Fifteen years ago, members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Prescott Valley asked the pastor of nearby St. Germaine Catholic Parish if they could use the parish’s industrial kitchen to serve a monthly hot lunch to the poor.
Soon, other area churches wanted to help and they eventually formed the Interfaith Outreach Meals program — each church covering a day or two each month to serve the community.
St. Germaine Parish added a second lunch day three years ago when Mary Dahl began coordinating the parish’s part. The lunch is not your typical “casserole and Jell-O” food, according to Dahl. About 10 parishioners, with the help of the Spanish-speaking community, prepare delicious and nutritious meals such as frittatas, grilled cheese and tomato soup or enchiladas for between 75 and 120 people in need.
Charity and Development Appeal (CDA)
The Charity and Development Appeal supports more than 70 educational, charitable and spiritual organizations which counsel, feed clothe, house, educate and comfort those in need throughout the four counties in the Diocese of Phoenix.
“Besides helping them with food, we also offer them fellowship,” Dahl said, referring especially to guests who are elderly and on a fixed income.
To fund the program, Dahl said the Charity and Development Appeal and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul have been invaluable resources.
“Without the CDA, we wouldn’t exist,” Dahl said. “Right now, it is our only source of funding.”
The outreach is just one of the programs the CDA helps with funding in the Northern Deanery. Others programs include: priestly education and formation and diaconate formation, two religious sisters who work at Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott, priests’ salaries and expenses for 10 small, low-income missions and parishes, the Holy Trinity Newman Center at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, three crisis pregnancy centers, Rachel’s Vineyard retreats in Cottonwood and Prescott Valley, prison ministry mileage, Catholic Charities programs, Catholic pre-school through eighth grade schools and other programs.
“The CDA is how we make the work of the hands of the Lord a reality for many people in the Northern Deanery,” said Fr. David Kelash, dean of the Northern Deanery and pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Cottonwood.
Fr. Kelash said that without CDA funding, his parish wouldn’t be able to afford a parochial vicar to help when he is busy attending to deanery responsibilities.
In Kingman, Teresa Reaume started the Advice and Aid Pregnancy Center 20 years ago, after the doors on the last center had been closed for more than five years. She asked the pastor at St. Mary Parish for help with rent, and 10 people went through training to serve there.
“That was the beginning for us to be able to get a little place and start the ministry,” said the director.
Reaume said the center relies on funding from the CDA and other donations to buy diapers, formula and other general needs to run the center. So far, Reaume said the staff has helped 4,730 mothers in need since 1999.
“It has been an amazing journey to do this,” she said of devoting her life to helping women in crisis. “We see God work miracles here.”
The center also offers an “Earn While you Learn” program where women and men can learn about pre- and post-natal care and parenting skills while they earn baby items to stock their nursery. The center offers pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.
“That ultrasound is wonderful,” she said. “It is the window to the womb and they get to see their baby. It changes their hearts.”
Another crisis pregnancy center, this one in Flagstaff, counts on CDA funding to help keep the program open Christy DeSocio, director of the Hope Crisis Pregnancy Center, said that their location across from the NAU campus is perfectly situated to draw college students, clients from the Hopi and Navajo reservations and residents from the surrounding area.
“Whatever their needs are, we had a lot of resources to guide them through their pregnancies,” she said.
The center also offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and limited STI testing, as well as an “Earn While you Learn” program for parents. Clients are offered resources for adoption agencies and attorneys and supplied with food and clothing. There are three full time staff members — a director, nurse manager and a client services coordinator. Last year, Hope helped 311 clients, 63 of those were pregnancy tests.
Though the location is ideal, the building is too small and “falling down and leaning to one side,” according to DeSocio, which will require more funding. She said they also hope to open their doors two extra days a week to serve more people in need in the community, especially students.
“That is who we want to reach more of so we can help them when they’re in an unplanned pregnancy situation,” she said, “and so they know Planned Parenthood isn’t their only option when they are in crisis with a pregnancy.”