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Energize – Inspire – Advance

I recently returned from our National Conference 2019 – Energize, Inspire, Advance!  where representatives from chapters across the country came together to chat, learn and share on a national level!  I am always so energized when I leave with new ideas and new friends.  I was reminded that, sometimes during our program year, we may need a little help to keep that energy going. 

 

I don’t know about you, but I draw energy from our chapters and what they do on a day to day basis.  Every time I read a newsletter or see a Face Book post, I am reminded of the boundless energy that our members possess.  It’s not easy to collect items, pack and distribute 1600 layettes, or even 150 for that matter.  It takes energy to go week after week, to read to a class or individual student.  Manning the clothing distribution centers, not only takes time, but energy so that each child is given the time and attention they deserve to pick out that special outfit, shoes, and coats.  The program planning, knitting, fundraising, donation drives, book deliveries are repeated year after year.  Of course, the smiles and thank yous received are all that are necessary to reinvigorate us and get us excited for the next time or the next year!  I have to share a couple of thank yous that came to me via the Pasadena Treasures Program.  One lesson is on how to write thank you notes and the 5th graders are given their own monogramed stationery too!  They practice with a note to the National CC President.  

  From Ivy – “Thank you for choosing our school and for having ladies teach us manners.  I especially like Mrs. Crabtree and Mrs. Reaume.”  Those two CC members certainly made an impression on one little girl!

And from Kenneth we get – “Thank you for giving us the nice Treasures program. Thanks for helping us teach manners.  I can’t wait for the lunch trip.  My favorite class was the boys got to tie a tie.”  It’s the little things that can really make a difference!

 

Now I know it’s not easy to keep that energy up never mind instilling it your members.  But I hope we can draw off one another remembering that we are not alone in this mission.  We all recognize that if Mary Virginia Merrick was able to lay a foundation for this great organization with all of her difficulties, we can certainly do our part.

 

Funny thing happened as I was writing this…I looked at Face Book and saw this post from our Fort Wayne chapter “Great job ladies today! There were about 35 women who worked hard unpacking, detagging and repacking over 1500 coats in 2 hours’ time.  Snacks and laughter were plentiful.  We are all so excited to welcome the little children of our community and provide them with a brand-new coat in a couple of weeks.”  It appears I may be preaching to the choir…

 

And now what keeps us inspired each and every year.  We can, once again, go back to Mary Virginia Merrick, her life and her writing.  Or, we can just, once again, follow the current happenings in our chapters. South Bend recently received some great media attention for the opening of their clothing center distribution cycle. 

https://abc57.com/news/local-nonprofit-provides-outfits-to-children-ahead-of-new-school-year?fbclid=IwAR0vJ2LDaaM1qWY1dpp-BfTNPnhoNEWB2cwiVv4Z5SaH-VjkWho-05yDfc

 I am sure that everyone watching this clip will want to start a clothing center!  We have other large undertakings such as the Christ Child House in Detroit and Girls on the Rise, here in DC.   And our smaller scale programs are just as impressive and inspirational.

Let me tell you about Tucson.  The principal at a school the chapter supports told Angela Schneider that one of the biggest needs he had was for a washer and dryer.  Kids were coming to school in dirty clothes and, of course, did not feel good about themselves.  Well Angela took action and contacted a local appliance shop and received a refurbished washer and dryer in about a week.  Of course, what happens often when we find a need…we find another need.  The school did not have the water and electrical hook ups for the appliances.  Angela is now on a mission to get outside assistance to make that happen.  Eventually, and I predict very soon, the kids will have their clothes laundered at school and oh what a difference that will make in their everyday lives.

We also have members as well as non-member volunteers that year after year lovingly make countless hats, blankets, bears and other items making sure that each layette recipient has something homemade…something that shows we care that much more! 

Members in Atlanta tend to Elizabeth’s Garden as if it were their own, just to watch kids experience the wonder of God’s creations. And speaking of God’s creations…this is probably the only inspiration you need…these faces…

 And just a reminder – these types of pictures and videos tell the Christ Child story. 

Please remember to take good photos (and get releases) so that you can use them in future campaigns or PR.  We would love to have them too in the National office.  We like to highlight what our chapters are doing and the impact you all have in your local communities!

 

Finally, let’s talk about Advancing our mission. This year saw 3 new provisional chapters, which is a great achievement!  In order to grow our impact, we need to add members and, more importantly, add chapters.  We were lucky to get 3 individuals, along with their family and friends, to take the lead in establishing these new chapters.  We know that there are more people just like them out there!  This is where you all come in.  If you know of a chapter member that has relocated to an area without a chapter nearby, or a relative or friend that loves our mission, please let them know that we can help them bring Christ Child to their community.  They don’t have to do it alone.  Chuck Alfano, from our provisional chapter in Western Mass, found us through the Vatican website.  His chapter has taken a different approach and has actively recruited women and men as members.  This is a new look for Christ Child that Mary Virginia Merrick would embrace as we adapt to current needs and situations.  Patricia Gonzalez took her inspiration to start the chapter in Dallas Forth Worth, from her mother, Geri, who relocated from Pasadena where she had been a member.  I hated to see Geri leave Pasadena but somehow new that she wouldn’t leave Christ Child too far behind.  And Rebecca Smayda came to know about Christ Child after her aunt passed away.  Her aunt was a very caring and humble individual and after reading about Christ Child, Rebecca knew that Binghamton would benefit from having such an organization in their community.  Of course, it really doesn’t matter how you all came to Christ Child or what the look of our membership will be in the future.  All that matters is that we continue and carry on the legacy of Mary Virginia Merrick. Last week, Dallas Fort Worth had a Face Book post that says it all – “We started in April 2018 and have grown to almost 40 members.  Tonight was our new member orientation and I’m both humbled by how many folks are out there who want to make a difference, and motivated to grow our programs to bigger and better.  These ladies are my friends and inspire me to throw myself out of bed at 5:15 to check emails…life is good”.

 

On the membership issue – at the National level we continue to brainstorm ideas and share success stories and methods.  Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story, if we have energized and inspired members to carry out our mission.  One woman with one wagon started this organization for one child!  We continue to fight poverty, one child at a time.  I am proud of the work we do and hope that you all leave this conference with a renewed sense of energy and inspiration that you will share with the rest of your chapter!  Remember that you are not alone!  We are unique chapters of a National organization.  Let’s talk, share and draw strength from one another.  Let us move forward together!

 

Thank you to all members who attended Conference 2019!  We opened with a presentation on “The Legacy We Share” from Patty Myler (lots of great history on Mary Virginia Merrick).  Our keynote speaker, Meghan Cox Gurdon, was quite inspiring in her presentation of “The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud” followed by a book signing session of “The Enchanted Hour”.  We continued with a very informative talk on “Finding Grants & Proposal Writing for all Sized Chapters” by Elizabeth Madjlest of CANDID.  Our education portion of the weekend was concluded with a Membership roundtable and a seminar on “Nurturing the Seeds of Success in the Children you serve”.  If your would like any information on any of the above topics, please contact our National office.

 

Convention 2020 will be held at the Lowes Ventana in Tucson, on September 17th – 20th.  We encourage all members to make plans to attend.  A perfect time for a little getaway with your spouse, family members or friends!

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Why National Christ Child is Important Today

The Legacy of Mary Virginia Merrick…

  “You have many duties. God has laid out before you duties enough to fill your life; be patient, govern with a hand hidden in the heart.”

Moira Lynch, our new Executive Director, the office staff, and the entire National Board are constantly thinking about ways we can support each and every chapter in their mission to help children and families in need in their local communities. We recognize that the amount you contribute to National in the form of dues and support may be a hard stretch for some chapters. You may even be wondering why we need a National organization.

If we take a moment to review the timeline shown on our National webpage, we will see that it was always Mary Virginia Merrick’s plan to have a National organization with chapters across the country. In 1894, the first headquarters was founded in Washington DC. In 1916 the branches of the Society become formally organized under the National Christ Child Society name. In 1927, the first convention was held. By 1932, the National organization had grown to 33 chapters across the country!

So why is it still important today to have a national presence? National Board members are first and foremost local chapter members. We have volunteered and donated to our chapters throughout the years We have seen what women and men on a mission can do. We have seen the faces and smiles of the children and families we serve! We don’t forget that when we take a position on the National Board. Instead we just become energized to help and support all our chapters in their local outreach.

Soon after I became President of the board, we set two major goals for the 2018-2020 term:

  1. Develop outside sources of support (donations) so that we do not have to rely solely on our members in terms of dues/support and the Annual Appeal. We are truly grateful to everyone throughout the years who have supported National and hope they continue to do so. However, we are sure that there are many foundations and organizations that would support us on a National level to further our local mission. To this end, Moira has been networking with other nonprofits and we have started to submit grant applications while researching foundations and possible large donations. A corporation grant we are currently seeking would help us to let the secret out… “Christ Child is in your local community and we need you”. We are also looking to identify grants that would provide books and layette items to our chapters.  If you have any thoughts about what would help your chapter, please contact me!!!
  2. Our next major goal is Membership, a major goal for any nonprofit organization. We believe that by publicizing National and all our chapters, we can not only attract new members, but new partners and donations may follow. If we show the power of a National presence, with local emphasis and focus, we can inspire others to join us. We may even be able to identify other needs in our local communities as others learn more about us!

Of course, the best thing about being part of a national organization is the ability to share resources as well as program and fundraising ideas. We have so many wonderful and creative members! What better way to share, than to come to our annual conference/convention. The board and office work very hard to provide inspiring presentations as well as educational seminars. And members love chatting with members from other chapters. If you haven’t already got your registration in, please do so. I promise, you will enjoy the experience!

On a side note, please remember to get your orders in for our Read to Me and Calm Your Baby cards.  Contact the National office to place your order.

So, I hope you all see the value of being part of a National organization knowing we are all a part of Mary Virginia Merrick’s vision. We at the National level hope to be good stewards of that vision and advance the mission that we all hold so dear.

We are here for you and you should feel free to contact the office or myself, whenever you have a question or need help in any way.

Blessing to you all,

Carol Pickle

NCCS President (626) 485-8101

 

 

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“How I Became My Mother and That’s OK!”

“I look back through the vista of years and my heart is full of gratitude for those good gifts of friendship, children, His creation that makes this world a place of beauty and of love in spite of the crosses that must mark the way of our earthly pilgrimage.” Mary Virginia Merrick

In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would share with you all – “How I Became My Mother and that’s OK”…

It doesn’t happen all at once. There are little signs as you go through life. Perhaps it’s a quick look in the mirror and then a double take because you notice that what everyone has always told you might be kind of true. You may really look like your mom. And then there are the times when you swear you hear something your mother said when you were younger, but it’s coming out of your mouth. Stop right there…hang on…this can’t be happening.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a process. You go through cycles in your life. When you are young, you think your mother is the prettiest, nicest just perfect woman around. You decide early on that you are going to be just like her when you grow up. You may try on her clothes, her make up or repeat what she says. My mom was a teacher so I played a lot of school. I’m sure that my stuffed animals were, by far, the most educated in the whole neighborhood. I watched my mom’s every move, learning how to be that perfect woman, that perfect mom. During those early years, your mom is always there for you. For a while, that works. And then, things change.

Right around junior high, you discover that perfect mom may not be so perfect after all. She’s old fashioned and doesn’t understand what young women need in this current day and age. If she stays at home to take care of the kids, you think she should have a career. If she has a career, it may not be the right one. After all, she’s just a glorified secretary or assistant. She should be in charge of the company or have gotten a professional degree. Being a teacher may be fine for her, but you know that woman can and should have everything.

And those rules. Doesn’t mom know that kids need to find themselves? They need to experiment, make their own mistakes. Growing up today is much different from the past. A 10:00 curfew? Is she for real? She grew up in a small town, where the streets were probably rolled up at 8:00 and every one was in bed. She can’t possibly think that waiting until you’re 16 to date is a good idea. And as the high school years go by you are counting the days when you can get out on your own. You dissect your childhood and become determined not to make the mistakes your mother did. 

Now comes those fabulous and free-spirited college years. No one to answer to. You get to make the rules. You are finally in charge of you! You don’t really think too much about mom…you’re too busy experiencing life. It’s during this time that your mother may get on your nerves. When you talk to her over the phone, she may ask too much or try to get too personal. When you go home on break, she, apparently, is not aware that you have been taking care of yourself and have been doing just fine, thank you. Old rules and restrictions may come in to play. You tell her that she doesn’t know where or what you were doing at college so why does she need to know now. She gives you that mom answer…you won’t understand until you have kids of your own. Really mom? You decide very early on that the less she knows about your life, the better.

And then it comes full circle. You have kids of your own. And yes, you find that your mother was right when she said, just wait until you have children of your own. If you’re lucky, your mother is able to come to help out when your children are born. You notice that she’s calm and ready to help in any way she can. She smiles a lot and doesn’t try and tell you how to do things unless asked. This is nice. 

And as the years go by, you become closer. You call with questions or to share stories that you know she will enjoy. She reminisces about your childhood. She’s once again there for you and you realize that she has been all along.

No, you don’t suddenly think your mom’s perfect again. She still has lots of faults and idiosyncrasies that still drive you crazy. But you realize that perfect is not what makes a mother special. It’s actually the little things, her daily humanity and yes, her faults, which endear her to you. You can now smile at the qualities that make mom, well, mom.

And now when you look down at your hands and suddenly realize that you remember those same hands holding yours or working on something, a small tear may well up in your eyes. Those were the hands that fed you, helped you to walk, held you, played with you and hugged you. And now when you hear yourself utter a mom saying, a little smile develops. It’s a little journey down memory lane… 

Oh I still have lines I’m not quite ready to cross. I hope to hold off wearing full on mom jeans, too comfortable of shoes and the dreaded granny panties as long as possible. And I’ll continue to die my hair until the wrinkles belie my age. But I’m fine with looking in the mirror and seeing a part of my mom look back.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I still have my mother around. Her looks, mannerisms and little quirks only become more enduring the longer this wonderful and loving mother-daughter relationship lasts.

So it happened slowly and with not much thought. I became my mother and that’s OK.

Carol Pickle
NCCS President

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Easter and Saint Anthony

 

“It is the personal element that brings true charity into life”.  Mary Virginia Merrick

Each Easter season, I try and think about how I can change for the better.  What can I do to be a better me?  I question if I’m doing enough with my God given talents and blessings.  I try and pray a bit more, asking for God to help me discern where my time and efforts would be best spent.  But this Easter season, was a bit different.  I was looking through some vacation photos from a trip to France in 2013 and I came upon a picture of a Saint Anthony statute.  Now this was no ordinary statue…We had just attended mass in French at Notre Dame, and I was thinking that I really couldn’t count that as going, as I didn’t understand a word…As I was trying to figure out what God would mark down on my attendance card, I looked up and saw a statue of St. Anthony.  At first I thought it was a regular, run of the mill statue, until I noticed that it was staring at me.  I stared back and was really mesmerized for a minute or so. It was a feeling that I can’t really explain, but I’m guessing that many of you have felt the same at one time or another.  At that point I began to wonder what it meant.  Was St. Anthony giving me some kind of sign?  Was he telling me that I was supposed to do something?  Was he suggesting that my life take a new direction?  All kinds of thoughts rattled through my brain.  I waited a bit, hoping for a revelation, but, just my luck, none came.  I went on with my tour and vacation…at every church we visited, I sought out the St. Anthony statue to try and get back that connection.  Looking back, I must have appeared a bit loony staring deeply into the eyes of the various statues.

Throughout my vacation and continuing upon my return, I tried to decipher the “St. Anthony stare”.  I kept telling myself that it was a sign, and not in the small sign sense.  No, this sign had to be something really big – it happened in Notre Dame, of all places!  Maybe I was meant to change the world…but how?  I thought my life was going quite nicely, but maybe I wasn’t pushing myself enough.  Maybe I was supposed to sell all my belongings and join Mother Teresa’s group and, although I really didn’t want to leave my family and especially my dog, I really did want to, at least, listen to what was asked of me…

Well, everyday life took over and I didn’t think much more of my encounter with Saint Anthony after those initial thoughts. But seeing the picture brought back all of those questions.  I could still see Saint Anthony staring at me.  It appeared that he was still waiting for me to do something remarkable. The pressure returned.  And then it finally hit me.  I wasn’t being asked to save the world.  I just don’t have it in me to sacrifice everything.  I can only do my small part.  And the more and more I thought about it, the more I realized that doing small acts of charity and kindness is just as important as setting out to parts unknown.  And that is the essence of our wonderful Christ Child organization.  If the Christ Child Society can bring a smile to a beautiful young face or ease a parent’s burden, we have all done our part.

So, St. Anthony, once again, was just telling me that I needed to step up my game just a bit.  And, of course, you all know what that means.  If I am to step it up, I’m taking you along.  I ask each and every one of you to review and re-evaluate your participation in Christ Child during this Easter season. Are you contributing to the best of your ability?  Is there more that you can give, both in monetary and hands on support?  Perhaps you too, can dig a bit deeper for this wonderful organization.  I have no doubt that St. Anthony will help us all along the way.

Carol Pickle
NCCS President

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Impress vs. Inspire

“Lord I have sought you, and at last I have found You. Thanks for the state of Your Grace which has guided me.”  Mary Virginia Merrick

I watched a bit of the Academy Awards show this year, mainly for the fashions, and I was struck with how many people look up to actors and sports figures.  They not only look up to them but adore and admire them.  Everything from their fashion and style sense to their values and political views.  They inspire to be like them and take every opportunity to check out stories about their lives, photos, and tweets.  I was reminded about a recent homily of Monsignor Connolly’s, my parish’s retired pastor.  Monsignor commented that people who focus on celebrities are not inspired by them…they are impressed.  Celebrities have a great effect on our culture, setting trends and highlighting the cause du jour.  But these people do not feed the soul.  They do not inspire you to be a better person.  They simply impress, not inspire.  So I decided to take the time to think about what and who inspires me.  And it did not take me long to find inspiration in everyday life where God is always present.

We recently held our face to face National Board meeting at our offices in Maryland.  We have women from 11 different chapters, all with one common goal; to continue, and more importantly, enhance the support of National to the chapters so that they may advance the Christ Child mission.  We had several discussions and brainstorming sessions, but what struck me the most, what inspired me the most, was how proud each member was of their individual chapter.  We were all eager to share successes and instances of our fellow members who go above and beyond.  Yes, we are connected as National Board members, but even more so as members of this very unique national organization.

I’m inspired by the Summit, NJ program that we recently highlighted, where 4th graders at the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child make blankets for layettes.  The fact that the students contribute to Summit’s layette program is inspiration enough, however, the teacher takes it to another level when she brings the blankets and children to the chapel to discuss who will be receiving those blankets and why.  The teacher highlights the Christ Child to each student while supporting and reinforcing our mission.

I am inspired by Baltimore’s summer reading program. “Stay Ahead! Soar Through Summer and Read!” was begun in 2013, recognizing the importance of continued reading during the summer break.  What started out as a used book distribution to 5 partner organizations has grown to a program that distributes over 3,085 books to 12 partner organizations along with a subprogram called “Book/Kindness Ambassadors” for middle school students, where a librarian from the county or city presents a program on “How to Read to A Child”.  Along the way, grants, book drives, donations, and volunteers were solicited and obtained.  Thank you Baltimore for your inspiration.  Identify a need and build on it each year.

I am inspired by the Sarasota, FL chapter’s Soap Closet project.  Member, Pat Maguire, presented the idea of donating dish detergent and laundry soap to families in poverty in 2016.  She proposed filling recycled plastic water bottles with the soaps.  She and her husband James worked the donations out of their home until health issues prevented her from continuing.  As time went on, current chapter President and NCCS Board member, Loretta Haugh’s husband David asked if someone had taken on the project. When the answer was no, he said without any hesitation, “I will do it.”  The project became known as ‘The Soap Closet” of the Christ Child Society of Sarasota and they distribute laundry soap bottles to needy mothers at Stillpoint House of Prayer, Bradenton, Florida.  Sometimes, it’s a small act that can inspire the most.

I am also inspired by the Tucson, AZ chapter’s new project that arose from a request from a local school’s principal. Mr. Bill, from San Xavier Mission School, asked if CCS Tucson could help him acquire a washer and dryer to help the children wash their clothes so they would feel good about themselves. Studies have shown that children and teens without clean clothes, skip school because of bullying, name-calling, and low self-esteem. Mr. Bill is using this to teach the children how to wash and dry clothes so they can take care of themselves while building their confidence and school attendance.  The president of the Tucson chapter reached out to the owner of a local appliance store for a good price and was surprised by his answer of “I can do better than that…I will donate a refurbished set, just tell me where to deliver it”.  We need to remember that inspiration, as well as need, comes in many different forms.

I could go on and on with many other chapter programs and local projects.   Each chapter is truly an inspiration to me and I am constantly reminded that our members truly live the mission that was begun by Mary Virginia Merrick over 130 years ago.

So…what inspires you?  I am sure that if you take the time, you will find inspiration in your local chapter programs and members.  Let us all remember that the Christ Child is present in everyday deeds and people and even small acts can be inspirational!

Carol Pickle
NCCS President

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Mary Virginia Merrick: November 2, 1866 – January 10, 1955

“Mary Virginia Merrick, one of the country’s most prominent Catholic laywomen and founder of the internationally known Christ Child Society, died Monday night in Georgetown Hospital.”  The Washington Post and Time, January 12, 1955

Today, we prayerfully remember the passing of our founder, Mary Virginia Merrick.  I think most of us would say that Miss Mary was a true visionary. She recognized that you can effect change in your local community by reaching out and providing service to those most vulnerable, the little children.  We all know her story; how she overcame adversity and dedicated her life, from a very young age, to helping the poor while seeing the Christ Child in every child and treating them accordingly.  That vision and guiding principle set Mary Virginia Merrick apart from others who offered services to the poor.

Our Christ Child member volunteers all try to be true to Miss Mary’s vision.  All of our chapters have members who go above and beyond.  These members seem to channel Mary Virginia Merrick’s passion in a different way and they are always seeking ways to reach more children, provide more services, and touch more hearts.

Roseann Anderson, Patty Myler, and Joan Watkins

We recently celebrated three such women at our National Convention in Milwaukee by awarding the Mary Virginia Merrick Award to Roseann Anderson, Patty Myler, and Joan Watkins.  If you ask these women, they will tell you that they did not do anything more than any other Christ Child member.  The MVM award committee thought differently. Each honoree was surprised not only with the award, but also with family members who traveled from afar to celebrate with them in Milwaukee!

 

 

Roseann Anderson began her service in the Pasadena, CA chapter where she took on many roles before joining the National Board in 1998 where she served for 10 years.  Roseann was a visionary leader during her presidency who modernized the organization by building the capacities of the NCCS Board and office to provide skillful leadership to the chapters and by strongly shepherding the Challenging Poverty initiative, helping us get back to the roots of our mission by focusing on personal service.  For more than 15 years now, Roseann has led the NCCS efforts in support of the Cause for Canonization.

Patty Myler joined the National Board in 2004 as a member of the Washington, DC chapter. President from 2010-2012; her accomplishments included the reorganization of the National office recruiting highly qualified leadership, including our current Executive Director Carolyn Pumphrey, and the implementation of monthly NCCS Board meetings increasing efficiency and collaboration.  She greatly assisted with the redesign of the NCCS website in 2017, sharing her strong writing skills and knowledge about Mary Virginia Merrick. She serves as NCCS Historian and her incredible dedication to the canonization effort earned her a designated canonical position in the Cause for Canonization.

Joan Watkins made a lasting impact during her tenure on the National Board from 2010-2014 that benefits us yet today. A firm believer in evaluating current practices and implementing recognized best practices; Joan worked on an almost daily basis to help us become the best that we can be. One major accomplishment was her leadership to create and improve the first NCCS website, which was the beginning of NCCS being able to share resources with all our chapters.  Increased educational offerings at conference and through teleconferences and webinars are a major “Joan legacy” that brings best practices and training to chapters large and small. Additionally, Joan currently serves as President of her Texas Capital Chapter and in meaningful roles in her secondary chapter of Detroit, MI.

The three 2018 Mary Virginia Merrick award winners truly lived Mary Virginia Merrick’s words “This service was a joy to me, for I would see the Christ Child in the least of them, and their pleasure was His thanks – I wanted none other.”  Roseann, Patty and Joan’s dedication to the work begun over 130 years ago serves to remind us that we all need to do our part to ensure that this wonderful organization continues and thrives through the next 130 years.

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Seasons of Love

“Do not consider that in order to be great either in the eyes of men or God, it is necessary to do great deeds.  It is an error; to do well the little duties of everyday life, to perform well the duties of our station is to be great.”                                     Mary Virginia Merrick

Seasons of Love…

CCS of Detroit and Milwaukee

CCS of Fort Wayne touring Milwaukee

At our recent Convention in Milwaukee, where I became your new National President, I was so impressed with our chapter members who were able to attend.  I especially noticed the variety of backgrounds and ages.  Christ Child is made up of 5500 members in different seasons of their lives.  We have those members just starting their families, where the focus is on diapers, preschool and yearning for adult conversation.  Or maybe we are starting new careers and work means there is no such thing as free time or “me” time.  We all then transition to that time where we seem to always be in the car, juggling work, schools, sports and homework while trying to fit in a romantic weekend – heck, we’d even settle for one night out!  Of course there is also the fact that we may never sleep again after our teenagers begin to drive. And once again, work gets in the way of our volunteering and making time for ourselves.

Carol Pickle with Immediate Past President Marybeth Baucco

As years go by and kids leave (come back and leave again…) and we retire or cut back on our workload, we have more time to devote to volunteering and service.  We also travel more and we try our hand at different activities.  We stretch ourselves, quite excited about finally having time to do all of those things we promised, all the things we enjoy.  We spend time with grandchildren, but know that we can give them back when we are done playing.  And finally, we move to that season when the spirit is always willing but the body may be telling us it is time to slow down.  We continue to enjoy life, but may focus on small acts of kindness or memories of a life well lived.  We may also have obligations that prevent us from giving of ourselves as we had done.  And let’s just say it, we may be tired after years and years of service to others.  We have done our part and happily pass the baton to others.

NCCS Gavel Club

Three Chapters in Formation – photo by Richard Beauchamp

We find this on the National level as well as in our chapters.  We look to older, more “seasoned” members for their history and chapter  wisdom and we welcome new members with their enthusiasm and new energy.

This fits right in with our National Board theme for the next two years:  Energize…Inspire…Advance!  We will be calling on our Board and chapter members to develop some creative ideas to continue to energize our membership, inspire our partners, donors and local communities by telling our story and advance
our mission with productive and successful programs in conjunction with great community partnerships.

As I mentioned in my Convention speech, I would love for Christ Child to be the 3-H Club, (similar to the 4-H Club however farm animals are not needed…).  I want all of our members to have Christ Child in their head, their heart and their hands. A thoughtful head, a listening heart and kind hands.  Imagine the possibilities…

So whatever season you may be in, thank you for continuing to support and contribute to Christ Child in whatever way you are able.  I am proud of all of our seasons…seasons of love!

 

                                         Carol Pickle
                                         NCCS President

 

 

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Passing the Gavel!

 

Outgoing President, Marybeth Baucco and Incoming President, Carol Pickle

 

 

“The coming year, oh my God, I give to Thee. I welcome all it holds and I am glad!”

                                                                                           Mary Virginia Merrick

A wonderful convention and a fond farewell

First I have to apologize for the gap between this blog and my last. On July 28th, I fell down one simple step and fractured my ankle in three places. Surgery followed a week later and that was followed by basically bedrest for 5 weeks then moving with the aide of a wheelchair for several more. As of today, I can still only partial weight bear with a walker. But that did not stop me from attending convention in Milwaukee in September!! My family thought I should stay home. My daughter and mom were so worried about me traveling but my husband knew how important it was to me so he did not give me any grief! So, my knee scooter and I traveled to Milwaukee and I am so glad that I did!

Convention 2018 was fantastic! The Pfister Hotel was such a perfect setting for our meeting and dinners! Truly beautiful (and very kind to handicapped individuals!) The Milwaukee chapter was so generous to us with the wonderful reception they hosted on Thursday evening, making Mass arrangements at the Cathedral and dinner plans at the Wisconsin Club on Saturday evening. Also, it was wonderful to see so many chapters represented and especially the large number of attendees from our Wisconsin chapters!

Milwaukee City Tour

We wanted to make sure we were not all work and no play so once again an excursion was planned for all interested attendees-a Milwaukee sightseeing tour! Although I was not able to experience it first-hand (not handicap accessible!), from the pictures I saw and the stories told, everyone really enjoyed seeing the culture and breweries of Milwaukee!

The theme for 2018 was “Sustaining our Mission” and the seminars offered were all geared to helping our chapters do just that. Our seminars began on Thursday and centered around communications. Our Immediate Past President at the time, Anne Kelley’s seminar “What Makes a Photo Great” taught us how to take a great photo that will tell our story well and encourage action when people view them. This was followed by “Let’s Communicate” presented by incoming President, Carol Pickle and President-Elect, Molly Fanning. This seminar covered how to post to social media effectively and here is where those great photos you learned to take will come in handy! They also taught the attendees how to plan and organize more effectively using and a communications calendar.

After breakfast Friday, our day began with our Keynote speaker, Matt Deevers, PhD, whose seminar “Seeds to Trees: Cultivating Persistence in Ourselves, Our Chapter and Our Programs, was innovative, interactive and very well received. Our Program committee led by Beth Barrett, VP, presented “Beyond the Book Drive” which was geared to help chapters understand what a literacy program should be, how to start one or how to improve the one you have. Their workshop that followed used chapter representatives from the Sarasota, Albany and Washington, DC chapters to share with the attendees how their chapters took their literacy program to the next level and members just love hearing from other chapter members about their successes!

Friday evening’s reception is always highly anticipated due to the raffle display we always put on and this year’s raffle was no exception! Thank you, Past National President, Maureen Wesley and to all the chapters and board members who donated raffle items!

Saturday morning began with our Annual Business Meeting. Congratulations went to the Monterey Bay, CA chapter as they received their charter. The Monterey Bay chapter, led by Anne Kelley, has grown and become so much more impactful in their community in two short years! The first seminar of the day was “Don’t Stop Believing: Successful Strategies to Grow Membership” facilitated by Loretta Haugh and presented by the founding members of our three chapters in formation: Patricia Gonzalez of Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, Rebecca Smayda of Greater Binghamton, NY and Chuck Alfano of Western Massachusetts.

Founding members of our three Chapter’s in formation with NCCS Expansion Chair, Loretta Haugh. Photo by Richard Beauchamp.

They were truly an inspiration to listen to and we could all tell that we have three very strong chapters forming that are doing all the right things to succeed and we wish them the best of luck! The membership committee led the next seminar, “Invite, Involve and Invest: Mobilizing Members to Get New Members”, facilitated by Mary Jo Dawson, Melanie Mbuyi and Jean Phelan. Again, it was a chance for chapter members to work in small groups, talking to each other, sharing what is working or what they need help with then sharing this information with the larger group. Always a great way to share ideas and learn from each other!

The last seminar of the day was “How to Fundraise Like a Pro” presented by myself and Carol Pickle. We aimed to address all the issues you need to be informed on when starting a new fundraiser or adding to an existing one. This was followed by a “Speed Dating” session with chapter representative from Akron, Denver, Pasadena, South Bend, Toledo and Tucson sharing information on their very successful fundraisers! I want to say thank you again to all our chapter representatives that presented at Convention 2018. We appreciate all the hard work you put into your presentations and we know that all the attendees loved hearing from you!! And just a reminder that all the convention seminar material is posted on our website if you were unable to attend the convention or if you want to use any of the material within your chapters-which we hope you do!

Saturday night was the culmination of not only our convention but of my presidency as well. Bittersweet to say the least…we attended a beautiful Mass at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist. I must say thank you again to the Milwaukee chapter’s spiritual advisor, Reverend Robert Gloudeman for con-celebrating the Mass with Archbishop Listecki and installing our new 2018-2020 Board of Directors on Saturday evening. It was a beautiful celebration.

2018 – 2020
National Board

Dinner at the Wisconsin Club was wonderful but the real highlight of the evening was the various awards we gave out. The Mary Virginia Merrick Award was given to Roseann Anderson, Patty Myler and Joan Watkins. I have had the pleasure to work with all of these ladies and their awards are very well deserved. They are an inspiration to all of us! Congratulation to the Red Wagon Grant recipient, CCS of Fort Wayne, IN, for their fabulous Reading Rangers program, to CCS of Atlanta, GA, who received the Membership growth award and CCS of Central Illinois and Quad Cities as they celebrated their 10th anniversary, and CCS of San Diego, their 25th!

Then it was time for good-byes and thank you to the 2016-2018 board and hello and good luck to the new board, led by incoming President, Carol Pickle. I know how hard working all of you are so I have no doubt that the next two years will bring much growth to our organization. I look forward to working with another devoted group of ladies! Thank you for allowing me to serve these past two years-this experience has blessed me beyond words.

I want to end with a quote I found in a beautiful book that one of my board members gave me. The book is entitled “365 Saints Your Daily Guide to the Wisdom and Wonder of Their Lives”. I hope one day we will see Mary Virginia Merrick in just such a book!

“Celebrate each day as a new beginning and a fresh start”.

Blessings,

Marybeth Baucco
NCCS Immediate Past President

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Sustain Our Mission and Grow Like the Mustard Seed

Through the good works of every CCS member, we will continue to grow and flourish like the mustard seed…

The Christ Child Society flourishes and grows because of the love, dedication and good works of its members.

This past Sunday, the parable of the mustard seed was the theme for the gospel as well as the homily. While listening to the reading, it struck me how the Christ Child Society was once like a mustard seed that was planted and nourished and continued to grow year after year. We, the members of the Society, are also like these seeds-some calling “planted” us in CCS, and as we learned more about it and flourished by taking part in programs and events, we grew and in turn reached more people through our example, helping them to realize and answer their own calling.

This past May, I met many members from the Albany and Utica, New York chapters who are all helping their chapters flourish and grow. I was honored to be invited to be a speaker at Albany’s Red Wagon luncheon where I spoke of Mary Virginia Merrick and the history of National Christ Child Society as well as where we are today and the impact the Albany chapter is having in their community. In fact, this past January, they received an award from Catholic Charities of Amsterdam, honoring them for their collaborative efforts with Catholic
Charities and their many hours of service to their community. Congratulations Albany!

I was able to meet and talk to not only board members but chapter members as well and learned about their many projects and how they responded to the literacy push from National by starting their own literacy program at St. Madeleine Sophie Parish. Not only do they collect and donate books, but they have also started a reading program with a related craft for the students. Members have mentioned that having a hands-on reading program has added a more personal dimension to their volunteering which makes the experience so much more rewarding!

Their luncheon was both a monetary success as well as a ’friend-raising” event! I was even lucky enough to take home one of the raffle items! One very generous board member won a beautiful hand-made diaper “cake” and because she knew I was planning on visiting the Utica chapter the next day, she told me to give it to them so they could use it as a raffle item or donate it as needed.

I was very touched by this gesture and it reminded me of how much our chapters support each other in these little thoughtful ways as well as when I see them interacting with each other at our national convention, sharing ideas and strategizing with each other to solve chapter challenges.

And as I mentioned, I drove to Utica the following day, meeting with several board members at The Seton Center of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, being able to put faces with names and learning so much about the working of their chapter. Last year, the Utica chapter celebrated 90 years of service! What an accomplishment! Because I was unable to attend their celebration event last year due to health reasons, they were kind enough to show me a video of their celebration. They have so much to be proud of!  Congratulations to Utica for reaching this milestone anniversary – we look forward to your centennial celebration in 9 years!

Every month they work on one particular project, giving it their undivided attention, whether it’s packing or sewing for layettes, holding birthday celebrations for after-school children of Thea Bowman House at the DeSales Center, collecting books or working with expectant mothers at the Seton Center location. I was shown several beautiful hand-made items they include in their layettes, all of which were made by a woman who is well into her 90’s! I was in awe!

Both chapters are willing to support our newest chapter in formation in New York-Christ Child Society of Greater Binghamton! It is very exciting to see the Christ Child message spreading not only through New York but across the country as we continue to assist new chapters in formation. Through the good works of every CCS member, we will continue to grow and flourish-just like the mustard seed…

I hope to see many of you at this year’s convention in Milwaukee on September 27-29th!
Click here for Registration Information. We will make new friends-we will meet old friends-we will celebrate our programs-we will learn from each other-we will flourish and grow within ourselves and within our chapters and as a result we will “sustain our mission” for many years to come! Hope to see you in Milwaukee!

Until next time….

Blessings,

Marybeth Baucco
NCCS President

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Answering the Call

God does not always call the qualified; he qualifies the called.  Be open to what God has planned for us.

Do you ever wonder why you have such a strong desire to volunteer? Have you ever been asked to do something for the Christ Child Society that is out of your comfort zone but you said yes? Or perhaps you said no because you weren’t sure you were up for the task.  My guess is we have all experienced these feelings. Recently I was reading newsletters from our chapters when I came upon the following quote “God does not always call the qualified; he qualifies the called.” This quote really resonated with me because it reminded me that there is always a higher power in place, guiding us along, helping us through challenging times-giving us the strength to succeed, and to make a difference, through our work in the Christ Child Society.

 In February, I visited board members from two chapters who answered the call to serve and as a result are making a difference in the communities they serve. Since I was going to Arizona to see the Cleveland Indians at Spring Training (an adventure that had been on my husband’s and friends’ bucket lists!), I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to visit our two Arizona chapters. I was invited by Chapter President, Angela Schneider, to Tucson’s monthly meeting/luncheon at a beautiful location called Hacienda del Sol. Tucson holds monthly meetings for their members and they are encouraged to bring friends along who may want to hear more about their chapter. They shared updates on all their projects and upcoming fundraisers. Their spiritual director, Lee Morrison, told the group about the upcoming Day of Recollection and Recommitment Ceremony she was planning to hold in March. Although they are a small chapter, you could feel their unity and the passion they have for the children they serve at San Xavier and Santa Cruz Schools and I wasn’t the only one feeling this because at the conclusion of this meeting, they signed up two new members to the Tucson chapter! It was a pleasure to meet with board members at the conclusion of their meeting to answer their questions and share ideas to continue to grow and sustain their chapter.

My second visit was with the Phoenix chapter. President, Johanna Warner, picked me up and we headed to breakfast with the Phoenix board at the Talking Stick Golf Club. Over a delicious breakfast, we discussed everything from literacy to leadership.  Though they are a very well-established chapter, they continue to look for ways to improve their programs so they continue to be impactful.  Johanna gave me a copy of their January newsletter and one of the features that really caught my attention was the “Year in Review” they do each January. It is a chance for chapter members to look back over the year, month by month, and see all their wonderful accomplishments! As I was reading through it, I was very impressed with the site visits they hold. Four to five chapter members visit the agencies that they supply bedtime bags and layettes to, which is about 12 agencies in all. Their goal during these visits is speak to them about the chapter’s accountability to the agencies and to assess the agencies accountability to CCS. What a great way to make sure their programs are meeting the needs of the agency and assess ways they may add to their established programs! I was honored to meet with this special, hard-working group of ladies!

As I returned home from Arizona, it was time to start planning for the National Board’s March in-person meeting! I invited them to come visit beautiful Cleveland, Ohio. Our weekend began with dinner at my home on Friday, March 16th. While thoroughly enjoying each other’s company, we discussed where our committees were in regards to our Strategic Plan goals and we realized that much has been accomplished! 

Saturday morning saw an early start to our board meeting. Over the course of eight hours, we discussed what each of our committees are currently working on!  We discussed the exciting potential formation of new chapters in Enfield, Connecticut and Dallas, Texas. The membership committee reviewed the data they compiled from their recent membership calls with a plan to get this information out to all the chapters. We continue to plan for our third National Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 27th, this year again emphasizing literacy. More information will be coming to you in the weeks ahead. And we worked together to plan topics for the seminars at our upcoming 2018 convention, “Sustaining our Mission”, September 27th-29th, as well as extracurricular activities for all to enjoy! Our day concluded with Mass at my local parish, St. Francis of Assisi, followed by a delicious dinner and of course, a little wine since it was St. Patrick’s Day after all!

“God does not always call the qualified; he qualifies the called.” Keep this in mind as your chapters (and National) are looking for new members to step up to leadership positions. All you have to do is say YES! God will do the rest…

Thank you for all you do in the name of the Christ Child. Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Blessings,

Marybeth Baucco
NCCS President

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Recommitting to the Christ Child Society

 


As we begin a new year, let us recommit ourselves to serve those who need us most.

 

February is upon us which means we are that much closer to spring! Last year I mentioned how much I disliked January-I didn’t even post a Blog this year! But I have been thinking a lot over the last month about how important it is to recommit to what you believe in. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions and even if we aren’t perfect in following those resolutions, it is important to make them and give yourself something to strive for! This led me to think about recommitting to the Christ Child Society.
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Uniting to Make a Difference

“Making a Difference” by attending the National Conference

We gathered together to learn and to share ideas with each other to strengthen our organization’s impact.

As the attendees all heard during the Recognition section of the Membership workshop on Saturday at our National Conference, you can never thank people enough. So, with that in mind, I want to again say “THANK YOU” to all the chapter leaders and members who attended Conference 2017!! To those chapters who could not attend, we missed you and I want to share with all of you the highlights of our weekend!

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The Power of Prayer

“Miracles happen. But prayer is needed! Prayer that is courageous, struggling and persevering, not prayer that is a mere formality.” Pope Francis

Never underestimate the power of prayer

Earlier this year, I discovered quite by accident, that I had a large tumor in my abdomen that extended down into my left thigh. I underwent several tests but was told they could not fully determine if it was cancer until they removed it and biopsied it. I am sure many of you have experienced similar circumstances either with yourself or a loved one. It can be a bit scary. I have a strong network of friends and family members around me-I am lucky that way. I knew from cards sent that people were keeping me in their prayers. I have always had difficulty praying for myself so I appreciated this.

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Christ Child Society Celebrates

 Whether you are celebrating a “first” or a “70th” event, Christ Child Society’s legacy of love shines forth!

Patty Myler, Past NCCS President and NCCS Historian, recently found and shared with us the following quote from Leonide Delarue, one of the earliest Christ Child members who also served on the first Board of Managers – “Well so long as it lasts, it will have done good.” And for 130 years, we have done good!! This is especially evident to me when I see chapters gathering their members together to celebrate their accomplishments and the impact they are having in their communities!

 

Duluth Chapter President Kathy Forsman and Board members, Theresa Bower and Rene Zurn greet guests at their first Red Wagon luncheon

This past May, I was honored to speak at the Christ Child Society of Duluth, Minnesota’s very first Red Wagon luncheon. This was an opportunity for Duluth to not only fund-raise but to also “friend-raise” and attract some new members for their chapter.

My presentation, “Serving in the Name of the Christ Child-National Christ Child Society Then & Now,” explored the history of our founder and formation of our organization as well as what we are doing today to spread the word about who we are and what we do in communities across the country.

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Read to Me!

Helping Children Become Good Readers

Jimmy, Stella and Marybeth

Whether we are reading to our own children, grandchildren or children we serve, there is so much we can teach them!

School’s out for summer! Children love those words! Children want to swim, play ball, sleep in, go to the playground, watch movies-all great things to do! But both parents and teachers want to make sure that our children are also reading over the summer! I remember when my children were young and we joined the summer reading program at our local library. You kept track of how many books you read and if you reached certain goals, there was some type of prize given out! The emphasis was on the “number” of books read. I now know that the number of books read is certainly not as important as the comprehension of what is read! And where did I gain this knowledge? From reading “How to Make the Children You Love Really Good Readers” by Lillian Restaino Baumann, Ph.D., one of our featured speakers at this year’s National Christ Child Society Conference and a member of our Boca Raton, Florida chapter!

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Spring is Here

Spring signifies a time for growth

May the sunlight and the rain be reminders that God is at work renewing the earth.
May He also be present in our lives, renewing our devotion to the Christ Child Society as we work to grow our impact.

Happy Spring! I am so glad to be able to say that! The NCCS board held an in-person board meeting on March 17th and 18th in Dearborn, Michigan, and we had the opportunity to visit the Christ Child House which is owned and operated by our Detroit chapter. The Executive Director, LaNiece Jones, shared the history of the house with us and took us on a tour of the facility. The Christ Child House was established in 1948 and provides residential treatment services for up to 31 boys, ages 6 to 16, many of whom suffer emotional, behavioral and physical impairment resulting from severe abuse and neglect. Often times, these boys have failed in foster home placements which adds to their emotional distress. The Christ Child House becomes their place of refuge and healing. The staff and Christ Child chapter volunteers are guided by the philosophy – “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood” and they work hard to make that mantra a reality for the children they serve. I think I can speak for all the board members when I say that we were all touched deeply by the boys themselves and the stories that were shared with us.

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The “simple” work of the Christ Child Society

As we begin a new year, let us strengthen our resolve to challenge poverty one child at a time.

Happy New Year-even though it is the end of January! I don’t know about you but when January ends I am really happy because we are that much closer to spring time! Maybe I should say “Happy end of January!”

On January 11th, the Cleveland chapter celebrated the conclusion of their 100th anniversary year with a special mass at St. John’s Cathedral, followed by a tour of the cathedral and a luncheon.

 

 

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Merry Christmas to all!

“Nothing is ever too much to do for a child.” Mary Virginia Merrick

The years have passed and my children have grown and now I get to relive so many happy memories of their own childhoods through my grandchildren! This past Saturday, December 17th, was my granddaughter Stella’s first birthday. It is tradition that my husband and I host our grandchildren’s first birthday parties. And as I was helping my daughter plan and prepare for the day, Mary Virginia Merrick’s words kept coming to my mind, “Nothing is ever too much to do for a child”. I realized that my daughter and I would do anything for this child because of our deep love for her.

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Let not a day pass without having learned something

Let not a day pass without having learned something, without having overcome yourself in something, without having performed a kind act, without having accomplished something.

Mary Virginia Merrick

As members of the Christ Child Society, we are sometimes called upon to move out of our comfort zone to get something accomplished for our cause. Maybe it is seeking donations for an Annual Appeal or chairing an event or speaking to the media to get our story told. Whatever it is, we do it because we believe in what we do for the children who need us most.

Standing left to right: Kati Hughes, University of Toledo Doctoral candidate, HUGS program; Terri Mohler, Co-Chair Community Outreach; Jenny Trojan, Celebrity Wait Night Co-Chair; Meg Sears, Celebrity Wait Night Co-Chair; Jane Larsen, President CCS of Toledo and Karen Smith, Corresponding Secretary CCS of Toledo. Seated Molly Fanning, President CCS of Columbus and Director at Large on the National Board and myself!
Standing left to right: Kati Hughes, University of Toledo Doctoral candidate, HUGS program; Terri Mohler, Co-Chair Community Outreach; Jenny Trojan, Celebrity Wait Night Co-Chair; Meg Sears, Celebrity Wait Night Co-Chair; Jane Larsen, President CCS of Toledo and Karen Smith, Corresponding Secretary CCS of Toledo. Seated Molly Fanning, President CCS of Columbus and Director at Large on the National Board and myself!

In November, I traveled to the Toledo, Ohio chapter to attend their 22nd Annual Celebrity Wait Night event. I presented a seminar in 2013 that featured this event, and I have wanted to experience this fundraiser in person ever since! Due to the great turnout of 550 attendees, it was held in two restaurants, Real Seafood and Zia’s- beautiful locations in Toledo. Along with the “real” waiters, each table is assigned a ‘Celebrity Waiter” whose job it is to entertain the guests, make sure everyone is having fun and of course, seek donations for their effort! I was lucky to get Jane Larsen, the President of the Toledo chapter, as my celebrity waiter!! The evening included a delicious, relaxing dinner and a chance to meet many of the Toledo chapter members. This event raised nearly $41,000 for Toledo’s outreach programs. What a great success!

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Give Thanks…

“I must not rush though my daily duties worrying that I cannot get all that I wish done. I must do but one thing at a time and by that one duty do my best not worrying over what will become of the others…”

2016-2018 Board members pictured with Fr. Ralph Wiatrowski left to right: Anne Kelley, Loretta Haugh, Melanie Mbuyi, Kaye Rowe, Beth Barrett, Marybeth Baucco, Jean Phelan, Linda Henry, Molly Fanning, Mary Jo Dawson, Lambi Newsham and Carol Pickle.

This quote by Mary Virginia Merrick marked the start of the first board meeting of the newly inducted National Board of Directors on Saturday, November 5th. I chose this quote to emphasize to the new board that although we have our work cut out for us, we will all work together, seeking guidance where needed, to begin to implement our new Strategic Plan. The Christ Child members who answered the call to serve on the National Board are a talented, resourceful, and hard-working group (not to mention, a lot of fun too!) I would like to share a little about them with you today.

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