the Appalachia. I have a vivid memory of meeting a family who lived in a small trailer that had no running water... Their main source of income was digging for ginseng in the "holler" and collecting aluminum cans for recycling. At home, I recycled aluminum cans too, but for pocket money... Again, echoing the Live Aid song, I thought to myself, "There but for the fate of my birth, there but for the grace of God go I." At that moment, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to working with people who were less fortunate than I.

As it turns out, I didnít have to go to Ethiopia or Appalachia to help people... unfortunately, there are people in need right in my own area... But even though I went to Catholic schools all my life, I really didnít know that groups like Catholic Charities even existed! Sure, I heard missionaries speak at church, but whole companies with professional social workers, HR departments, accountants... all working to help those in need in my own town? Who knew?!

So fast forward another seven years, and I am happy to say that I found my calling in the Grants Department at Catholic Charities. I help write proposals to the government and foundations to get funding to support the work we do. I work with every department in the agency - Housing, Children and Families, Education, Adult Services, Workforce Development, Community Access and Volunteer Services, and Behavioral Health. I learn so much from the people who provide services directly to people in need. On a daily basis, I am impressed and moved by the caring, individualized work that our staff carry out. I view my work in the Grants Department as a service to our staff, so that they can focus on their important service... together, I think we make a great team!

Maria Biancheri, November 21, 2011



John Westervelt
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