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in need regardless of
faith, culture, or situation.

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Community Collaboration: how linking arms with community partners moves our mission forward

Standing alone, our agency can do a little – by linking arms we can do so much more to serve those in need.

In 2023 Sr. Kathleen Wegman, SSND served Catholic Charities as the Interim Executive Director. During her leadership the United Way of Central Missouri announced their welcome of Catholic Charities as one of three new member agencies.

The crux of our work at Catholic Charities is encountering those in need, to know them, to honor their dignity, and to work alongside them to gain access to the resources that lift them out of poverty, reunite their families, reach their goals, and thrive.

Across the five programs we offer, that work is being carried out by qualified, compassionate staff members – supported by active volunteers, donors who generously give, and community partners that link arms with our agency to weave a network of care around our neighbors.

While opportunities to collaborate with community partners in 2023 were abundant, three of them stood out as examples of relationship building, accountability, and support for thriving communities.

Central Missouri Community Action’s Show Me Stronger Communities Initiative

In 2023 our agency joined 42 other community members in Cole County and an additional 11 community members in Osage County for Show Me Stronger Communities initiatives, hosted by Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA).

In Osage County, participants were focused on all people in Osage County experiencing health and well-being; over in Cole County the working group united to work towards all people in Cole County having safe, affordable, and sustainable housing.

These two initiatives brought together representatives from neighborhoods, local churches, community staples like county libraries and health departments, and service agencies like the United Way of Central Missouri and Catholic Charities to discover the root causes of community needs, assess available resources, and chart a path forward, together.

Our participation in the Show Me Stronger Communities initiatives was both valuable to attendees and informative for our staff. In Osage County, Catholic Charities Food Programs Coordinator, Lori Stoll, brought knowledge and shared experiences on client-choice food pantries, and in Cole County and our HUD-Certified Housing Counselor, Paige Orscheln, gave insight into renter’s needs, homebuyer experiences, and perspectives on services for people experiencing homelessness.

The value of bringing these organizations and community members to the table can not be overstated – after each meeting our staff left with new ideas, deeper understandings, and inspiration to bring actionable change back from the discussions and into our agency.

United Way’s Cole County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD)

In Cole County, the United Way of Central Missouri convened the Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) – a working group comprised of community organizations and agencies with a vested interest in disaster preparation and response.

The critical effort of bringing together voluntary agencies, businesses, and government agencies to foster a more effective disaster preparedness and response plan helps organizations network, share resources, and ultimately serve the community more efficiently.

As the group recognized in its most recent meeting, the old saying goes: the scene of a disaster is not the place to exchange business cards.

By working ahead, and working together agencies like Cole County Emergency Management, Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), MU Extension, United Way and its member agencies, MU Extension and Lincoln and Missouri Baptist Universities can share resources, streamline work, and create a seamless long-term vision of disaster preparation and response.

Catholic Charities continues to participate in response and recovery capacity-building initiatives, lend experience and training to local collaborators responding to disasters, and provide both short- and long-term disaster case management for survivors as they rebuild and recoup resources lost to flooding, tornadoes, house fires, and other disasters.

Catholic Charities Refugee Services Quarterly Stakeholder Meetings (QSM)

Each Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) quarter, our agency’s Refugee Services Program hosts key stakeholders for a consultative workshop, called the Quarterly Stakeholders Meeting (QSM).

During these quarterly consultations, critical information is presented to key community stakeholders, looking at refugee resettlement on the national, state, and local level and forecasting needs within our agency and for those we serve.

Attendees to these consultations include State Refugee and State Refugee Health Coordinators, public safety officials, local governance, local and county health workers and leadership, welfare and social services staff, and local and county public education representatives.

In each of these areas, community members who work directly with the clients we serve, whether in the classroom, the doctor’s office, or the DMV – a strong network of client-facing stakeholders are able to collaborate on needs, advocate for services, and ensure more successful integration for the individuals and families rebuilding their lives in a new country.

We could never accomplish the work of resettlement without the strong support and infrastructure provided by these key stakeholders. As we welcome refugees, accompany them throughout resettlement, and work with them towards self-sufficiency, these partners are welcoming alongside us.

With these QSM presentations, our community partners are better prepared to encounter newcomers in their own offices, with language support, cultural orientations, and a strong point of contact with our agency to help newcomers thrive.

In conclusion

The work of Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri could not happen in a vacuum. Thankfully, with the help of skilled community partners, the opportunity to collaborate often, and the broad network of professionals to rely on, we can truly embody our mission to provide compassionate care to those in need regardless of faith, culture, or situation across our five programs.



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