HARTFORD – At its annual Help and Hope Breakfast at the Hartford Marriott on Dec. 12, speakers talked about the many ways that Catholic Charities has provided behavioral, social and educational services to families across the Archdiocese of Hartford for over 90 years.
Through its 34 sites located throughout Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties, about 500 Catholic Charities employees assist people of every race, creed and religion with various services, including early childhood programs, family and mental health services, care for the elderly, parenting counseling, emergency assistance and much more. Last year, more than 24,000 people were helped in these different ways.
Kyle Parrish of Hartford spoke about the challenges he faced as a person born in prison. "I was born without hope, without advantages," he said.
He was raised by an aunt, he said, and found life to be a struggle at home and in school. At 22, he became a father and needed to be educated about how to raise his son Carter. He enrolled in "Pathway to Responsible Fatherhood," a program created by Catholic Charities, which he said had changed his life.
"The program gave me a foundation; it taught me parenting skills; it taught me patience and understanding on how to be a good parent…it gave me hope."
Mr. Parrish said he graduated from the 15-week course but continues to go to the class. "They give you so much information. You can never get enough."
Mr. Parrish wants to instill in his son the concept that "a person should not be defined by the problems he or she is born into, but on how he overcomes those problems." Carter, who is 2-and-a-half, accompanied his father to the breakfast.
Guest speaker Joe Savage, executive vice president of Webster Bank, talked about his personal affinity for Catholic Charities, which dates back to his days as a young student in New Jersey. He described how his proud German mother went to the local church to seek a scholarship so that he could attend Catholic school.
"The church treated her with dignity and respect, and I received a stellar education," he said.
Mr. Savage said Webster Bank sponsors the breakfast every year because it believes in the mission of Catholic Charities, which is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency and human potential of those in need.
Mike Aresco, commissioner of the American Athletic Conference and the keynote speaker, also talked about the positive impact that Catholic Charities has on local communities.
Jerry Franklin, president and CEO of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, was master of ceremonies.
The 2013 Help and Hope Award was presented to Christopher M. Dadlez, president and CEO of St. Francis Hospital, for his vision and leadership in the field of medicine for over 30 years. Mr. Dadlez is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a member of the board of directors of the American Hospital Association.
"I am humbled to receive this award for something that I love to do," he said.
Special recognition was given to Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, who retired after serving the Archdiocese for 10 years. Catholic Charities announced that the community room at the Institute for Hispanic Families (IHF)in Hartford will be renamed the Archbishop Henry J. Mansell Community Room. The IHF was one of Archbishop Mansell’s top priorities when he was first installed in 2003.
Some of now-Archbishop Emeritus Mansell’s many accomplishments include the initiation of the Emergency Assistance Program, which provides needy families with funding for medical and dental care, food, clothing, rent, utilities and home and car repairs through Catholic Charities; and the funding of the Malta House of Care mobile health care clinics, which provide free medical service to the uninsured in Hartford and Waterbury.
Plans for a third medical van to serve people in New Haven are under way.
Proceeds from the breakfast will benefit children across the archdiocese. For more information about Catholic Charities and its programs, visit www.ccaoh.org.