by Lauren Solidum for The Leaven ‘Tis the season to give help and hope through the ministries of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. Our ministries change lives. One of the greatest blessings during the pandemic was serving on the frontline with our team and volunteers. I was answering phones at one of our Family Support Centers
Fidelis' Hope Story
Fidelis, a 36-year-old Army Veteran, was struggling to pay his rent and several of his other bills. He was employed as a recreational therapy assistant at St. John’s Hospital. Although he loved his job, he lacked the certification required to earn a livable wage.
He turned to Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas’ Leavenworth Family Support Center (FSC) for help. At the time, he had no idea that this action would change his life’s trajectory.
Fidelis overcame many challenges such as the loss of his job due to COVID-19, with the help of Catholic Charities.
Initially, his case manager used FEMA (EFSP) emergency assistance funding to help Fidelis pay his rent. During the intensive case management and budget counseling that followed, he shared he had used his entire GI Bill on a degree that was not serving him well. Although he was educated with a diverse skill set, Fidelis was underemployed and living paycheck to paycheck.
After discussing how a certification program could help Fidelis find more stable employment and earn a much higher income, he began researching the demand and earning potential for a new career. He enrolled in the St. Rita workforce program, where he was given a laptop and the necessary funds to complete online training for certification to become a Catastrophe Property Adjustor.
To help him become financially self-sufficient, Fidelis was also referred to the Leavenworth Family Financial Transformations™ (FFT) pilot program.
At that time, COVID-19 began impacting the area. Although the pandemic was affecting many businesses and organizations, Catholic Charities made the decision to keep its doors open and to serve.
The financial classes, typically held in-person, were offered virtually. Fidelis attended online, and learned how to take charge of his personal finances. This knowledge became even more valuable as the pandemic continued, resulting in the loss of his job. Fortunately, Fidelis lived on a meager budget and with help from the FSC, he could maintain his apartment and utilities. As a FFT participant, he was able to visit the FSC’s food pantry weekly, which helped his budget immensely.
During this time, Fidelis expressed a greater interest in helping others. With his new certifications in hand, he applied and was hired as a contractor with FEMA. Depending on the scope of the disaster, these contracts pay $5,000-$10,000 per week, plus lodging and a per diem while on assignment.
In less than a year, Fidelis’ life has changed. Currently, he is in Louisiana providing assistance to others during their time of hardship. He shared that without support from Catholic Charities, the FFT classes and intensive case management through the FSC, he would not have been able to change his course —especially during a pandemic— and gain the skills and resources to pursue his dream career.
While the pandemic has created elevated stress, raw emotion and uncertainty, it is a reminder that each one of us has been born for this very specific moment in time for a very specific purpose. Your support of our mission has never been more critical as more families turn to Catholic Charities for help, hope and hospitality.
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Archbishop Naumann interviews Lauren Solidum, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, about the Catholic Church’s efforts to relocate Afghan refugees here in our community, and how people can help in this crucial work of mercy. Recently in response the humanitarian crisis caused by NATO withdrawl from Afghanistan, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
HELPING OUR NEIGHBORS IN NEED! How You Can Make a Difference From our eNewsletter Refugee Community Sponsorship: As part of a group, support refugees by choosing from a level of sponsorship: Level 1 (Housing Helper) – Collect donations for setting up a family’s home, participate in a home set-up, and (optional) welcome refugees at the airport.