Stephanie Gray has worked at the Aid to Women Center for eight years and recently, found herself in the midst of a hard week. She had encountered women who didn’t seem to want to choose life for their babies and some women who she’d been walking with had pregnancies that ended in miscarriage. Gray was feeling discouragement seeping in when she answered a call at the center. It was a woman who had come to Aid to Women Center a few months ago when she was considering all her options, one of them being to terminate the pregnancy.

“The woman said, ‘I wanted to thank you because I’m in the hospital and I just delivered my twins. If it wasn’t for you all, they wouldn’t be here. The father of the babies said if I had these babies that he would leave me and he did. But that’s okay because you all made me realize that I can do this without him and it doesn’t matter because I have these two beautiful babies. I wanted to thank you for giving me the strength to choose life.’”

This is just one example of how the Aid to Women Center accompanies women and empowers them to choose life. The center provides prenatal care, parenting classes, and abortion pill reversal treatment among other services to women. But it’s not just services they provide. The center instills in women their worth and dignity, loving them as Jesus loved the woman at the well, not judging her for her past but loving her in it.

“We feel if we can’t change her heart so that she knows that she is loved and she is cared for and she is worthy of her dignity then she’s never going to see the dignity of her unborn child. When these women come in they are broken and when they leave our doors we never want them to leave unchanged in some way. We want them to feel God’s love. We want them to feel that they are seen and heard,” Gray said.

With the help of the Charity and Development Appeal (CDA), Aid to Women Center has been given funding to help them love many more women, save more lives, and walk with women no matter where they are in their journey. The center received more funding this year and has been instrumental in the center’s success of the opening of their third location.

Because of the funding from the CDA, Aid to Women Center was able to hire a new provider who will help the center to minister to more women. The center averages 200 clients a week across all three locations, but that number is expected to increase with the new provider. The center has already been able to contact women who were on the waitlist and take them as clients.

“We rely on the funding from the CDA,” Gray said. “A lot of times the other pregnancy centers and resources centers refer to us because we do prenatal care. We really need that funding to continue to be here for the whole community so we can offer compassionate care and affordable healthcare for women in need and most importantly so women can choose life for their unborn babies.

“Our tagline is empower them for life. We want to empower them so they can choose life but also empower them so they can choose life for themselves and they feel they can do this not only with us but without us.”

Debbie DiCarlo, executive director of the Office of Mission Advancement sees God at work through so many people like Gray, who continues to tend to those who are in need of Christ’s love.

“I’ve been particularly moved by the impact of the Charity and Development Appeal, which is a coming together of each one of us as members of the Body of Christ to answer the Gospel call of tending to the widow and orphan. Each one of you brings a unique gift, together building up the Church and bringing about radical fruitfulness. And when I say radical, I mean radical!

“On July 1, through your commitment to living the Gospel, more than $10.4 million dollars in CDA grants and allocations were distributed throughout the Diocese of Phoenix to more than 70 parishes, schools, ministries, and charitable organizations. This is the highest amount we have ever released – what a wonderful time to begin my role in this amazing office. Your generosity is impacting the lives of the widow, the orphan, the imprisoned, the homeless, the elderly, the seminarian, the priest, the student, the parishioner, and thousands of others.”

Mike and Sandy Jarrett of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Scottsdale are dedicated to living the Gospel. They decided to support the Charity and Development Appeal and were struck by the CDA’s commitment in helping struggling veterans find housing.

“My wife and I have fathers who were in the military. We see so much about veterans that struggle, not only those that have been serving recently but those that served long ago. It’s disheartening to see so many homeless. We heard the CDA was supporting that as a ministry and we felt that we should help and give back to them.

“My wife and I are grateful that we are able to support the work of the church through the annual appeal. The programs focused on support for the elderly are also very important to us as our parents benefited from similar programs.”

Lisa Wentz, director of appeals for the diocese reflected on the growth of the CDA over the years and the fact that the impact of the appeal has become so widespread that it’s bound to support ministries that everyone is passionate about.

“The Charity and Development Appeal experienced 18-percent growth the last couple years. Thanks to the 19,000 donors who support us, we were able this year to release the highest amount ever of CDA grants – $10.4 million dollars.

“This allows us to further extend support to so many people – young pregnant mothers, families in need, veterans, homeless, the elderly, foster care and adoption, those seeking meaningful employment, parishes and pastors, future priests and deacons, those seeking the Word of God, Catholic school students in need of tuition assistance, the televised Mass – I could go on and on. Every single gift, every person involved, has profound impact. From the bottom of my heart, thank you supporting the Charity and Development Appeal, in whatever role you play.”

John Delaney, executive director of Andre House in downtown Phoenix, has had a front-row seat to see how the growth of the CDA is changing lives. He encounters Christ daily through the guests that walk through the doors of Andre House, in need of a home-cooked meal, a place to shower, a sleeping bag, clothing or a person to talk to. Delaney was recently touched by a man who came to Andre House every day looking for work.

“I can’t tell you how much I was able to learn about St. Joseph as a result of this guy. [I was reminded by] St. Joseph who wanted to work as a carpenter and doing what he needed to do to provide for his family.”

Andre House was named after St. Andre Bassett and started by priests of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the same order as the saint.

“Andre Bassett really modeled what it means to truly see and encounter people right where they’re at,” Delaney said. “Everybody comes here with different needs. Andre always wanted people to feel special. He wanted people to know that they were loved by God, and that’s our mission here at Andre House.”

Jesus has been working in many ways at Andre House. Delaney knows the power of prayer and has rekindled a love for Eucharistic adoration in the community, and he invites anyone to stop by on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. to pray at Andre House.

Delaney has noticed Jesus’ presence in the monstrance but also Delaney has noticed that Jesus made a way for Andre House to receive funding through the Charity and Development Appeal. It’s the first year that Andre House has received funding from the CDA and already the impact is exponential.

“Andre House has been blessed to receive funding from the diocese. The CDA has helped Andre House with feeding 500-to-700 guests each night. We do laundry for our guests, we have showers, we have clothing that our guests can get and it’s all thanks to the CDA that we’re able to keep our doors open and offer these things to our guests.”

The guests that Delaney encounters at Andre House is a testament to the impact of the Charity and Development Appeal that has met the immediate needs of individuals, helping them to feel known and loved.

“On Christmas Day, I had a guest come up to me to say thank you for all of the work that we do for people experiencing homelessness. She said thank you for everything you do for our community,” Delaney recounts. “She said, ‘If I had money, I’d give it to Andrea House.’ She wanted to give her gratitude, which was all she had. And that gratitude was worth more to us than anything we received that day. So that kindness is something that we can pass on and it’s certainly something that Andre House passes on to the diocese for their support.”