On this page we have a list of Outreach Actions that have been sent to CFM USA done by members of our local action (parish)
Magnets Raise Money for Orphanage
Bob and Lucille Gregory of St. Anthony Parish CFM, Nanuet, NY, would like to involve more CFMers in a successful local action. They have raised over $25,000 for Hope Village in Haiti (www.freethekids.org) by offering free Christmas and Easter magnets for donations. All money donated goes to the children at the orphanage because all expenses are already paid.
Participation in this action is now being offered to all CFMers. You can contact the Gregorys (through the CFM USA National Office) to order magnets in bulk at no charge. Offer the magnets for donations and then send a check back to the Gregorys for the amount collected, made out to "Free the Kids". If your group would like to use this opportunity to raise money for another charity, just send a check to the Gregorys, made out to "Free the Kids" for $70 to receive 100 magnets. This only covers expenses. Finally, if you would like just a few magnets, they start at $3/magnet.
Fixes up Home
Severna Park, MD
CFM group members work with several organizations to fix up the home of an eldery man. Click for video.
Serves Sandwiches to Homeless
St. Lawrence Martyr parish in Redondo Beach, CA
Provides approximately 200 sandwiches several times a month for the street ministry of the Brothers of Charity in inner city Los Angeles. This year some members have begun to help distribute the sandwiches on Saturday mornings as well.
Assisted Family of Soldier
St. Philip CFM in Evansville, IN
Provided meals and other forms of support to the family of a parishioner who was called into active service in the recent war in Iraq.
Christmas Party for Needy Family
Vickie Rowlands at St. Malachy in Geneseo, IL
Adopted a family with four kids for Christmas. They included their kids in a party where they wrapped all the presents they had purchased and concluded with a prayer of thanks. "It was a great time for us," Vickie wrote.
Worked at Soup Kitchen
St. Jane Frances CFM in Pasadena, Md.,
Served lunch at a downtown Baltimore soup kitchen this Memorial Day weekend. Eighteen folks, including four teens, waited tables and visited with the guests, who totalled over 500 that day. Our Daily Bread, part of Catholic Charities of Baltimore, serves breakfast and lunch to all comers, no questions asked. Food is donated by area parishes and businesses. They also provide restrooms, showers, and other services for the downtown Baltimore homeless and working poor communities. Since the CFM group needed to serve on a Saturday, they contacted the center about 3 months in advance to make arrangements to provide the helpers (who had to be 14 or older). Everyone had such a great time that they plan to do it again next year.
Served Dinner to Needy
Terry and Jean Smith at Holy Trinity in Des Moines, IA
Their group prepared and serve supper at a inner city church in June. Several CFM groups in the Des Moines area participate in this project.
Bike-a-thon for Make-A-Wish
Bill and Eric Stimpson, Sonrise CFM in Sterling Heights, MI
On July 26 through July 28 they rode 300 miles on bicycles, for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan. Joyce and Laura Stimpson are working the crew for the same event.
Christmas Gifts for Needy
Lauri Przybysz of St. Jane Frances CFM in Pasadena, MD
Gathered presents to send for the Single Men's Christmas Party at the archdiocese center, Our Daily Bread. The group got shirts, socks, hats, gloves and other warm items for the men at the center.
Caroling at Senior Center
Robin Matthews at St. Joseph in Auburn, CA
Went caroling at a local senior center with their children. "It was great. People are really excited about the group."
Singing to Shut-ins
Colleen Kiesel at St. Peter and Paul in Haubstadt, IN
Group went "Christian Caroling" last fall. Because of an over abundance of activity during the Christmas season, the group decided to take their children to visit parish shut-ins early in the fall. They brought cookies and sang for the elderly they called on.
Gifts for Unwed Mothers
The CFM group in Gilbert, AZ.
Has a "Birthday Party for Baby Jesus". The event includes a potluck picnic at a local park. The group brings new baby items as gifts to donate to a home for unwed mothers called Maggie's Place. Earlier in the year they had an annual garage to benefit a local charity. Charlene and Patrick Migliorini at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Redondo Beach, CA
Group works with "Hand in Hand," a local agency feeding the homeless.
Party for Kids in a Shelter
Mary Robertson from St. Anthony in Menomenee Falls, WI
"We toured the newly renovated cathedral on February 16th and learned some interesting facts about the cathedral and its outreach to the poor. In December we sponsored a Christmas party for a local women's shelter including games for the kids, a magic show and a visit from Santa."
Care Bags for the Needy
Amy Younkman of St. Theresa's Church in Austin, TX
Groups put their faith into action by coming together to help the less fortunate in the Austin community with a hands-on social justice project. After their Valentine party this year, the families who belong to the CFM groups gathered to assemble "care bags" in zipper-seal bags for needy people standing on street corners holding their 'please help' signs. Each family contributed goodies such as peanuts, cheese crackers, granola bars, personal care items, suckers, bus passes and emergency help cards along with holy cards. The children formed an assembly line to stuff the items in baggies at their meeting, then the families divided up the bags. The project made a big impression on the kids; one CFM member tells the story of how her daughter cried out one day while driving, "Mom, I sure hope you have some bags left, because I see a guy who really needs one!" Needless to say, the children look forward to handing out the "care bags" while their parents wait for the signal light to change at the street intersections where a needy person is requesting help. The project is not only helping the needy but teaching the children that caring for the poor is being a disciple of Jesus.
Supply a Food Pantry and Help Elderly with Yard Work
Julie Venner from Sacred Heart Parish, Boone, IA
"Our parish has a collection once a month for the local food pantry. Our CFM groups hand out grocery sacks after masses the week before to help our parishioners remember to fill them and return them to church the following week. The sacks are donated by local grocery stores. Since we have been doing this there has been a substantial increase in the amount of food and items donated. "Every spring we also help any elderly or disabled parishioners with yard work, spring cleaning, etc., that they are unable to do on their own. This activity involves all the members of our CFM families. Many parishioners look forward to our help each year. We finish off our year with a family picnic in June involving shared food and multi-generational games."
Sponsoring Afghani family
Margie Murchan at Queen of Apostles, San Jose, CA
"We've gotten more out of this experience than we've given," says Margie Murchan. She was talking about her role in facilitating Queen of Apostles parish in giving assistance to an Afghani woman, Harima Karimi, her 17year old daughter and 10 year old son who relocated in San Jose with the help of Catholic Charities. Margie and husband Larry have been CFM leaders for many years.
Harima Karimi was living in Russia and supporting her family by selling clothes in a street bazaar. The family was living in a single room, which they shared with seven others, when they came to the attention of the International Red Cross who arranged for their emigration to America.
Catholic Charities in the San Jose Diocese has sponsored families coming to the U.S. for many years. In fact the CFM group at Queen of Apostles had helped a family who emigrated from Kosovo several years ago. The events of 9/11 had halted the program until this spring.
Jack Lueder another Queen of Apostles CFMer who participated in the project says, "There's an internal gratification (in helping someone transition to life in America) even if you don't see them again." Jack had an opportunity to help the Harimi children with their math and science assignments this spring in his role as volunteer tutor at the local high school. He visited the children's temporary home to assist them and said, "They offered me food. The atmosphere was really kind and accepting." Lueder also helped several years ago when a family from Kosovo immigrated into the area.
The families are provided temporary housing and help in learning English by Catholic Charities. The sponsor's primary role is to befriend the newly arrived families and help them adjust to life in the United States. Families typically need assistance in obtaining social security cards, setting up bank accounts, getting appropriate medical attention, and, most importantly, a job. This is the key to moving on into independence.
CFM and other interested Queen of Apostles parishioners contributed money to help the family, obtained bedding and furniture. A parishioner is volunteering his services as an employment counselor to help the mother find work. Harima has had 10 years of English instruction, but she has been living in Russia recently and needs to regain her fluency. Another parishioner is helping with transportation.
As part of developing a friendship with the newcomers the family enjoyed an outing in San Francisco, a visit to an Afghani restaurant and a trip to the zoo. Margie pronounced these activities, "Great fun!"
Margie anticipates the family will be on their feet and not need assistance after several months. The Harimis look forward to the day when family members left behind in Russia will be able to join them.
Sponsors Family Camp
Mary and Brian Thelan, St. Thomas, Ann Arbor, MI
What do pontoon boats, fishing, family skits, daily Mass, and deep family conversation have in common? They are all part of a family camp that is spearheaded by some industrious, faith-filled CFMers from Ann Arbor, Mich.
This past August 125 individuals from New York City, Buffalo, N.Y., Adian, Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich., gathered at Camp Aldersgate, in Carrollton, Ohio to participate in the eighth annual Holy Family Ministries camp. The camp represents the fulfillment of a dream of Father Tom Helfrich, an Oblate Father of St. Francis de Sales. It is also the result of the energy and faith of CFM families from St. Thomas in Ann Arbor.
The camp has built bonds between families who live in very different worlds. "It has helped our CFM families see these families as very much like ourselves. They often have a situation that they have been born into that it is very difficult to get out of. This camp has shown us how to serve, but it has also been a like a retreat for us," according to Mary Ann Thelen, one of the camp organizers.
Holy Family Ministries started with a family camp the St. Thomas CFM group attended in 1994. The families enjoyed their time at the camp, but they were challenged by an idea one of the priests running the program shared with them. Father Helfrich wanted to develop a deeper camp experience that brought families from the suburbs into contact with families from the inner city to grow in interpersonal relationships and faith in recreational setting.
One of the St. Thomas CFMers had experienced that type of camp. When she lived in New Jersey, Karen Stein had participated in a camp that worked with inner city families from New York. She knew that camp had to turn families away because the demand was greater than the camp capacity. In addition to the New York connection, St. Thomas Parish has a relationship with St. Benedict Parish in Detroit. Families from that parish were also invited to participate. The camp gives families who have experienced reverses a chance to improve their lives and start again. Volunteer families interacting with them at the camp find they benefit from the experience too.
"Our kids have grown so much through this. They say this is what has formed their faith—our life in CFM and this camp," says Mary Ann. She has been involved in the camp since its beginning and is responsible for writing the program that is used each year. "I use the CFM method for the sessions."
This year's theme presented some challenges. The committee had chosen the Beatitudes as the basis for the camp and each day was devoted to one of those key concepts. "When it came to the idea of discussing 'Blessed are the poor in spirit' we wondered if we could talk to someone who was truly poor about that." Mary Ann relates. "We concentrated on how we decide how much is enough and also the spiritual side of that." Another day focused on violence and terror in neighborhood and society. "These people come from areas where safety is a big issue," says Mary Ann. Hungering for what God wants and examining what will really make us happy were other topics for the week.
Volunteer families are paired with inner city families for a discussion and activity session and the evening meal each day during the week-long camp. There is also a daily peer group meeting. A morning focus session led by Father Helfrich, opportunities for camp service projects and daily Mass are built into the schedule as well.
The inner-city families benefit not only from the talk and activity time, but also from the opportunity to interact in a recreational setting. Fishing, swimming and boating are all popular pastimes. "The recreation is important--families just enjoying each others' company. Safety is big for the New York families. A lot of these children can't play outside without adult supervision where they live," according to Mary Ann.
Holy Family Ministries has incorporated as a non-profit organization and raises between $10,000 to $15,000 to run the camp each year by writing grants and doing other types of fundraising. Some support comes from surrounding parishes, individuals and organizations. "The families are not charged, but they can contribute. They try to put in whatever they can. God provides. We've never not been able to do it for lack of funds," says Mary Ann.
Next year's camp is set for August 2nd through 9th, but Father Helfrich has challenged the group to expand the camp to two weeks. "In order to do that we would need to train families to help," Mary Ann said. Program guidelines call for volunteer families who are Catholic, open to forming a friendship with an inner-city family, and willing to work with others to lead small groups. Families stay in rustic cabins. Volunteer families function as role models for the others at the camp and must be willing to participate fully in all activities.
CFM families who might like to volunteer can contact volunteer coordinators Jim and Karen Stein at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to find out more about the camp, visit the Holy Family Ministries page of St. Francis of Assisi parish website, http://www.stfrancisa2.com/socialministry/holyfamily.htm. The Ann Arbor parish is one of the project's supporters.
Parish supports high school member paralyzed in football accident in Arlington Heights, IL
Our Lady of the Wayside CFM worked with the community to raise funds to help out a paralyzed high school football player. Click here for an article that appeared in the St. Anthony Messenger. (792kb)
Program book inspires Heifer Project action
Sue Perek St. Edna, Arlington Heights, IL
Inspired by “Beyond Our Doorsteps,” a meeting in the program book Family Choose Life, our groups researched the different countries to see how the children were cared for and we were just saddened and disgusted. With all of our wealth, food and extras living in the US, we were almost ashamed to find that others in different countries were so lacking. We found that women, as well as children, were thought of not so highly.
We thought about how could we approach this and help? Since Lent was about to begin, it was a perfect time for Almsgiving and quite easy for the kids to understand. We gave each family a white paper bag with decorations of animals and different countries and asked them to decorate the bag as desired. We included an activity sheet about animals inside and an explanation of our group action.
Our goal of the project was to give a 'hand up' instead of just a 'hand out' to a special organization. We decided to contribute to the organization Heifer because it animals and training to the poor so that they can provide themselves food (from the animal) and food for distribution/sale. This gift then multiplies as they train another family in the community, an so on. The community prospers into a more stable and healthy environment. We felt it was a win-win for all included.
The families were to contribute money, as they desired, into the bag and would donate it at the end of Lent to Heifer. Well, the bags are in and the collections totaled over $1200. Since our goal was to get one animal at about $500, we more than surpassed that goal. The kids heard the stories; the parents shared with them about the kids in different countries and their change spoke!! What an encouraging project to do.
How's that for being inspired by the book!! Thanks to whoever wrote it to open our eyes and do something.