From the Director’s Desk: Planning for the Future

To our CMC community,

As you may have seen in the news last week, the Catherine McAuley Center has been making plans for our future!

For many years now, the need for CMC services has outgrown our current facilities:

  • Today, we serve more than 460 students, double the number of students in 2011. There are nearly 100 other adult learners eagerly awaiting class during times when all other study spaces are occupied.
  • Funding priorities for homelessness have shifted, resulting in a growing need for transitional housing for women who have experienced trauma.
  • With the addition of new refugee and immigrant services in 2016, our basement storage and classroom space is now filled with client meeting areas and workspaces for our 9-person staff and AmeriCorps team. Additional storage must be rented off-site.
  • We know that the lack of parking and an elevator causes difficulties for many residents, students, clients, and volunteers.

We are proud to continue responding to calls to serve critical needs in our community, as the Sisters of Mercy did when they founded CMC in 1989. We’re honored that you’ve believed in this mission and share your support in so many ways. We appreciate your flexibility as we continually re-arrange our spaces to accommodate our growing services, and we have only seen private financial support and community enthusiasm grow as we adapt to meet community needs.

Through all these changes, our board and committees have been working behind the scenes to quantify our need for space and evaluate more than 35 possible options for our future home, including UnityPoint’s Living Center East after learning it would be up for sale. Not only does this facility meet all of our criteria and allow us to deliver all programs under one roof, but its location at 1220 5th Avenue SE is in close proximity to other non-profit organizations and CMC’s community garden.

Current facilities and Living Center East

Top: Catherine McAuley Center’s current facilities Bottom: 1220 5th Avenue SE, future site of the Catherine McAuley Center

From the very beginning of our consideration of Living Center East and through our purchase late this summer, we were pleased to honor UnityPoint’s request to allow time for the New Horizons program for physically and intellectually disabled adults to transition to other facilities over the course of three years. As of learning last week of UnityPoint’s announcement that they would instead be closing the New Horizons program in February 2019, we have yet to finalize a timeline for the move. Please know that our goal is and has been to keep you, our best supporters, informed of significant updates on this project before hearing through the local media.

While renovation plans and an exact timeline have yet to be determined, we look forward to opening the doors of our future CMC home as early as Spring of 2020. We remain committed to our mission to offer hope and opportunity through educational and supportive services for women who are healing from trauma, our refugee and immigrant neighbors, and adult learners. While the core of our services will not change, we see so much potential for being more welcoming and inclusive in the delivery of our services. We hope you’ll follow along!

With hope,

 

 

Paula Land
Executive Director

Statement on “Anti-Sanctuary City Bill”, SF481

Iowa outline on welcome wallCaleb Gates, Refugee Case Manager & Advocacy Specialist

We here at the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) lament the signing into law of SF481, the so-called “Anti-Sanctuary City Bill”. SF481 mandates that state and local law enforcement honor immigration detainers. An immigration detainer asks local law enforcement to detain a person held in custody for 48 hours to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to come and detain and possibly deport certain individuals. Under the current administration, any undocumented person – even parents of young children who pose no threat to public safety – are now a priority for deportation.

An immigration detainer is not a warrant. It does not require probable cause. Federal courts have ruled the mandating of immigration detainers to be unconstitutional. Immigration detainers can be used against legal residents of the US merely accused, but not convicted, of a criminal or civil offense. As SF481 becomes law, any state and local law enforcement agency here in Iowa, as well as other local entities (possibly including public schools) who refuse to honor ICE detainers will be stripped of all state funding.

The Catherine McAuley Center works daily alongside students, volunteers, and other community members to create an inclusive community. We support the right of every Iowan to feel secure, and commend the work of our state and local law enforcement to keep us safe. Iowa law enforcement universally opposed SF481. Police chiefs and officers around the state rely on trust and cooperation of local communities to serve and protect those same communities. SF481 could erode trust of law enforcement among Iowa’s immigrant communities. This law is likely to degrade, rather than improve, public safety.

SF481 sends a message that Iowa is not a welcoming and inclusive state. At CMC, we welcome those born in this country and those who recently arrived, those whose first language is English, and those for whom English is their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th language. We welcome all residents of Iowa no matter how they came to live here. We support families, including immigrant families. No child should fear being separated from their mother or father who poses no threat to our society and only wants to work to support their family. We call on our legislators and government leaders spread love, not fear, toward our fellow Iowans, including our newer residents. We call on native-born Iowans to accept, not reject, Iowa transplants no matter their country of origin. We call on ourselves to welcome, not repudiate the migrant, the refugee, the undocumented, the asylee, the displaced, and the stateless. Despite this legislation, we will fulfill our mission by promoting inclusion and standing in solidarity with every resident of Iowa.

Executive Order’s Effect on Refugee Resettlement at CMC

A recent executive order by President Donald Trump regarding refugee resettlement in the United States has, of course, impacted the Catherine McAuley Center.

Our main concern, however, is the effect this order has on the thousands of people who have waited years to be resettled in the U.S.– people who have already faced persecution, war, and other trauma in their home country and are hopeful for a new opportunity for safety and freedom. Many who already call America home are waiting for their wife, husband, child or other family member to join them… and now must wait.

Over the past month, the Catherine McAuley Center has accepted responsibility to resettle about a dozen refugee cases consisting of over 30 people who have U.S. ties (a friend or family member who has agreed to support the refugee’s transition to the U.S.) in Iowa City, Columbus Junction and Cedar Rapids. Thanks to our partners at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, we were prepared to welcome these new friends  into the U.S. in the coming weeks, in some cases only waiting for final confirmation of travel plans. Now, it will be months or longer before we meet them.

The Catherine McAuley Center stands firm in our commitment to welcome and support future newcomers. While we know that the recent executive orders will delay nearly 90,000 refugees who were expected to resettle in the U.S. in 2017 in fulfilling their dreams while their lives remain in jeopardy, we remain hopeful. With YOUR support and action, we can change the outcome for the nation’s tens of thousands of incoming refugees, including the thirty people who were anticipated to settle in Eastern Iowa with the assistance of the Catherine McAuley Center.

We will attempt to keep information up to date through our Facebook page and our website. Please know that new information is coming in at a rapid pace, so your best source for current information on this issue, at this point, is through reliable news media.

Thank you so much for your support of the CMC mission, and most importantly, your support of refugees, immigrants, and women. We must each take action individually and encourage others to take action to make our voices heard for what we believe represents our U.S. values and basic principles of democracy.

Gratefully,

Paula Land
Executive Director

New Refugee Resettlement Program

Dear Friends,

We have big news!

PaulaFor more than 27 years, the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) has used our expertise in the education and human services fields to support our students’ and residents’ connectedness with the wider community, helping them build communication and life skills that enable them to achieve their goals. Starting in 2017, we’ll expand our expertise and mission to offer hope and opportunity to some of Cedar Rapids’ newest residents—refugees.

brighter-futures-towerWe live in an age of humanitarian crisis in which more than 65 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes due to devastating conflicts. Of these millions, the U.S. is anticipated to welcome 110,000 refugees in the coming year. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), one of the nation’s leading refugee resettlement agencies, found Cedar Rapids to be an ideal site for expanded resettlement because of our community’s low cost of living, stable job market, and strong healthcare, educational and social services networks.

To expand on local resettlement efforts conducted for the last decade by Catholic Charities, USCRI identified CMC as an agency with strong capacity to undertake such an initiative. Beyond our supportive team of 600+ volunteers and 800+ donors are two new RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps members to help us launch this exciting new program. CMC has a history of adapting to meet real human needs through our Adult Basic Education and Transitional Housing programs. Refugee Resettlement is another opportunity to help meet an urgent need in today’s world.

Refugee resettlement is not just an opportunity to meet a need—it’s an opportunity to enrich the Cedar Rapids community through diversity and new perspectives. Building upon our rich immigrant heritage, our newest residents will also help our community to grow and thrive. With these new efforts, we anticipate greater collaboration among community agencies which will not only benefit refugees, but other community members as well.

The support of the CMC community has been a constant source of encouragement. As we turn the page and enter a new chapter of CMC history, we wanted you to be among the first to know and invite you to get involved and help create a safe and inviting community for our new neighbors!

Thank you for your continued thoughtfulness and generosity. The CMC staff, board of directors, and I are excited to share this new chapter with you as we pave the way for safety, freedom, new beginnings, and opportunity.

With hope,
Paula copy
Paula Land
Executive Director

Meeting Changing Needs

Paula LandFrom the Director’s Desk…

One of our main goals of the Catherine McAuley Center is to ensure that our programming is relevant and sufficient to meet the needs of our clients and the community. To that end, the Transitional Housing and Adult Basic Education programs are continually assessing our services and client needs.

In the education program, we are seeing an increasing number of students who have limited or no literacy in their home language. These students require a higher level of support from staff and tutors. Wendy, our Education Program Manager, is working on effective solutions using technology to supplement one-on-one tutoring strategies.

We continue to see an increase in the number of people wanting to become students. As of this writing, we have 70 people on the waiting list and 32 students who want more time with a tutor. Why so many? Students with limited academic proficiency or no English recognize that in order to integrate into our community and gain financial stability, they need to be able to effectively communicate. They hear about us from family and friends, and just like Monica, who shares her story in this issue, they come to CMC for hope.

To help reduce our waiting list, we have begun offering small group classes for those with similar educational needs. Unfortunately, for every four to five people who come off the waiting list, there is that many and more to replace them. To really meet the existing need, we need volunteers who are willing to become a tutor for one hour a week. Could this be you or someone you know?

Our Transitional Housing program is also experiencing a shift in the needs of our clients. Because of changes in funding priorities at the federal and state level for homeless individuals, our clients come to us with more significant barriers to overcome. To better meet these needs, we have added a part-time Support Services Coordinator who will be available to meet with the residents in the early evenings and weekends to help them build skills, make connections and gain successful employment. Jennifer, our Housing Program Manager, participates in several councils and collaborations that look at the spectrum of services in our community.  Funding changes have resulted in eliminating or shortening program length and creating gaps in service for homeless individuals with serious issues like mental illness and domestic violence.

At CMC we strive to stay abreast of these changes, and recognize how they will affect our clients and identify how we can be a part of comprehensive solutions for our community and those in need of services. Thank you for being part of the solution through your support of CMC.  Paula copy

CMC Establishes New Friends Fund

From the Director’s Desk The Mustard Seed, Winter/Spring 2013

In December, while we were busy accepting generous donations of gifts, food, and supplies for the clients and the Center, the board and staff were also making an investment in the future of CMC. That investment is the establishment of the Catherine McAuley Center Friends Fund at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. Most of you know that CMC established an Endowment many years ago that has grown to provide a nice level of support on an annual basis. So why a new fund?

We want our donors to get the most value from their donation and do the most good for our community with their gifts. Through a state program called Endow Iowa, donors who make eligible gifts to the CMC Friends fund at GCRCF receive a 25% tax CREDIT in addition to the federal charitable income tax deduction for certain charitable gifts.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to the several board members who made their annual contribution to CMC and also made a donation to help establish the CMC Friends Fund at GCRCF.  Thanks to our board’s leadership in establishing this fund, we have new opportunities for our supporters to ensure that we are able to serve our students and residents for many years to come.

If you are interested in receiving special tax incentives while helping to grow our new fund, please contact me at 319-731-0450 or paula@cmc-cr.org

Paula Land, Executive Director

CMC Focusing on Four Strategic Goals

From the Director’s Desk

From The Mustard Seed, Summer 2011
By Paula Land

In my first two months at as the new Executive Director at Catherine McAuley Center, I have been introduced to hundreds of volunteers, board and committee members, and donors. CMC is extremely fortunate to have so many committed people contributing to its success. This success allows our programs to continue to provide valuable services to our students and residents who depend upon us to help them achieve their goals of increased knowledge, self-sufficiency and independence.

Vital to the implementation of CMC’s services is an incredible staff that works to ensure the delivery of quality programs. I am grateful for the level of professionalism, integrity and heart that greets each person who walks through the door. It is clear that the 20-year history of the Catherine McAuley Center has carried on the spirit of Catherine McAuley, and we are poised to embark on another 20 years of transforming lives.

To ensure that we can accomplish this, the Catherine McAuley Center’s board and staff will be focusing on four strategic goals:

  1. CMC’s programming is relevant and sufficient to meet the needs of our clients and the community.
  2. CMC is a financially secure and sustainable organization.
  3. People know about and want to be a part of CMC.
  4. CMC has systems and processes that support high quality programming.

While we will be working toward these goals in the coming few years, in the short term, we are planning for our fall event. We hope you all have put September 18, 2011, on your calendars when we will gather at Mercy Medical Center for the 15th Annual Catherine’s Tea Party.

Thanks for all you do for the Catherine McAuley Center… and if we haven’t yet met, please stop by and introduce yourself!

My Lessons Learned at CMC

From the Director’s Desk

From The Mustard Seed, Winter 2011
By Amy Grommon March

As many of you already know, I will be leaving my position at the Center in March. This was not an easy decision for me to make. In the past three years, I have learned a great deal about Catherine McAuley, the spirit of the individuals who through the doors of the Center and about myself. Here are a few lessons I have learned:

Lesson 1: It is okay to do what you believe is right. This thought seems simple enough, but in a world of rules and accountability, I am so grateful that at CMC we can use the Center’s values to guide our decisions.

Lesson 2: Those limited of resources are often the most grateful and kind. I did not know what to expect from the students and residents of the Center. However, in the last three years, I have met some truly amazing individuals. Not only have they taught me about life, but they have also taught me to be grateful for the experiences I have had.

Lesson 3: Kindness begets kindness. These words were spoken by Catherine McAuley and seem so simple, yet are so profound. It is very easy for me to get wrapped up in my own world of work, family and meetings. However, a simple act of kindness can communicate what words cannot. In this vein, our clients have taught me the most.

As I prepare to enter a new chapter of my life, I thank you for sharing your lives with me. What once was that “place on the corner” has truly touched my life.