Alan Rettig and Joanne Lepold with Catholic Charities of Central Florida receive funds for a new caseworker in Sumter County from United Way Interim Director Alan Holden. Photo by Glenda Meekins.

Alan Rettig and Joanne Lepold with Catholic Charities of Central Florida receive funds for a new case manager in Sumter County from United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties Interim CEO Alan Holden. Photo by Glenda Meekins.

On May 24, the United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties presented Emergency Family Services (EFS), a program of Catholic Charities of Central Florida (CCCF), a check in the amount of $30,000, a capacity grant to underwrite the cost of hiring a part-time caseworker to help manage Catholic Charities expansion into Sumter County. EFS helps those who are facing financial emergencies such as job loss, medical expenses, major car repairs, a divorce or other unexpected expenses due to natural disasters or death in the family. Through Catholic Charities, EFS provides vital social services to people in need, regardless of their religious, social or economic background.

The partnership began in May of 2015, when the United Way, whose mission is to unite people and resources to build a stronger community, joined forces with CCCF. According to Barbara Crewell, United Way Community Services Director, the United Way was looking for a service provider to handle their case management. Joanne Lepold with Catholic Charities of Central Florida was asked to manage this because of her thorough vetting process and high standards.

“Without Joanne, the partnership would not have worked. She has done a fantastic job of vetting the clients, developing relationships with other agencies and sharing resource information that helps us better serve the neediest members of our communities,” Crewell added.

The partnership increased CCCF’s caseload from about 400 cases per year to 800 cases per year, all supported out of the Leesburg office located on the campus of St. Paul Catholic Church.

“It was only right that we would help put another person in there to help take care of the job. This is now an added tool to help manage the volume. We want to provide for any obstacle in taking care of families,” Crewell added.

United Way, Interim CEO, Dr. Alan Holden, commented on the partnership saying, ”We are excited to partner with Catholic Charities. They do an amazing job of caring for the people as well as checking up on their stories and making sure that they network with other organizations to make the money and their resources stretch as far as they possibly can.”

The new part-time caseworker, Mary Lou Mroczkowski,  will work out of the Lazarus Free Medical Clinic located at the San Pedro Jesus Maldonado Mission Church in Wildwood and she plans to set up other satellite offices at nearby parishes. The capacity grant includes mileage so that Mroczkowski can travel to clients. The inclusion of mileage in the grant will enable CCCF to better serve its clients in both counties.

“This partnership is a genuine collaborative effort between church and community. One plus one equals more than two because there is a synergy that happens with collaboration,” said Alan Rettig, Director of Preventing Homelessness at Catholic Charities.

About Catholic Charities

The mission of Catholic Charities of Central Florida is to provide vital social services for people in need regardless of their religious, social, or economic background, to improve lives of individuals, families and the community.

About the United Way

United Way’s mission is to unite people and resources to build a stronger community by empowering individuals and improving lives, while striving for IDEALS that facilitate lasting, positive change.