Dr. Zlata Kovacevic recounted her experience as a refugee from Bosnia 20 years ago and how it was Catholic Charities that helped her and her family resettle at the Inaugural Catholic Charities Breakfast May 17. (Holly Yzquierdo/CATHOLIC CHARITIES COMMUNITY SERVICES)

When Dr. Zlata Kovacevic arrived in the United States 20 years ago from Bosnia with her two daughters, she had nothing. Her husband, who had immigrated a year earlier, had died just the day before. It was a representative from Catholic Charities who met them at the airport and helped them resettle.

“They built a circle of support for me and my kids,” Kovacevic recounted to an audience at the Inaugural Catholic Charities Breakfast May 17. “I didn’t speak English — I still have problems with grammar. With help from my community and Catholic Charities, we succeeded.”

Kovacevic, who was a psychiatrist in Bosnia, now works in the Refugee Welcome Center for the Washington ISD where she assists refugee children get resettled.

“I feel good to have the opportunity to change someone’s life and provide the help I needed 20 years ago,” she said. “I’m really glad I can help them.”

The breakfast, which resumes a tradition from previous years, was intended to bring greater awareness of Catholic Charities programs to the broader community, said Paul Mulligan, president and CEO of Catholic Charities Community Services.

“We like to say miracles happen every day and we want people to be a part of those miracles,” Mulligan told The Catholic Sun. “As Bishop says, we’re the charitable service arm of the diocese. We’re doing it on behalf of all the people in the parishes. What we have is people committing their dollars for foster homes, veterans outreach, etc.”

During the breakfast, a video highlighting the multiple programs offered by Catholic Charities was shown.

Arizona First Lady Angela Ducey, who sits on the board for Catholic Charites Community Services thanked the staff and volunteers who help fulfill the agency’s mission.

“I’ve been a volunteer board member with Catholic Charities for the past two years and I have witnessed first-hand the impact that Catholic Charities has made in children, families and our most vulnerable citizens. The work that they do is inspiring,” she said.

Arizona First Lady Angela Ducey addresses Catholic Charities supporters during the May 17 breakfast. (Holly Yzquierdo/CATHOLIC CHARITIES COMMUNITY SERVICES)

Ducey recounted the story of her sister who reached out to Catholic Charities when she wanted information about being a foster parent. Her sister, Ducey said, was treated with “kindness, mercy and dignity,” as the case worker guided her through each step of the process.

“If we as a community become involved and invested we can make an incredible impact in helping families — families who are at risk of losing their children or foster and adoptive families who have stepped up to be that life-changing miracle in a child’s life,” she said. “So you and I have an opportunity today to become part of the solution to our foster care crisis as well as part of being bringing stability and a thriving way of life to the most vulnerable members of our society. Ultimately the impact of the community really will be miracle-making.”

In his remarks to those attending the breakfast, Mulligan recapped the multiple programs offered by Catholic Charities.

“On the journey that’s led me here, I’ve learned that the people we serve and the people with whom I serve are my brothers and sisters. … We are the family of God.”