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New Year, new hope

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As we turn the calendar page from 2011 and 2012, we at Catholic Charities look hopefully to the New Year ahead. Despite the enormous challenges faced by many in our communities during this time of seemingly unending recession, examples of strength and resilience, optimism and determination, compassion and generosity abound.

You may have seen the Bus 19 Series story in December about two teenaged brothers, Johnny and George Huynh, in which Boston Globe reporter Billy Baker described the struggles their family has faced following their arrival in the United States from Vietnam. Like many newcomers who experienced unspeakable trauma and hardship in their country of birth, the Huynhs arrived in America with hopes for a new and prosperous life. However, the family struggled to adapt. Language barriers, cultural divides, personal tragedy and poverty have all taken their toll on Johnny, George, and their parents.

And yet, working together with our partner Emmett Folgert of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, and with the ongoing support of Catholic Charities, Johnny and George remain optimistic. These extraordinary brothers are laser-focused on their education and are working hard both in and out of school towards a better future.

Partnership in the work that we do at Catholic Charities is essential to our success and we are blessed to be part of a community that supports our work. You can support Catholic Charities in 2012 by volunteering your time to mentor youth like Johnny and George or by donating your talent in another way. We consider volunteers among our most dedicated and generous partners. We could not possibly meet the level of increasing service demands without the support of many who have given of their time and talent. 2011 saw a nearly 25 percent increase in the numbers of volunteers at our service sites. Whether helping to stock shelves at our food pantries, hosting Brown Bag parties, sponsoring birthday parties for children living in our shelters, helping to clean-up our summer camp, tutoring teens in our afterschool programs, or mentoring young people, volunteers of all kinds enable our work to be richer and more effective.

We also rely on volunteers and their expertise for governance. Our Board of Trustees is an all volunteer board, and for the past six years the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees has been led by Jeffrey Kaneb, Vice President at HP Hood LLC. Jeff, whose second term as Board Chairman ended on Dec. 31, 2011, was an extraordinary leader: generous with his time, focused in his vision for and passionate about our work. Jeff is a community builder who led us through some challenging times.

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