Our Story

History 1941 - 2017

Catholic Charities of Genesee and Shiawassee Counties is a private, non-profit 501 C 3 organization.  The Agency was established in 1941.

The idea to start up the Agency was formulated in the 1930’s when the City of Flint was strained under the burdens of rapid population growth and many people started to experience the struggles of World War II beginning to impact city life.  To help counteract these needs, the League of Catholic Women based out of Detroit, Michigan rounded up volunteers to visit needy families and do what they could to help.  The League later joined the Flint Community Chest, and was able to hire a full time social worker to assist in the cause.

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Msgr. Earl V. Sheridan

One of the grandfathers of Catholic Social Services.

In 1941, Father Earl V. Sheridan, a young priest with a new Masters Degree in Social Work from Catholic University fresh in hand, followed Bishop Joseph Albers’ direction and formed the Catholic Social Service Bureau.  Father was joined by three (3) nuns from the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, recruited from Hartwell, Ohio, near Cincinnati by where the Bishop was located, and relocated up to Flint, Michigan, where they operated out of a small house on the corner of Fifth Avenue, offering family counseling.  By 1945 the Agency had earned respect from the community and the Community Chest of Flint awarded the Bureau $11,800 (a substantial amount during that time period).  At this point in time the League of Catholic Women withdrew their financial support, but remained an active auxiliary to help with clients. In the 1940’s the Bureau also ran a sandwich program, and any hungry person who knocked on the back door of the Holy Angels Convent was fed.  The Bureau recognized even the most basic needs and worked on assisting any way they could.

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Miss Bess Rosenzweig

 

Private secretary to Fr. Earl V Sheridan between 1941 and 1958

During the 1950’s the Agency grew quickly and established their mission to serve and bring healing to those hurt, which later evolved to be more encompassing reaching out to meet the needs of the growing community, which included hospital arrangements for unwed mothers, youth counseling, jobs for the unemployed, and financial assistance  to needy individuals and families.  In 1953, the Bureau founded the Don Bosco Club, a program similar to Big Brothers, and had hired eighteen (18) men working as volunteer counselors.  Later in 1955, the Bureau became a state licensed child placement organization, establishing its Child Welfare Program to serve both unwed mothers and prospective adoptive couples.Later in 1955, the Bureau became a state licensed child placement organization, establishing its Child Welfare Program to serve both unwed mothers and prospective adoptive couples.

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William R. Haley

Senior caseworker for Catholic Social, later promoted to Agency Director.

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Lois Plantefaber

A couple discuss adoption with social worker Lois Plantefaber.  1974

The Agency continued to grow and expand services in the 1960’s under Father Sheridan.  In 1965, Father Earl V. Sheridan was appointed Monsignor, and resigned his position.  For one year Father Francis Murray lead the Bureau until he appoint Bill Haley to be his replacement in 1966. Bill Haley, a longtime caseworker for the Agency since 1951, assumed leadership as the first lay Executive Director of the Agency. In that same year, the organization changed its name to Catholic Social Services (CSS), to be more consistent with name used by Catholic Social Service Agencies across the country.

In 1971, the Agency celebrated its 30th Anniversary with the first Monsignor Earl V. Sheridan Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The first honorees included:  Miss Mildred Carroll and Mrs. Zeta Studer, foster mothers who shared their farmhouse in Montrose with more than 150 youth over a 35 year time span. foster mothers who shared their farmhouse in Montrose with more than 150 youth over a 35 year time span. In the late seventies, new approaches included reaching out to divorced Catholics, Women-to-Women Services, and an Emergency Shelter for Women, and to establish closer ties with local parishes and other community groups.  In 1977, Catholic Outreach was established as an offshoot of the Agency, and specialized in assisting individuals with utility and rental payments, as well as food and personal needs items, as funds permitted and funds were raised through Sister Claudia Burke’s Bingo Events.

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Sister Claudia Burke

In the 1980’s Catholic Social Services held their own within the community and grew to be a well respected resource for many individuals.  The Agency was approached with an idea in 1980, when a Catholic Committee of Concern was searching for ways to address exploding poverty problems in the north end of the city.  In 1982, Sister Claudia Burke, a Franciscan Sister of the Poor, and a group of dedicated volunteers established the North End Soup Kitchen (NESK) located on Stewart Avenue just down the road from the main office. 

The program moved into Father Blasko Hall, when Sacred Heart Catholic Church across the street lost its tenant for the building, and offered the Agency a $1.00 per year rental deal, and the space was a perfect fit for the much needed program.  In 1984, Bill Haley retired after 33 years of dedicated service to the Agency.  In 1987, the North End Soup Kitchen and Holy Angels Sandwich Program merged with CSS, giving volunteer food programs their first real administrative home.  In 1988, New Horizons, a Foster Care Program for teen mothers and their babies began and reached its maximum of fifteen (15) girls and was named Innovative Foster Care Program of the Year by the Michigan Federation of Private Child and Family Agencies.  Catholic Social Services reached out to an ever more diverse clientele, with different approaches to what some might call the same old problems.  Programs were born, programs merged, programs split and morphed to respond to new challenges on a regular basis. 

 
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Staff Meeting

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Fr. Sheridan, Sr. Euphrasia and William Haley

Sister Euphrasia was one of the first staff members in 1941. She retired in 1980.

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Fathers Phil Gallagher, Jim Swiat, Bernard Reilly and Douglas Osborn

Priests support North End Soup Kitchen, 1987

Grants helped the Agency support a two-pronged approach to the problems of young children in families with drug and/or alcohol dependency with the elementary school education-based prevention program Children In Focus, and the program Parents with Feeling and Communication helping parents to understand their children’s needs.  

In 1990, CSS started drug and alcohol dependency, prevention, and education programs for individuals, both adults and youth, as well as families after being awarded grants from both the Genesee County Commission on Substance Abuse Services and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Grants helped the Agency support a two-pronged approach to the problems of young children in families with drug and/or alcohol dependency with the elementary school education-based prevention program Children In Focus, and the program Parents with Feeling and Communication helping parents to understand their children’s needs.  

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Deborah McCormick

President and CEO, 1994-2007

In 1991, the Agency turns 50 years old.  n 1994, Deborah McCormick joined CSS with a vast experience from working in hospital social work and client services fields.  Also in 1994, the Families and Schools Together (FAST) Program was brought to Flint by the Agency. FAST was a nationally recognized program that works on targeting elementary and middle school students and involves parents with the schools to work out behavior and performance problems.  In 1997, the Agency relocated to the Sheridan Center on Chippewa Street, were there was more space to expand services, and renovations to the space were underway to build a ramp to help with handicap accessibility, and transform the old convent into usable office space.  In that same year, Catholic Social Services of Shiawassee County merged with the Genesee County Agency.  Since CSS was an accredited organization, and with the acquisition of CSS of Shiawassee County, the Agency was able to further expand services to take advantage of reimbursement through insurance, and provided medication, case management, and outpatient services for Genesee County Community Mental Health.  The merge helped to better utilize resources and make a greater impact in the community.

Since CSS was an accredited organization, and with the acquisition of CSS of Shiawassee County, the Agency was able to further expand services to take advantage of reimbursement through insurance, and provided medication, case management, and outpatient services for Genesee County Community Mental Health.  The merge helped to better utilize resources and make a greater impact in the community.

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In 2001, the Agency celebrated its 60th Anniversary as well as another name change.  The Agency name was changed to Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties (CCSGC) in order to be more recognized across the country, with the National Organization – Catholic Charities USA.  Program growth continued with the expansion of contracts in the areas of family reunification, parenting, and drug court services.  In 2003, CCSGC launched a Capital Campaign and raised $1.7 million to renovate and expand the main Agency offices on Chippewa Street and install an elevator to help further accommodate the organizations growing needs. 

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Vicky L Schultz

President and CEO, 2007 - Present

The Agency celebrates its 65th year in the community.  In 2006, National Council on Alcohol Addictions (NCAA) merged with Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, and the Agency inherited the additional substance abuse programming and the Mr. Rogers Program that mentors youth and teaches life skills through gardening, a program that had been successful since 1989 with NCAA.  The Agency’s budget tripled and staff grew to approximately 75 employees during this time. In 2007, Vicky Schultz was appointed President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties.  Vicky previously worked with CCSGC from 1999-2001 as the Director of Development, and was excited to return back and further expand on the programs of the Agency.  

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In 2008, The Agency expanded services again by securing contracts with Genesee County Community Mental Health to incorporate a Women’s Specialty Program, Role Induction, and Intensive Outpatient Therapy.  Contracts were also added with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) to provide substance abuse and sex offender treatment.  The Agency’s Personal Needs Closet was also expanded to include clothing, household items, furniture, appliances, and a much larger selection of personal needs, and relocated into Sacred Heart Church, and known as the Community Closet.  In 2009, The Spanish Speaking Information Center (SSIC) merged with CCSGC, and the Agency also began taking on contracts with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide supportive case management services to the homeless and those at-risk through collaborative efforts with One Stop Housing Resource Center through the Homeless Prevention Rapid Re-housing Act.  Domestic Violence programming also expanded and staff were sent to Duluth, Minnesota for training.  Moving forward the Agency has entered another decade, still holding a strong presence in the community.  

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In 2010, the Agency expands services, and the acquisition of the former St. Michael’s School next to the main Agency on Chippewa Street to further expand the breadth and depth of the Agency to fulfill its Mission and the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church.  The Community Closet is relocated from Sacred Heart Catholic Church over to the St. Michael’s School.  C.S. Mott Foundation increases funding to the Agency and NESK now is able to serve a dinner meal, and 1,055 dinners were served in the first month alone!  The garden located behind the main Agency building also receives an update with the Our Lady of the Golden Heart statue getting a face lift and specific flowers planted, the garden is re-dedicated as the Mary Garden, and visited by staff, clients, and guests.  The Agency also partnered to open the Warming Center in the winter which stayed open 24/7 during the winter months. 

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In 2011, the Agency grows to 70 years old. The St. Michael’s School Building was re-dedicated by the Bishop and renamed to be the Sister Claudia Burke Center for Hope in memory of Sister Claudia Burke who helped to open the Soup Kitchen and continued her services at Catholic Outreach assisting those needing help with personal needs, utility and rent assistance, and food up until her death in 2010.  In 2012, the Agency expanded on HUD programming to offer supportive services through homeless case management, homeless substance abuse case management, and was awarded funds to continue on with a Transitional Boarding House (TBH) Program for homeless individuals with co-occurring disorders.  In 2013, Catholic Outreach merged with Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, and services expanded to now include utility and rent outreach assistance, food bag give-a-ways, and medical transportation through the St. Christopher’s Program that transports kids all over the state to hospital and doctor’s appointments.  In 2014, The Agency adopted its Core Values of compassion, education, family preservation, hope, human dignity, integrity, love, and respect after a successful Strategic Planning Event with Board Members and Staff.  The Work Ready Room Program was also established out of the Center for Hope to help individuals utilizing the Community Closet get prepared for employment through dress, interview prep, and resume assistance.  The Agency also starts partnering with another non-profit, Re-Connections, to provide collaborative training and assistance efforts for parolees.  In 2015, CCSGC partnered with United Way and Salvation Army on water efforts to Keep the Water Flowing, and are asked to join a collaborative workgroup pertaining to Energy Assistance to help improve clients gaining better access to services, in efforts to help assist with initial impact for high water bills with the switching over of the Flint water supply.  In that same year, the Diocese of Lansing launches their Faith in Flint Campaign, directly supporting efforts specifically at CCSGC and programming at the Center for Hope.  The Agency passes their accreditation through the Council on Accreditation (COA) and receives accreditation for substance abuse, mental health, and prevention education services though September 30, 2019.  Later in the year, the City of Flint Water Crisis becomes public, and CCSGC continued to collaborate and partner with members of the local community to address basic needs. 

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In 2016, CCSGC is one of the first agencies on the scene to assist with water assistance, and receives and outpouring of donations, monetary and water related to help assist with the Flint Water Crisis and relief efforts.  Donations from all 50 states and even countries make their way to the Agency.  The Agency celebrates their 75th Birthday with a dinner and event featuring clients served community partners, Board Members, and Staff.  The Agency applies for a promoter’s license through the state of Michigan for their first Boxing Fundraiser known as “Fight for Flint” to continue to help support ongoing water efforts.  CCSGC provides services to over 30,000 people annually through the support of over 100 employees!  

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In 2017, the Agency continues to grow and expand, consolidate and restructure programs to best serve clients needs.  The Agency started renovations for the Sister Claudia Center for Hope, and while demolition and construction efforts are underway, programming is relocated at St. Michael’s Catholic Church to continue to meet needs.  The Agency is still actively involved with continued Flint Water Crisis efforts, regularly attending various community meetings and sitting on the Water Help Center Advisory Board.  The Agency continues to support efforts through both water and food give-a-ways, and has added a filling station at NESK for clients to utilize.  The Agency has also evolved their Fight for Flint efforts and has enhanced their Fight for Flint campaign and website with efforts underway to enhance efforts to bring awareness that this community needs you to fight for it for more than just water!  The Agency is still working alongside the Diocese of Lansing on their Faith in Flint Campaign and on reaching out to the Catholic Churches in the community to promote services.  The Agency has launched a new motto for their billboards, “Not Catholic, Not a Problem”.   The Agency was recognized by the Ruth Mott Foundation for their Mr. Gaines Garden PLUS Program and awarded a Leadership Grant to assist with program efforts.  The Agency also expanded their Drug Court services to include Peer Recovery Coaches.  MDOC Programs for both Sex Offender and Substance Abuse Contracts continue throughout various counties and numbers continue to grow as referrals increase.  Child Welfare Services and Prevention Education Services also continue to grow.

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In Spring of 2017, the Agency’s Owosso Office relocated to a space where they could grow and better serve clients.  In Fall of 2017, the Agency opened their Center for Hope to the public.  The Sr. Claudia Burke Center for Hope, named after the Sister Claudia who had once worked at Catholic Social Services, which later become Catholic Outreach, whose entire mission was to serve the poor and most vulnerable, which is what the Center for Hope accomplishes. 

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The Center for Hope houses a Community Closet, Soup Kitchen, Work Ready Room, a Life Skills Home Economic Classroom, and even has showers and a laundry facilities.  The Agency’s Prevention Education Programming and Classroom space has moved into the building along with Outreach Assistance, Fund Development and Other Programming.  The Agency also has partnered with the Re-Connections Program and with Hamilton Community Health Network, a federally qualified health clinic, to help link services to the most vulnerable and under-served populations.  The Agency expanded programming in the areas of Peer Support Specialists for the Drug Court population, and received a new contract for the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, and was awarded an additional MDOC Contract to provide services through the Offender Success Program for Prosperity Region #6, which included six counties.

Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties continues to evolve to meet the ever changing needs of the community and all it serves, and does so through compassion and caring and collaboration to bring clients the much needed resources they deserve, and look to be a permanent fixture in the community for at least another 75 years!