Catholic Charities presents 25 St. Teresa of Calcutta Community Service Awards

Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph honored 25 humble and selfless volunteers from across Northwest Missouri with the St. Teresa of Calcutta Award.  The volunteers were honored at Catholic Charities’ 4th annual Reflections of Hope Luncheon held April 30 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in St. Joseph. (Sara Kraft/Key photo)

By Sara Kraft

On April 30, Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph honored 25 humble and selfless volunteers from Northwest Missouri with the St. Teresa of Calcutta Community Service Awards at their fourth annual Reflections of Hope Simple Luncheon. Approximately 200 people attended this year’s luncheon held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in St. Joseph.

Award winners were nominated by area community members and are open to all community members, not just Catholics. The award honors those who, like St. Teresa of Calcutta, serve where they are. The projects the award winners volunteered for are incredibly diverse. Many saw a need in their community and simply worked to fill it.

“The everyday things we do are so important,” stated Elaine Ingle, Chair of the Catholic Charities Advisory Board in St. Joseph. The board offers advice, advocates, assists in raising funds and promotes the work of Catholic Charities in the fifteen counties of northwest Missouri. “Things we do in small ways make a big difference to those in need. We are so appreciative of everyone.”

Businessman Brad Derr is one such person. He works to help the homeless in Northwest Missouri in many ways. When he realized the homeless in Northwest Missouri needed a hot meal on Sunday, he began to feed 200-300 people every Sunday morning for brunch at St. Joseph’s Open Door Food Kitchen. Each week, they use 1,080 eggs for the endeavor. He also works to provide clothes and furniture for the homeless and is hoping to start a tiny home village for homeless veterans to help them transition back into society. Like all the award winners, Derr is very humble about his hefty contributions.

“We’ve been in business for 70 years and 3 generations. If you can’t give back, you shouldn’t be in business,” Derr said.

“It just makes me feel good to help people. It just makes me feel good I can help someone,” explained Glenna Atkins. Along with numerous other volunteer work, Glenna has been helping with the Open Door Food Kitchen for nearly twenty years.

Other award winners are involved in numerous volunteer works. This includes volunteering for local food pantries, working to create access for free healthcare for those who fall between the cracks, Spanish translation at the St. Joseph Pregnancy Resource Center, providing eye services for those in Haiti and much more.

The 2018 St. Teresa of Calcutta Service Honorees are: St. Francis Xavier Giving Tree Committee, St. Jo Women on the Go, Joan Aebersold, Glenna Atkins, Brad Derr, Kendal Evans, Sarah Hardin, Frances Henson, Wilma Jenkins, John and Nancy Joe, Carl and Barbara Johnson, Linda Judah, Sister Christine Martin, Paula McCrea, Dr. Scott Murphy, Tom Richmond, Mary Salmond, Rodney Saunders, Paula Scott, Frank Sindelar, Kitty Spafford, Tom and Becky Stoecklein, Jerry and Ruth Thornton, Julie White and Patty Ziesel.

“It’s amazing to see many different people doing so many different things mostly under the radar,” explained Bishop Johnston, who was grateful to attend the luncheon. “It’s an amazing thing to shine a light on so many people who make the world more full of light and hope.”

While the main focus of the luncheon is the St. Teresa of Calcutta Awards, the event is also a fundraiser for Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph. In 2017, Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph served over 12,000 clients. Ingle explained that they seek to give clients a hand up, not a handout.

In 2017, the St. Joseph office opened at a new location which houses a welcome center that supplies basic necessities including clothing, supplemental nutrition items, essential hygiene items and transportation. They also assist with child and family services, workforce development, and housing services. Catholic Charities seeks to both treat the immediate need and the underlying problem, such as underemployment.

“Catholic Charities is the love of Christ in action,” said Bishop Johnston. “It is an organized way we can come together to do great things together.” He expanded on this with Pope Benedict’s encyclical on love, that the church has a three-fold responsibility to proclaim the word of God, to celebrate the sacraments and to exercise the ministry of charity.
Citizens hope the awards will entice others to become involved in their community.

“We encourage everyone to get involved in something to help others,” explained Nancy Joe. Nancy and husband John were award winners for numerous charity works.

“In my inaugural address as mayor, I paraphrased President John F. Kennedy and said, ‘Ask not what St. Joseph can do for you – ask what you can do for St. Joseph,’” stated St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray who attended the luncheon. “It inspires me these award winners are doing such wonderful work and I hope others will be inspired to do the same.”


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October 26, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph