All names in the stories below have been changed to respect the privacy of the families that we assist.

Lisa’s Path to a New Home

Support Circles Program
for Homeless Families

In 2011, Lisa was facing many challenges in her life.  She had recently been laid off from her full time job and the only new positions she was able find were minimum wage jobs.  These positions did not pay enough for her to support her family.  She was also facing serious health issues which were an additional financial and emotional burden.  Lisa was not able to pay her bills, became homeless, and was forced to begin sleeping in her car with her son, 12 and daughter, 15.

After some time of not knowing what to do, Lisa was referred to the Catholic Charities Support Circle program through a partner agency.  She was joined with a Support Circle from Malaby’s Crossroads Baptist Church in Knightdale.  Through the program, Lisa received a rental subsidy to pay for her apartment while she was in the program.  The Support Circle also mentored Lisa and her children while providing emotional and practical support.

Lisa and her family successfully transitioned out of the program in the summer of 2012 and into a stabilized life.  Lisa explained the impact that Carolyn McClendon, the Support Circle Program Assistant Director, had on her “She supported and prayed for us during our hills and valleys. Her words of wisdom by phone, email, and text messages consistently showed the love and commitment of Catholic Charities. She was part of the foundation for our success and transition to higher ground – in life and in our faith.”

Three years after completing the program, Lisa remains housed and fully employed. She is an assistant property manager and is continuing with her Psychology studies with the goal of obtaining a Master’s degree. Her children are also succeeding.  Lisa’s daughter is attending nursing school while also working, and Lisa’s son recently graduated high school with hopes of attending college.

Helping a Family in their Time of Need


Maria was forced from her home in Central America due to threats to her life.  She faced many obstacles as she traveled by herself to the United States, including physical abuse.  She came to North Carolina to be with relatives, but when she arrived, they were abusive as well.  She faced all of these challenges while also being pregnant.

Maria finally found a welcome at Catholic Charities. She came to the Catholic Charities office in Wilmington and spoke to Patricia Gutierrez, a family case manager.  At this time, she was simply holding a large envelope with all of her important documents. Patricia and a student intern, Arely Vazquez, were able to help Maria find shelter and address health needs related to her pregnancy, since she was due within a few weeks of her arrival.

Patricia worked with the local health department, the Salvation Army, Immaculate Conception Parish, and the local Gabriel Project at St. Therese Parish to get assistance for Maria. Within a week, Maria received donations for diapers, baby clothing and other household items.  More importantly, the community support for Maria grew.

Arely was the only familiar person with Maria when she had her baby.  Maria needed surgery because there were complications due to the violence she faced on her journey to the U.S.  Arely went into the operating room to be by the side of Maria through the operation.  Maria has been reunited with the father of her daughter, who was able to join her in the U.S.  He has a job in construction which has helped them to continue on the path to self-sufficiency.

Bringing Peace to a Family


Jennifer is a teenage girl who was experiencing serious difficulty with the impending divorce of her parents. Jennifer had begun to experience problems with behavior at home and sometimes at school. Jennifer’s mother, Stephanie, who was also suffering from some emotional problems, asked a Catholic Charities counselor for help.  Stephanie needed help assisting Jennifer in developing ways of adapting to the changes happening in her family in a way that was appropriate. Stephanie was also concerned about Jennifer’s safety and had some concerns regarding the effects of her behavior at school. Inappropriate and disruptive displays of anger were also common in the household and communication between the client and her mother had become almost non-existent.

After only a few counseling sessions, Stephanie reported that Jennifer’s behavior had improved moderately and that their conversations were more calm and respectful. Stephanie was pleased that she was able to experience an increased sense of peace in the home and an improvement in communication with her daughter.

Amanda’s Success Story

Family Economic Self-Sufficiency

Amanda was a 34 year old mother of three. She came to the Fayetteville office during Emergency Assistance hours, visibly affected, upset and in tears, stating that she had been living in a nearby motel for approximately one week.  Her family was in a very vulnerable position and she did not have any local contacts that could assist her during this situation. The family did not have any means of transportation or food. Catholic Charities was able to assist her with food immediately.

A Catholic Charities Family Case Manager began to offer her the emotional support and connection to local resources needed for Amanda and her family to overcome these unfortunate circumstances. The case manager visited the family and continued to make sure that they had the food they needed.  Amanda was able to obtain the money to pay for the motel for a short period of time through community resources that were secured by our staff.

The family was then able to move out of the motel and into a mobile home. The case manager assisted the client in enrolling the children in school and provided her with some of the school supplies the children needed to get started. The family is now in a much more stable environment and Catholic Charities has helped Amanda obtain donations for household items.

Finding New Life


Jessica was referred to Catholic Charities at a very low spot in her life.  She had just left a bad marriage consisting of verbal abuse and several levels of emotional manipulation. At that time, she thought the problems were mostly her fault. She had no self-esteem, no confidence, and was struggling in her professional life, and subsequently in her personal life as a result.

Reaching out and asking for help from Catholic Charities saved Jessica both mentally and emotionally. She began weekly therapy sessions in the Catholic Charities Hertford offfice. Catholic Charities gave Jessica an outlet to talk and express her anger, confusion, and doubts. Through the counseling sessions, Jessica was able to see that she was not alone and that God is always with her, along with her family, the people that have always loved her and would always continue to love her.

Jessica’s financial situation was also a problem for her, due to leaving her marriage and finding a new place to live. This burden caused Jessica to stop attending therapy sessions, though she knew that she still needed them. Catholic Charities was able to offer subsidized fees that enabled Jessica to continue with her sessions.

Today, Jessica describes herself as thriving. Prior to working with Catholic Charities, she dreaded the hours she was awake and felt inadequate in her personal and professional life. Today, she wakes up early, excited for what God may bring, and what opportunities lay in front of her.  She has been able to let go of her anger and enjoy her life again.