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Catholic Charities announces
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placeholder November 9, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 19   •   Oakland, CA

Sisters Cassandra Mitchell and Lillie Thornton thanked Catholic Charities of the East Bay for helping them stay in the home in which they are raising grandchildren.

Catholic Charities announces new initiatives at luncheon

"Close your eyes," Cassandra Mitchell, left, told the 500 guests at Catholic Charities' inaugural Transforming Lives Luncheon Oct. 22 in Concord. "Imagine receiving a letter that you have to leave your home. Your grandchild or child will be taken away. Imagine that fear. Now open your eyes. You're standing in my shoes."

Catholic Charities
of the East Bay

Transforming Lives Tour
Transforming Lives Society

Contact: Debra Gunn, development director,
For more information:
Assistance from Catholic Charities — about $2,500 — helped Mitchell, after she was no longer able to work as she battled liver cancer — remain in the home in which she is raising her grandchildren. Her sister, Lillie Thornton, attended the luncheon with her, thanking Catholic Charities.

They also told donors that there are families with greater needs who need the donors' help.

To meet those needs, Catholic Charities of the East Bay is embarking on an ambitious three-prong program. CCEB is answering Pope Francis' call to be the "church in the streets," CEO Chuck Fernandez said, through innovative programs that make positive changes in the community. Among the plans: A safe house for young people, ages 12 to 17, who walk away from sex-trafficking situations.

When they are ready to leave the streets, Fernandez said, there are only 500 beds in safe houses in the United States — just 39 are in California. Working with law enforcement and the district attorney's office, Catholic Charities is looking to become part of the solution. They are evaluating sites that would house about half a dozen young people in a program that could become a model for the nation.

The second program grows from CCEB's successful trauma programs in the city of Oakland and beyond. The family resource center would provide all family members with the services they need to move forward after traumatic events.

Fernandez's third major initiative would be to open a CCEB service center in Eastern Contra Costa County, where social services are scarce.

The work would be supported in part by the newly formed Transforming Lives Society, which the luncheon guests were invited to join at the end of the meal.

Circle of Hope donors pledge $1,000 a year for five years; Circle of Love pledge $10,000 a year for five years; and Circle of Transformation donors pledge $25,000 a year for five years.

The luncheon itself grew from the Transforming Lives Tours, which began this year, said Debra Gunn, CCEB's development director. She said 358 people had attended the one-hour tours, which showcase Catholic Charities' efforts to welcome the stranger, heal trauma and foster self-sufficiency, at Catholic Charities' Oakland office.

Many of the luncheon guests had attended the tours, and brought friends and associates to the meal to hear the presentation.

Space may be available for the Dec. 10 tour, the last of 2015. Contact Debra Gunn at 510-768-3142 or dgunn@cceb.org.

"Ever since I became bishop, Catholic Charities' board and staff have worked very closely with me so that we can carry out Christ's mission of taking care of those who come to us in need of help. We can respond as if Christ himself were there," said Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ.

He told donors that their participation in Catholic Charities' work "helps you to do what Christ wants you to do, that we are there when people come looking for the Good Shepherd."

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