Each year for the past eight years, Catholic Charities has hosted an annual awards dinner to honor ordinary people in the community who do extraordinary things in the diligent pursuit of social justice. You may be wondering more about what Catholic Charities does, who the event honors and where the money raised by the Justice for ALL Awards Dinner goes.
Well, wonder no more. After an interview with Kevin Hickey, executive director of Catholic Charities, here’s what we learned.
What is the mission of Catholic Charities?
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden is a faith-based agency rooted in the Gospel and in the social teaching of the Catholic Church. We provide social services to, advocate for, and empower the poor, oppressed or vulnerable. We do this on a non-discriminatory, non-sectarian basis throughout the six southern New Jersey counties. More importantly all of our work and programs are, as Pope Benedict said in Deus Caritas Est, “a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs.”
What is the vision of Catholic Charities?
Rooted in the Gospel and Catholic Social Teaching, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Camden seeks to transform the lives of people in need, with a special emphasis on reaching out to people and groups who are not fully part of the communities of South Jersey because they are poor and vulnerable. Through innovative, caring social services, and because of our high standards and expectations, we seek to provide an appropriate service to all who ask for our assistance. Our search for change and transformation leads us to create innovative partnerships with Catholic parishes and service organizations, other social service agencies, federal, state and local governments, and all people of good will. Our genuine concern for justice means that we will advocate for people and communities. As wise stewards of the resources we employ, funders, donors and volunteers can entrust to us their time, talents, and funds with confidence and faith.
How does Catholic Charities fulfill its mission and vision?
Pope Benedict describes our program as a heart which sees. We try to see what people need and develop services to help them. We offer a number of services that help us fulfill the promise of the Gospel and assist the poor and vulnerable in our community.
• Migration and Refugee Services
The Lord protects the stranger — Ps 146:9
War, famine, disease, and persecution cause millions to flee their countries. Perhaps having witnessed murders or abductions, they may walk for days or weeks, with the few possessions they can carry, in pursuit of food and shelter. They may remain in refugee camps for years awaiting resettlement in safer countries. Others may be victims of “human trafficking,” in which by force or coercion they are moved to wealthier countries for purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor.
Refugees arrive in South Jersey in need of both material assistance and assistance to assimilate into a vastly different culture. Catholic Charities shepherds refugees as they transition to their new homes, find employment and become part of the American fabric.
• Faith in Families
What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? — Eccl 1:3
Those who have been unable to participate fully in society because they have needed public assistance, often struggle with the transition to employment. With the guidance of specialized case managers, many of these people, often young, single mothers, are able to move toward greater independence from social systems which have often contributed to the dependence they were designed to combat.
• Family Services and Community Centers
The poor you will always have with you — Mt 26:11
In New Jersey over 800,000 people per year suffer from food insecurity; over one third of them are children. One fifth of our state population is considered poor. Catholic Charities is able to provide food assistance, information and referral, and in some instances utility or rental assistance to assist the poor or those struggling financially. Case managers assist the poor to identify what they need in order to become self-sufficient.
• Prison Ministry
When I was imprisoned you came to visit me — Mt 25:36
Over the last 25 years the prison population in New Jersey has quadrupled. The imprisoned are usually poorly educated, economically deprived, young minority men, over one third of whom are diagnosed with a learning disability and/or a serious medical or mental health issue and who have been arrested for a drug offense. Most receive little or no academic or vocational training before they are released.
Opportunities are made available to clergy and parishioners to provide spiritual support, hope, and direction to the imprisoned.
• Crisis Pregnancy and Adoption
You formed my inmost being… in my mother’s womb — Ps 139:13
In New Jersey about 1 of every 3 pregnancies is “mistimed.” While many of these soon become a welcome surprise, for others an unplanned pregnancy can be a challenge. Young women who become pregnant are less likely to complete high school or to ever get married, and are more likely to live in poverty. These women, their partners, and families are provided with support and information as they make the best plans for their babies.
• School Based Family Support
Train a child in the way he should go, even when he is older he will not swerve from it— Prv 22:6
Many children have problems and concerns that make it difficult for them to succeed at school. Their parents’ divorce, the traumas of living in a dangerous neighborhood or being bullied by other children are but a few of their concerns. Family Support Specialists provide counseling, advocacy, and case management to children, their families, and their teachers to create a supportive environment in which all those who care about the children are working together to ensure the children can succeed.
• Behavioral Health Services
All who call upon me I will answer; I will be with them in distress — Ps 91:15
It is normal for people to experience challenging times throughout life. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-injury, and phobias are among the many mental illnesses which affect millions of Americans each year. While this is normal it can be stressful and confusing. When a person’s typical coping mechanisms are no longer effective the assistance of our professional therapists can be helpful. Family focused, strength-based, and spiritually sensitive, our counseling services, presentations, and retreats offer the skills to help individuals, couples, and families begin to rely on their own abilities to address their concerns in healthy ways.
• Veterans Services-Ready, Vet, Go
“Lord, bid war’s trumpet to cease; fold the whole earth in peace.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
Long after the trumpet of war has sounded we know that there is a tremendous cost to individual service-men and women, and their families. From being dislocated from their jobs and families, to the stress of repeated deployments, many veterans struggle to regain their equilibrium and resume the patterns of their lives. This program, in partnership with the Veterans Administration, provides services to low-income veterans and their families to prevent them from becoming homeless.
• Asset Building
“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” — Ps 1:3
Helping low-income families build assets is about creating opportunities that will empower them to move forward on the path toward self-sufficiency. Social services for lower-income families have historically focused on income supports–such as Temporary Aid for Needy Families–but income alone is not enough. Strategies that help families save and leverage their income to invest in productive assets are needed to move families forward. Catholic Charities provides a variety of programs to help poor people build financial assets including a matched-savings program, small business development services, women and minority-owned business support, job clubs, and financial literacy services.
What is the Justice for ALL Awards Dinner?
The Justice for ALL Awards Dinner is an annual fundraising event hosted by Catholic Charities to honor ordinary people who do extraordinary things in the name of social justice and a commitment to helping the least among us.
Why host the Justice for ALL Awards Dinner?
The Justice for ALL Awards Dinner was created to promote awareness of social justice issues in the Diocese of Camden and to promote Catholic Charities by identifying, cultivating and engaging individuals who are committed to our Mission. The event accomplishes this by selecting and honoring individuals and organizations who, by their actions, have demonstrated their commitment to social justice and the common good, and the needs of poor and vulnerable people.
Who does the Justice for ALL Awards Dinner honor?
The Justice for ALL Awards Dinner recognizes individuals and groups who have dedicated themselves in service to charity and justice, and who have contributed to a better world by doing good. Each year, awards are given in the areas of leadership, parish/community ministry, social ministry and social justice. The awards given each year are:
The Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio Award for Leadership recognizes the leadership of the former Bishop of the Diocese in promoting the development of Diocesan social ministries for the poor and vulnerable.
The Sister Grace Nolan Award for Social Ministry honors the enduring work of Sister Grace Nolan, R.S.M., who served the poor of Atlantic County for over forty years.
The Peter J. O’Connor Award for Social Justice honors the founder and director of Fair Share Housing Center, and one of the original lawyers in New Jersey’s famous Mount Laurel doctrine-which outlawed exclusionary zoning practices and paved the way for reforms in affordable housing policy across the United States.
The Monsignor Michael Doyle & Monsignor Robert McDermott Award for Parish and Community Ministry honors the pioneering efforts of the pastors of two exceptionally socially active parishes in the Diocese of Camden.
This year we are happy to be able to honor the following individuals:
Thomas A. Cavalieri, D.O., of Mullica Hill, recipient of The Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio Award for Leadership
In every facet of his life, Thomas Cavalieri, D.O., has shown a strong commitment to his faith, his profession, his family and the people to whom he brings medical service. As a geriatric educator and clinician, he has been an advocate for older adults for more than 25 years, raising the standard of care for them and helping the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Osteopathic Medicine (UMDNJ-SOM) to achieve national recognition in the field of geriatrics.
Cavalieri currently serves as dean of UMDNJ-SOM, professor of medicine and endowed chair for Primary Care Research. He previously served as the director of the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging (formerly the Center for Aging, where he was Founding Director) and chair of the Department of Medicine.
Ann M. Budde of Bridgeton, recipient of The Sister Grace Nolan Award for Social Ministry
Ann Budde is a woman of many firsts. She was the first woman to become vice president of a non-Catholic hospital in New Jersey, the first woman inducted into the Bridgeton Rotary, and the first woman president of the Cumberland County Board of Vocational Education.
Budde is also an inductee in the Cumberland County Women’s Hall of Fame, has served as chair of the South Jersey Hospital Board, and has chaired numerous positions with United Way, March of Dimes, Research Club of Bridgeton and many other organizations. Currently, Budde serves as Director of the Good Sheppard Dining Room Soup Kitchen, which feeds more than 21,000 people in need in the Cumberland County community each year.
Deacon William Johnson of Bridgeton, recipient of The Peter J. O’Connor Award for Social Justice
Deacon William Johnson was the first African-American ordained as a deacon in the Diocese of Camden and served as deacon in his home parish of St. Teresa of Avila in Bridgeton. Deacon Johnson also served as an advocate and canonical consultant to the tribunal and chair of the former Black Catholic Ministry Board. He was appointed as the first director of the Office for Black Catholic Ministry and later served as chair of the former Racial Justice Committee.
Under his leadership and guidance, the Racial Justice Committee embarked on racial justice training for the Diocese and led the efforts of others to become certified in order to continue to provide the training. Deacon Johnson has worked tirelessly to minister to the Black Catholic community in South Jersey.
Joseph Balzano, posthumous recipient of The Msgr. Michael Doyle and Msgr. Robert McDermott Award for Parish and Community Ministry
The late Joseph Balzano began his career at the Port of Camden in 1951 as an office clerk and equipment operator. In 1989, he was appointed as the South Jersey Port Corporation’s executive director and chief executive officer. For more than five decades, Balzano was a major force in the City of Camden, spearheading port expansion and economic development and fighting tirelessly for Camden’s less-fortunate residents.
He was an active and dedicated member of Sacred Heart Church, remembered for his yearly Christmas tree and countless other generosities. During Balzano’s lifetime, he received countless awards and recognition for his legendary port operations expertise and his contributions to the community at large.
Giovina Price is special events coordinator, Diocese of Camden, Office of Development.