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CCCNMO marks close of ten-year anniversary with growth in response to community needs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Media Contact: Ashley Wiskirchen, Director of Communications | awiskirchen@cccnmo.org

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. JEFFERSON CITY, MO. As Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri expands programs and services to meet increased needs across the 38 counties it serves, the agency has welcomed new program staff and administrative leaders over the last several months.  

In May of this year Sister Kathleen Wegman, SSND was welcomed to the administrative team as Director of Mission Integration. She will help to develop, strengthen, and convey the agency’s Catholic identity and mission throughout services and programs. Sister Kathleen comes to us following 12 years of service in the Diocese of Jefferson City serving as Chancellor and Director of Parish and Charitable Services. 

Dan Kempker joined CCCNMO in early November as the inaugural Director of Finance. Mr. Kempker has thirty years of experience in organizational finance, grant budgeting and management, and auditing and financial consulting. Previously serving as parish business manager, and chief financial officer of a statewide charity which helped to provide healthcare to low-income, and under- and uninsured people, his financial guidance will ensure that CCCNMO continues to be excellent stewards of the resources generously provided through both grants and private support. 

“We have a history of being fiscally responsible stewards of grant and donor dollars,” said executive director, Dan Lester, “We’ve always done a respectable job managing our finances. Now we are growing, and Mr. Kempker will allow us to continue that responsibility as we move forward.” 

Rounding out administrative hires, CCCNMO welcomed Ashley Wiskirchen as the Director of Communications on November 15. Ms. Wiskirchen joins the agency from the Diocese of Jefferson City, where she served as Associate Director of Communications. Ms. Wiskirchen brings over ten years of experience in marketing and communications in the public and non-profit sectors to the agency. She is tasked with developing a comprehensive communications plan that will connect stakeholders who support the agency’s work, and those whom it serves. 

Among administrative staff additions in November, Catholic Charities also saw the departure of administrative team member Cristal Backer, who served as Development Director. Ms. Backer successfully oversaw the agency’s “Open Hearts, Open Doors” renovation campaign for their new headquarters in Jefferson City in 2020-2021. 

As community needs increase and the agency grows to meet them program, directors and staff are putting their hands, minds, and hearts to the task of increasing program access and service reach. New initiatives including behavioral health and counseling services; a state-of-the-art client choice food pantry; and expanding services in the areas of refugee and family immigration have prompted the agency to bring on a group of talented and diverse staff to work directly with those we serve. 

Dala Hemeyer has been named as Director of Counseling Services, joining the agency in September. Ms. Hemeyer joins the agency from The Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital and brings more than a decade of experience in behavioral health to develop a robust counseling program. Her vision for this program includes increased access and awareness of faith and spirituality-informed mental and behavioral health care.  

“We have consulted with parishes, schools, and individuals and see a need within our community and across the counties we serve to provide these services, and intentionally make them accessible both in pricing and availability,” Lester said. 

As the agency gears up to open doors to the client-choice food pantry in Spring 2022, the Health and Nutrition Services program, led by director Judith Mutamba, has brought on staff to oversee pantry operations and programs. Ms. Lori Stoll will oversee the pantry, which includes the capacity for 60 pallets of food in storage, a demonstration kitchen for learning opportunities, and an interactive kid’s corner for clients to utilize while they shop. 

In direct response to the Afghan Refugee Crisis, Samantha Moog, Director of Refugee Services and Lorna Tran, Director of Family and Immigration Services have seen a sharp increase in the need for refugee and immigration program support. In addition to resettlement efforts from across the globe, Catholic Charities Refugee Services has resettled over 240 Afghan refugees in the last eleven weeks. For context, the previous resettlement record for the agency was 229 refugee resettlements over a twelve-month period in 2016. To that end, additional staff have been hired to support existing services and expand opportunities to serve refugee needs.  

“We see the existing humanitarian crisis and that’s really what’s driving our growth is these service areas,” Lester remarked, “We have a team of highly-skilled, diverse, and compassionate team members who are ready and eager to serve.” 

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Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri (CCCNMO), an entity of the Diocese of Jefferson City, responds to the needs of people in 38 counties regardless of faith, culture, or situation. This includes services for refugees and immigrants, those with food insecurity, mental health needs, health and nutrition education, basic household, and shelter needs. For more information, visit cccnmo.diojeffcity.org.