Headlines for the year from Catholic Charities across the Diocese of Charleston


Dedication of the St. Joseph Residence for Retired Priests and the newly expanded Carter May Home was held Nov. 6, 2004. Twenty-three residents, including six retired priests, call the only diocesan assisted-living facility home. The capable and compassionate staff ensures a retirement of dignity and comfort for priests and laity alike.

Domestic Violence program “In Safe Keeping” is launched. Catholic Charities is assisting parishes in responding to victims of violence, particularly domestic violence. The goal is to prepare every parish as a place where the most vulnerable and abused can feel they are in ‘safe keeping’ within the Catholic Community. First Responders will be appointed and trained to meet with the abused when they come to the church for support and comfort. The first training session will be held May 14 in Columbia with subsequent sessions scheduled for Taylors and Charleston.

Catholic Charities Immigration Office in Mt. Pleasant gains full-time attorney. Emily Guerrero joined the Catholic Charities staff as a full-time attorney providing legal immigration services from the Mt. Pleasant office located at East Cooper Community Outreach. Guerrero joins Glenda Bunce, director of Immigration Services, in assisting clients from across the diocese with a variety of immigration related needs.

Other immigration news included work with the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office resulting in the successful petition for the U Visa and work permission for a domestic violence victim who is cooperating with police to prosecute her abuser. Two additional clients have successfully petitioned INS for permanent residence under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and five other VAWA cases are pending.

Saluda Outreach Project of Catholic Charities of the Midlands expands services to the Hispanic Community. In addition to providing food, clothing and financial assistance, the project offers adult literacy and English as a Second Language classes.

Unique Save-a-Smile program launched by Catholic Charities of the Piedmont. Through grants and donations, the Save-a-Smile program provided dentures to the disabled, the elderly and 84 indigent adults seeking employment. More than 20 agencies are making referrals to Catholic Charities for the program.

Volunteers inspire by example. More than 125 volunteers worked more than 12,000 hours last year doing everything from sorting and distributing clothing for the poor and homeless in the diocese, preparing and serving meals at Neighborhood House and Echo House, distributing toys at Christmas, answering phones and helping in the offices, assisting residents and landscaping and planting at the Carter-May Home — in short, making it possible for our small staff to serve 13,700 individuals in one year.

Catholic Collaborative Initiative established in the Upstate by Catholic Charities of the Piedmont, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System and Mercy Housing. Nurtured by a planning grant from The Collaboration for Ministry Initiative, co-sponsored by the St. Ann Foundation of Cleveland and the S.C. Ministry Foundation of Cincinnati, the initiative has identified senior care as its first proposed project. Its vision, “To build a future full of hope, promise, and dignity for all,” fits well with that of Catholic Charities, “Providing Help, Creating Hope.”

Community Empowerment Program trains 27 liaisons in public schools in Marion, Marlboro, Williamsburg, Dillon and Florence counties. A Sisters of Charity Foundation grant allowed Catholic Charities of the Pee Dee to train and sponsor 30 projects in area public schools focusing on outreach to the poor.

Geriatric Care Management Program addresses the unique problems associated with caring for older loved ones. A Pee Dee Catholic Charities geriatric care manager works with families, even those located out of town, in obtaining and coordinating local in-home services or assisting in locating an appropriate long-term care facility.

Dorothy Grillo is the director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Charleston.