Third Quarter Newsletter

Third Quarter 2019 Issue #3

The past few months have been difficult for our nation. We have become numb to continued mass shootings, involving weapons that can tear through a refrigerator. Yet the debate about what to do continues with no solution in sight even as our children — from kindergarten on up — practice active shooter drills at school. We also have no resolution to the situation at the border as the path to citizenship becomes more elusive. We have become a nation divided.

As a young woman, I came of age during the 60’s and 70’s. This is not the first time I’ve seen our country deeply divided. At that time, it was the war in Vietnam, civil rights, and the pursuit of racial equity. Eventually the situation cooled down, and it seemed we were making progress.

Today, I sit back and wonder, has humankind evolved at all? Is there really any progress? The players have changed; the names and faces have changed; but the underlying fears remain the same.

We all labor for change in our own way; we pray for change in our own way; we debate what needs to change in our own way. When can we all work together?

I was feeling disenchanted. Yet the feeling was immediately relieved on August 17 when I was blessed to attend the Bishop’s Mass for Catholic Charities and its supporters. Bishop Barber gave a beautiful homily where he told the story of a young child who repeatedly tried to buy a bubble gum that cost a penny using Monopoly money. The child went from store to store attempting to complete his purchase. He was turned down many times. Not dismayed, he tried one more time and found that one generous shopkeeper who would give him bubble gum in exchange for Monopoly money.

That shopkeeper saw and remembered the innocence of childhood and gave from his blessings to make a child happy. The generous shopkeeper was surprised to learn this was part of a hidden camera test of humanity. He was rewarded with a brand new Cadillac. What’s the underlying story? To me, it suggests the power of hope and kindness without thought of personal gain.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if – despite today’s strife – we could look around and find the kindness of the shopkeeper among us. I believe that together, all of us can spread good and bring kindness into the world.

Many blessings,

Agency Updates

Margaret Peterson
Interim CEO
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What's New

Second Annual Bishop’s Mass Honors the work of Catholic Charities and its Supporters

The Most Reverend Michael C. Barber, SJ, the Bishop of Oakland, presided over the second annual Mass of Thanksgiving in honor of the work of Catholic Charities East Bay and its supporters. He was joined by co-celebrants the Reverend Monsignor Anthony Valdivia and the Reverend James Schexnayder. John Burkart assisted as the MC. The mass took place at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Oakland, on August 17 at 10am. Donors, volunteers, employees, and members of the Board of Directors attended the celebration, which included a reception following Mass.
Catholic Charities Program Committee members Sister Elaine Marie, Rita Mitchell, and Mary Olowin (Vice Chair, Board of Directors and Program Committee Chair) in the Parish courtyard.
Bishop joins supporters for brunch at the reception that followed Mass.
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Mental Health First Aid is Growing

Working with Mental Health First Aid USA and the National Council on Behavioral Health, on July 31, 2019, Catholic Charities’ mental health team members hosted a webinar for 300 MHFA instructors from all over the country. Ivan Villasenor Madriz shared Catholic Charities’ model for a 90-minute session called “Intro-to-MHFA, A Community Conversation.” People were also introduced to how restorative practices and restorative philosophy can be used when facilitating Mental Health First Aid. So far, the materials shared have been previewed or downloaded more than 300 times and will be used by universities, sheriffs’ departments, and service agencies among others.

In addition, the Catholic Charities’ team has provided trainings for  Kaiser Permanente nurses in Northern California,  Goodwill San Francisco, City College San Francisco, and the Boys and Girls Club, San Leandro.

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Peace and Justice Academy
Uses Art to Reduce Gun Violence

Catholic Charities school-based mental health team members welcomed young people to this summer’s Peace and Justice Academy.

20 students and 10 supportive adults  joined the program, which ran for two weeks in July.  Students came from weekly restorative circle groups led by Catholic Charities at West Contra Costa High Schools, including Richmond High, Greenwood Academy, Kennedy High, and Pinole Valley High.  They were chosen for their emerging leadership skills

The students enjoyed music and arts workshops and received training in restorative practices, leadership development, and socio-emotional skills building.  Group development of shared values and respect agreements were formed around two questions:

  • What are the values that are important for you to feel safe and respected that we should hold as a group?
  • What value will you hold yourself to in order to create that environment of safety and respect for the rest of the group?

For three days, the group worked with Vision Quilt, a national nonprofit using the power of art to prevent gun violence.  Students created panels for the Vision Quilt with support from visiting artists.  Students started off by viewing panels made by a variety of people and reflected on the impact of gun violence on their personal lives and in their communities.  They then worked together to generate possible solutions to preventing gun violence through short visual and written exercises, followed by discussion.  These activities allowed the students’ voices to be heard and introduced the power of art to create dialogue and social change. Finally, students created their own 18 x 24 panels, with modeled, guided support.

Later, the students worked with Catholic Charites’ Better Employment Together program and received workforce readiness workshops, such as resume writing, job search, and interview skills.

Finally, students received training on restorative practice and how it can be used to effect change in their school and larger community.  Other experiences included  hip hop and creative writing; speech writing and public speaking; African drumming for healing; affective listening and restorative dialogue; and de-escalation and conflict management skills.

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Law students checking in on cases.

The Summer of Interns and Volunteers

Legal Assistant Christina Torres works with a high school intern.

Like schools, non-profit agencies depend on volunteers to help fulfill their mission.  As a multi-service agency, Catholic Charities can do so much thanks to the enthusiasm, talent, and dedication of volunteers.  This summer, we welcomed eleven interns and volunteers from all over the East Bay, and they made an amazing difference for the people who ask us for help.

  • Three high school students volunteered with a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm, most helped at the front reception. One, an Acalanes High School student, worked in our Concord office supporting the legal team.
  • Another three college students helped various programs among our three offices, one recent graduate from UC Berkeley helped housing clients in Oakland.
  • Four legal interns – three law school students and one undergraduate — split time working in our Oakland and Richmond offices. They helped families and individuals applying for asylum or other legal relief.

Catholic Charities Legal Assistant Cristina Torres says the interns “brought a deep respect for the people we help.  They did not make assumptions about the community or the clients, instead they listened, learned and shared their expertise.”  Because they worked closely with the Agency’s legal team, says Cristina, “the interns also learned tactics and techniques to do their best work.  Most important, they derived great personal satisfaction from working with a family or individual over the summer.  By the time they left, they knew that they could call us at any time with questions, and we know we can call them.”

A big thank you to all our interns and volunteers for your help!

If you’re interested in knowing more about volunteering or internships, contact Kat O’Donnell at or visit our webpage.

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News and Events


Our Transforming Lives Annual Fundraising Luncheon takes place in October and registration is now open.

Each year we celebrate the progress made helping people who struggle with barriers you and I can only imagine.  Thanks to you, people are getting the help they need.  Please join us to support and celebrate.

Thursday, October 10, 2019
12:00pm to 1:00pm

San Ramon Marriott
2600 Bishop Drive
San Ramon, CA 94583

Register online now

Questions?  Contact Tamishi Linear at or 510.768.3165

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Catholic Charities joins panel of experts at Immigration Town Hall hosted by Representative Mark DeSaulnier

Catholic Charities attorney Jane Lee (second from right) participated in an Immigration Town Hall organized by Representative Mark DeSaulnier and held at St. Mark’s Parish, Richmond, on August 5, 2019.  Congressman DeSaulnier provided a firsthand account of what he witnessed at detention facilities during visits to the southern border.  The panel of immigration attorneys and other experts were there to answer questions about potential changes to law and immigrant rights.  The Town Hall was packed, and audience members were deeply concerned by violence toward the immigrant community, particularly considering the recent mass shootings.

Earlier this year, Jane Lee traveled to Dilley, Texas to help mothers being detained with their children prepare for their asylum cases.

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San Francisco receives $9 million in state funding to serve survivors of human trafficking

Mayor London Breed held a press conference on July 10, 2019 at Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco to announce a $9.3 million grant from the California Department of Social Services to provide housing and services for San Francisco youth who are survivors or at risk of human trafficking.  Leah Kimble-Price, Catholic Charities director of CSEC services and Claire’s House (photo left) represented Catholic Charities.  Other social service providers who are leaders in serving young survivors also attended.

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Capital Campaign gift helped Catholic Charities grow

Read a perspective from Margaret Peterson, CEO, Catholic Charities East Bay, on how a gift from a major donor helped…

(After clicking, please scroll down to find the story.)

Read More

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Celebrating Heroes Among Us

Samuel Krantz, front and center, surrounded by Catholic Charities Team Members

For 35 years, Samuel Krantz has provided qualified legal services to families and individuals from around the world, who are seeking legal status to stay, live and work in the United States. He helped countless people successfully achieve the dream of citizenship.

Sam retired this summer. We wish him well in his next adventures and are grateful for his countless contributions to the Agency and most important, to the people building new lives in our communities.