With a family history of service intertwined with a legacy of giving, Kitti Hardison is deeply rooted in helping her neighbors. From her grandmother to her mother, the spirit of service runs through generations. It’s a culture that led her to the helm of the Catholic Charities New Bern Regional Office as its new program director.

“There’s always been a tie to Catholic Charities as well as to the other non-profits in New Bern. It’s just been a natural fit,” said Hardison.

In a conversation with Catholic Charities Sr. Communications Specialist Sharon Johnson, Kitti delved into her family’s multi-generational tradition of naming daughters Catherine, with variations like Kitti, Cailee, and Cathy. Despite being Catherine officially, she was called Kitti, a name echoing her great grandmother from England.

Kitti said, “My great grandmother was from England, so she was a Catherine, but they called her Kitti. Then my grandmother went by her middle name, which was Frances. Then my mother goes by Cathy. So, then my mom nicknamed me Kitti, and my daughter is Catherine Lee, and she goes by Cailee.”

Kitti’s journey to Catholic Charities follows 23 years total with the United Way of Coastal Carolina. She also worked a few years in the mortgage industry but says her heart wasn’t in it. At the United Way, Hardison says she navigated various roles and developed a passion for disaster relief and community relations. The move to Catholic Charities allows her to continue serving the community in this way.

“I’m very familiar with Catholic Charities, I had always worked very closely with them through allocations and any other special program that came up after Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence. We worked really close with Catholic Charities and other partners with forming the Long-Term Recovery Group in Craven County and in Carteret County. Agnes (Barber) is actually the chair of that group, and I was the disaster recovery director for the Long-Term Recovery Group. So, Agnes and I’ve had a wonderful working relationship over the years.”

In Kitti’s new role, she’ll continue building partnerships in Craven and Carteret Counties and across the New Bern region. Hardison will work closely with former Program Director Agnes Barber, who remains with Catholic Charities coordinating the Senior Pharmacy Program (SPP). SPP assists low-income seniors, ages 6O and over, with prescription costs and specific medical supplies to help manage their chronic illnesses. SPP is one of the core programs in the New Bern Regional Office which also provides housing assistance and economic sustainability services.

Raleigh Regional Director Barkley Sample said, “The addition of Kitti Hardison to our team signifies a new chapter of growth and impact for Catholic Charities in the New Bern Regional Office. Her wealth of knowledge and experience will undoubtedly strengthen our efforts to serve the most vulnerable in our community.”

Kitti emphasized the importance of in-house collaboration and recognized the addition of staff members like Dr. Sheria Brown, a new case manager.

Hardison also acknowledged the challenges ahead for fundraising and sustaining nonprofit initiatives. But despite the hurdles, her commitment to community service remains unwavering as she embarks on her new role, determined to tell the stories of those in need and those impacted by Catholic Charities.

Hardison said, “We have a wonderful food bank and a wonderful giving community when it comes to food, but there’s always gaps. Rent and utility assistance is needed. We live in a community where the rent is just ridiculous. The utility bills are ridiculous, and people just can’t pay. They’ve got to have lights. They’ve got to have a roof over their head. So that’s important to me.”

In a final exchange, Kitti agreed to share a virtual tour of the New Bern Regional Office, showcasing her first week on the job and the energy of transition. With her new leadership, Catholic Charities remains poised to continue providing help and creating hope by making a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.