Catholic Charities affiliate grows in response to community needs

Marks close of 10-year anniversary


Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri (CCCNMO) has welcomed new program staff and administrative leaders over the past several months as the agency expands programs and services to meet increased needs across the 38 counties it serves.

•In May of this year, Sister Kathleen Wegman of the School Sisters of Notre Dame was welcomed to the administrative team as director of Mission Integration.

Sr. Kathleen will help to develop, strengthen and convey the agency’s Catholic identity and mission throughout services and programs.

She comes to Catholic Charities following 12 years of service in the Diocese of Jefferson City at the chancery offices as chancellor and director of Parish and Charitable Services.

•Dan Kempker joined CCCNMO in early November as the inaugural Director of Finance.

Mr. Kempker has 30 years of experience in organizational finance, grant budgeting and management, and auditing and financial consulting.

Previously serving as a parish business manager and chief financial officer of a statewide charity that helps provide healthcare to low-income and under- and uninsured people, his financial guidance will ensure that CCCNMO continues to be an excellent steward of the resources generously provided through both grants and private support.

“We have a history of being fiscally responsible stewards of grant and donor dollars,” said CCCNMO Executive Director Dan Lester. “We’ve always done a respectable job managing our finances.

“Now we are growing, and Mr. Kempker will allow us to continue that responsibility as we move forward,” he said.

•Rounding out administrative hires, CCCNMO welcomed Ashley Wiskirchen as the Director of Communications on Nov. 15.

Mrs. Wiskirchen joins the agency from the diocesan chancery offices, where she served as associate director of communications.

Mrs. Wiskirchen brings over 10 years of experience in marketing and communications in the public and nonprofit sectors to the agency.

She is tasked with developing a comprehensive communications plan that will connect stakeholders who support the agency’s work, and those whom it serves.

Along with administrative staff additions, Catholic Charities also saw in November the departure of administrative team member Cristal Backer, who served as Development Director.

Ms. Backer successfully oversaw the agency’s “Open Hearts, Open Doors” renovation campaign for CCCNMO’s headquarters in Jefferson City in 2020-21.

“Eager to serve”

As community needs increase and the agency grows to meet them, program directors and staff are putting their hands, minds and hearts to the task of increasing program access and service reach.

New initiatives including behavioral health and counseling services; a state-of-the-art client choice food pantry; and expanding services in the areas of refugee and family immigration have prompted the agency to bring on a group of talented and diverse staff to work directly with clients.

•Dala Hemeyer has been named Director of Counseling Services, joining the agency in September.

Ms. Hemeyer joins the agency from the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia and brings more than a decade of experience in behavioral health to develop a robust counseling program.

Her vision for this program includes increased access and awareness of faith and spirituality-informed mental and behavioral health care.

Mr. Lester said these services are essential at this time.

“We have consulted with parishes, schools and individuals and see a need within our community and across the counties we serve to provide these services, and intentionally make them accessible both in pricing and availability,” he said.

•As the agency gears up to open doors to the client-choice food pantry in Spring 2022, the Health and Nutrition Services program, led by director Judith Mutamba, has brought on staff to oversee pantry operations and programs.

Ms. Lori Stoll will oversee the pantry, which includes the capacity for 60 pallets of food in storage, a demonstration kitchen for learning opportunities, and an interactive kids’ corner for clients to utilize while they shop.

•In direct response to the Afghan Refugee Crisis, Samantha Moog, director of Refugee Services, and Lorna Tran, director of Family and Immigration Services, have seen a sharp increase in the need for refugee and immigration program support.

In addition to resettlement efforts from across the globe, Catholic Charities Refugee Services has resettled over 240 Afghan refugees in the past 11 weeks.

For context, the previous resettlement record for the agency was 229 refugee resettlements over a 12-month period in 2016.

To that end, additional staff have been hired to support existing services and expand opportunities to serve refugee needs.

“We see the existing humanitarian crisis, and that’s really what’s driving our growth is these service areas,” Mr. Lester remarked.

“We have a team of highly-skilled, diverse and compassionate team members who are ready and eager to serve,” he said.

A legacy of care and hope

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, an entity of the Diocese of Jefferson City, responds to the needs of people in 38 counties regardless of faith, culture or situation.

This includes services for refugees and immigrants, those with food insecurity, mental health needs, health and nutrition education, basic household, and shelter needs.

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