Honoring service at our Spring Celebration

This week, Catholic Charities held its annual Spring Celebration at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The annual Catholic Charities event raises funds to provide basic needs resources such as food, utility and rental assistance to those in our community living in poverty, and support a wide range of educational programs for children and adults that provide paths to self-sufficiency. Our distinguished guests included Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, and 2017 Justice and Compassion Award honoree William F. Kennedy.

Mr. Kennedy was chosen to receive the Justice and Compassion Award for his inspirational leadership and solidarity with the most at-risk and underserved members of our community.

For over 40 years, Mr. Kennedy has worked tirelessly to better the lives of the less fortunate in and around the Greater Boston area. Originally from Dorchester, Kennedy has dedicated countless hours volunteering his time with numerous charitable organizations including with us at Catholic Charities, as well as at the Pine Street Inn, and St. Anthony's Shrine at Arch Street. Currently, he is a trustee of Project Bread and Pope John Paul II Academy. In addition to this extensive philanthropic work, he has dedicated himself to his alma mater the College of the Holy Cross.

Mr. Kennedy's Catholic values also guided him to use his education and compassionate personality as a public servant of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for 10 years.

His service to the commonwealth saw him in a multitude of roles. First, as chief of staff and chief legal counsel to the House Ways and Means Committee, later as an assistant clerk to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts for Suffolk County, and finally as an attorney for the Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, assisting in approving judicial nominations. In addition to this service, Mr. Kennedy worked to share his knowledge and experience as a member of the adjunct faculty at Suffolk University School of Law, where he taught courses on evidence, ethics, legislation, administrative law, criminal procedure and legal writing.

Mr. Kennedy is a former member of the Judicial Nominating Committee, and served on many boards to advance both business and legal circles. Currently, Mr. Kennedy is a partner in the Business Department at Nutter, McLennan and Fish, LLP.

The 19 year old Basic Needs case manager at the Laboure Center Monica Teixeira also gave an impassioned speech at the event.

She described her ongoing journey to be the first in the Teixeira family to graduate college. She earned her associates degree from Bunker Hill Community College, and will attend Lesley University for undergraduate studies, all while working two jobs to support herself and pay for her education.

Teixeira explained that she hasn't had to fend for herself because she lacked family support; in fact her family has been very supportive of her on her journey, but that they lack the resources to ease her burden.

This issue is all too common, Teixeira said; "I work with many clients and each one of them has different circumstances but the same issues: lack in resources, guidance to meet their basic needs, support to navigate in their community, and a helping hand when they face a crisis."

We at Catholic Charities strive to lend a hand to all in need within our community, and hope that you will join in our efforts.

For more information about our work at Catholic Charities, visit ccab.org.

- Deborah Kincade Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.