In December 2012, the A.J. Fletcher Foundation announced a three-year, $75,000 grant to Catholic Charities. The gift will benefit the Support Circle Program, which is an ecumenical effort coordinated by Catholic Charities and CASA, Inc., to help homeless families transition to permanent housing and improve their ability to earn more through job skills training.

Catholic Charities received $35,000 of the grant in 2012. It will receive $25,000 this year and $15,000 in 2014. The funds will help provide case management services for the families who participate in the program.

“This grant really enables us to work with a total of 15 to 18 families a year. Without it, we would only be able to serve half that many,” said Rick Miller-Haraway, director of the Raleigh Regional Office of Catholic Charities.

The grant continues a long history of support from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation to Catholic Charities and the Support Circle Program. Barbara Goodmon, President of the Foundation, was instrumental in securing community support when Raleigh Wake Partnership initiated the program in 2007. Since then Support Circle has helped more than 200 people. And 95 percent of Support Circle’s families have maintained permanent housing for at least a year after participating in the program.

“This program would not exist without the support of Barbara Goodmon and the A.J. Fletcher Foundation,” said Miller-Haraway, who added that Mrs. Goodmon has also hosted fundraising events for Support Circle and invited other people to become donors.

“We selected the Support Circle Program for two reasons,” Mrs. Goodmon said. “First of all, the program has a history of sustainability and excellent outcomes. It really works and gets many church families involved. Secondly, I believe that Catholic Charities does wonderful work serving people in need. They serve all people in need, regardless of ethnicity or denomination, with respect and compassion.”

The Support Circle Program, which matches homeless families with teams of mentors and advocates from local churches, has received two national awards — a Home for Every American Award from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and an Arnold Andrews Award for Collaborative Excellence from Catholic Charities USA.

“This is the best program that I have been involved with in my 20-plus years of doing social work and social ministry,” said Miller-Haraway. “And it’s the best program because it’s truly empowering people to move out of poverty. And it’s creating real relationships between people from very different parts of society.”