Catholic Family Center is very important to Mary Teagle, one of a select few people who have had the opportunity to work with the agency both as a client and as a volunteer.
Mary and her husband, George, are both cancer patients. George has prostate cancer and receives chemotherapy through an implant in his arm, while Mary is in the fourth stage of breast cancer. She has had a mastectomy on her right side and a lumpectomy on her left, and eight of the 10 lymph nodes removed by doctors have been cancerous, she said.
After undergoing traditional chemotherapy treatments, Mary now takes her chemotherapy in tablet form. She and George had both received Medicaid and Medicare assistance. This past fall, however, Medicaid staff learned that the couple was enrolled in both programs and cut the Teagles off.
After they lost Medicaid, Mary said she didn’t know how she and George would be able to afford their medications, not to mention their rent. Luckily, she was surrounded by people who were willing to help her.
Before she became sick, Mary had worked as a counselor for Teen Challenge, a local drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation program. Although she left that job after her cancer diagnosis, Mary said she wasn’t ready to stop helping people. She said she loves cooking and helping people and can type very fast, so she looked for a place where she could put her skills to work. She began volunteering at Catholic Family Center around the time she was dropped from Medicaid.
At CFC, Mary helps with the collection, organization and distribution of donated coats. She also cooks for the agency’s functions and helps out in any way she can. This past November, she cooked three turkeys for the agency’s Thanksgiving dinner.
“I just love it, I really do. It’s really centered around everything I love to do,” Mary said.
While volunteering one day, she learned that the agency sometimes helps individuals pay for medications in emergency situations.
Catholic Family Center is able to do this through funding provided by the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal. Through this appeal, agencies the various agencies of diocesan Catholic Charities provide grants to individuals and families facing emergency financial challenges.
Using Christmas Appeal funds, Catholic Family Center staff members helped Mary and George pay for their medications and one month’s rent.
“I’ll sing praises about Catholic Family Center,” Mary said. “They really went overboard.”
Mary said she’s grateful that CFC was willing to step in to help her family. Staff members at Catholic Family Center went out of their way to be friendly, she added.
“At Catholic Family Center they don’t degrade you. They don’t make you feel worse than you already feel,” Mary said. “They’re out to help you and make you feel better.”
Helping people is something Mary knows about. Seeing the difference she can make in even one person’s life makes worthwhile all the time she spends volunteering, she said, recalling a recent incident at when a woman arrived at CFC shivering from the cold, and Mary noted that the woman didn’t have a coat. She looked through Catholic Family Center’s supply of coats, found one in the right size and gave it to her.
“Oh, I wish you would have seen her face. That is the reward that you get,” Mary said.
Mary is also grateful for the opportunity to keep busy.
“I need to be active and busy, and Catholic Family Center also (lets me) do that,” Mary said. “Just to be active in something is so wonderful.”
Likewise, the Christmas Appeal is important because it fills a growing need in the community, she added.
“There are so many people that are in need that social services, welfare and even some church organizations don’t hit,” Mary said. “There’s always somebody that needs it.”