The Newcomer Network at Catholic Charities

Grantee Story

Deciding to emigrate to a new country is a life-changing and difficult choice for any family—doing it, however, is harder still. Amelia*, an asylum-seeker and mother of two from Honduras, knows this firsthand.  

Amelia’s fraught journey would have been even harder if it were not for Catholic Charities DC’s Newcomer Network. The network supports the Washington, DC region’s growing immigrant population—of which 40% reside in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties—by assisting them with legal services and connecting them to comprehensive support through holistic case management. By leveraging Catholic Charities’ network of parishes and community partners, and by utilizing Newcomer Navigators to work with individuals who need more support, the Newcomer Network addresses the specific needs of the region’s immigrant community. 

“Our mission is giving help that empowers and hope that lasts,” Sister Sharlet Ann Wagner, the Newcomer Network’s Executive Director, told the Catholic Charities at Work podcast. “Ultimately, we’re helping immigrants connect to and build stable lives in their new communities.” 

The Newcomer Network itself is new to town, having launched in 2020 with a multi-year investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. Amelia was the Newcomer Network’s very first client. One core pillar of the Clark Foundation’s mission is to provide members of the DC community the best opportunity to thrive.  

Amelia’s first priority was gaining legal representation in the United States. Catholic Charities DC’s pro bono legal team worked with Amelia to establish her asylum status with federal immigration authorities. However, it became apparent that for Amelia and her family to live a stable life, she would need more than legal support. 

Amelia and her children were living in a single room in an overcrowded apartment. With guidance from her Navigator and funding for a security deposit from the Newcomer Network, Amelia found an apartment and negotiated the monthly rent. She chose the home she thought would suit her family’s need for safety and privacy. Amelia’s resourcefulness led her to find a truck to move donated furniture from Silver Spring to her new apartment in Prince George’s County. Through her dedication and self-motivation, she studied hard to earn her learner’s permit despite her busy schedule with work and caring for her children’s needs. 

When one of her children fell ill, Amelia was proactive and took her child to a local health care center. She later gathered the documents required to enroll the family in Maryland Health Connection with the support of her Navigator. The Newcomer Network team also helped Amelia apply for and receive an outside grant, which covered some lost income due to the work she missed while caring for her child. 

“Amelia is a strong woman and a role model mother,” said Jenny Cachaya, Navigator Manager for the Newcomer Network. “She is dedicated to her children. All of her efforts are driven by her desire to provide them with the life that she was not able to have in her home country so they can thrive together as a family in the U.S.”  

*Amelia’s name has been changed to maintain confidentiality. 

A New Baseball Field Is Coming To Ward 8 With Support From Max And Erica Scherzer

A new baseball field is coming to Washington Highlands in Ward 8 next spring, city officials announced on Tuesday, rounding out a larger development project that’s going to include an indoor recreation center, a football field, a basketball court, a community garden, and a playground.

It will also be the site of a new building for KIPP DC’s Legacy College Preparatory school, announced by Mayor Muriel Bowser in January 2020.

Max and Erica Scherzer help fund 4th Legacy Field in D.C.

Even as a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Max Scherzer’s philanthropic contributions to the Nationals carry on. Along with his wife Erica, the Scherzers’ financial contributions to the newest Legacy Field will help build one piece of a redevelopment project that will feature a new high school and its sports fields – including a baseball diamond, football field, and basketball court. 

Seeing Charity in Action Once Again

“I haven’t seen you in 15 months! How are you?”

I am thankful to have heard that multiple times in recent weeks, and I am really starting to feel like I’m “back.” We’re not out of the woods with COVID-19 just yet, but I am thrilled to be in our Catholic Charities’ offices on G Street in Washington, D.C., at least two and often three days a week, working the other days from the rectory at St. Bart’s in Bethesda.

Twelve exemplary high school seniors earn selection in to First Tee College Scholarship Program

Twelve high school graduates have been selected to the First Tee College Scholarship Program based on academic performance, length and involvement in First Tee programs, financial need and commitment to volunteerism.

Read the full story here.

Cycle for Survival

Cycle for Survival co-founder, Dave Linn, is excited for this MATCH ANNOUNCEMENT! Through Friday, March 26, all donations up to $10,000 will be matched dollar for dollar, and all leadership gifts of $10,000 or more will be double-matched, up to $1.4 million total.

Read the full story here.

New president of Bishop McNamara High School says he feels called to serve there

John Barnhardt, who stepped into his new role as president and chief executive officer of Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, on June 1, said he believes this new role is one to which he was “called.”

“From the moment I walked through the halls at Bishop McNamara, I knew right away that not only did it align with my spirit and my beliefs about what good education and good teaching looks like for young people, but it also worked for my family,” Barnhardt said in a recent interview with the Catholic Standard. “That is really what drew me in.”

Read the full story here.