Catholic Charities USA names four National Family Strengthening Award winners
Alexandria, VA-Four innovative local Catholic Charities programs from Gresham, OR, Murphy, NC, Bronx, NY, and Hartford, CT, have won Catholic Charities USA's 2007 Family Strengthening Awards.

The annual awards program, which has been made possible by the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, aims to recognize and award exceptional programs that take a holistic approach to providing services by supporting healthy family relationships, working to improve a family's overall financial situation, and enhancing the community where the families live.

"These four programs are the brightest stars in a constellation of outstanding Catholic Charities programs working to strengthen families," said Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. "By connecting low-income families to the supports and opportunities that they need to be economically stable, these wonderful programs are making a critical difference in the lives of children and their families. In turn, they are building stronger communities by helping to reduce poverty."

As winners of Catholic Charities USA's 2007 Family Strengthening Award, the four programs will each receive a $25,000 award. These outstanding programs were chosen from more than 40 submissions from local Catholic Charities agencies across the country.

The awardees will be formally honored at Catholic Charities USA's Annual Gathering in Cincinnati on September 16.


**El Programa Hispano Program, Catholic Charities of Oregon. El Programa Hispano has provided services to low-income Latino immigrant families in the greater Portland, OR, metropolitan area since 1982. Its mission is threefold: to increase self-sufficiency within the Latino community, to empower individuals to achieve a better quality of life, and to promote mutual understanding and respect among cultures. The agency is well known in the large and growing Latino community as a culturally-specific agency that focuses its work on non- or limited-English speaking Latino immigrant families. Whether working to a address the short-term crisis or providing longer-term services offered through the center - such as evening community education classes and workshops on topics like English as a Second Language (ESL), parenting skills, basic computer skills, how to apply for a job in the United States, or how to become a U.S. citizen - El Programa Hispano works to solve and meet emerging challenges for the Latino community in Oregon.

**The Office of Economic Opportunity, Catholic Social Services of Charlotte, NC. Located in Murphy, which is a region of North Carolina where economic conditions are quite difficult and opportunities are limited, OEO/CSS works to help families to develop the skills needed to make better financial choices for building a more secure future. One of its programs-the Far West Families First (FWFF) program-matches struggling families with ecumenical faith teams who provide support and encouragement to help families reach goals they set for themselves. Such goals might relate to debt reduction, credit building, health issues, housing concerns, education, employability, etc. In a supportive relationship, the team helps the family understand and learn the skills needed for successful problem solving and helps the family locate outside resources when needed. OEO/CSS also provides families with counseling opportunities to help them work through challenges that impede family development and stability.

**The Southside Family Center, Catholic Charities of Hartford, CT. The Southside Family Center works to provide a "family-centered and strength-based" environment in which both children and parents have access to a comprehensive array of programs and services committed to strengthening and promoting healthy family relationships, as well as encouraging economic security through education and employment.

Southside's highly capable staff works in partnership with ethnically diverse families from the City of Hartford in need of services, support, leadership development, early childhood education, adult education and training, crisis intervention, and stabilization. By providing a safe and nurturing environment for young children, Southside enables parents to take the classes and receive the support necessary to learn how to strengthen their families. Such programs include early childhood education, case management and home visits to at-risk parents, GED and ESL instruction, basic computer classes, money management workshops, and parent support groups and parenting classes.

**The Thorpe Family Residences, Catholic Charities of New York, NY. The Thorpe Family Residence provides shelter and services to homeless families in the Bronx by helping mothers develop the life skills necessary to secure employment and to prepare for independent living. Founded by the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, NY, Thorpe Family Residence is committed to helping families achieve their full potential by connecting them to the resources they need, be it housing counseling and referrals to secure affordable housing or after-school programs and tutoring provided with the help of volunteers from St. Thomas Aquinas High School and Fordham University. Individually and as a team, the staff at Thorpe Family Residence tries to create hope in the lives of mothers and children. They work with mothers to set and maintain goals for getting off welfare by participating in job training and education programs. Beyond empowering its families, Thorpe Family Residence also encourages them to advocate on the behalf of others. Residents are a voice in the community and are involved in a number of local community activities, advocating for the homeless and the disadvantaged.

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